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Hunt for bin Laden Intensifies; What Is to Be Done With John Walker?

Aired December 21, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the hunt for Osama bin Laden intensifies. President Bush says even if he's slithered away from Afghanistan, he will be caught.

And what's to be done with John Walker? His attorney hopes Americans keep an open mind.

With live updates from Afghanistan, we will hear from Colin Soloway of "Newsweek" in Kabul. In Jalalabad, CNN's Nic Robertson.

Then, Senator Richard Shelby, vice chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee and Senator Dick Durbin, he serves on that committee, too.

Debating John Walker's fate and other hot issues, former prosecutor turned Court TV anchor Nancy Grace, defense attorney Mark Geragos, the district attorney for Westchester County, New York, Jeanine Pirro. She's a former judge, and he is a former chief minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, Julian Epstein.

Then joining us from England, Heather Mills, goodwill ambassador for Adopt-a-Minefield. She's also Sir Paul McCartney's fiancee.

We close it out with musical beauty Jewel, who will sing "O Holy Night." And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE!

Good evening. We begin with Nic Robertson in Jalalabad, and Colin Soloway, the correspondent for "Newsweek" is in Kabul. Colin is not on camera in Kabul, so we'll start by asking him -- he's on the phone -- why are you not at the regular spot, Colin?

COLIN SOLOWAY, "NEWSWEEK": Well, we tried to get to the regular spot this morning, Larry, but the entire city is shut down at the moment. All the street roadblocks all over the streets set up for security for the inauguration of the new government, of the new interim government, which is set to take office today. So, they've got very, very heavy security. Our driver couldn't get through to us, and then we couldn't even get through to the normal CNN location. Sorry about that.

KING: How did it go today, by the way?

SOLOWAY: How did it go? Well, it hasn't started yet. KING: Oh, I mean, the schedule has started -- is everything all set, I mean?

SOLOWAY: As far as we know, yes. I mean, the security seems to be in place in any case. I think, you know, all the political figures have agreed, at least for the moment, to have this inauguration. I don't think anyone is expecting any violence or any protests at this point. But I think the test will come in the coming days, once the new interim Chairman Hamid Karzai takes control or attempts to take control. He has been faced already with behind-the-scenes threats from some warlords and political leaders who have been left out of the interim government at the moment.

He has been told in no uncertain terms that, you know, there is a deadline for some of these groups or some of these leaders to be included in the government, with serious ministry positions, or there is going to be fighting. And that remains to be seen -- you know, I think we're going to see some compromises in the coming days. If not, we may see some fighting.

KING: All right, Nic Robertson on the ground in Afghanistan, we have now -- what -- troops replacing heavy bombing, right?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's what's happening, Larry, troops going up into the mountains of Tora Bora. They will be assisting the U.S. special forces that are on the ground there. It has to be said when you look at the mountains, it is a massive range. They go -- stretch for 20 or 30 miles left and right, east and west, and then the depth go in about 20 miles to Pakistan border. So it is a big job.

When they were bombing, they were bombing along the whole ridge lines way up in the mountains, so one assumes that many of the caves are widely dispersed in the mountains, and it is going to take a force of that size to get through them, get all the information out, get all the information out in a timely fashion, Larry.

KING: What you can tell us, Nic, about the attack on that convoy, believed to be carrying the Taliban leaders?

ROBERTSON: Well, several things. One is that Khost, which is a town the convoy was traveling from, was a town that had al Qaeda training camps that were targeted in 1998 when cruise missiles were sent in following the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Africa. So, it is a known place for al Qaeda members to be and to have been in the past.

Now, the U.S. government from the Pentagon says that it has specific intelligence information indicating that the people traveling in those 10 or 12 vehicles were either senior Taliban or senior al Qaeda figures. The one voice of dissent, if you will, is coming from the Afghan Islamic Press. Now, the Afghan Islamic Press is a small organization. However, it has had credible firsthand information in the past -- but it must be said, it is often stolen a lead on the news by its close contacts with the Taliban. So it is not clear in this post-Taliban era if their information is still accurate or inaccurate, but certainly from the point of view of the warplanes that attacked the convoy, the AC-130's that went in with a heavy machine guns, with everyone that was involved in targeting that convoy, it was a legitimate target, it did contain al Qaeda or Taliban members -- Larry.

KING: Colin Soloway on the phone from Kabul, what's the latest, if anything, on Osama bin Laden?

SOLOWAY: Well, Larry, I think you probably know as much as we do here. I mean, what we were told -- I just came back from Tora Bora, I was yesterday there, was by local commanders that they believe that Osama bin Laden is most likely either gone into Pakistan or in the border area just along the edges of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that they believe that he and most of his guys were gone.

And as you have seen in the news, there have been a number of raids on shipping around the world, in fact, most in the English Channel and then in other areas in the eastern seas by British and U.S. forces, attempting to board ships owned by or suspected to be associated with bin Laden. At the moment, as far as we know, none of these has been successful in locating him or anything else, at the moment.

