CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with John Ashcroft
Aired January 21, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, a global search is on for five would-be martyrs in the al Qaeda cause. Does their readiness to die mean that you're at risk? Attorney General John Ashcroft joins us from Salt Lake City with the latest on hunting terrorists and keeping Americans safe.
And then in Las Vegas, the host of "America's Most Wanted," John Walsh and he'll be taking your calls. And they are both next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Always, good to welcome the attorney general of the United States to this program. It's one of multi-appearances he has made. He joins us from Salt Lake City, winding up a weekend of pre-Olympic -- are you satisfied with things at the Olympics, security wise?
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, never before in history has such a great effort been made in terms of providing security and never before perhaps has there been such a tremendous challenge. There are five ice venues that are in various settings and five snow venues and five non-competition venues that are here in a 900-square- mile setting. There are going to be 12,000 media people covering 2,500 athletes or so. And, of course, we'll have spectators, there are 80,000 grandstand seats, but they are spread out in the various areas and they'll have to go through magnetometers.
It's a very serious challenge and it's very important that we allow the Olympics, which stands for peace, which stands for friendly competition, which stands for rewarding people based on the merit and content of their activity, rather than on the basis of some other discriminatory basis. It reminds me a little bit of Martin Luther King's honor today. This is his birthday, we celebrate the Martin Luther King Day today and certainly he would be one who would reinforce our desire to be able to have these games conducted peacefully and in a secure setting.
KING: Let us hope. All right, general, let's discuss the thing at hand, which is the al Qaeda terrorist scene on the martyrdom videos. First the decision to show it. Was that yours?
ASHCROFT: I totally believe that we should enlist the American people in helping curtail terrorism. You know, early on when we were talking about the terrorist threat and the president and other officials called upon the American people to be vigilant and alert and we asked the American people to be alert, people said, what do you mean by that and why aren't you just telling everybody to stay home if there's really a danger? Well, the truth of the matter is we need to continue our activity, but we need to be alert.
And I don't think there's been any item that is so compelling in terms of proving how citizens can participate in their own security as that Flight 63, which was out of Paris, destined for Miami when alert freedom-loving people, not just American citizens, but people who watch your show around the world, understood that they could do something to make their own safety a reality. And could do it in a setting that was substantially threatening. So very seriously, there are individuals, we know that the al Qaeda camps were populated for a number of years with a lot of individuals who were taught and endorsed the idea that destroying America, fighting the values we believe in, taking the lives of innocent citizens, innocent non-combatant individuals, this is what they believe in. And so we believe that the people of -- the freedom-loving people around the world, not just Americans, should be alerted to individuals who are clearly willing to dedicate their lives and extinguish their own lives in trying to hurt us and hurt freedom and hurt the values we stand for.
KING: Let's talk to the one -- I guess the key name among the five is Ramzi Bin al Shibh. He is well known to investigators. Why is he the key of this? We are looking at his picture now.
Ashcroft: Well, obviously he's an individual we care deeply about. He tried come to the United States three times and we believe it could well have been that he wanted to be the 20th hijacker. He was denied a visa, but we've alleged in our indictment of Moussauoi that he -- and we have him as -- this individual as an undicted co- conspirator. We've alleged his involvement in helping facilitate and finance the hijackings. So here is an individual who participated in the September 11 the events by assisting those who were involved in the September 11th atrocities, who wanted to be a part of them, who has indicated now on a videotape that we have developed and gotten, that he is prepared to give up his life in an assault against innocent individuals. We are very concerned about him.
KING: Why, General Ashcroft, though, do you want -- let's say a viewer is watching this show somewhere in the world and thinks they see him. What do you want them to do?
ASHCROFT: We want, first of all, if they are in the United States, contact law enforcement, the local FBI preferably. But we are working very closely with federal, state, local, all law enforcement officials are attuned to this, but overseas, and I know you have listeners around the world, people who participate in this broadcast around the world. They can call the nearest American embassy or American consulate. This is a dangerous individual. The German government has a warrant out for the arrest of this individual. He was a part of that Hamburg cell that was very active and interrelated with the network of terrorists who did so much to destroy or make an assault on freedom and the United States. But on all freedom-loving people, so he's wanted internationally.
KING: So if you see any of these people, contact law enforcement official. Your anonymity would be protected we presume, right? ASHCROFT: We'll do whatever is necessary. Obviously, we're not interested in putting anyone in jeopardy. The entire idea of going after the individuals who have sworn themselves to suicide in an effort to hurt other people is to restrain their activities, to curtail it, to learn about it, to stop it and prevent it.
KING: Now what about Khalid ibn Muhammad al-Juhanni (ph)?
