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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Shelby, Edwards Discuss War in Afghanistan; Taylor Talks About Pearl Murder; Robertson Defends His Comments Against Islam

Aired February 24, 2002 - 12:00   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.
JOHN KING, GUEST HOST: It's noon in Washington; 10 a.m. in Salt Lake City; 9:30 p.m. in Kabul; and 10:00 p.m. in Karachi, Pakistan. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us on LATE EDITION.

I'm John King. Wolf is away this week.

We'll get to our interview with Senators Richard Shelby and John Edwards in a few minutes, but first, the hour's top stories.

(NEWSBREAK)

KING: Joining us now to talk about the latest intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts, the Pearl investigation, the broader war against terrorism and more are two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee: In Birmingham, Alabama, Senator Richard Shelby. He's the committee's top Republican. And in New York, Democratic Senator John Edwards, of North Carolina.

KING: Senators, welcome to LATE EDITION.

Let us begin today, Senators, with a question each of you have been asked before, more than once, more than twice, perhaps too many times for your liking. New reports this morning suggesting that perhaps the intelligence is now indicating, again, potential whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

Is that the case, Senator Shelby? Is he alive? Does the United States have at least a general idea where he might be?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: I believe he's alive, but I don't that as a fact. None of us do. We've gotten new information that he could be in a certain area, but we've heard this before.

I think the bottom line, John, is that he is on the run, and we're in the hunt, big time, and we're going to find him. I don't know when. The sooner, the better. But I do believe that we will find him.

KING: Senator Edwards, your colleague just said there is some new information. The question is obviously the credibility of this information. What are we talking about? Are we talking about information coming from detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and elsewhere? Real- time information being gathered on the ground, still in Afghanistan or across the border in Pakistan? What are we basing these new signs on, this new possibility anyway, of Osama bin Laden whereabouts on?

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, I think, John, there are a variety of pieces of information.

I was actually on the ground in Afghanistan recently, about a month ago. I had a chance to meet with our intelligence operatives there, who are the people on the ground responsible for finding bin Laden.

And I agree with Senator Shelby. I think we will find him. I think it does matter, too, that we find him. I mean, we've made it a focus of our effort in Afghanistan. I think it's important that we find bin Laden.

I also think it's important that we not take our foot off the gas pedal, in terms of finding these other terrorist cells and routing them out. But I think there's another important issue, John, also, with respect to what's happening in Afghanistan.

EDWARDS: We have had great victory there. Especially our men and women in the military have done terrific jobs there, and they have had great success.

But the problem is, because of some limitations we have put on the international peacekeeping force, limited to the region around Kabul, limited in size to 4,500 to 5,000 troops, we have a real danger in Afghanistan of losing some of the victory we have been able obtain.

Out in the areas around the country, there is a movement in the direction of anarchy. And if that happens, it puts us right back in the place we were before we had all great victories.

So, I think we do need to expand the international peacekeeping force. We need to try to create stability in Afghanistan. That stability, I think, is important not just to our effort against terrorism in Afghanistan, but, in fact, our effort in the entire region, because instability and anarchy in Afghanistan impacts surrounding countries, including Pakistan and the efforts by President Musharraf.

KING: Let's move on now. I want from each of you an assessment of what you believe the current strength or weakness of Al Qaeda is right now around the world and its operational capabilities.

So, I want to first go to Senator Shelby. But first, listen to a colleague of yours on the intelligence committee, Senator Bob Graham of Florida. He believes there is still not only an Al Qaeda threat around the world, but quite a significant one right here in the United States. Let's listen to Senator Graham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: The estimate is that there are a hundred or more Al Qaeda operatives inside in the United States, some who have been here for a considerable period of time; all of whom went through a training process to prepare them to carry out terrorist plots when they were called upon to do so. That probably is the most immediate threat of a terrorist attack against the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Senator Shelby, 100 or more here in the United States right now?

SHELBY: Probably at least that. I think Senator Graham is right in this regard. A lot of these so-called cells or people, they are scattered all over the United States.

But I do believe that we have disrupted in a big way the communications by the leadership of Al Qaeda. But that doesn't mean that these people are not trained, are not dedicated to acting on their own at a certain level. And I think they will try to hit us from time to time.

The fact that they haven't done a lot of damage to us since September 11 is very hopeful on our part. But we've got a long way to go. We cannot rest. We cannot be asleep in any way regarding Al Qaeda in the United States or anywhere in the world.

KING: I want to move on, gentlemen, to the Daniel Pearl kidnapping and tragic murder and the broader questions it raises about U.S. intelligence gathering overseas.

There is a report -- Senator Edwards, to you first -- in "Newsweek" today that the lead suspect, Sheikh Omar Saeed, had actually been secretly indicted by the Justice Department here in the United States last year for previous kidnappings.

Is that the case, sir? Are you aware of that indictment? And if so, why was he still then at large and allowed to commit this crime, if that is the case?

EDWARDS: Well, the death of Mr. Pearl is a terrible tragedy and something that actually is a good indication of what we have just been talking about, the need to go forward with this war on terrorism, the brutality of the way he died is a terrible thing.

I don't know. I heard about this report. I have not seen it. I don't know whether, in fact, we had focused on him before.

But it is, of course, some indication of why -- I assume we'll talk about this -- why it is so important that those of us on the Intelligence Committee -- Senator Shelby, myself, Senator Graham -- conduct a very thorough investigation into what happened before September 11, why September 11 happened; and make sure that these sorts of things never happen again, including, the situation with the death of Daniel Pearl.

I mean, I think that is part of our responsibility, is to find out what happened and make sure never happens again.

KING: Senator Shelby, we do not currently, the United States does not have an extradition treaty with Pakistan where this Sheikh is right now. Do is think he should be extradited to the United States?

And if Pakistan is a key ally in the war against terrorism, with most now praise President Musharraf and others in his government for helping the United States, should there not be extradition treaty signed immediately between the two countries, given the fact that you have in the Pearl case suspects in Pakistan and Al Qaeda people fleeing from Afghanistan into Pakistan? Should that not be a priority?

SHELBY: John, I think it should be a priority, but I think the priority should be, at the moment, to find out who else is involved in the killing of Daniel Pearl.

Now, if the Pakistan government will really work this issue, and I believe they are trying to do this, and will bring the killers to justice there and let justice be had, that would be closure on our part. But if they're not going to do the job that we think they can do, and we shouldn't judge it yet, that is another thing.

