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Interview with Richard Lugar, Dianne Feinstein, Jim Jeffords

Aired December 17, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, where is Osama bin Laden? The Pentagon says it is anybody's guess. Updating the action, CNN's Nic Robertson on the ground in Tora Bora, Afghanistan.

Plus insights from journalist and best-selling author Sebastian Junger. Then an in-the-know discussion with Senator -- excuse me -- Dianne Feinstein of the Judiciary and Select Intelligence committees. Senator Dick Lugar of the Foreign Relations and Select Intelligence Committees; Bob Schieffer, moderator of CBS News "Face the Nation," and historian and best-selling author Michael Beschloss.

Later we will hear from the man who declared his independence from the G.O.P. and upset the Senate's balance of power: Senator Jim Jeffords, independent of Vermont. His story is compelling as well as controversial.

And we close it out with singer/songwriter Natalie Merchant performing "Just Can't Last." It is all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Before we meet our panel, Nic Robertson is standing by in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, and Sebastian Junger is in San Francisco. Sebastian's new book is "Fire."

Nic, what can you tell us on the conflicting reports we are getting on whether or not bin Laden has been spotted, he's close to being captured? What's the latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, some of the captured al Qaeda fighters that CNN was able to talk to yesterday did tell us that they thought they had seen him or thought they heard he was still in the mountains as recently as Saturday.

But now the local fighters here have taken over all the al Qaeda positions, they say he is nowhere to be seen. Now, he could be anywhere in the mountains. He could be coming around the back of the mountains back into Afghanistan, or he could be going over the border, south of here, into Pakistan. It is just impossible to say. Nobody but nobody here has an accurate fix. It is all rumors, and nobody has hard, hard information, Larry.

KING: Sebastian, with literally the world looking for this fellow, and with a price on his head, what do you make of the difficulty in finding him and getting him? SEBASTIAN JUNGER, AUTHOR, "FIRE": Well, sometimes it is hard for the -- United States even to catch people that they are looking for in the United States. Of course Afghanistan is a much wilder country. Frankly, I don't think anyone would survive turning bin Laden in. The only people who would know where he is, first of all, would be suspected al Qaeda, and secondly, they would come from the Pashtun tribes along the border area and I don't -- there is a lot of allegiance to bin Laden. I don't think they would live long enough to cash the check.

KING: Nic Robertson, those reports about his voice being heard on radio, have we ascertained that that was true?

ROBERTSON: Well, U.S. officials said that voice recognition processing have been tried out on those transmissions and they did believe it was him. They did say at the time that it was possible that these could have been recorded transmissions all transmitted from somewhere else and retransmitted in this area.

But it is likely the content was as well as the voice recognition that is the clue to whether or not he was there. We have been hearing calls on the radios here every time there was a bomb landing we heard al Qaeda calling out colleagues' names to find out if people were still there.

WE had even heard people referring, go over to the sheik's channel. Perhaps an indication there that they wanted people to change frequency and go into the same frequency Osama bin Laden was on. But the radio transmissions are perhaps, perhaps one of the more significant items of evidence that have been put forward, at least in the public domain so far, that he may be there.

But again, they don't give necessarily, a hundred percent accurate picture really what's happening on the ground right below.

KING: Sebastian, you know the territory. if he had gotten to Pakistan, how would he done that?

JUNGER: Well I think he could only get there with the help of people in Pakistan, that is to say, extremist elements in the Pakistani military, and intelligence. Their allegiance to the war on terrorism is very, very shaky. Pakistan was sending arms and ammunition into Afghanistan as late as October to help the Taliban. I think we can pretty much assume that there are elements in the military who would be only too happy to help bin Laden.

I also think it is a little bit naive to think that we might catch him in Afghanistan without his consent. He has had two months to get out of there. If he wanted to get out I think he would make sure that it happened.

KING: Nic, do you see -- is it much more the possibility that he is taken dead rather than alive?

ROBERTSON: People have said this could be his last stand here. And certainly we were up in some of the caves yesterday and we found massive stockpiles of ammunition, ammunition that no terrorist organization could take on the streets and use in any city around the world. This is heavy caliber machine gun stuff, mortar rounds things like this.

This is not the tools of international terrorists. These are tools of a military force that wants to fright from their bases. They didn't. Clearly, they fled into mountains, but Osama bin Laden had decided to stockpile equipment, munitions here, for a last stand is perhaps indicative of his mood, of his style, of military style that he would want to fight this out.