ASHCROFT: Well, these five individuals, and one of who -- one of these individuals we don't know the name, but this is a consistent pattern. And it's a pattern which was evident in those who were a part of the 9/11 attacks. You may remember they -- they -- some of them we found documents that instructed them in terms of how to commit suicide and the like in terms of the 9/11 attacks. And there are some suggestion that these individuals, who were involved in the 9/11 attacks had made this kind of commitment to indicate to their families that -- they would extinguish themselves in seeking to hurt innocent individuals. And so this is a pattern. And, frankly, we want to alert people to this pattern and say, these individuals need to be apprehended.
Let me just indicate one thing to you, these pictures don't show these individuals as they might appear. These videotapes provide a way of identifying them, but they are in their traditional or their -- the garb and the costume in the way they would likely appear to their families. Now, one of the things we have noticed from the al Qaeda network is that they instruct individuals to blend into the society. So we are at work now in developing and adjusting these pictures so as to show these individuals in ways that they would look without the extra facial hair, and if they were to westernize their appearance. Because we know that the hijackers westernized their appearance so you'll be seeing in the days ahead, additional photographs that have been modified so as to give people an opportunity to recognize them if they have westernized their appearance.
KING: We'll take a break and come back, show a few more of these individuals and then ask some questions, especially one about a new leaflet that may have been tossed down already or is in the process of being tossed down, that should interest you. And then we'll meet John Walsh.
And tomorrow night, Patricia Hearst. She's going to testify for the government in the new case of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Five people have been -- four have been arrested, and they are searching for another one in the case. She'll testify against them all, she's with us tomorrow night exclusively. We'll be right back.
KING: We're back with Attorney General Ashcroft. Let's quickly show the three other martyr pictures that we're after. And this would be Abdul al-Rahim (ph) and Muhammad Saed al-Hasan (ph), and then the fifth martyr is unknown. The status of the hunt for five, any information -- if you know or see any of these people, report to your local law enforcement agency wherever you may be in the world.
KING: Do you want to add something? Go ahead.
ASHCROFT: Yes, if I could. I just wanted to give the Web site for the FBI. It's www.ifccfbi.gov. That's ifccfbi.gov. And that's another way for people, anywhere in the world, to get in touch with the Internet, they can obviously help out.
KING: We are hearing about a leaflet that is either going to be tossed down to people in the area or has already been thrown that shows Osama bin Laden leading Mullah Omar around on a leash. We're showing it now. Do you have any knowledge of this?
ASHCROFT: I really don't. That's not something about which I have any knowledge or could, as a result, couldn't make any comment.
KING: OK. Do we know where these videos came from?
ASHCROFT: These videos were located in the home of one of the top operational lieutenants for Osama bin Laden. And when the facility was taken over by our forces, these videos were discovered. So this video for -- in the home of a fellow named Atef (ph), who turned out to be perhaps the chief of operations, high-ranking member of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. And the development of these videos obviously gives us an opportunity to look forward and prevent activity on the part of these three -- or these five.
KING: And when, General, will we hear the sound. When will we hear the interpretation?
ASHCROFT: Well, we are going through multiple interpreters here. And if we believe that the message is somehow will be helpful, then we'll provide it. We wanted to make sure that we don't provide these folks with any opportunity to signal or otherwise assist in terrorist activities through these tapes.
And we are scrubbing this with more than one individual who speaks the language. We are -- our analysts are going over it very carefully. So that will be a decision made. I can't guarantee that we will hear the sound. But if we make a decision that the sound could be helpful, we're going to do everything we can to provide that basis. But obviously, it's in a language that few of us here in the United States would understand, but some of your viewers worldwide would find it more easy to understand that, perhaps, than my voice.
KING: And to go over it again, the pictures -- updated pictures as to how they might look in Western garb will be released soon.
ASHCROFT: We're working on that right now. We hope to be able to release those as soon as possible because it's very likely that, consistent with al Qaeda tactics and techniques, that these individuals have Westernized their appearance so they can blend in.
KING: What would you say, General Ashcroft, to those people in Great Britain -- we've been seeing it on the news earlier today, concerned about the treatment of British al Qaeda residents -- Britishers who are at Guantanamo Bay?
ASHCROFT: Well, first of all, we are treating individuals at Guantanamo Bay humanely. We are treating them, giving them the right kind of shelter, the right kind of nourishment, the right kind of protection. These individuals are much safer than they were when they were detained in Afghanistan.
You'll remember that in an Afghani prison when they were detained there, there was a riot. That riot resulted in the death of one of our CIA agent or individuals, Johnny Spann. And frankly, these are dangerous people. We have to be very careful about how we handle them. But they are being fed well. They are being housed safely. They are being sheltered appropriately and even given ethnically appropriate food to their own backgrounds. And so I would just say to -- regardless of whether you are an individual that's a British citizen who had been fighting in al Qaeda or otherwise, the United States is treating these individuals with dignity.