KING: I'd like to throw this out to both of you. Anything from the intelligence updates you have been receiving about the Pearl investigation?

KING: Any information either of you have that you think could be helpful, as viewers try understand what happened here? And have either of you seen the videotape?

SHELBY: I haven't seen the videotape. I have been briefed by intelligence people regarding the Pearl case, even as late as today.

But I can tell you there's an ongoing investigation, and we're not to the bottom of it yet. But I believe if we can bring these type people to justice, wherever they are, we're going to set example. But it's not going to be easy.

But we've got to have the help of the Pakistani authorities, their security people, and I believe we're going to get it. It's to their advantage in their country to help us here.

EDWARDS: And this also gives, John, President Musharraf some more strength and momentum in not only dealing with terrorists but dealing with militants within his country.

And I'll go back to what I said earlier. It's so important that not just Afghanistan but also Pakistan and all the countries in that region be as politically and economically stable as they possibly can be, because if they're not, that's where these terrorists operate. They'll go to the place with the most instability, politically and economically, and that's -- it's just sort of like trying to put a cap over quicksilver. They're going to go wherever they can go.

And what President Musharraf is trying to do -- and I agree with Senator Shelby. He's been very cooperative; he wants to get to the bottom of this; wants to find these killers as do we. But this also gives him a real opportunity, and that opportunity is to go forward in the efforts to bring along not only the government of Pakistan but the people of Pakistan to support what he's trying to do within his own country.

KING: No one in Washington, best we can tell, questioning President Musharraf's commitment to dealing with this, gentlemen, but there have been suggestions from time to time that he might have some problems within his own intelligence agency in Pakistan.

What is the assessment of each of you based on the intelligence briefings you receive from U.S. officials. Is that a problem? Does President Musharraf have problems within his own government, especially the intelligence services? Senator Shelby, you first.

SHELBY: Well, he's had problems and he's moved some people around. He's realized that. And I don't know what he's doing day-to- day, but some of the top people have been transferred, dismissed and moved. He has to do this. He knows he's challenged within Pakistan because of the past ties of the intelligence agency of Pakistan to the Taliban and others.

EDWARDS: And there have been -- when I was in Pakistan about a month ago, John, I met not only with President Musharraf but also with the head of the intelligence agency. As Senator Shelby just indicates, there have been changes at the top levels of that operation. And I think clearly they're trying to do something to break with the past and the problems that they've had in the past. Whether they'll be successful, I think remains to be seen.

KING: All right, gentlemen, I want to ask both of you to stand by please.

We'll have much more to talk with Senator Edwards and Shelby. We'll also be taking your phone calls when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking with two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama and Democrat John Edwards of North Carolina.

Gentlemen, I want to turn the page, if you will, and discuss now the president's trip to Asia. If I'm a little groggy today, excuse me. Like the president, I'm just back and not exactly sure what day it is.

One of the president's main goals, especially in Japan and in South Korea, was to ease anxiety about his use of the term, "axis of evil," and including North Korea in that term, axis of evil. The president did not repeat the phrase; throughout the trip he toned down the rhetoric quite considerably.

But he did use the term "evil" once. It was when he was up at the demilitarized zone, looking across that very tense two-mile-wide swathe into North Korea. Mr. Bush was told a story about a museum on the other side. It is what the North Koreans call a peace museum. And in it hang two battle axes used to kill two American servicemen back in 1976. After hearing that story, the president looked at reporters and once again voiced his contempt for the North Korean regime.

Let's listen to what the president had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have a peace museum there, and the axes that were used to slaughter two U.S. soldiers are in the peace museum. No wonder I think they're evil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: This is a president, gentlemen, who states his views and makes his views clear. And the use of the word "evil" had concerned the allies quite a bit.

Senator Shelby, to you first. Did the president accomplish his mission? Did he calm the anxieties in Asia? And should he be using rhetoric like that?

SHELBY: Well, I leave that up to the president. I think the president's very candid. He's very forthright in what he believes. And I happen to agree with him, dealing with that.

Now, in Japan, you were with him, and also in Korea and China. You'd have a better perspective than we would from way over here.

But my feeling is that the Bush administration, America, is doing well, is highly respected, economically and politically, in the world. And I thought the message in Japan and Korea and ultimately to China was maybe not soothing, but was strong and they know where we stand. They also know they have allies -- that is, Japan and South Korea.

KING: Senator Edwards, when discussing the North Korean problem, the president wants to confront the regime, deal with its own missiles program plus its exports. There is not a reasonable military option when it comes to North Korea is there?

EDWARDS: Well, I don't think we're focused on military options right now, John.

I think it was important, in answer to your last question, it was important for the president to go to the region. I think he did help alleviate some of the concerns that people in that area had about this "axis of evil" comment.

But I do think that the more serious question going forward is, what are we going to do? I mean, we have three different countries that, while they all present serious problems for the United States -- they're dictatorships, they're involved in the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- you know, the most imminent, clear and present threat to our country is not the same from those three countries. I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country.

And I think they -- as a result, we have to, as we go forward and as we develop policies about how we're going to deal with each of these countries and what action, if any, we're going to take with respect to them, I think each of them have to be dealt with on their own merits.

And they do, in my judgment, present different threats. And I think Iraq and Saddam Hussein present the most serious and most imminent threat.

KING: Let's focus on China now. What the president wanted most from his stop in Beijing was a commitment from the Chinese government to honor a November 2000 agreement under which it would stop missile exports and exports of other sensitive military technology.

The president did not get that get that agreement. The Chinese especially, we are told, objecting. They want a grandfather clause, if you will, so they can continue to fulfill existing contracts. The United States wants to stop the export of that technology now.

Senator Shelby, what are we talking about in terms of a threat? What are they selling and who are they selling it to that should have the United States concerned?

SHELBY: Well, China is one of the biggest, largest proliferators of missile technology and other things that could be used for weapons of mass destruction in the world. They make a lot of money out of it. It helps their economy, it helps their technology base, as they continue to build and sell and improve. But it's against just about everything they have agreed with us on before, but they violated everything.

I don't believe they're going to stop. I never thought they would stop. I don't believe the Russians are going to stop, because they're making money out of it, and I think the end game is not there yet.