But obviously, now that people are beginning to think that he is gone from Afghanistan or that there is a possibility, the U.S. intelligence services and U.S. military, U.S. Navy, is pursuing a process of interdiction to try and stop any possible route that he could be traveling from this area to maybe someplace like Somalia, or Yemen, or Sudan.

KING: Nic, we the public have all gotten to know you rather well these last few months. What -- do you get -- are you -- where are you going to be for Christmas?

ROBERTSON: Larry, I'm going to be right here -- here, or Tora Bora, or Kabul, but somewhere here, being Afghanistan. It is a story that I have grown used to covering, if I can say that, over the last few months. It is a story I have enjoyed covering. There is a lot more to say here, and I'm very keen to be part of CNN's great coverage team that is trying to do its best to bring all the news as quickly as possible.

KING: Colin, do you remain on duty during the holidays too, or do you get to come home for a while?

SOLOWAY: No, I will be sitting here in Kabul over the holidays as well. But it is -- it's an interesting time to be here. This is where the new government is coming in, and I don't think that the Afghans or the international community are going to take much time off for Christmas, so I think there will still be a lot of news for us to cover.

KING: Nic, what do you know about the thermobaric bomb, that new bomb they use to hit caves? ROBERTSON: I think it's called the BLU18B, Larry. This is a bomb that has only just finished testing, I understand, two weeks ago in the deserts of Arizona. It is designed to penetrate, like a bunker buster, it's designed to penetrate the ground. But different to the bunker busters, designed -- once it gets into the tunnel systems, the cave systems in the mountains, it is designed to go off, releasing a huge amount of pressure, bringing the mountain down, and also with a huge amount of heat as well, and that's designed to essentially kill anyone who might be hiding in that cave system, or just bring the cave system itself down, Larry.

KING: And Colin, what can you tell -- we discussed that today is the inaugural, the new government -- are there very high security measures? This not your everyday inauguration.

SOLOWAY: Well, I've never been to an inauguration in Kabul before, so it's difficult for me to assess, but certainly, you know, shutting down the streets with the degree of efficiency which they have suggests that they are taking quite seriously any possibility of attack. I mean, once you remember that the Taliban and al Qaeda people have in the past, even when in custody, have basically staged suicide attacks, either throwing grenades or setting off bombs strapped to their bodies, and so it's certainly I think reasonable precautions, to try to make sure that no stray al Qaeda or Taliban saboteur manages to get in to mar this occasion.

KING: Thank you both very much, Colin Soloway, on the phone from Kabul, and as ever, Nic Robertson. Tonight, Nic is in Jalalabad. We thank you both very much. We wish you very happy holidays.

One sad note, we have lost a great man in journalism today, Dick Schaap, the writer and broadcaster for ESPN, written many books. Dick Schaap, a wonderful guy, passed away today in New York at the much too young age of 67. We express our condolences to all the Schaaps and to the many who loved him so much.

There's Dick. I just saw him right before he went into the hospital. He was going in for minor hip surgery, and an infection developed, and sadly we lost him. Goodbye, Dick.

We will be back and meet our senators, and more on current events. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know where he is. I hadn't heard much from him recently, and, you know, which means he could be in a cave that doesn't have an opening to it anymore. Or he could be in a cave where he can get out, or may have tried to slither out into neighboring Pakistan. We don't know.

But I will tell you this: We're going to find him.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: The Senate is home. And our two senators tonight are in respective homes. Senator Richard Shelby is in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is the Republican of Alabama, vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. And in Springfield, Illinois is Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, member of the Select Intelligence, also member of Judiciary.

Senator Shelby, what's your read on the latest in Afghanistan? Your overview of the troops going in and slowing down on the bombing and hitting the caves, cave by cave?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL), SELECT INTELLIGENCE VICE CHAIRMAN: I think we are in a the second phase of probably a prolonged fight against terrorism. It is going to be different now. But I believe that at the end of the day, that we are going to find Osama bin Laden and we are going to find most of his lieutenants. Will they be in a cave, as President Bush said, covered up? I'm not sure. Are they in some other country or are they still hiding in the mountains there? We have to find them, though.

KING: Senator Dick Durbin, are you -- what did you make of the fact that we didn't get the real full translation of the Osama bin Laden video?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I couldn't criticize the administration. They tried to portray it in a consensus way. They brought in several translators and interpreters. If there was no question about what he said, that is what was in the transcript. Any doubt, they just left it up to other people to reach a conclusion. And I think that is best way to do it, release it to the world under those conditions. And now we know that more was said and all of it is incriminating.

I want do agree with Dick Shelby though. This second phase is going to be really challenging in Afghanistan. I think we are going to find that holding power in Afghanistan is more challenging than taking power. And it doesn't have a tradition of stable government in recent years. You have these different factions in the country. You still have at large Taliban forces and some al Qaeda followers, and a bad economy to start with. So you put all that together and it's a real challenge.

KING: Senator Shelby -- this could be for both of you -- in the "New York Times" today, Caleb Carr, the historian and best-selling author, wrote an op-ed piece. And he said, both the Justice Department and the American intelligence community have proved as incapable of assembling useful psychological profiles of Islamic terrorists on September 11 as they were about identifying such people in the months leading up to the attacks. What's your comments, Senator Shelby?