KING: The federal courts don't allow telecasts of their trials. And they rejected a plea by Court TV, CNN and others to try to telecast the trial of -- the upcoming trial of Moussaoui, Zacarias Moussaoui. They are planning to appeal that. Do you have any opinion on the telecasting of federal trials?
ASHCROFT: I really think that for us to make a show trial out of one of these things with televising the proceedings would provide incentives to terrorists and terrorist sympathizers who might be called to testify or might be a part or the defendant himself to make statements and do things.
We shouldn't, as an American people, provide a platform or a pulpit for broadcasting terrorist messages or propaganda around the world, and neither should we draw inordinate attention. We should give -- have all the safeguards that we have in American jurisprudence. But to suddenly create a new category of televised trials when federal trials have never been televised, that's not our practice or tradition, to create that new right for these individuals who tried to destroy all the rights of Americans would be an anomaly and an irony that would almost be beyond speaking.
KING: What do you make of this Richard Reid thing? His -- French police reporting that he sent e-mails to Pakistan asking for instructions prior to taking that flight.
ASHCROFT: Well, we are cooperating with both British authorities and French authorities to develop a full range of the evidence in the case of Mr. Reid, who has obviously already been charged and, as a result of his activity to seek to blow up Flight number 63. All these recent stories about e-mails and the like that would relate to items that might be a part of a plot or part of the evidence in the case, wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment on them specifically.
KING: A couple of other quick things. Is John Walker coming back this week?
ASHCROFT: I don't want to provide a specific time during which he'll be in the United States, but I expect him to be here shortly. He is the subject of a complaint filed in the eastern district of Virginia and he will be brought to justice.
KING: General, February 1, that's next week, going to be one year you've been on the job. What's it been like?
ASHCROFT: Well, it's been the greatest privilege of my life. There is no higher honor that anyone can enjoy than to seek to protect the security and safety and peace of the American people and to respect their rights. Obviously, on a day when we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, we want to talk about the rights of individual and dealing with individuals based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. That was a marvelous way of phrasing the need to treat people with equity and respect and dignity.
And the people who have treated Americans with the least dignity of all are these terrorists who attacked innocent, freedom-loving people. So part of my job is to try and restore and sustain the peace that Dr. Martin Luther King sought to encourage us all to pursue. And it's an honor beyond speaking. It's the best year of my life.
KING: And one other quick thing, he's going to follow you. What do you think of the work that John Walsh does?
ASHCROFT: Well, I can't say thank you loudly enough or strongly enough to him. You know, within the last, say, six or eight weeks, we've caught two of the top fugitives from American justice. One we apprehended in Mexico. Another we apprehended in the United States, I think it was in Cincinnati. In each of these cases, the kind of work that's done by John Walsh and the 10 most wanted group is simply essential.
And it just proves to us why it's important for us to trust the American people to be a partner in making sure that we have secure environments, not just for things like the Olympics. I was at Deer Valley today to work on security at several venues there, but to make sure we are secure in all of our dealings. And the American people are a big part of that security network that can give us the opportunity to live in dignity and peace.
KING: Did you get in any skiing?
ASHCROFT: Well, frankly, I didn't break anything, and I'm glad for that. The freezy skid stuff is something that I enjoy and we were at two of the venues where the Olympic events are being held. The authorities are establishing strong perimeters to secure those areas.
It's difficult, as I said, a 900-square-mile arena during which -- in which these events are being held.
We're working with authorities to fine-tune the arrangements. We need to be interoperable so that the state and local and community and federal authorities here on the site are -- can operate with us in Washington and our strategic information operation center, we call SIOC, will be able to get feeds directly from these sites. I think this is the best planning, but there are always things we can do to improve and we are looking for ways to do that.
KING: Always good seeing you, General. Thank you.
ASHCROFT: It's an honor.
KING: Attorney General John Ashcroft coming to us from Salt Lake City.
John Walsh, host of "America's Most Wanted" comes to us from Las Vegas. He is next on LARRY KING LIVE. We'll take your calls for John as well. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN WALSH, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": This week, Attorney General Ashcroft asked everyone to be on the lookout for these five men. Our forces in Afghanistan uncovered videotape showing the men delivering what they call a message of martyrdom.
They're not charged in any crime, but officials worry they may be involved in further terrorist plots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, coming to us from Las Vegas, John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted, America Strikes Back." This past weekend, "America's Most Wanted" profiled the five al Qaeda terrorists scene on the martyrdom videos. We've been showing them with the attorney general.
Do you have any hope of getting any of these guys?
WALSH: Oh, absolutely, Larry. You know, we've caught people in 30 countries and it never ceases to amaze me that the viewers of "America's Most Wanted" can spot individuals that probably you and I wouldn't be able to identify, even after looking at their picture.
I've got a feeling that some of them may even be here in the United States. As the attorney general Ashcroft mentioned, Ramzi Binalshibh (ph) had been here in the United States and took flying lessons in Venice, Florida with Mohammed Atta. He's one of the guys who flew into the World Trade Towers.