KING: Well, Senator Edwards, then, does the president have an obligation to take a much tougher stature? Is his credibility and this country's credibility at risk if he says we will stand up to Saddam Hussein, we will stand up to North Korea, but we won't get tougher against the Chinese, even though they're doing, at least in the case of missile exports, technology exports, the same thing as the North Koreans?

EDWARDS: Well, first, John, I think it was important for the president to go to China. I think that sends an important signal, not only to the Chinese people but to the rest of the world.

Secondly, I think it's asking too much, to expect that, in a short visit to China, that he would be able to resolve and reach agreement about this issue.

I'm hopeful, though, without knowing all the details of what took place while he was there in the behind-door discussions, I'm hopeful that he at least laid a foundation, that we may be able to resolve some of these issues that exist between the two countries.

I do think the president's presence there was critically important, and while he didn't reach agreement on this issue of missile technology, and missiles being shipped -- and we do of course have an agreement that they're violating, and Senator Shelby made reference to that -- I'm hopeful that, as a result of his conversations with the Chinese, personal conversations with them while we're there, that he's helped lay a foundation to actually getting some resolution about that issue.

KING: A lot more ground I wish we could cover, gentlemen, but we are out of time for this Sunday.

I want to thank you both, Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, joining us from Birmingham...

SHELBY: Thank you.

KING: ... today; Senator John Edwards, Democrat of North Carolina, joining us today from New York.

EDWARDS: Thank you.

KING: Thank you both, gentlemen.

And just ahead, the search for justice, Pakistan says it's cracking down on Islamic militants, but can it track down Daniel Pearl's killers? We'll ask the Bush administration's point man on counterterrorism, Ambassador Frank Taylor, when LATE EDITION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Laura and I and the American people are deeply saddened to learn about the loss of Daniel Pearl's life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: President Bush speaking for the United States on the tragic death of journalist Daniel Pearl.

Welcome back LATE EDITION. We're joined now by the U.S. coordinator for counterterrorism, Ambassador Frank Taylor.

Mr. Ambassador, welcome to LATE EDITION.

AMB. FRANK TAYLOR, OFFICE OF THE COORDINATOR FOR COUNTER- TERRORISM: Good to be here, John. Thank you.

KING: Let's start with the subject we heard the president discussing, the kidnapping and then the murder of Daniel Pearl. The videotape has been released.

As the investigation continues, any evidence now in the possession of United States government that would indicate any Al Qaeda connection?

TAYLOR: We don't have any evidence to indicate direct Al Qaeda links to this this. This is a very, very complicated investigation. And at this point, no indication of that kind of linkage.

KING: The two are not connected, but the Pearl murder comes at a time the administration has just adopted a new policy on how to deal with kidnappings of American citizens overseas.

And my understanding from senior White House officials is that one of the changes is that if I were kidnapped overseas or you were kidnapped overseas now -- and you're are a government official, so it's a little different -- but if you're a private citizen, that now it is handled mostly through the State Department, under this new policy. There would be review. The Pentagon would be involved, the National Security Council would be involved. And that one thing that would be considered would be is there a viable military option to get the American out, to try rescue the American.

What is the significance of that change?

TAYLOR: Well, certainly, our policy about hostage taking hasn't changed over many years. What this allows us to do is take a comprehensive look at every situation and determine the best route that the American government can use to help the host government of the country in which the person is being held to bring the hostage situation to a successful conclusion.

And we want people who take hostages to understand that the full weight of the United States government will be considered, in terms of the tools that we will offer or may offer to a host country in trying to bring that hostage to safety.

KING: You say the full weight of the United States government. Apparently, some at the Pentagon are a little worried that this raises expectations, that because there is a review and you at least consider whether it is a military option, that families and companies who have people kidnapped overseas might think, you know, the Pentagon is coming to the rescue.

TAYLOR: We're not going make any specific decisions on speculation, but we're going to look at every circumstance. We're going to determine the capability of the host country. We're going to look at how our assistance can be of help to them, and we'll make a judgment and make a recommendation to the president and he'll decide.

KING: Well, let's talk about the lead suspect in the Pearl abduction and now the Pearl murder, Sheikh Omar Saeed. There's a "Newsweek" report today that he is already under secret indictment in United States. Is that a fact? Is he under indictment by the United States government?

TAYLOR: Certainly, if it's true that he is under indictment, it's not something that we would discuss publicly. And appropriately, that question should be addressed to the Justice Department. KING: Well, I will assume that, for the sake of argument, that it is true. If it is true, and this is somebody wanted by the United States government, why is he wandering around Pakistan? Why has he now been taken into custody by the government of Pakistan, prior to this?

TAYLOR: As I said, John, that's an issue to be addressed with the Department of Justice, with regard to the status of any indictment, if there is one, on the suspect.

KING: One of your jobs, though, right -- you are an ambassador for this country, going around the world trying to convince perhaps many reluctant nations, to join the war against terrorism. I assume one of your tasks is convincing nations that when the United States calls and says you have a problem, that they should act more urgently?

TAYLOR: Absolutely, and we have done that. I traveled to Pakistan in January for that purpose. We held bilateral discussions with many Pakistani officials to include the leadership of the police in Karachi that are leading this investigation.

KING: Is there a corruption problem in Pakistan? President Musharraf's commitment is not questioned, but is there a problem down the line in the intelligence services, in some of the polices agencies?

TAYLOR: Well, certainly President Musharraf is working very hard to improve the capability of his intelligence, police and law enforcement agencies to rid his country of these extremist elements, and we're working very closely with him to try to do that.

TAYLOR: But around the world, a major part of our campaign is to help improve capacity, and we think that is the way to go in Pakistan and that's what we see happening.

KING: We were just discussing with the senators the whole issue of Chinese exports of military technology. You made a recent trip to Beijing; the president was just there. As of now, they have not agreed, the Chinese have not agreed to do what the United States wants them to do.

Why won't they agree? And how damaging are Chinese -- in the case of China specifically, their exports of military technology, to the campaign against terrorism?

TAYLOR: Certainly we are working very closely with the Chinese, and they've been a good partner of ours, at least in the military campaign in Afghanistan. They've committed to work with us on the financing of terrorism and other issues.

As you say, we're in discussions with them on other concerns that we had. And it would be inappropriate at this point to speculate on where those discussions are going to go, except we're going to continue to talk.