Does he have greater world recognition and importance in his own terms, as if he dies a martyr or does he -- what happens to his image if he is captured? He has in the past, a lot of people have said, really wanted to court the media to present a good image, to present the type of image that is going to encourage followers. So it is likely whatever he does, however he plays out this period right now, is going to be maximize his, A, safety, and B, maximize his global exposure, his importance amongst his own followers, Larry.

KING: Sebastian, how do they exist in caves? What could that be like?

JUNGER: Well, I spoke with an Afghan who fought the Soviets in the '80s from caves, and he said frankly, it is miserable. It really is miserable. He said you don't want to spend a long time there. He also said that when bombs landed outside that mouth of the cave, the shock waves were devastating, and in one case his ears and eyes bled for days, just from the concussion from Russian bombs. These aren't even American bombs, which are much more powerful.

I think a cave is actually a very bad bet. And frankly, if I'm going to guess at what he is doing I would say he held out as long as he safely could and slipped away, my guess is across the border into Pakistan.

KING: We thank you both very much. Nic Robertson on the scene in Tora Bora and best-selling author Sebastian Junger in San Francisco.

When we come back we will meet our terrific panel, introduce them individually and go at it.

Laura Bush, the first lady of the United States, is our guest tomorrow night. I'm Larry King in Washington tonight. Be right back.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Osama bin Laden is going to be brought to justice. It may happen tomorrow, it may happen in a month, it may happen in a year. But he is going to be brought to justice. He is on the run, and he is -- he thinks he can hide. But he can't. We have been at this operation now for about two and half months, and we made incredible progress. And one of the objectives I have said in this theater, in all theaters, for that matter, is that we want all al Qaeda killers brought to justice, and we will bring him to justice.



KING: Let's meet our panel. All here in Washington. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, member of the Select Intelligence Committee; Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, member of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence; Bob Schieffer the anchor and moderator of "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" every Sunday, and CBS news chief Washington correspondent; and Michael Beschloss, historian and best-selling author, the new one, terrific, "Reaching for Glory, More of Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes," these from the years 1964 through '65.

All right. We have heard our guy on the scene, Senator, and from our author who has been there. What do you make of this race for bin Laden?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), TECH & TERRORISM SUBCMTE CHMN.: Well, I think it is important to take out the leadership of al Qaeda. Having said that, I tend to agree with Sebastian. After reading a great deal about this man, I don't think he stayed around to be caught. I suspect he sensed the way it was going. He has got money. He can certainly pay for people to get him over the border. And you know there is a heavy Pashtun sympathetic element in Pakistan, and he may very well even be out of Pakistan.

KING: Senator Lugar?

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Bin Laden is very important. But I hope we are paying even more attention to where the rest of the al Qaeda are going at this point.

KING: But the public thinks bin Laden -- 70 percent --

LUGAR: I understand that so we will take care of that, but some of the rest of us have really got to keep an eye on the rest of the cells, because, not only the al Qaeda people in Afghanistan, but the foreign nationals, who, likewise are in play here, that is, either captured or also at large, that could very well form with cells in another countries.

We could have a replication of this whole thing in a very unstable country. The formation of that government is tremendously important to us, because we could have a replication again in Afghanistan, of an unstable group, which al Qaeda or some other group comes back to prey upon them, so those are very important events, and I don't see the same world attention on them, but I hope we focus rapidly.

KING: Bob?

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS, "FACE THE NATION": Well it seems to me that Afghanistan -- I mean one thing we can say has happened so far, is Afghanistan, at this point, is no longer a place that can harbor terrorists. And there were a lot of places that Osama bin Laden thought he could operate from. I don't think at this point he is going to be operating very well from there. So I think there is some success. Where is Osama bin Laden? Who knows? We will know where he is when we catch him. But, we will eventually catch him.

KING: Has to be caught, right?

SCHIEFFER: Well, when you think of the resources that the United States government can bring to bear, these rewards, they will catch him.

KING: Although we have been looking for the guy who caused the Atlanta problem in the Olympics for four years.

SCHIEFFER: Sure, and we looked for the unabomber for a long time, but we finally got him, you know. They will eventually catch him.

KING: Anything historical to match this, Mr. Beschloss?


KING: Have we ever had a world-wide look out for one guy?

BESCHLOSS: Nothing like this, but you know you look at World War II, and Dwight Eisenhower when he was the commander in Europe, his orders were liberate the German nation. They weren't kill Adolf Hitler or capture him although we sure wanted to do that, and all of us were delighted when Hitler killed himself, but I think President Bush has been very good at keeping people's eye on the fact that the purpose of this is to free us from terrorism. And to the extent that capturing Osama bin Laden helps us to do that...