He left this country, went back to Hamburg, couldn't get in time for the terrorist attacks. I think once we know more about these people we now know that Al-Juhani, for example, his family is cooperating with authorities and said their son is very mentally disturbed. They are very concerned with him, and that he has been brainwashed into thinking he's going to be a martyr for al Qaeda. So we're getting some good tips on these guys.
KING: What, John, was the public response to the show?
WALSH: The response was great. We got 40 solid tips that the FBI is working right now, and they are working with Interpol, and they feel the American public, just like Attorney General Ashcroft said, and I give him a lot of credit, I've worked with a lot of attorney generals. He's one that is very forthcoming in saying the public is going to be the key to this.
The public is going to help find these guys and they are going to help us arrest these people and we got about 40 very, very good tips on Saturday night that the FBI is following up on right now.
KING: John, can the public do it without fear of reprisal?
WALSH: Oh, absolutely. As General Ashcroft said, the federal agencies that are involved do not want to get innocent people involved in these cases. They just want the information. I think we have been so successful on "America's Most Wanted" with 695 captures and as Attorney General Ashcroft talked about, two FBI top 10 fugitives in the last month, because people know they can call "America's Most Wanted" and remain anonymous.
We don't want to know what their names are. We don't trace the calls or tap the calls. We just want the information. We want to protect people. We know they are afraid of retaliation, they are afraid of revenge, they are afraid of being dragged into something they don't want to be dragged into.
But people should realize that they can remain anonymous and the federal authorities will protect them and certainly "America's Most Wanted" has never crossed that line. In 15 years we have never, ever involved someone who wanted to remain anonymous.
KING: Concerning Osama bin Laden, John, you are good at this, you have been doing it long enough, do you have any gut feelings about, I mean, last week, the president of Pakistan said he thought he died of a kidney disorder -- what do you think?
WALSH: Well, I do know that I've been in that part of the world and I was in the Arab Emrites and know that came for treatment at the American hospital there two years ago. He has a really bad terrorist friend of his that helps him, Dr. Iman al-Zawahiri. He's an Egyptian doctor.
I don't think bin Laden is dead. My gut feeling is that bin Laden, with the money he has could easily cross that very porous border in Pakistan. He could be in Sudan. He could be in Somalia. These are countries that are friendly to Osama bin Laden. I truly, my gut feeling is that he knew the end was near, that he knew the Taliban was falling apart and it was time for him to get out of Afghanistan.
My gut feeling is I don't believe he was that dumb to stay in a cave and be killed in Afghanistan. He's too smart, he's got too much money. talks in that part of the world. I believe he's out of Afghanistan and I believe that one of those countries are harboring him.
KING: What do you think is going to happen at Guantanamo with those people? WALSH: I think it's good thing that they got them out of Afghanistan. As Attorney General Ashcroft talked about, that uprising there, 500 people were killed in that uprising. These are dangerous, dangerous people who believe that if they die, you know, that they are going to be rewarded by their religion, that they are going to be martyrs, and they have nothing to lose.
These are not a normal prisoner. Most of the guys I've put in jail on "America's Most Wanted" or the prisons I've been in, they want to survive and get out of that prison. I've never talked to an American prisoner who said, I don't mind causing a prison uprising and dying. I'll be a martyr. I think Attorney General Ashcroft is right. Let's put these people in a secure place. They are very, very dangerous. And I think they're right where they belong. They don't care about anyone's lives including their own.
KING: Do you ever worry about your own safety?
WALSH: I've had my threats over the years, Larry. You and I have talked about this. The FBI has participated in protecting me. They killed a guy that had threatened me in Denver that threatened me. The shot him 17 times. Another guy that had threatened me was killed in New York. Judges get threats. FBI agents, cops, prosecutors get threats. Unfortunately I'm very high profile. I've done drug dealers, cartels, and you know, I have had body guards for years, for 15 years now. But it comes with the turf. And I think that, you know, I believe you have to fight back.
I have to I think you have to deal with the fact that there are people who want their 15 minutes of fame, maybe want to kill me, but there's great satisfaction, like General Ashcroft talked about. The last two guys we took off the FBI's 10 most wanted in the last two weeks. It comes with the turf, but I say you have to fight back.
KING: And you've been doing it almost every show, there's been something connected with September 11?
WALSH: Ever since I went to ground zero, when the FBI asked me to come there, I was there 17 hours after the towers went down, and it was an unbelievable sight. It was a horrible sight, and you know, there were thousands of widows and orphans created by that cowardly terrorist attack.
We're going to stay on the fight. We are working closely with the attorney general, with the FBI, with Interpol in Europe. They know we have viewers all over the world. We've caught people in 30 countries. We're going to stay on the attack until we eliminate a lot of these people and particularly if they are in the United States or Canada, I believe our viewers are going to give us some valuable tips and catch these guys.