KING: But you say they've been a good partner in the military part. They're not a complete partner if they're still exporting missile technology to places like Iran and places like Pakistan, are they?

TAYLOR: We're working that partnership, John, and we're going to continue to do that. Our confidence in resolving this is high over time, and we're just going to continue to work on it.

KING: I want to ask you, finally. The president has expanded the definition in the view of many in terms of what the war on terrorism is about. First it was about September 11 and Al Qaeda and terrorist groups. Then in the State of the Union, he used axis of evil -- Iran, Iraq, North Korea.

What evidence is there in the case of those three countries that they are now this day, not 10 years ago or 20 years ago, state sponsors of terrorism?

TAYLOR: All of those states are still prominently listed as three of the seven states in our state-sponsored-terrorism list that we compile in the State Department.

KING: But the evidence against the North Koreans, if you go to the State Department Web site right now would be stuff back in the 1980s. Is the North Korean regime today sponsoring terrorism?

TAYLOR: North Korean regime today still houses Japanese Red Army people that were very much actively engaged in terrorism against the United States in the '70s and '80s. And that's why they remain on the state-sponsored lists of terrorist groups.

KING: Iraq, Saddam Hussein?

TAYLOR: Saddam Hussein has been involved in terrorism over the years. It's also why he is on the list, as well as Iran.

And the president announced very early on that in order to be a part of this coalition, there was no such thing as good terrorists or bad terrorists. That you had to renounce the use of terrorism as a political tool. Those nations have not done that. That's why they remain on the list; that's why they remain countries of concern to our government, as we move this coalition forward.

KING: And in a specific case of Iraq have you seen anything either from direct conversations, conversations through parties, any indication that Saddam Hussein either gets the message and is taking positive steps, or indications that he believes he's about to be attacked and is taking steps that the United States would consider counterproductive? What is he doing right now?

TAYLOR: I think it would be inappropriate for me to discuss what our intelligence sources are telling us about what Saddam Hussein may or may not be doing. I think the president was very clear in his message to Saddam Hussein that we're very much concerned about his behavior, that we expect him to comply with international standards. And we'll continue to press for that and not turn a blind eye to what he's doing on the ground. KING: All right. Ambassador Frank Taylor, thank so you so much or your time. The Bush administration's ambassador for counterterrorism. Thank you very much for joining us today.

TAYLOR: Thanks, John.

KING: And when we come back, the impact of Daniel Pearl's death on the war against terrorism. And is it possible to negotiate with terrorists? We'll hear from the former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Robert Oakley, and Daniel Pearl's colleague and friend Joe Davidson. We'll also get some perspective from former Beirut hostage Terry Anderson.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We now get four perspectives on Daniel Pearl tragedy.

On the front lines in Herat, Afghanistan, is CNN's Nic Robertson. In Cleveland, Ohio, is Terry Anderson. He is a former Associated Press correspondent who was held hostage in Lebanon for six years. And here in Washington, the former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Robert Oakley. He also served as the Clinton administration's envoy to Somalia in the early 1990s and helped negotiate the release of a U.S. hostage there. And Joe Davidson, a friend of Daniel Pearl's who also worked with him at the Wall Street Journal in the 1990s.

All four of you gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION.

Ambassador Oakley, I want to start with you first. In the context of the Daniel Pearl tragedy, kidnapping, then a murder, and lay over that the new Bush administration policy where they will at least have a discussion, involving the Pentagon and the National Security Council, as to whether there is a military option, help us understand, A, do you think that's right? Should there be a more muscular review that puts on the table a military option when an American citizen is kidnapped overseas? And, number two, how do you deal with the whole theoretical issue: Should we negotiate, period, with kidnappers, terrorists?

ROBERT OAKLEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO PAKISTAN: Well, when I was the director of the office of counterterrorism in the 1980s, we had American hostages being held in Lebanon by the Hezbollah backed by Iran, and it's a very, very difficult problem.

The solution is not to negotiate. We put ourselves in a very bad situation, where we ended up providing guns in exchange for hostages, which we shouldn't do.

President Bush changed that policy, Bush the First, and I think it's the correct approach.

On the other hand, you can talk, not negotiate the release, but there's no reason why you can't talk to people.

We have, on occasion, considered the use of military force when American private citizens were held hostage. It's not been done as a blanket policy. I think it's a good idea to look at all options, and a blanket policy. I think it's useful to do what we're doing in the southern Philippines, where Abu Sayyaf not only has some Al Qaeda connections but it also has taken Americans hostage.

So I think this is a useful approach to take. It's a more muscular one. I think it's the one that the United States ought to take.

KING: Terry Anderson, you were one of the Beirut hostages Ambassador Oakley just mentioned, six long years in captivity. Do you feel the United States government did everything it could, every day, every step of the way?

TERRY ANDERSON, FORMER HOSTAGE: I think Bob Oakley and President Reagan, President Bush, all the people involved, were doing everything that they possibly could to get us out. It was a very difficult situation, a very complicated situation. There was no rule book.

Yes, some mistakes were made, and Ambassador Oakley referred to the arms-for-hostages thing, which didn't work out very well in the end. But in the end, they did do it right, and those of us who survived did come home with some honor and integrity left. I think Bob Oakley and the others can consider that a victory.

KING: Let me ask you, Terry Anderson, stay with you for a minute, about the changing times. I want to ask you first and then go to Nic Robertson in Afghanistan today.

When you were in Beirut at that time, it was no secret that Americans were not held in high regard, that you were at risk of some danger. What type of security did you have at that time?

KING: When you went out, whether it was for a cup of coffee or for a sensitive interview, did you travel with armed security?

ANDERSON: No, not at all. We didn't have any security at all. Yes, it was dangerous. And it was getting increasingly dangerous for foreigners, Americans in particular, and we knew that. We were covering those people who were making the threats. There had been kidnappings of westerners and Americans. I was not the first to be taken.

You have to take risks as a journalist to do your job if you really believe in what you're doing. You don't do it for fun. You don't take risks because it's exciting. You do it because there is something important to be learned there. You are there to find out what's going on and to tell the world about it, and that is a very important job.

So you do take risks, just as Danny Pearl took risks. And I'm sure he knew that he was taking risks. And sometimes it doesn't turn out the way you hoped it would and you have to pay. And sometimes you have to pay the highest price, as Danny did.

But it is an important job. Would you not want to have foreign correspondents over there trying to tell you what was going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Would you not want to have somebody over there trying to find and tell the truth?