SHELBY: Well, I read the article. And it has some credibility to it. I don't believe we have done enough, as far as profiling, who we are fighting, that is the terrorist groups and even the individuals. Some of the individuals to a more extent. But, we have to understand our enemy. And our enemy, in this case, are terrorists that are willing to die. They are willing to die for a cause. And if we don't understand that and if we don't try to get in to the meaning of what are they fighting for, we won't understand our enemy. But I think we are beginning to understand the enemy on the military terms and we are winning.

KING: Dick Durbin, what do you think?

DURBIN: Well, I sat down with a prosecutor who had been prosecuting the Osama bin Laden gang in New York. And he described to me at outset what we were up against. He said they are very well educated. These are not the people off the street who were recruited. These are engineers and doctors. They are very patient. They will wait for a long period of time to execute their plan.

And during that period of time, they will assimilate themselves into the surroundings so that they don't stand out. That is exactly what happened with the perpetrators of the terrorist attack on September 11. We are learning as we go along that there are things we can do to improve law enforcement and to spot these folks and these cells long before they have created this terrorism.

KING: Do you support, Senator Shelby, the proposal by Senators McCain, Lieberman, Senator Clinton endorsed it last night, of an independent 9/11 investigation?

SHELBY: I'm not supporting it yet. I'm not saying that I wouldn't. Senator Graham, who chairs the intelligence committee, my colleague, and I have been discussing the oversight inquiry that we will launch from the Senate side. We have also talked to Congressman Goss and Congresswoman Pelosi regarding what the House might do there.

But whatever we do, we will probably be the first off the bat. It is part of our responsibility, but that would not preclude something like the other senators are proposed. I think it is very important, Larry, that we find out not only what happened or failed to happen on 9/11 from the intelligence standpoint, but what happened at Khobar Towers, what happened on our -- no intelligence, no inkling of what was going to happen -- the first time at the Trade Towers, our embassies bombings in Africa and the USS Cole. We have had too, too many failures of big intelligence.

KING: Any special concerns, Senator Durbin, this holiday weekend now -- a lot of people at airports tonight -- over security at home?

DURBIN: Yes, of course there is. And you have to understand as the president and Governor Ridge have told us repeatedly, we are still on alert in this country. But I have gone through major airports in the last couple days, O'Hare and Midway, and I know the security there is better than it has ever been. And I know people are working overtime to keep it safe.

But we have to be vigilant and we have to understand that terrorists are still out there. As much success as we have had in Afghanistan, even if we bring back the trophy prisoner of Osama bin Laden, this war against terrorism is far from over. KING: Now concerning the furtherance of war, the "Washington Post" article today says that, Senator Shelby, that Colin Powell is trying to quiet speculation about Iraq, saying that you can't take the Afghan model and apply to it Iraq. Do you agree?

SHELBY: I don't think we can take the Afghan model, but sooner or later, I believe we are going to have to face the problems and the terrorism and all of the other things that come out of Iraq. We cannot ignore it.

Now, when we will choose to do that and how we do it, I'm not sure. But I know that Secretary Wolfowitz, for one, in the administration has been outspoken on that. I think as long as we let Saddam Hussein stay in power, there is going to be a threat of terrorism and also a lot of instability, big time in the Persian Gulf area.

KING: There is, Senator Durbin, is there not, a dispute over this at the White House?

DURBIN: There obviously is a lot of debate. But make no mistake, Saddam Hussein's Iraq is a war waiting to happen. And unless someone else takes power that is a lot more sensible and rational or we see a complete transformation in his approach, we have to consider him a threat to his region and to the world.

Now, how soon we can come together and contain that threat is a question which secretary Powell raised in his statement. He assumes that it is going to take some time. I think in the meantime, he would like to use whatever power he has with the United Nations in diplomacy. When you look at what Saddam Hussein has at his disposal, in terms of chemical, biological, and perhaps even nuclear weapons, we cannot ignore the threat that he poses to the region and the fact that he is fomented terrorism throughout his reign.

KING: Senator Shelby, we are going to be debating in a few minutes between four Americans who have some thoughts and disagreements. What are your thoughts on John Walker? Today, President Bush identified him for the first time as an al Qaeda fighter. He also said that Walker's attorney has contacted the White House to discuss how the government is going to prosecute it.

SHELBY: Well, my first thoughts: It is sad. It is sad that an American, a young American that had the opportunities that John Walker has had, that would turn out to fight for al Qaeda, fight basically against his own country. What I would like to find out, and I believe we will as time goes on, what did he actually do? Did he participate in the revolt of the prisoners there where Michael Spann was killed. I think that will go a long way as to the severity of what he has done. He has done a lot just participating, but he could have done a lot more that day, and I don't think it bodes well for him.

KING: Senator Durbin, what do you think?

DURBIN: I hate to prejudge it, but Larry, I've got a brother who lives out in California, and we've talked about John Walker, and he reminded me that he was 17 years old when he got a letter from my father to give permission to join the Navy and to fight in the Korean War, and he said: "I don't buy it. This kid is 20 years old, and they are trying to ignore the decisions he made."