KING: We will be right back with more John Walsh, and we will be including your phone calls. He is the host, of course, of "America's Most Wanted."
Tomorrow night, Patrisha Hearst, back in the news. She is going to testify for the government in a new upcoming trial against the Symbionese Liberation Army members of crimes that occurred more than 20 years ago. We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED")
WALSH: We've profiled Ramzi Binalshibh before. The other four are new. Muhammad Ali Hasan (ph), Ali Juhani, Abd Al Rahim, and this unnamed man. All are wanted for questioning. If you know anything about this man, call us at 1-800-CRIME-TV.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with John Walsh. We're going to go to your calls shortly. We asked the attorney general, he wouldn't be specific about when John Walker is coming back. What do you make of that whole thing, John?
WALSH: Well, I tell you, he chose to join the Taliban. He chose to try to kill Americans. I believe he should be held accountable for his actions. I mean, he's 20 years old and people are saying he may be confused. But I'll tell you what, there's a lot of 20-year-old Marines over there and 20-year-old Green Berets and people that are risking their lives. And I really believe that he made his choice. He tried to kill Americans. He joined a fanatical group, the Taliban, and I think he should be held accountable for his actions. I think he should get a trial and he should be punished, absolutely.
KING: Sarah Jane Olson, a fugitive from justice, lives 20 years as a housewife in the Midwest. Apparently a -- very nice, popular with her community and her family -- and now is sentenced to 20 years. And she and four others are going to go on trial for other acts. There we see a picture of Sarah Jane.
Patricia Hearst going to be on this show tomorrow night. She's going to testify against them. What do you make of that? Should we be forgiving or not?
WALSH: Well, I'll tell you what, Larry, there was an innocent woman killed in that bank robbery and her young children were out in the car. No one went out and told those kids in the car that their mother was dead in the bank robbery. She was bringing Christmas receipts to deposit, money that they'd raised for presents for the church that she belonged to.
Now, I'll say this. Sarah Jane Olson may have become a soccer mom and had three kids and all of those things and people may be asking for mercy for her, but I think the judge did the right thing. If it was your mother, Larry King, that was murdered or my mother that was murdered in that bank 20 years ago, I don't care if that murder happened yesterday or happened 20 years ago, these people should be held accountable for their actions and they should pay for their crimes.
It's all about justice. And "America's Most Wanted" -- you know, we took that case on as a challenge. I mean, she is the fugitive that was at large the longest of anybody we've caught on "America's Most Wanted, 25 years. But I don't care whether you killed somebody or was an accessory to murder yesterday or 20 years ago, I think you should pay for the crime.
KING: And how about Christian Longo. He was profiled on your show, was captured not as a direct result of that segment, wanted in Oregon for the murder of his wife. How do you feel about that matter being taken care of?
WALSH: Well, I'll tell you something, he was at large for about three weeks. And here's a guy supposed to be the perfect dad, the perfect father and then he alienated his family and disappeared. His wife's family was very concerned. Here's a guy who killed a two-year- old, a three-year-old and a four-year-old, his own children, his wife, went on the run.
And it was a very unique way that the FBI and "America's Most Wanted" worked together. Last Friday, the FBI had put him on the 10 most wanted. We both knew that he had gone to Mexico, that he had stolen a car in San Francisco, stolen a credit card. We didn't talk about it. I went on all the shows, CNN, Fox News, "Good Morning America", everything to publicize the fact that he might have been in Mexico, and it worked, Larry.
A woman came back, watched "America's Most Wanted" on Saturday night and said Christian Longo was down in a youth hostel in Cancun. The FBI went down there. It was a perfect use of the media. But you know what that guy was doing down there? He was partying. He was drinking and snorkeling. And here's a guy that cold-bloodedly killed his wife and his three children. It was a great capture and I was very glad to see Mexico do something that they didn't do in the past. They extradited him in one day. He's right back where he belongs. And I'll tell you, anyone that kills children is at the top of my list. It was a great capture.
KING: And we know why. Stone Lake, Iowa, as we take some calls for John Walsh, hello.
CALLER: Hi, John, Larry. Great show, John.
KING: Can you speak up? Go ahead.
CALLER: I was wondering, John, you know, with you doing this show, aren't you afraid that these terrorists are going to focus on you as doing this show?
WALSH: Well, I think that they might, but I also know that they are cowards. I also think that they know that we are after them, that we -- that we now know that they exist and they try to function in the society. We are not so naive as we were before September 11.
I have good security. I don't take chances. And I believe that they should pay for what they did. I was at ground zero. And I'll tell you, any American that saw what happened there, the horror there, the 3,000 innocent people, would feel the same way I do. We can't let them intimidate us. I'm not intimidated. I'm not afraid. I believe we have to fight back. I believe we have to catch these cowards before they hurt somebody else.