KING: So, there wasn't this hysteria about get Hitler?

BESCHLOSS: Oh, people wanted to do it. I would love to see Osama put in a cage and brought into Times Square...

KING: But there wasn't this kind of -- get Hitler kind of thing, was there?

BESCHLOSS: Well, I think people emotionally felt that way, but the real purpose of the war was less "get Hitler" than get him out of power and get a decent government in Germany.

KING: Senator Feinstein -- and anyone can jump in -- is Senator Lugar right, though, that we focus so much attention on him that we are not looking at other things?

FEINSTEIN: I think that is right. I think this has become deeply personalized, and in fact, he is just one person, maybe the head, maybe the financing arm, but there is other leadership, and there are probably thousands of al Qaeda all over the world, certainly Indonesia, Malaysia, some in the Philippines, some in this country; you have the Middle East situation, you've got Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad.

I mean, terrorism, may own view has taken on a tremendous scope, but Afghanistan has to be stable. The American interest there is now established. As we said with the opening of the embassy, we are going to stay with it. I think getting this government squared away, getting it functioning, getting economic recovery -- I am very worried about the winter and people starving to death over this winter, getting that solved, I think these are the important things.

SCHIEFFER: Wasn't this tape that was released, wasn't it a wonderful advertisement for what terrorists are, and what terrorism really stands for?

KING: For the fanaticism?

SCHIEFFER: Because here you saw in this tape, you saw this man saying -- chuckling, laughing about the fact he is able to trick young people into committing suicide. And basically, that is what he did. And I just thought as I saw that, and comparing it to these pictures we see every day, of those firemen in New York, who are still going into that rubble and digging those bodies out, for no other purpose than to see that those people have a proper burial, now that tells you, this is what terrorists do. They trick their young people into committing suicide.

And here is what we do. We will spend months and millions of dollars just to get the victims so they can have a dignified burial.

KING: Senator Lugar, they keep telling us it is going take long, long time. Why?

LUGAR: I think the perspective the president and others are giving is accurate. It will take long while because there are terrorist cells in many countries.

KING: So, you are thinking post Afghanistan when you say long, long...

LUGAR: Yes, although we are not home free there, yet, even as we have all said this evening, we are still chasing down the al Qaeda, who are there. But are there other terrorists, they are in many countries, and the perspective of how to go after them and keep the alliance together, keep the same resources of intelligence sharing that have been so important in this, as well as the resources of troops, or weapons or what have you, will take lot of doing.

This why the president, I'm sure, is pleased that bin Laden is holed up there. But his own rhetoric has been, this is a long time, and people are asking the same question you ask, why? Because there are terrorists out there. The other thing still out there, of course, are weapons of mass destruction. They are in several countries too. Now the intersection of his terrorist cells, wherever they are, with the materials of weapons of mass destruction really is catastrophic news, as opposed to simply a terrorist incident, and that is why the war is going to be a long one, getting to all those weapons as well as to terrorists, simultaneously. KING: Long wars, Michael, historically, tend to turn public down.

BESCHLOSS: Well Vietnam the big example, but you know, that was almost the flip side of this, because the problem there was that President Johnson did the opposite of what President Bush did. He first of all didn't say this is a war that could take 10 years, which is what he privately thought, and could kill 50,000 Americans. He turned out to be right.

Instead he muffled the announcement that we were going to war, and people were not told at beginning. What Bush did in September shows that he learned the lesson of Vietnam, which was, if you are going into a war No. 1, make sure it is for something worthwhile, not a corrupt regime in Saigon, but in this case, all of our physical security.

And No. 2, if you are going to get into something like that, tell the American people at the outset so they can be consulted, and if they object, let them express themselves. That, Johnson never did, but George Bush did extremely well last fall.

KING: Let's discuss the John Walker matter. What do you think? He is on a ship now, isn't he?


KING: What do you think?

FEINSTEIN: Well, he is a constituent of mine.


FEINSTEIN: I must say, I don't have a lot of sympathy -- thanks a lot -- I don't have a lot of sympathy for him, to be very candid with you.

People say, well, he is only 20 years old. Well, there are a lot of 20-year-olds too, that are very mature. They understand the difference. I mean we now know that he was part of al Qaeda, whether he knew about September 11 or not, I don't know. There are many facts that have yet to come out.

KING: From what you know now, is this a criminal act?