KING: Nic Robertson, jump in on that point, especially, you have gone into many dangerous places in Afghanistan and elsewhere in that region. Follow up on Terry's point about then and now. What type of security precautions do you take? And what is the atmosphere among the foreign correspondents now that there has been a murder of a colleague?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's safe to say that the atmosphere is certainly more cautious.

Every country, every conflict is different and brings a different set of circumstances. Certainly here, some of us that are able inside Afghanistan, particularly traveling routes that are potentially dangerous, potentially long routes across the country, will try and have those routes reconnoitered, will get as much information as we can. And if necessary, take an armed guard.

And certainly, traveling here from Kandahar, 360 miles, yesterday, it was clear that having an armed escort on that route did help speed our way through some of the checkpoints. What it would have been like if we didn't have that escort, it's very, very difficult to say. But it was prudent to take it.

That certainly has changed. In previous years, perhaps with the exception of Somalia, we wouldn't have taken armed escorts with us. But as I say, every situation is different. Every country is different. And you have to go with whatever the situation is in that region.

Do we take risks? Yes, they are calculated risks. Do we believe that what we are trying to do at the end of the day -- provide true, accurate, insightful reporting from difficult to reach parts of the world -- is important? Yes, we believe that. Yes, that's what motivates us. And we will continue to do that, to take those calculated risks. There are days when we know the risks are greater than others. But we try and keep them to a minimum as best we can, John.

KING: Joe Davidson, your friend took a risk and it cost him his life. Did he know what he was going in to?

JOE DAVIDSON, JOURNALIST, DANIEL PEARL'S FRIEND: Well, I'm sure he did. But sometimes you really don't know all of the details.

I think it's worth noting, though, that Danny is not the type who would take really crazy risks. You know, he wasn't what we sometimes call a cowboy type of journalist. I think he was cautious, certainly with his wife and his unborn child there. He wouldn't have taken, you know, the kind of crazy risks that sometimes you might associate with a foreign correspondent. He was a very good journalist, and he did what was necessary to get the story, sometimes stories that many other journalists might miss. But he wasn't going out on a limb, way out on a limb, you know, without any reason.

So I don't think that -- you know, I certainly want to downplay any suggestion that he might have been one of these cowboy types of journalists who took unnecessary risks.

KING: What was your last communication with him?

DAVIDSON: Well, it's been some time. We were friends, but we weren't the best of buddies. I mean, we played basketball together. We would socialize sometimes after work. And I really liked him. You know, even though I haven't been in touch with him for a while, because I left the Journal in '97.

He was a quiet, kind of unassuming sort. You know, he had a very good eye for the distinctive stories, the off-beaten type of story. Good basketball player. You know, he played the fiddle at office functions and in some small clubs here in D.C. And he was the type of person who you would not necessarily associate with some of these stereotypes but who was really a very good reporter.

KING: All right. Well, let's pause on that note. We'll be back in just a second, but we have to take a break here.

And we'll continue our conversation with our guests and take your phone calls when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): We are shocked and saddened at the confirmation that our worse fears have been realized. Up until a few hours ago, we were confident that Danny were return safely, for we believed no human being would be capable of harming such a gentle soul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation about the Daniel Pearl killing with CNN's Nic Robertson in Afghanistan; former Lebanon hostage Terry Anderson; former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Robert Oakley; and Daniel Pearl's friend and Wall Street Journal colleague, Joe Davidson.

And we want to bring into our discussion now a caller from Georgia who has a question for the panel. Go ahead, sir.

CALLER: Yes, I was wondering how come they didn't send any special troops into Karachi?

KING: Ambassador Oakley, in this case?

OAKLEY: Yes, what was the question? I didn't quite get it. KING: Why not special forces? Why not send in troops into Karachi when Daniel Pearl was kidnapped?

OAKLEY: Well, it is like asking the Pakistanis, if you will, to send troops into New York. How would you know where to look for? Who would you know the good guys from the bad guys? We got CIA people there. We have FBI people there. We're doing a very good job of working with the folks who are doing everything they possibly can to get on top of this situation. It will take a little while, but I think, eventually, it will happen.

This is a direct challenge to President Musharraf, to his credibility, to his regime, and he knows that. And he has got to respond and I think he will. We are working very closely with the Pakistanis, and I think that's the best way to get success.

KING: Nic Robertson, the question brings up the whole idea of whether the government is responsible for a journalist overseas in any way. We in this business obviously, we cover governments, we operate independently of the government. We don't like interference from the government in what we do, regardless of what that government might be from time to time.

Do you believe the White House, or you live in London, 10 Downing Street, is in any way responsible for you when you are traveling overseas?

ROBERTSON: John, I think the answer, perhaps, has to be no because quite often we would go to countries where our governments have travel advisories advising people not to go. So, it would be hard to expect them to do something to extricate us from difficult situation, as having traveled voluntarily to a country they've recommended us not to go to.

I think we know that as journalists we're going to operate in areas where other regular travels, if you will, won't go to. So, I think we have to accept as basic fact that risk and that understanding that, no, we can't really expect our governments to come in and support us when we get ourselves essentially into trouble.

KING: Terry Anderson, help us understand the thoughts that go through your mind when you're in captivity. Daniel Pearl held, and then killed, held a relatively brief time compared to yours being held hostage.

What goes through your mind on a day-to-day basis? Are there days when you just wish it would end? Do you want to die because you are being held? Do you have faith the whole time that you will some day be free?

ANDERSON: Well, we can't know what was going through Danny Pearl's head because we don't know what conditions he was being held in.

Of course there are days when you think you can't handle it, but you do. You do what you have to. You're not given much of a choice. I wonder I could address the question just talked about, though, in terms of whether or not the government is responsible for us.

ANDERSON: Of course they're not responsible for us, not responsible for any citizen overseas. You go over on your own, and you do what you do.

The government does have a responsibility to do what it can for its citizens who get in trouble, not as a matter of us relying on the government, but in the same way it helps any other person who runs into a situation that they can't handle on their own.

And I think the question of force, military force, you know, the Green Berets or Delta Force coming through the roof to rescue you, is being vastly overemphasized in this discussion. There are very, very few situations, hostage situations overseas where the use of military force is practical, let alone justified. It's just simply too difficult.