Clearly, he went through training with Osama bin Laden's people. He kind of new what he was getting into. I don't want to prejudge him, but quite honestly this is not an accidental situation. He really signed up, and in your CNN exclusive interview the other night made it clear that he believed in their mission.

KING: We thank you both very much. Happy holidays. Senators Richard Shelby in Alabama and Dick Durbin in Illinois.

When we come back, Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos, Jeanine Pirro and Julian Epstein go at it over Mr. John Walker. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: They say he is the most discussed person in America is John Walker of the Taliban. We welcome now to discuss it in Atlanta Nancy Grace, former prosecutor, the anchor for "Trial Heat" on Court TV. Here in Los Angeles, Mark Geragos, the famed defense attorney. In New York is Jeanine Pirro, she's the district attorney for Westchester County, New York, a former judge. And in Washington, Julian Epstein, former chief minority counsel, House Judiciary Committee.

Today, the president called him "an al Qaeda member." Do you buy that, Nancy?

NANCY GRACE, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, the president has changed his position. At first, he was called "a poor fellow," now he is "an al Qaeda member." Well remember, the president got that information from Walker himself. Walker stated he was an al Qaeda member, that he trained in an al Qaeda terrorist camp, even met Osama bin Laden. And nobody can tell me, Larry, that he could not look up and see U.S. planes overhead and know he was in the wrong place on the wrong side.

KING: Should his lawyer be given access, Mark?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yeah, at this point, obviously, I think that they have had him now for somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 days, roughly. Brosnahan, Mr. Brosnahan, has tried to get a hold of him and tried to talk to him.

KING: And today, he asked to find out how they are going to charge him, right?

GERAGOS: Well, and really the only option left for him at this point is for him to cooperate, and to cooperate as much as he can, because he doesn't really have many options left. When you saw the tape -- and that tape is going to come in under any circumstances -- the mother of the judge has not been born that's going to exclude that tape. So he has only got one option under the federal system, if he is brought into the civil justice system -- cooperate, hope for some kind of a 5K downward departure, and hope that somebody is going to give him some kind of a break. I mean, anything short of treason is a break for him.

KING: Jeanine, can this be treated in the usual manner of a suspect not high up on the rung who gives information about others to get a break?

JEANINE PIRRO, WESTCHESTER COUNTY D.A.: Certainly it can, and what you have here with John Walker is the fact that you have circumstances both before, during and after he was captured that indicate what his state of mind was. And whatever the facts are ultimately determined to be, and whatever he is charged with, I think that it is clear that there is information that we need to get from him, and then in assessment is made as to whether or not to -- or what charge to charge him with in a civilian federal criminal court.

I think what's interesting about this case is that Walker has made very clear, both in the tape as well as in everything that he has said, and his actions, that he sided with the Taliban, he believed in the jihad, he agreed with the September 11 bombing against the World Trade Center and the bombing of the USS Cole. So, all of this comes together to show an individual whose state of mind and actions, carrying an AK-47, are indicative of someone who clearly was fighting for the enemy in this situation.

KING: Julian Epstein, would you agree public opinion is vastly against him, and they are going to support the president -- and if the president lets him off the hook some way, the president would have a problem?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, FORMER JUDICIARY COMMITTEE COUNSEL: Absolutely. I think Nancy's point is correct. The notion that this was a poor misguided youth I think gives the notion of compassionate conservatism an entirely new meaning. You know, the normal rule for combatants during the war situation, Larry, is repatriation, but this isn't normal for two reasons: One is you have what seems to be certainly a treasonous activity by Mr. Walker.

And secondly, remember, al Qaeda isn't involved in a conventional war. Al Qaeda is involved in war crimes, which target civilians, so that makes this actually different. And if you go back to the Quirin case in 1942, which we have discussed on this program a couple of times, the law actually treats Americans that engage in this type of activity more harshly than it would even perhaps a foreign soldier.

The White House now, I think, has floated this balloon with the president saying he was a misguided youth, that type of thing -- I think that went over like a lead balloon. Now clearly the administration has I think an embarrassment of riches procedurally. It can go through the civilian courts, it can go through a military court, through the uniform code of military justice, or it can go through a tribunal, even because I think there is a possibility that he could be stripped of his citizenship.

When you get to the statutes, though, and if Jeanine is right, if we go through the civilian courts, you know, when we -- and I have been through this many times with the Judiciary Committee when we have written these statutes, terrorism statutes, we never I think ever anticipate in writing these statutes that we'd be faced with an American who actually would be engaged in terrorist activities from a foreign country against us.

So there isn't a great deal of statutes that really fit this kind of thing, because frankly the Congress had never anticipated it. But there are a bunch. Treason is a difficult one to actually get a conviction on, so I think that's why they are hedging away from that.

GRACE: I disagree.

KING: Nancy, I might make you reverse it a little. If you were his lawyer, what would you do?