FEINSTEIN: Oh, I don't -- I can't say. Because I don't know precisely what he did. If he did have an AK-47, if that gun had been fired, if the ballistics show that he could have killed the CIA agent, obviously, that then becomes a major event. If it is not -- not, if he really didn't know what he is doing, I think that will all become evident.

But there is a degree of culpability. In the law the facts will determine the degree of that culpability. And I'm not prepared to say right now. But I don't have a lot of sympathy for him.

KING: Dick.

LUGAR: I think that circumstantial evidence is very heavy against Walker. Clearly, he made choices and he has to take responsibility for that. It could not have been beyond his maturity, at this point, to know that he was hooking up with a terrorist organization.

Now precisely what he did, as I answered, we don't know, but we'll find out. Anybody in that situation, for a period of time, is very likely to have done a number of things that are terrorist. These are the people that we are fighting. And so it is not precisely whether he fired a gun at an American. The fact is that he may have fired at somebody else. The al Qaeda were bad news. And were given harbor by the Taliban, the combination of this has been horrible for the people of Afghanistan.

People involved in this have done despicable things. So he is a part of that crowd. He made that choice. Now, the evidence and the nature of the trial will be tremendously interesting as to how that unraveled.

SCHIEFFER: I think the first thing, I think you start out with the fact that if he shot an American he is probably going to be charged with treason. You start right there. But after you come to that conclusion, then you want to find out how much does this fellow know, and what can he tell us, because he may know a lot. We don't know at this point.

He apparently is cooperating. Let's see what he tells us. And after that, then the proper authorities make a judgment.

KING: He is saying he knows bin Laden.

SCHIEFFER: We'll find out, won't we? And once we find out, then a judgment can be made on what he should be charged with.

KING: Let me get a break. We'll see what Michael thinks. We will be including your phone calls too. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: Michael Beschloss, we always lean on you for a little history. You got any historical comparisons to John Walker?

BESCHLOSS: Well there were alleged traitors during World War II.

KING: Execution of Private Slobeck (ph), but he just deserted.

BESCHLOSS: Yes, that is exactly right, and others who were suspected. One of the interesting things here is that we have been hearing for months now, about the possibility that this new system of justice, where there may be military tribunals and other kind of charges, is going to be tested and this could be one of the first tests that we see.

KING: Let's take a call. Athens, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I was wondering, will John Walker be prosecuted in a military tribunal or will he be prosecuted in Arlington, Virginia or in a county which he was from in California?

KING: If prosecuted what do we know?

FEINSTEIN: Don't know yet.

KING: Anyone know?

FEINSTEIN: Under the president's order he would make the decision. And either it could go to...

KING: He being Bush?

FEINSTEIN: Yes. Either it could go to a military tribunal, dependent upon facts...

KING: But I thought the military tribunal was for noncitizens?

FEINSTEIN: Well, so far, that is what they have said. That is correct. But dependent on what the actual circumstances are, that may even change. I don't know.

KING: Wouldn't it be a great press outcry and you, as a representative of the press to see that trial of John Walker?

SCHIEFFER: Oh, sure, I mean it is it would be, but I don't know. They will to make the rules on what happens there.

KING: You have a guess, Senator Lugar?

LUGAR: I think the Department of Justice would probably work overtime to have the trial here in the United States so as not to be accused of trying an American abroad or in some other circumstances.

KING: Michael?

BESCHLOSS: Sounds right. And, you know, it is a classic thing that we always see in war, which is, you always are struggling between wanting to preserve civil liberties and at the same time protecting our citizens, and that is something FDR had to deal with, in some ways went overboard. And you always see this pattern where a president tries to do as much as he can to extend his powers to protect people, and it almost always goes to far in the Congress and the courts and the people (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Bob Schieffer, the polls today say that the public is getting less and less fearful of terrorism; was it a 90 percent fear rate, now it is down around 50 percent. Can there be a danger in that?

SCHIEFFER: Well that is very interesting. And I'm not sure I understand what that means, it may mean that we have just...

KING: They are more confident...

SCHIEFFER: ... we've become accustomed to it and we are learning to live with it, which I guess is good on the one hand, and maybe not so good on the other. But I suppose that is -- I suppose that is natural.

KING: What do you make of it?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think you kind of settle down. It is like when we learn that one of the planes that went down in Pennsylvania was either aimed at the Capitol or at the White House, and you think, well, you know, I was in that particular place at that time. Or you hear that, well a bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge may be a target because it is sort of a signature piece of architecture. And yet, nothing happened.