KING: Speaking of killing of children, John, your thoughts on the Andrea Yates matter, the woman who killed her five children in Texas. Obviously has severe mental problems. How should that be handled?
WALSH: Well, I think this is a legitimate case of someone who is deeply, deeply disturbed. Christian Longo, I think, was just an arrogant guy who embezzled money from his own father, you know, wrote bad checks, lived a double life and has no remorse whatsoever about the killing of his three kids. He was just sick of being married and he told people he was sick of his wife.
This woman, I think, is really deeply, deeply disturbed, killed five of her own children. You know, there are certain people -- number one, she should be separated from society for the rest of her life. But in this one instance, I think this woman probably deserves some mercy because she is obviously very, very mentally ill.
KING: Should federal trials be televised?
WALSH: Well, you know something, Larry, we are in the media. You and I are in the media. We both believe in the First Amendment. We also believe in freedom of the press. But if a trial is going to compromise a witness, if a trial is going to put a witness in jeopardy, then I don't think that cameras should be in the courtroom.
And I certainly don't think that they should be spectacles where defense attorneys can further their, you know, reputations and make millions of dollars by turning trials into mockeries. I think the American public certainly would like to know what goes on. But I think a lot of Americans agree with me. This -- these are unusual circumstances. And if they have to bring people forward, maybe undercover people, people that are CIA employees there or people from other countries that are going to testify at these trials, I would hate to be the station that broadcast that trial and that witness was then killed as a result of me broadcasting that trial.
KING: It's a delicate situation, though, because trials are public.
WALSH: Very, very delicate situation. But these are very tough times, and you -- most of these people that we're going to be trying are not American citizens. And I'm not talking about usurping the rights of people or individuals, but these are people from other countries that have committed horrible crimes against Americans. I don't know if they should be tried through the American system.
You know, in the past we've done it. The precedent has been set in several wars that -- where people declare war on the United States. They kill innocent Americans. Then they are tried in military tribunals just like the Nuremberg trials. Again, I really worry about the safety of the people that are going to be testifying at these trials about these horrible terrorists. KING: We'll be right back with more of John Walsh and more phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED")
WALSH: These pictures taken by a vacationer show Longo enjoying the resort, seemingly without a care in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was all right. He was intelligent, nice guy. I don't usually like Americans, but I liked him. He was an American, yeah?
WALSH: But Longo made a big mistake. Police were able to zero in on his whereabouts because Longo made repeated calls from this telephone center. Last Sunday, Mexican police, accompanied by FBI agents swarmed into this hut where Longo was staying. His run was finally over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We are back with John Walsh. Let's take another call, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. John, I'd like to ask you a question as a Canadian. Do you feel the Canadian authorities are doing everything in their power to protect Canadians from al Qaeda terrorists? As a Canadian, I really am not comfortable with our security here at all.
WALSH: Well, I'm a great believer in the Canadian people because we've caught 27 fugitives up in Canada, and I know how much they support "America's Most Wanted." I've done Canada's most wanted with mounties.
But it is a known fact that most of the terrorists came into the United States through Canada. Canada is probably the easiest country in the world to get through immigration-wise. All you have to say, I am coming here to study, or I am going somewhere, I am a tourist on a visa.
I really think the Canadian government needs to realize that terrorists have figured out Canada is easy to get in to. And then all they have to do is walk across the peace bridge in Buffalo, New York, or in Seattle, or in the Northwestern United States to get into the United States.
I really think that terrorists -- the terrorist network knows that Canada is very lax in their immigration policies, and for the sake of Canadians and for the sake of Americans, I think the Canadian government has really got to toughen up their immigration policies.
KING: Let's look at some possible targets. We already discussed with General Ashcroft, the Olympics. Does that worry you?
WALSH: Well, the Olympics are going to be spread all out and there's going to be a lot of security there and I think General Ashcroft and all the different agencies that are involved are going to do an extraordinary job because these are extraordinary times.
My big concern is the Super Bowl. I've talked to a lot of experts and this Friday I'm going to the Super -- to the dome there in New Orleans to walk around with Brian Statford. He's the head of the Secret Service. He is a friend of mine. And they have been involved in the terrorist business for years, as you know, their job is to protect the president, vice president, embassies and dignitaries. They know a lot about terrorism.
There is going to be 80,000 people at the Super Bowl. But the main thing, it is the most watched television program throughout the world. So the fear is that whatever the terrorist organization it is, whether Hamas, hezbollah, al Qaeda, even home-grown terrorists, that would be a place to make a statement because people throughout the world would see what happened at Super Bowl.
There's going to be some extraordinary brand new techniques never used before, technology that's never been used. Some things that have been developed that weren't used in the Gulf War that even weren't used in Afghanistan. But I have grave concerns about what might happen in the Super Bowl.