GRACE: If I were his lawyer, well, that's going to be tough for me, Larry, you know that, but I think the only thing his lawyer can go is throw himself at the mercy of the government and try to broker a deal where he gets what little information he may have. Remember, those al Qaeda camps were used specifically for operational planning against the U.S., with biochemical experimentation going on there. And the tape will come in, the Supreme Court has already ruled on it.

KING: But what if, Nancy, what if it's a lot of information that he has? You said a little. What if it's a lot?

GRACE: Well, I don't think any jury or any prosecutor, as far as my experience is, likes a rat. But if he can give us information that could lead to bin Laden, or could put the nail in the coffin of other al Qaeda members, then maybe we've got a deal.


KING: Hold it. Mark, does he get the reward?


GERAGOS: Arguably, there is a -- I mean, there is an argument, a credible argument there. But I think importantly...

KING: They've offered the reward, and he wouldn't...

GERAGOS: Exactly, they have offered the reward, but I think credibly what his use is at this point is in most federal criminal cases you almost always have a snitch. I mean, it's a standard operating procedure. And in this case, you are going to need somebody to place -- I assume we're going to have prosecutions of other people, al Qaeda types or al Qaeda suspects, you are going to need somebody to testify. What better...

GRACE: But who's going to believe him? He's a traitor.

GERAGOS: It's in every single case in federal court, Nancy. You've got somebody who has pled guilty to something and then rolled.

GRACE: And nobody likes him.

GERAGOS: And that's 99.9 percent of all federal criminal prosecutions are based on somebody who has entered into a plea arrangement and is now cooperating in order to get a 5K downward...


KING: Jeanine, you're a former -- hold it. Jeanine, you are a former judge, is that correct?

PIRRO: Well, I don't know about the statistics, Larry, and I don't much know that it matters, but I think what's important here is that we are involved in a fluid situation. We are at war. Whether it's been officially declared or not, the United States was under attack. All you need to do is look at ground zero and know that. So what we need to do and what prosecutors do is to make an assessment as to whether or not there is more to gain by giving him some benefit.

Obviously, we're not interested in giving criminals benefits. I think the fact that he is being treated as a prisoner of war and subject to the rules of the Geneva Convention, the fact that he will be tried in a United States criminal court and afforded all the rights and liberties of a citizen of the United States is really enough for him. But we have to make an assessment. In balancing the equities, can he give us something that will protect Americans from future violence?

KING: Julian, is she right?

EPSTEIN: Well, I think he is. I mean, and I think Mark is right as well. I mean, I think the two things that he has -- and granted he doesn't have much -- many arrows in his quiver and nor should he, given the kind of activity he has been involved in, but the two things he has got in his quiver is one, the ability to cooperate with the United States government and the intelligence agencies as to what the extent is of the al Qaeda network and where bin Laden may be. That may help him a little bit. There is precedent in the statute and there's precedent in practice for giving someone a little bit of slack based on that.

The second thing that he will argue, that his defense lawyer will argue, is that he was involved in hostilities against the Northern Alliance, but that he didn't raise his arms up against the United States. I think that is going to be a difficult argument for him to make. Remember, the treason statute. Treason is found in the Constitution. It is also found in the statutes. And the treason statute says that even if you have a minor, a minor role in what is considered to be treasonous activity, you can get the death penalty. The only thing that his lawyer, I think, can argue was that is he really wasn't engaged in any way other than a very, very attenuated way in the activity against the United States.

GRACE: Well, Julian, you think of a way of explaining that AK-47 he had strapped around his shoulder and I'll be willing to listen to it. EPSTEIN: Oh, I don't think it's a good argument. Believe me, I don't think it's a good argument. I think it's bad argument. But I know that is what his lawyer will say. And I think given the construction of the statute that even if you have a minor role in a treasonous activity, you can be found guilty. The only thing he can do is exactly what Geragos is saying on the program, which is to cooperate with the authorities about what's going on with the al Qaeda network.

KING: Let me get a break and ask what the panel thinks of the tape revealed yesterday via CNN. You are watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


JOHN WALKER, AMERICA TALIBAN FIGHTER: After the first day, maybe about half of us -- more than half of us -- were injured. So the last day -- when they poured the water into the basement, I think the vast majority of us were drowning. So that morning, and we were standing in the water, freezing water, in the basement for maybe 20 hours.



KING: His attorney, Nancy Grace, asked Americans to keep an open mind. Obviously, you are not one listening to that.

GRACE: Well...

KING: What did you make of the tape?

GRACE: Well...

KING: The additional tape?

GRACE: I have kept an open mind because I do not want to believe an American would raise a gun against American or American allies. But there is no doubt there about it, this tape will come into evidence if there is a trial. It dates back to '51, when the Supreme Court ruled on the exact same issue. So the tape will come in before a jury. In this tape, he was coherent. He was almost proud to be attached to the Taliban and to al Qaeda. I don't see any way for him to get away from the tape.

KING: And, Mark, in that view, do you think Americans can keep an open mind?

GERAGOS: No, I don't.