So you live with it, and in a way it doesn't quite dull your senses. But a different, I think, characteristic sets in to you. It is a kind of determination. You are not going to be daunted by it. You learn you can handle it. The days go on, the apprehension that you felt immediately, I think, eases somewhat. It is a very interesting phenomenon, I find, and I have talked to others about it. They say pretty much same thing.

LUGAR: I think the problem with this is that Attorney General Ashcroft and Governor Ridge were criticized for these sort of blanket thoughts that you better be alert.

There have been lots of intelligence materials coming in, and the public says, I want more specifics, where, when so forth. Well, we don't know, that is just the nature of it.

What I fear would occur is that if there is another act of terrorism at this point, there will be a spike back up to 90. In other words, we may have been fortunate, perhaps because of the detentions of a lot of people threw folks off base, or through the events with bin Laden, and perhaps his people weren't in a position really to get something under way again. But I have no doubt that they had something in mind and I don't know of timetable, so it would be better not to be at ease.

KING: Would it be logical to think, Bob, that if something happened to bin Laden, that there would be retribution?

SCHIEFFER: You mean that people would...

KING: Yes...

SCHIEFFER: Oh, if...

KING: Yeah, taken it out on...

SCHIEFFER: Well, how can we know? Because how do we really know what the strength of al Qaeda is? We think we know, and the reports are that they have these ways of doing these things. But you know, after we bombed Khadafi, in his house in Lybia, we didn't hear from him for a long, long time. This may have quite an impact on the whole terrorist network. And it may not be just retribution. It may be that they will pull back a little. I suppose we'll have to wait and see. But I'm not sure that I think that there automatically would be some sort of retribution.

KING: After viewing that tape, how did they pull that off?

BESCHLOSS: You mean getting the tape?

KING: No, not the tape, the action.

BESCHLOSS: The 11th of September. You had some fanatical people who very cleverly...

KING: But they if they lied to their own people getting on plane, how did they pull it off?

BESCHLOSS: They were willing to do almost anything and that does show us the difference between terrorists and the rest of us. You couldn't have had a better illustration than that tape the other day that we all saw.

But you know the other point that you were making about capturing or killing Osama, we all would love to see this done as soon as possible but I sure hope that is announced in a way that our government has thought very carefully about. Because...

KING: What do you mean?

BESCHLOSS: Well, Because if it is done suddenly, and our defenses are not hardened and there is the danger that there are terrorists here who are tempted to commit another attack at the moment that they hear that news, I would rather have our government at least think very carefully about how that is announced and make sure that we are prepared in advance.

KING: Are all the rules of war in place, Senator? I mean, there is censorship in war, there is denial of freedoms in war, there is careful -- when you do release something.

FEINSTEIN: My own view is that there is too much talk. I mean I watched the other day, where some of our special forces actually described the equipment they carried, the kind of weapons, the kind of night vision goggles, the kind of computer, all of this. I don't think there is a need for anybody to know that.

Nor I do think it is particularly helpful for a lot of these things to come out. You know, we are great -- we are on the cutting edge of new technology, and in a way it is our silver bullet, but we always manage to give it away or sell it to our enemies, somehow. And, I think that is a mistake.

KING: Too much information? LUGAR: Probably. Now just along the lines that Dianne is talking about. You can read in the newspapers extraordinary exploits in intelligence and special forces. Perhaps this can install confidence that after all we are a lot brighter than we thought. The attack was on the American intelligence apparatus that missed the whole business, but then we find that in fact, there are a lot of very able Americans. And they are doing marvelous things. Usually they do it in obscurity, which is sad and they die in obscurity, but not this time.

Right up front we have a pretty good idea of what is going on day by day.

KING: No one is admitting it, Bob, and I know you have asked it of the Colin Powells and the like, do you think they regret not going to Iraq ten years ago?


KING: They don't say it.

SCHIEFFER: Yes, I think they do. Because I don't think they realized -- I think that their feeling was, and I think the mind set was at that time that, that he would not survive, that Saddam Hussein would not be able to survive.


SCHIEFFER: In fact -- yes -- and in fact he was able to survive. And I think there was a surprise. What do you think, Senator Lugar?

LUGAR: Well, I remember as I think President Bush would, the president at that point, I was give an audience to talk to him about it, because I had written a memo that I felt that we ought to go. And he reasoned with me, just lining lines you are suggesting. That the costs of American lives, the problem of finding Saddam, the carnage of all the Iraqis that would be killed along the way, the problem with the Shiites and the Kurds, and the breakup of country that -- and Iran next door, a long list of reasons so I can, and I think you know my feeling was still should you do it, that was one he opportunity. But on the other hand, not only Powell but the president thought this thing through, he made a judgment.