KING: We also have three former presidents, and two definitely, former President Bush and former president Ford, possibly Clinton, former President Clinton, and the possibility that the current president may want to go. That would put three formers and one current in the house; 80,000 people. The middle of the Mardi Gras. City of New Orleans seen around the world. Got to be big concerns.
WALSH: I'm telling you. I'm going to be there, and we're going to be talking about terrorism. I'm just personally concerned because, you know, all of the rumors about they are going to hit nuclear power plants and do the water, you know, poison water systems, et cetera, this is the most watched television program worldwide.
And there would be countries that if something happened at the super bowl, that they would be watching and they would be cheering because they hate the United States. But I do know that extraordinary measures are going to be taken at the Super Bowl. I have concerns, but so do all the different agencies and I've never seen the cooperation in 15 years on "America's Most Wanted" between local, state and federal authorities and there is going to be security at the Super Bowl that has never been done before in the United States, and I'm praying that nothing happens there.
KING: John, your role in all of this is very interesting. You host a program that's been very successful doing these things. You walk around, you look at, you go through the Super Dome with Secret Service people. You have no official title. How are you regarded?
WALSH: Well, I regard them as my partners, and they regard me as their partner also. And the power of the American public, I think Attorney General Ashcroft really hit the nail on the head, when the White House and Colin Powell and the attorney general and President Bush asked "America's Most Wanted" to profile the world's 22 most wanted terrorists, they knew that the American public watches this show and they really care and they are a great resource.
And I think that law enforcement can't do it alone. We've taken 15 guys off the FBI's 10 most wanted list because of the American public. And I think that they realize that the American public and television is a powerful, powerful resource.
KING: How does it make you feel to be in that position?
WALSH: I'm honored. And as you know, and we've talked about it many times. I'm the father of a murdered child. I'm a crime victim. I know that cops can't do it alone, I know law enforcement can't do it alone. I know they don't have the resources. I know the vast majority of American public and the viewers I have worldwide are good, good people.
They are sick of these criminals and hate these terrorists and I think that we have figured out that if we are partners, and I have great respect for law enforcement, they have great respect for this show and the American public, that we can take a lot of these guys off the streets. And so far in 15 years, we've taken 695...
KING: Yeah, I know.
WALSH: ... dangerous fugitives off the streets because of the public.
KING: When you started, I remember you were coming on our radio show right before that show began, they were a little wary of you, weren't they?
WALSH: The FBI was supportive right out of the gate. But lots of small police agencies, other federal agencies said, hey, this is a TV show. This guy is the father of a murdered child. The media isn't really fair to us -- most of the time they only do stories about bad cops.
Is is going to be exploitive? Is it going to hurt victims? But you know, I'll never forget the first show. The only reason I did it because we were looking for an FBI top 10 fugitive, who escaped from prison, David James Roberts. He'd raped 17 women, killed four people, two of them small children. Four days later we nailed him in Staten Island. And you know something, law enforcement turned around and said, you know something? This show is a powerful tool.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: The hunt also continues for several fugitives from Germany that we told you about last week. Agents confirm that one of those men, Ramzi Binalshibh, who is also known as Ramzi Omar, was supposed to be the 20th hijacker on September 11, but couldn't get into the U.S. For more information on the new terrorist fugitives or to learn about any of the men on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list, log on to our Website at amw.com.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Albany, Georgia, a caller for John Walsh, hello.
CALLER: How are you doing?
CALLER: I'd like to ask Mr. Walsh what he thinks about Eric Rudolph and where he might be, the accused bomber of the Atlanta Olympics.
KING: Yes, boy, has he been gone.
WALSH: He's a real coward, that guy, a real coward. And, you know, he killed an innocent cop in Tampa at an abortion clinic and blew the side -- face off of a wonderful woman, a nurse who worked there. I believe that he's in the western part of the United States. I believe that he got out of the woods of North Carolina long before that the police abandoned the command post down there.
A lot of groups, white supremacist groups and anti-abortion groups, support him. And I believe that he is still at large in the western part of the United States, probably Idaho, Montana, North or South Dakota. They are very remote areas. And I think they are helping him.
But, you know, whatever your feelings are about abortion, whether you are for it, against it, it's against the law to hurt people. It's against the law. And the law of the land says that abortion is legal. Now I've said it to you before, Larry. I was very mad at the FBI 20 years ago when they wouldn't get involved in Adam's case, but I didn't drive a truckful of explosives to the FBI headquarters and try to blow it up. I testified before Congress 52 times.
I think Eric Rudolph is a coward. He's on the FBI's 10 most wanted. I know somebody is helping him. He can't stay out there by himself. I think somebody has got to have the guts to turn that coward in before he kills somebody else.
KING: Hunting bin Laden on the Web. There are various -- on the Web now, I understand, you can see various scenarios as to how he might look, changing his facial look and garb, et cetera. Is that effective?