Bob Oakley can tell you that Delta Force was mounted up several times to try to mount rescue missions for us, and they simply decided at the last moment it was too dangerous. It was more likely to get hostages killed than to get them rescued, and that remains the case.

There are lots of other things the government can do to help in hostage situations than simply throw Delta Force or military troops at the situation.

KING: So, Davidson, I want to ask a question about context, and I don't ask it to be disrespectful to Danny Pearl in anyway. But had he been a contractor for some U.S. company over in Pakistan and this had happened, it is doubtful it would have received as much media attention.

Do we spend more time discussing this because it hit so close to home?

DAVIDSON: Well probably so. I mean, there's a lot of inequities in American news coverage, I think. And I think the fact that he was a prominent Wall Street Journal reporter means that he would get more coverage than someone else.

I think, though, that the essential question is why was he -- why was he kidnapped, why he was murdered, and what is the response of those in the journalism profession to that, as well as the United States government.

And for me, I frankly approach it, even though I'm a journalist, I still approach it more on a personal basis. I mean, I'm still very much angered by this, and it's a -- I'm angered because, you know, I liked Danny very much. And so all of the political and even professional ramifications for me are still kind in the background.

KING: Because of the attention it would receive, Ambassador Oakley, are journalists more, quote, unquote, inviting targets for people who want to kidnap Americans? OAKLEY: I think they are, but I agree with what Rick has said and what Terry Anderson, above all, who was one of the heroes of the situation in the 1980s, because he came out, despite the fact that there was no ransom paid for him, and he kept his head throughout.

But he was taken because he was a journalist. The people who took him wanted to maximize the pressure upon the Reagan administration so they could get more payoff. I think the people who've taken Danny Pearl wanted to maximize the attention so they could get more pressure upon General Musharraf.

Now, why they killed him, I don't know. But I think that sometimes journalists are at greater risk because there is more publicity given to the capture of a journalist.

KING: All right, we need to end the discussion there. As we do so, I think I can speak for all of us in saying our thoughts and prayers are with the Pearl family at this moment.

I'd like to thank Nic Robertson in Afghanistan; Terry Anderson from Cleveland, Ohio; Ambassador Bob Oakley here in Washington; and Joe Davidson as well.

Coming up in the next hour of LATE EDITION, former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and others weigh in on boxing's latest controversy: Should Mike Tyson be allowed to fight?

Also, televangelist Pat Robertson speaks out on Islam. All that and more when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: This is LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE TYSON: I'm not Mother Teresa, and I'm not Charles Manson either. But just treat me equal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Should Mike Tyson be allowed to fight again, and where?

We'll debate the issue with former Tyson opponent and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, boxing promoter Rock Newman, and National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy.

Then...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything that Danny's kidnappers claim to believe in.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Is Islam a peaceful religion distorted or an inherently violent belief? We'll talk to televangelist Pat Robertson and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee's Hussein Ibish (ph).

And Bruce Morton examines the morality of state-sanctioned death.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We'll debate whether boxer Mike Tyson should be allowed to fight in just a moment, but first, here's Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta with a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

KING: This past week, the Washington, D.C., boxing commission granted Mike Tyson a license to fight heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis in June, but some residents, as well as women's groups, are protesting that decision. Nevada, Texas and Georgia already have refused to grant Tyson a license because of the troubled boxer's legal and behavioral problems.

Joining us to discuss all this from Atlanta is former heavyweight champion and Tyson opponent, Evander Holyfield. Here in Washington, boxing promoter Rock Newman, and the president of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy.

Welcome, all of you, to LATE EDITION.

EVANDER HOLYFIELD, FORMER HEAVYWEIGHT WORLD CHAMPION: Thank you.

KING: Mr. Holyfield, let's start with you first, champ. You have fought Mike Tyson in the ring. Question number one, should he be allowed to fight again, period?

HOLYFIELD: Yes, I think he should.

KING: Why so?

HOLYFIELD: I think what he done in the ring, you know, I forgave him, and he paid a big fine. And so, everything else has been great. He paid the price that's necessary to go on and further his career.

KING: For our viewers who may not know why Evander Holyfield is forgiving Mike Tyson, back in 1997, he bit your ear, took a piece of your ear with him in a controversial fight.

Rock Newman, because of behavior like that, should Mike Tyson be allowed back in the ring, period?

ROCK NEWMAN, BOXING PROMOTER: Well, I think, at this point in time, as Evander said, Mike Tyson has committed transgressions against society. He's broken the rules in and out of the boxing ring. He's paid a very hefty price. He did the crime and he's done his time.

I think that he, right now, has a right to do it, to make an application to be licensed. And I applaud the District of Columbia for being independent enough in their thinking to review his license process.

There was something erroneous in your introduction, to say that a license had been granted. What they've have agreed to do is to review his application, which many other states had summarily dismissed.

KING: You have a different view, Kim Gandy.

KIM GANDY, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN: I have an absolutely different view. Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist. He is a sexual predator, as the governor of Georgia said. And the fact that he served time in jail for rape does not mean that the crime disappears. It doesn't mean that he didn't do the crime, and it doesn't restore that young woman's life. He's still a sexual predator, and he should not come to the nation's capitol and be glorified.

KING: Well, let's follow up on that point. If the fight comes here to D.C., some believe $150 million to $200 million for the District of Columbia.

Rock, you're from here and you know fights. Is that a fair number? Would the District of Columbia reap such an economic benefit?

NEWMAN: I think that that might be an exaggerated number. But if you're looking at the economics of it and the city benefited to the tune, let's say, of $50 million or $60 million, that's a tremendous amount to put into the coffers, that would go for some very worthy causes, like, education and things of that nature.

So many people are trying to characterize this as just the District of Columbia selling out for the sake of money. I really don't see it that way at all. I think that they are being fair and deliberate in trying to practice due process.

KING: Kim Gandy, one thing the National Organization of Women does is lobby politicians it agrees with, fights against politicians it disagrees with. Should Mayor Anthony Williams step in and try to stop this, and what is your organization doing to bring that about?

GANDY: Mayor Williams absolutely needs to step in and stop this. I'm a long-time resident of the District of Columbia myself. I have young children that I'm raising here. And I don't want a sexual predator or criminal glorified and brought to this city as the savior of the city.

Yes, the city needs help after 9/11, and it should get the help it needs from the government. It should not have to sell out the future of our boys and our young men to a sexual predator in order to get the help it needs after 9/11.