KING: Was it a wrong judgment?

BESCHLOSS: I think given what they knew at the time, I think, probably it was a right judgment, because not only all of that, but we got a lot of countries into a coalition, because we said what we want to do is get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait period. If we had done that, and then said surprise we are now going to march toward Baghdad, think what the American image would have been in Middle East ever since then, which would have been that we trick people into coalitions. And we don't keep our word. With 20-20 hindsight, I think, it might have even been worth doing that.

It reminds me a little bit, Dwight Eisenhower once said that any high school student with 20/20 hindsight can do better with a political problem than a president operating at the time with fragmentary information.

FEINSTEIN: Larry, can I add one thing here.

KING: Let me get a break, and then we'll pick right up. We'll...



KING: ... be right back with our panel. Take some more phone calls; Senator Jim Jeffords still to come. And Laura Bush tomorrow night don't go away.


KING: You're watching a historic moment, the United States flag goes back over the embassy in Kabul. Put there by the United States Marine Guard, it was last there, that identical flag in 199 -- in 1988. When it last flew and there it flies again.

You were going add something.

FEINSTEIN: Yes, I wanted to add something. I think back in the early 90s, too, the people weren't ready to go farther into Baghdad. I think, you know, Kuwait's far away. People didn't understand, America's oil interests came into it, and I think they wanted it quick and everybody was talking about well, if you go in how do you get out. And I think we have to remember, it took Pearl Harbor to bring us into World War II. It took these attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center for us to really go into this, and I think once Americans are attacked on their own soil it becomes a very different country, indeed, when it comes to war. And I don't think that can really be underestimated.

KING: Good point. Bell Canyon, California, hello.

LAURA: Hello, this is Laura.

KING: Yes.

LAURA: I heard that the Supreme Court said, that if you're a citizen of the United States and you take up arms in a foreign country you are not allowed to be tried for treason back in the states.

KING: Anybody know what that means, for a foreign country against the United States? I Don't know what that --


FEINSTEIN: I don't know the answer to that, either. I'll find out, though.

KING: You can have dual citizenship, right? Could an American go and fight for Israel?

BESCHLOSS: Sure. Many have.

KING: Right. And nothing...

BESCHLOSS: Absolutely.

KING: America would do nothing to that person.

BESCHLOSS: Absolutely not, it would honor them.

KING: You could be a dual citizen. Could you go fight with the Palestinians?

BESCHLOSS: I assume that's true. I defer to people with a little bit more...

FEINSTEIN: Yes, that's true. But now we have passed an authorization of military force, not really a declaration of war in the traditional sense, but one that carried the weight of any military force is authorized for the terrorists of 9/11 and where that takes us with respect to 9/11, it isn't really a broad declaration of war -- isn't against the country and this is where this all becomes a bit murky.

KING: Is the Mid-East soluble?

SCHIEFFER: Not so far.

KING: Not ever.

SCHIEFFER: Well, who knows, we have to keep trying as Voltaire said, we must continue to tend the garden. I don't know if it will do any good or not. But somewhere, some place --

KING: Is there any other spot like that, comparatively in the world?

SCHIEFFER: Well, it's one of those scenes where these cultures of the world come together. And it just won't weld, at least not so far.

KING: Any hopes there?

LUGAR: Of course. You know --

KING: Just hopes, though?

LUGAR: Yes, but on the other hand some reality's finally come in. The forces are finally going to bring about some peace, maybe a very tough peace. Better still then the economic forces might be at work, Shimon Peres among others has always hoped that somehow people wanted jobs, wanted money. There are possibilities out there.

BESCHLOSS: Also, you know, wars reshuffle the cards. It was in the wake of the Gulf War that we had the Madrid Conference, the first serious big conference that addressed these problems in ways that would have been impossible before the Gulf War. And I don't want to be a Pollyanna but it's not impossible all these changes that we are now seeing in the Middle East might some day make that more possible.

SCHIEFFER: But you know that raises a very interesting point, and it's something I hoped we'd talk about. Do you think, Michael, as a historian that this is some sort of marker in time. Like in the days after World War II....

BESCHLOSS: Oh, absolutely.

SCHIEFFER: ... when the world sort of sorted itself out in a different way? Is that where we are now?

KING: Good question.

FEINSTEIN: This is a very important point. If, and this is a big if, Arafat really does move forward, and really begins to arrest that leadership list that Israel has presented to Arafat on a number of occasions. And there are some serious penalties attached to that, I think then this peace process can move forward. If he does nothing or if he has the revolving jail door, you know, in one side and out the other, then you're right back to square one. And I think it is extraordinarily dangerous.