KING: And that is impossible

GERAGOS: I mean, it's just an impossibility. One of the things that I'd suggested the other night, and I really think this is something, if he is not going to cooperate and cooperate fully and just try to do whatever it is he can to gain some -- I mean, technically, if he is charged with anything less than treason, he is caught a break, I mean, at this point. I mean, arguably they can charge him with treason. They can charge him with a conspiracy to commit the September 11 actions. Remember, the gentleman who is now in the eastern district and being prosecuted was in custody on September 11, yet is still going to be charged with the conspiracy. So, clearly, he could be charged with anything that would carry the death penalty. So, anything short of that is a break.

KING: Jeanine, times are different, but if you were a judge -- a judge first and foremost is supposed to be open and fair -- could you judge him?

PIRRO: Absolutely. And you know, Larry, every day of the week, judges across this country make decisions about individuals and so do juries. People have the ability, to look at the facts objectively and make a determination irrespective of how they feel emotionally. If that weren't the case, we wouldn't have jury trials and the verdicts that we have every day.

But I think that what is significant here about this tape is that it indicates not just what Walker was doing, but his state of mind. He says very clearly, my heart was with the Taliban. The jihad was the right way, it's the right thing, it was definitely what I wanted. It is so clear that we have more than just an individual carrying an AK-47 and trying to draw inferences from that. We've got an individual who has told the media exactly what he was thinking both before, during and after. And I think it's a sad commentary...

GERAGOS: Which is precisely why he can't get a fair trial.

PIRRO: No, no, no.

GERAGOS: Precisely why, I mean, why he should be over...


PIRRO: Mark, you are wrong, what you are saying -- Mark, let me finish. Mark, let me finish.

What you are saying is that if we know the facts, then we cannot be fair. That is totally inaccurate. What we have here is we are not drawing inferences the way people wanted us to two days ago when they said brainwashed...

GERAGOS: Exactly.

PIRRO: ... he was a young kid. Now we know the facts from his mouth. And so he will be given the presumption of innocence and he will -- the prosecution -- you know what, Mark, let me finish. The prosecution...


KING: Jeanine, what you are saying is how can you, based on what you just said, give him the presumption of innocence? You already said he's guilty by the tape. PIRRO: He has got to be given because -- no, I didn't say that he was guilty. I said the tape indicates what he was thinking and what his state of mind was. So we have a case here that doesn't just involve actions. It involves his own thought processes. Now, it is time for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt what he was doing.


KING: One at a time, Julian.

EPSTEIN: Well, I would tend to agree with Jeanine and just disagree with Mark a little bit. I mean, my sense, Mark, is from listening to this tape, which was I think certainly a coup for CNN. It was damning. And as Nancy says, it is also admissible in court.


EPSTEIN: Because -- but I think that it is close to a confession, Mark. I mean, he is essentially saying that he is...


EPSTEIN: ... deep into the web of the al Qaeda network. So the notion of having a presumption...


PIRRO: Mark, what you are saying is...

KING: One at a time.

EPSTEIN: The point is having a presumption of innocence after he has all but confessed I think is, you know, is at -- certain point, the presumption...


GERAGOS: But, Julian, understand what happens in cases like this, understand what happens in normal cases where you don't have a tape that is out there that virtually everyone has seen and virtually everyone including you and me.

EPSTEIN: Yes, but you don't have a confession either.

GERAGOS: You don't have -- well, no, you have confessions in cases all the time. But jurors don't go in there knowing that and it doesn't color their perception.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does it matter when they know it?


KING: One at a time! GRACE: The law says you are to presume someone innocent and the rest of that jury charge is unless and until the state can pierce that presumption. And this tape pierces that presumption. So the presumption of innocence doesn't last forever.

GERAGOS: Exactly. And it's not going to last as soon as you see the jury because virtually everyone has seen that tape and everyone has now formed an opinion, including myself.

KING: Wait a minute. Jeanine, can you serve on the jury if you have seen the tape?

PIRRO: Well, you know what, I think cases like O.J. have proved to us that the public can know or see a chase before they are actually selected to sit as jurors and then they can return a verdict of not guilty.

GERAGOS: There was never a confession.


PIRRO: If you follow your reasoning, what you are saying, Mark, is that is whenever there is a confession, the defendant must be found guilty. That is not the case and you know it.

GERAGOS: No. I'm saying that whenever there's a taped confession that gets this type of publicity, then you've got a problem. And the Supreme Court has ruled that. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that in this kind of overwhelming publicity.

PIRRO: That is not true.

KING: Let me get one call in. Flemington, New Jersey, and we'll let Julian handle it. Hello, go ahead.

CALLER: Hi. I'm interested in -- first I appreciate everyone's passion about this process. It is time for forgiveness and it's the time to forgive those who are actually out there fighting for the Taliban when, in fact, there is a much greater creator here that is trying to help through this process and this situation.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: The question is John Walker, as a U.S. citizen, doesn't really -- it doesn't really matter whether he's a U.S. citizen or not. It is a worldwide problem. It is a worldwide problem and...

KING: Julian, you are saying not true. The lady doesn't have a question. I need a question. All right, Julian, you wanted to comment?