KING: Evander Holyfield, does the government have any role in this? This is a sporting event. Should the politicians be involved at all?

HOLYFIELD: Well, I think that they are leaders. They do make the rules. I think that they should be a part of it, but they have to be fair. You've got to think about all the other people who have done things that don't have big names. I think because Mike Tyson have a bigger name, people just got their eye on him. But it's so many other people have raped, have been in jail, had done a lot of other things and still allowed to make a living. His living just happens to be boxing. And you can't tell him he can't make a living.

GANDY: Well, $20 million a fight is more than a living.

NEWMAN: You know, I really do believe that it is a very empty argument to say that Mike Tyson is to come here to be glorified, that in some kind of way, it has some dramatic, negative effect on children.

For parents who do not have enough influence with their children, don't have enough impact on their lives, to say Mike Tyson's history is such and such and, boy, we really don't ever want you to try to behave like Mike Tyson, to have that kind of simple dialog with your kids to -- I think it is a bit of a stretch that, all of a sudden, that Mike Tyson could come here and to have a fight and it is the destruction of our future generation. I think that's a bit of an overstatement.

GANDY: Well, certainly the destruction of the future generation would be an overstatement, but it's not an overstatement to say that he would be glorified. He's already being hailed as the financial savior of a troubled city financially, and that should not be the case. That's a terrible message to send to our kids.

Their financial destruction, their moral destruction, no, but a terrible message nonetheless to see this man glorified on every television show, every radio station, parades in his honor, no doubt. I think it would be a terrible thing for my city.

KING: Hang on, let me bring Champ Holyfield back into the debate.

Sir, what do you think Mike Tyson should do? Does he have an obligation -- as this debate continues, should he step forward and make a public statement? Should he step forward and make an apology or make his case for why he should be able to fight again and why he should be able to fight here in Washington, D.C.?

HOLYFIELD: Well, I think that he paid the price already. I think that, you know, you make a man apologize over and over for something that's happened. How many other people have to make a public statement about why they should be allowed to perform, allowed to work? I'm saying boxing is his job, and that's what he do.

And so I just don't think that one should have to make -- apologize to anybody just say I still want to work. What's going to happen if he don't work?

KING: You saw the scuffle at the news conference up in Manhattan with Lennox Lewis. That type of behavior, do you believe that that should be allowed in your sport? Does that do honor to your sport? HOLYFIELD: Well, I don't say it do honor, but it been going on before Mike. Mike hadn't been the one that invented it. You know, Lennox Lewis got in a scuffle just, I guess, three or four months ago, and nothing was said. Now Mike get in a scuffle and now you want to just have one eye on Mike and say he started it. He's not the one who even started that scuffle.

NEWMAN: You know, I think Evander Holyfield is doing something that is very impressive here. Evander Holyfield was the victim in the ring of some of Mike Tyson's antisocial and hostile behavior.

But as a man known for his convictions and for his deep spirituality, he is saying -- he is sort of practicing what, you know, he has preached and what's preached in our moral code of conduct, you know, as we look at the Bible, the Koran or the Torah, and saying here's a man that deserves another chance, deserves an opportunity to earn a living, and I, as an aggrieved individual, am forgiving him.

We must respect the fact also that whichever side of the issue we line up on, there are legitimate arguments on both sides. And the concerns that this fine lady here expressed I understand, appreciate and respect that.

I would just hope that those people who are so vociferous in their opposition to the fight would respect that there are legitimate concerns and there are legitimate passions on the other side also that don't make those of us who think he should have a right bad people.

KING: OK. Let's hit the pause button there so we can take a quick break.

But when we come back, your phone calls for Evander Holyfield, Kim Gandy and Rock Newman. All that when LATE EDITION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

(UNKNOWN): If Nevada doesn't want him, the gaming capital of the world, why should we have him here?

(UNKNOWN): I think if it brings in jobs and additional money, I don't see why not?

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KING: A sampling of the sentiment here in Washington about the possibility of Mike Tyson fighting a heavyweight bout here later this year.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We are talking about the Tyson controversy with former heavyweight boxing champion, Evander Holyfield; boxing promoter Rock Newman; and National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy. Let me add one more. You heard two citizens of Washington right there. This an editorial in yesterday's Washington Post about the Tyson fight: "His inside and outside the ring record speak for themselves -- jail time for rape and for a road rage incident; suspension and fined for biting an opponent; attempting to break an opponents arm after the bell; decking a referee; pre-fight fisticuffs. Say this for Mr. Tyson, he stays busy. But does the nation's capital need this? No."

Let's pick up where we left off. You say not the job of the politicians, leave it to the boxing commission. Do you worry at all about the impact on the sport globally when you have a debate like this? Mike Tyson, yes, he's had an incident. You know, people are forgiven after incidents, but he has a track record.

NEWMAN: You know, I think -- personally, I'm an eternal optimist. And one of the things that I think can ultimately come out of this -- can be a great fight, it can be a great promotion.

And if so, properly administered, properly promoted, properly regulated, properly brought off, it is a true international event that has the impact of giving this city a leg up in its competition for the 2012 Olympics, if it can properly host this true international event.

So there is ultimately a lot of good that can come out of his boxing match. And I'm just not one of those naysayers that believes in the doom and gloom forecast by so many people who oppose this event.

KING: Evander Holyfield, you mentioned you forgive Mike Tyson. He bit your ear in a fight back in 1997. The man he would fight here in Washington or wherever if this fight takes place, Lennox Lewis, says he is worried because of that type of behavior. I believe we can you a quick byte of sound from Lennox Lewis. Let's listen to Lennox Lewis about his concerns about getting in the ring with Mike Tyson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LENNOX LEWIS, BOXER: This guy just took a chunk out of my leg, so, you know, I'm thinking, who is going to protect me in the ring? Who's going to guarantee that Mike Tyson doesn't bite me in the ring?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Evander Holyfield, is that a legitimate concern, or do you think that is part of Mike Tyson's psychological warfare, if you will, that if you get in the ring with him, while you are standing there looking for boxing you are also worried he is going to bite you or do something outside the rules?

HOLYFIELD: I think Lennox just took the time to pounce on him because the spotlight was on him. Lennox didn't say that he hit Mike Tyson was the reason he got bit on the leg.