LUGAR: I think he big change is the power of the United States. We really weren't exercising that power before September 11. Now we are. That's going to be impressive in the Middle East and anywhere else.

KING: But the president, in his campaign, wanted to remain sort of out of things.

LUGAR: I understand that, but this is September 11 plus. And all I'm saying is that a lot of things change when American military and diplomatic might and all the alliance come together; just take a look over the weekend with the renouncing of the ABM treaty. The prediction six months ago was the Russians, the Chinese about everybody in the world, our NATO Alliance would be totally up in arms. Not so. They said we think it's a mistake. The difference is that the Russian-American relationship has changed dramatically, so has it with NATO.

BESCHLOSS: Who ever would have imagined, you know, it was exactly 10 years ago this month that the Cold War ended, and the Soviet Union died, who would imagine that we would come this far, that you would have seen those officials today, Russian and American, side by side, but it is something I think to be optimistic about.

The other thing is diplomacy should be honest, and there have been too many years in which Western officials and diplomats, including our own, took an attitude with many of these countries, you know, terrorism if you must do it, we'll just look the other way, and we won't talk about that. Almost as if you're doing something gross in the middle of the table or if you raise the subject -- that's not going to happen anywhere and think that's all to the good. FEINSTEIN: Or some of these countries -- I think -- like the terrorism, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian situation, because it took the heat off themselves and their government.

BESCHLOSS: Absolutely.

FEINSTEIN: And some have even suspected that there's a little bit of double dealing going on here. I think all of that's going to be fleshed out and we are really going to know. I think the president put it very well, you're either with us or against us. It's a clear divide.

BESCHLOSS: It really does clarify.

KING: Ellijay, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. I'd like to ask Mr. Beschloss and Mr. Schieffer, how does the war on terrorism story compare with some of the other great stories they've covered through the years?

KING: Bob?

SCHIEFFER: Well the story that had the greatest emotional impact on me was the assassination of John Kennedy.

KING: You were there, were you not?

SCHIEFFER: I was there. I did not have the kinds of feelings about any news story that I had about that one until this came along and I would put this right beside that because I have to tell you, it just made me sick to my stomach and you don't often get that feeling covering a story.

The feeling that reporters get covering a big story there's always a great rush. You didn't have that with this story.

KING: You were at the Capitol, right?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I was on the way to the Capitol. Had that plane not crashed in Pennsylvania, as I have said on this broadcast, I might owe my life to the people on that plane.

KING: Michael?

BESCHLOSS: And historically it will be horrible to write about but fascinating to write about and you know, occasionally historians can provide some small small service, and this war on terrorism, this is a case in which I think we will only know what's going on 30 years from now. The two senators probably know more than the rest of us do, but that is when you get the kind of records that tell you what is going on behind the scenes in intelligence and the financial war now, all sorts of things that are not visible to us ordinary Americans.

KING: Where were you that morning?

BESCHLOSS: The morning of the 11th of September, I had just taken my younger son to nursery school, and heard on the radio that the attack occurred, went home just in time to see the second attack on the second tower.

KING: Your first thoughts?

BESCHLOSS: First thought was, sort of like Bob, it reminded me of the Kennedy assassination when I was 7 years old and that sure was not in my experience and was with me for a very long time.

KING: Where were you, Senator?

FEINSTEIN: I was on my way to work. I had just stopped to have my hair done. Then phone call came and I went into work and the second one hit.

KING: Did you know the world was changed forever?

FEINSTEIN: I knew the world was changed forever. It's one of those startling events that you remember everything about how you reacted. I remember with the Kennedy assassination. I happened to have been in Hong Kong and was trying to get home, trying to get a land line, trying to make contact and you couldn't. And this great sense of despair, you know, and here it was, these buildings, when they went down, it was terrible.

KING: Where were you, Senator?

LUGAR: I was in the Hart Senate office building. My press secretary Andy Fisher (ph) had CNN on, so we saw it all live right from the beginning.

KING: And you never forget that.

LUGAR: It was incredible, horrible and the aftershock in Hart building which turned out to be a Pentagon explosion. We thought at the time it was the Capitol. It was not really clear what was going on out there.

KING: Thank you all very much. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Lugar; Bob Schieffer of CBS and Michael Beschloss.

When we come back, Independent of Vermont, Senator Jim Jeffords. Don't go away.