WALSH: Oh, very, very effective. We've caught guys over the years by computer enhancing them, aging them, changing their look. As you saw on the last break, we changed some of the looks of some of the terrorists, put hem in Western garb. Bin Laden's very, very smart. All of the hijackers, of the 15 guys that were killed in the hijacking, the terrorist attacks on September 11, all blended right into American society. They looked just like everybody else.
Bin Laden, I think, is so smart that wherever he is, you might not even recognize him. So I think that the computer enhancement and how we change the look of these guys is crucial. We show them without facial hair. We show them with shorter haircuts, and we show them in Western garb. And many, many guys that we've caught on "America's Most Wanted" have, because we've changed their look and changed their hairstyles and people have said, hey, I recognize the face, I recognize the individual even though they've changed their look.
The Texas Seven, you wouldn't have even recognized them when we caught them last year after they escaped from prison. They had changed their look so much. But, you know what, people visited our Web site. They saw the changes and, boy, we nailed the Texas Seven.
KING: Tampa, Florida, for John Walsh, hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry, my question for Mr. Walsh is with new DNA evidence released in the Boston Strangler case, does he think that there's a possibility that DeSalvo might not be the Boston Strangler and the Boston Strangler might still be at large?
KING: Do you know the history of that, John?
WALSH: I know it very much. I did a two-hour special for Fox. And I actually believe that Albert DeSalvo was not the Boston Strangler. And his brother doesn't believe it, and one of his victims' families don't believe it. And I believe that the DA should order all the bodies exhumed. And I believe that they should compare the DNA, and I really think that they are going to find out that Albert DeSalvo, although he was a terrible guy and committed several crimes, was not the Boston Strangler and that he took the wrap for all those murders.
And I believe that mistakes were made back there and I think they owe it to the families. They owe it to Albert DeSalvo's family to exhume all the bodies and compare his DNA to the victims. I don't think Albert DeSalvo was the Boston Strangler. That's my own personal opinion.
KING: Help me. Did he deny it? I thought he confessed to it.
WALSH: He confessed to it on several times, but he also recanted it. And then, of course, when he recanted it, you know, he was beaten to death in prison. But, you know, all the evidence -- I looked at this case so closely, Larry. Because this guy was a schizophrenic, because he had a history of sexual offenses and rapes against women, but he had never charged with murder. He was an easy, easy target.
But you know something, he was convicted on all circumstantial evidence because there was no DNA back then. And there are a lot of questions in this case. And I think that the families want justice and I think Albert DeSalvo's family deserves it. Although he was a horrible guy, I think the DA in Massachusetts should exhume all those bodies and put these questions to rest.
KING: Because if he didn't do it, then whoever did it is either dead or still around.
WALSH: You're absolutely right.
KING: One or the other.
WALSH: Look at the Green River killer. Look at all these years that it's taken to catch the Green River killer. And I always believed that he was mobile. I still believe that he probably had something to do with the disappearance of about 30 women in Vancouver, British Columbia -- not one body has ever been found -- and other parts of the Pacific Northwest. He was cunning. He was smart. And I'll tell you what, it was very, very lucky to catch this guy after all these years. I think he killed a lot of women whose bodies have never been found.
KING: What are you doing in Vegas?
WALSH: I'm shooting a show here with the Las Vegas P.D. And I'm also here at NAPTA, you know, Larry, that you've been too for a lot of years. I'm working with NBC and I'm going to start a talk show in the fall. I'm going to launch a talk show with NBC in the fall, a daytime talk show, and I'll always do "America's Most Wanted". That's my passion.
KING: Will the talk show deal with and around crime?
WALSH: Well, it will deal with a lot of subjects that are pressing on the American public's mind these days.
KING: Welcome to the field.
WALSH: Thank you. Thank you.
KING: John Walsh, one of my favorite people, the host of "America's Most Wanted".
We're going to take a break and come back. We have a special little piece of business to do and we'll tell you about tomorrow night. By the way, Friday night on LARRY KING LIVE, an hour with Elton John. We'll be right back.
KING: We have some sad news to report tonight. Carol Burnett's daughter, Carrie Hamilton, died Sunday after a long battle with lung cancer. She was only 38 years old. Hamilton made her mark as an actress, appearing in many TV shows, including "Fame", "Murder She Wrote", "Beverly Hills 90210" and "thirtysomething". She also starred in television, movies and even collaborated with her mother on the stage version of Burnett's best-selling memoir, "One More Time". The resulting play, "Hollywood Arms", will have its world premiere in Chicago in April. The family has requested that donations be made to the American Lung Association. Our thoughts and prayers go out to a good friend of this show, Carol Burnett, and her family.
Tomorrow night, Patricia Hearst will be with us for the full hour. Wanted to say more than that. He's back in New York. He's hosting NEWSNIGHT. There he is, Aaron Brown -- Aaron.
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