EPSTEIN: Well, it's not true that if he -- it doesn't matter if he is a U.S. citizen. As I said, I think the law treats a U.S. citizen more harshly, and appropriately so, because there is an element of treason involved. And I think the notion that -- the argument that Mark and Jeanine were having, in terms of is he guilty, is it a confession -- we have to remember that I think the Justice Department has wisely at this point -- and they resist our importunings to do otherwise -- they have wisely resisted identifying what criminal statutes they will prosecute him under. I think based on what I think was a confession on CNN, that you could get him convicted on the aiding material support -- providing material support to terrorists.

GERAGOS: In a heartbeat.

EPSTEIN: ... but the question about whether you can get -- whether you can get a conviction on treason, yet based on that interview alone, I'm not sure that you can, because as I said, the attorney is going to put up an argument that he wasn't engaged in treason against the United States. I don't think it's credible, but we're still not at that. So it depends what statute, what law you are talking about.

KING: Nancy, as a former prosecutor, what do you think he will be charged with?

GRACE: Well, if the prosecution runs true to course, he will be charged with a gamut of things. The jury will be given -- if it gets to a jury trial, the jury will be given a host of choices, alternatives, ranging from highest to the lowest, so they can split the baby if they feel any sympathy for Walker. That could include charges of treason, all the way down to conspiracy to commit sedition.

KING: Mark, what do you think he is going to be charged with?

GERAGOS: I think what's going to end up happening is that they're going to reserve making a decision, they are going to continue to cooperate. He is going to continue to debrief, and I don't think that the Justice Department wants to put this thing into the federal civil justice system. I don't think it makes sense, I don't think that it's desirable for a number of reasons. And consequently, they probably at the end of the day will enter into some kind of an agreement, and that's what you will see. He will plead guilty, he'll be whisked away, and you won't see much of him after that.

KING: What do you think, Jeanine?

PIRRO: I think what's important to recognize here that prosecutions for treason in this country have historically been minimal. It may be because the standard of proof is so great that there have to be two witnesses to the overt treasonous act, and that probably means witnesses from Afghanistan -- but also because of the fact that we reserve treason to very few cases throughout history.

It's possible that he may be charged with providing assistance to the enemy, but it's too soon to tell. We don't know what the facts are, we don't know what's going to come up. We don't know what evidence there is.

But I disagree with Mark, again. I don't think there is any question but that he will be tried in a federal criminal court.

GERAGOS: Well, he might be charged, but I don't think it's going to go to trial, Jeanine.

PIRRO: Mark, Mark...

GERAGOS: Why would the Justice Department go to trial on this case? He -- this gentleman is going to try to enter into some kind of an agreement, and the Justice Department is going to try and use him.

GRACE: But that doesn't mean we've got to take it, Mark. Just because he wants a sweet deal doesn't mean prosecutors are going to hand it over.

GERAGOS: Anything short of death in this case.

KING: We're close on time. Julian, do you think the Justice Department will deal with him, or do you think it will go to trial?

EPSTEIN: No, I think Mark Geragos got it exactly right. I don't think the Justice Department wants to take this into court. They can dangle like the sword of Damocles the notion of the death penalty from a treason charge over this guy's head. I think he will cop a plea. He will spend many, many decades in jail...

GERAGOS: The rest of his life.

EPSTEIN: ... as he should. But I will -- probably the rest of his life -- but I think there is a variety of reasons. The treason charge, as Jeanine pointed out, you need two witnesses to attest to the overt actions. So, we will come back on the program and we'll see what happens, but I would bet $1 to a donut that he will cop a plea and he'll spend the rest of his life in prison.

GRACE: Then you'll have to pay for him, Julian, for the next 10 years. You'll be paying for his rice and beans and his medical care. Good luck.

KING: OK. We're out of time. Thanks, panel. The never dull Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos, Jeanine Pirro and Julian Epstein.

We're going to take a break and come back with the lady who is carrying on a worldwide fight against land mines. Heather Mills is next, from London -- from England, next. Don't go away.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE from Hove (ph), England, Heather Mills, the goodwill ambassador for Adopt-a-Minefield. She is of course Sir Paul McCartney's fiancee.

Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined areas in the world. Speaking of that, Heather, do we know how many mines there are in the world?

HEATHER MILLS, ADOPT-A-MINEFIELD: In the world is apparently estimated over 70 million mines still buried, but anywhere where there's been a war, every sort of area where you see a few mines has to be treated that it's contaminated in full, so you've got to go over every single inch. So, each mine field generally costs the same whether you find one or two land mines, or 200 or 300.

KING: Is -- what's the goal of Adopt-a-Minefield, what does that mean?

MILLS: Adopt-a-Minefield, I suppose it's a bit like adopt a highway, but more important for humanitarian sort of needs, is basically you can put $1 to $100 to as much as you can as an individual or a corporation and put the money together, and it will help clear mine fields all over the world. At the moment, since we're talking about Afghanistan, we had four of our deminers killed by the U.S. bombs, which was very unfortunate and very sad. And most of our workers had to leave, obviously, with the war, but started clearing the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan, because everyone was fleeing. There were a lot of internally displaced people.