SEN. JIM JEFFORDS (I), VERMONT: I changed my party label, but I have not changed my beliefs. Indeed, my decision is about affirming the principles that have shaped my career. I hope that the people of Vermont will understand it. I hope in time that my colleagues will as well. I am confident that it is the right decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: That was a historic day, May 24. With us is Senator Jim Jeffords, independent of Vermont, author of the new book "My Declaration Of Independence." How's it gone?

JEFFORDS: It's gone very well. I was very well received and nothing but praise and the book sales are going rapidly.

KING: And how's life gone for you in the Senate? Are you ostracized or welcomed on both sides or what?

JEFFORDS: Both of that, I think. It's been a very interesting but very troubling time. Things have run rather smoothly. I did it because the democracy was not working, the power was not structured right for a Democracy and something had to be done and now the results of that have been good and healthy for a democracy.

KING: No regrets?

JEFFORDS: No regrets whatsoever.

KING: Did September 11 have any effect, did you say, maybe I should have stuck?

KING: Oh, it had an affect, but not party-wise. In fact it was healthy in the way it happened, I think as to probably to have a better system to pull things together. I was -- it was a great difference for me because I changed committees and became chairman of the committee, which is the one that's in charge of security of all of our assets basically, and the Environmental Public Works Committee and so I immediately was over to the Pentagon and immediately up to New York City and deeply involved in that, so it change dramatically in that respect, but not as far as the Democratic process went.

KING: Who lost you? How did they lose you?

JEFFORDS: It was just an abuse of a situation of having the power to do something. Let me go into a little bit of detail on that. This all had to do with education.

KING: Right.

JEFFORDS: Education to me is the most difficult problem we have with this nation and we all have to work together to solve it. And funding of our public schools is so critical and so important and the federal government has to do its share. And we were working on that in the Senate. We had in the budget process where we decide what the spending of all the money is going to be.

We worked hard on education and Tom Harkin in particular. We ended up in that budget with $450 billion dollars to help our schools to be able to face the present day needs. It went to conference and when it came back it was zero. Now, you don't go to a conference figuring that you're going in 450 billion and you come out with zero. I mean, that's just not the way democracy works.

KING: Who scuttled it? JEFFORDS: We had it set up at that time by the way things had turned out, is you had a House that was a Republican House, and a president that was a Republican, and a Senate that was Republican. And under our rules whose on that conference committee is decided by the leader, Trent Lott, and the speaker. So when they went to conference, when you would expect there will be 20, 30 people, the present one I'm on, education, there's about 30 people on it, and they would debate and they would come compromise.

There were 6 -- 4 Republicans two Democrats, speaker of the house, Trent Lott, and the chairman of the two committees, and they just went in and wiped everything out and sent it back.

KING: And lost you.

JEFFORDS: And lost me. Because I then took a look at it and said, my God, how could they possibly do that? And I analyzed it and I found what the problem was -- with all three houses being with Republicans.

KING: Have your constituents supported you?


KING: They elected you as a Republican, though. Do they feel betrayed do you think?

JEFFORDS: Well, Vermont is different. It is independent. Republicans in Vermont were always independent. We were the first real Republican state and we always had two sides, the moderates and the conservatives, so I wasn't doing anything in Vermont that was...

KING: When is your term up?

JEFFORDS: My term is up, well another five years.

KING: Safe?


KING: You'll say independent all those five years?

JEFFORDS: Oh, yes. I'm not going to change. It's been a very useful plan and it's working well, and we are beginning to see moderate impact again and that's the biggest problem was, it destroyed the power of the moderates because we had worked together on the tax and got...

KING: You're the make or break element now, aren't you?


KING: Thank you, Jim. I salute you. Wasn't easy. Anybody who takes a stand, not easy in times when it's easy to just cruise the middle. Senator Jim Jeffords, independent of Vermont, chairman of Environment and Public Works Committee and author of "My Declaration of Independence."

We'll close it out with Natalie Merchant in New York and she's next. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now in New York is Natalie Merchant, singer songwriter. Her newest album is "Motherland." It is her third solo album. She moved on from the multi platinum band 10,000 Maniacs. This new album was completed two days before September 11. The song will be "Just Can't Last." It is the first single released from this album. It is appropriate for tonight.

Did you write this song?

NATALIE MERCHANT, SINGER: I wrote this song, yes.

KING: Natalie, I thank you very much for joining us. We all look forward to hearing you. We try to end every note on an up beat and we know this fits. Here is Natalie Merchant in New York with "Just Can't Last."



KING: Laura Bush from the White House tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE. NEWSNIGHT is next in New York and here is its host, Aaron Brown -- Aaron.




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