So, we've now sent in a lot more people to start demining again. But as you know from the news, people are getting maimed and injured every day. We used to have about 88 injuries a month, now we've got over 500.

KING: Did the Soviets do most of the planning of the mine fields in Afghanistan?

MILLS: The Soviets did most of the planning up until when the war was over. But, unfortunately, a lot of the weapons that were put down have come from original production from America, from England, from lots of different countries, when we used to produce them ourselves, but now there is the mine ban treaty. We have signed it; unfortunately, America haven't yet. Now there are solders who are stepping into mined areas and standing on some of their old mines that were originally manufactured and laid there many years ago. So it is a very important time to have a think-about the kind of weapons we are putting out there, including the cluster bombs.

KING: Why has the United States not signed on?

MILLS: The excuse is the North/South Korea divide. The problem is because your governments changed again, Clinton was heavily pushing it, but as much as it, you know, he was the president, he is not the decision -- or final decision-maker on that. Now you've got Rumsfeld. If he was clever, he'd realize there are many weapons you can use instead that are not so long-term damaging to civilians, which is the main problem.

You know, it is awful, the troops are being killed stepping on these weapons. But when the war leaves, you know, or when the army leaves, the war continues, and people step on these mine fields all over the place because they want to farm their land, they want to get back to normal. And now, there is more freedom because of the Taliban being kicked, you are going to get all sorts of problems -- 50 percent of the people that are maimed end up getting no medical care whatsoever, so they die. And... KING: What defense, what defense...

MILLS: ... this is a time where we should all start thinking.

KING: Heather, what defense could there possibly be of keeping a mine field?

MILLS: In North/South Korea divide they feel that nobody would try and cross it. It will stop any friction occurring again, and they can't justify sticking permanent artillery there, but there are many systems that have been developed -- censors, all sorts of things they could use instead. But I think they want to keep that freedom to be able to use it in wars like this that happen in Afghanistan. And -- but now, you know, they are paying the price, they are going to have to send their troops in because they've got to go in and clear up the mess that everybody has made, as far as the civilians are concerned.

So, there really is no reason for them not to sign the ban treaty if they very much educate themselves. Most of the people, the retired generals of the Army from Vietnam and many of the wars in Kuwait, you still got so many unexploded ordnance there -- they are the first people to say, you do not need land mines now. Now is the time. These wars happen for a reason. Everything in life happens for a reason, and it's for a soul to learn and change for good.

KING: How do people help if they want to adopt-a-mine field?

MILLS: If people want to adopt a mine field, they can help in many ways. They can tap on to, which will give them all the information, and...


MILLS: ... they can choose any country -- And the main reason I got involved was after fitting up 27,000 people around the world with artificial limbs, and these mine fields still continue, and when I worked on the front line in Bosnia, when the war started in former Yugoslavia, I told (UNINTELLIGIBLE) defense secretary what was happening, and we mustn't put mines down because we will be clearing them up ourselves in years to come.

And of course, now we've still got 1.2 million mines in the former Yugoslavia to clear. And the same thing is going to happen in Afghanistan. It was five to seven million there; now it's going to be millions more, and we will have to pay to clear them, humanitarian- wise and financially.

KING: Yeah. Thank you so much...

MILLS: So you can tap in at, and for $20 they can fit a child up again.

KING: Not a bad deal, $20 dollars., you could do yourself a great favor at this theme of the year. We thank Heather Mills for joining us, the goodwill ambassador for Adopt-a-Minefield. Thank you, Heather. MILLS: Thank you.

KING: When we come back, we close it out with the amazing Jewel, a return visit from Jewel. And tonight, she's going to sing "O Holy Night". She's next. Don't go away.


KING: She's back. A return visit with Jewel, the singer, songwriter and author. Her newest album, by the way, "This Way", now in released. She was first here on October 24. She sang "Hands". Boy, that song sure applied. From her Christmas CD "Joy: A Holiday Collection", she's going to sing "O Holy Night". Are Christmas songs different to sing?

JEWEL, SINGER: They are very different. I find the vocal approach very different, using more of a classical style. I enjoy it. It's really fun.

KING: Because you are not associated with it.

JEWEL: Not particularly, I guess.

KING: Does every artist have to do a Christmas album?

JEWEL: No. It's just for fun. You don't really ever make much money on it not or anything like that. So it's not usually a business strategy. It's just for fun if you feel like it.

KING: Now is it all -- you're going to sing with just one guitar behind you, right?


KING: So this is a very solemn moment for our audience.

JEWEL: Yes. It's austere.

KING: Thank you so much. Happy holidays to you.

JEWEL: Thank you.

KING: What are you doing for Christmas?

JEWEL: I'm going to be with my family.

KING: Dallas, Texas or here?

JEWEL: I'm going to be between Phoenix and Bellingham, both families.

KING: Between Phoenix and Bellingham.

JEWEL: We're not saying where.

KING: OK. Jewel from "Joy: A Holiday Collection", here is "O Holy Night".



KING: Aaron Brown anchors "NEWSNIGHT" out of New York. He is next.




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