And just because Mike Tyson bit my ear, but you know, if I knew he was going to bite me, he never would have got close enough to bite me. But if a person thinks that Mike Tyson is going to bite him then, yes, you've got long enough arms, you can keep him off of you. You usually don't get bit unless you don't know that the guy's going to bite you. Of course, they have to get too close to you to bite you.

And so, you know, to be a fighter and to be the heavyweight champ of the world, and you are worrying about who going to help you, it doesn't say much about your character.

KING: Kim Gandy, help us on this debate. This is the United States of America, innocent till proven guilty. As both Rock Newman and Evander Holyfield have said, Mike Tyson has paid his price -- done the crime, done the time, as Rock said.

Why should your organization step up and say that he should not be allowed to fight when, in the eyes of the criminal justice system, he has served his time?

GANDY: Well, you know, I'm a little confused by your characterization of this as though because a person has served a jail sentence that that somehow erases the fact that they committed a crime.

Would you let a convicted rapist date your daughter because he had served his time? Would you let a child molester babysit your children because he served his time?

GANDY: It doesn't change the nature of the person to have paid the punishment that is required of them.

KING: But is society...

GANDY: It doesn't erase the past, doesn't erase the history. This man has been accused of rape now three additional times in the last two years, once in California, twice in Los Angeles. Both times...

NEWMAN: It should be said, cleared of all three.

GANDY: He was not cleared. That is an absolute mischaracterization. In all three cases the police vigorously pursued the charges, actively encouraged the district attorneys to accept the charges. In all three cases, the district attorney said, well, there were no witnesses to the rapes, and they declined to prosecute them.

I'm a former prosecutor myself. I understand that district attorneys like to maintain their conviction records. And when they don't have a witness to a crime like rape, it's a reason that there is so little prosecution of that.

But it's nonetheless true that the police found enough evidence to pursue and to urge prosecution in three rapes in the last two years alone.

This is a person who has a long track record of actual convictions of committing crimes on tape. He has been repeatedly accused of sexually predatory behavior. This is not someone that we want to lionize in the United States capital.

NEWMAN: I don't think at all that anyone on this program would in any way be insensitive to any kind of abuse of women, especially including rape. The question was, would you allow him to date your daughter? Maybe you would not do that.

But I would hope that we would all fight for his right to earn a living if he were a truck driver or if he is a boxer. There should be no distinction there.

KING: It should be an individual choice, in your view?

NEWMAN: Absolutely.

KING: You can decide whether to buy that ticket or not.

NEWMAN: Absolutely.

KING: You say it should be a society choice.

GANDY: But there is a distinction...

KING: Evander Holyfield?

HOLYFIELD: People have choices. You know, Mike deserve to work. If you think if everybody that's committed a crime wasn't able to work, you know, what kind of economy would we have?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: But how do you strike that balance then? People, society at large watch this. You have the president of the National Organization of Women here. She says it would be an outrage. There is a political ripple effect, if you will.

It brings us, I guess, back to the old debate about are you, if you have such prominence in sports, are you a role model? What responsibility do you have to your community? How do you address that question?

HOLYFIELD: Well, you know, it's all in how you were brought up. You know, people don't choose their parents. You know, I didn't choose my parents, but I thank God, you know, for my mother who taught me, instilled things in me.

A lot of time people don't understand people who didn't have parents, but now they got a skill now. And a lot of people put him on a pedestal because he was the youngest heavyweight champ of the world. Now all of a sudden when you become an adult, they say change.

Now because he get more exposure than he did as a kid, now it makes a big difference. And there are a lot of other people out there that do things that don't get no exposure, you know, don't nobody say anything about it. It's easy to, I guess, point your finger at somebody in the spotlight, more so than somebody that may live in your neighborhood and do the same things. KING: Rock Newman, you say Mike Tyson should be allowed to fight; that he as an individual deserves the right to earn a living. You also make a living off of this sport. Do you worry big picture, does the sport have to do something to clean up its image, if you will?

NEWMAN: You know, it is often said that when things like this come up that boxing, oh my God, boxing's going to get another black eye. Well, boxing has been blind for a long, long time.

(LAUGHTER)

There's sort of like no more black eyes to be had.

You know, boxing survives and thrives, interestingly enough, in spite of itself. And part of the way that it does is that you do have warriors that come along, like the gentleman that we are talking to here, Evander Holyfield, who has, you know, maintained an image, maintained a particular kind of dignity.

And, you know, for every negative story there is a positive story. And that is in part part of the beauty of this business and a beauty of the sport. That it gives, oftentimes, those who have no other opportunity to rise in the world an opportunity to do that. And I don't think that boxing is going to perish if Mike Tyson fights or he doesn't fight.

KING: And, Kim Gandy, is your beef with Mike Tyson or is it with boxing?

GANDY: My beef is with Mike Tyson and with the District of Columbia boxing commission. It's clear that boxing's not going to get any more of a black eye than it already has. I just hope that my city, the District of Columbia, doesn't get a black eye, too.

KING: OK. We need to end it there.

Evander Holyfield in Atlanta, thank you very much for joining us today, sir. Here in Washington, boxing promoter Rock Newman, Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization of Women, thank you all. A very controversial subject, obviously. We appreciate all of your thoughts here on LATE EDITION.

And just ahead, we'll turn to the topic of Islam. Is it a religion that's being misinterpreted by extremists or one that has violence at its core? Televangelist Pat Robertson explains his controversial comments about Islam when LATE EDITION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

Since the tragic events of September 11, President Bush has repeatedly stressed that the war on terrorism is not one against Islam and that, in his view, the Muslim religion is a peaceful one. But recently, the Reverend Pat Robertson derided Islam, sparking criticism from Muslim and Christian groups. Joining us now to discuss this, from Virginia Beach, is Pat Robertson.

Sir, welcome to LATE EDITION.

PAT ROBERTSON, FOUNDER, CHRISTIAN COALITION: Thanks, John.

KING: Let's start -- go ahead, sir.

ROBERTSON: I wanted to start, if I could, with a little bit of my bona fides on this. We've run an Arabic language television station, in the Middle East for about 16 years. It was overrun by Hezbollah and blown up. And I've met a couple times with Yasser Arafat. I gave the Prince of Peace award to Anwar Sadat in the Blair House. And we have many, many friends all over the Arab world, so I am very familiar with Islam. We have Arabic-speaking people here on our staff. And that was the source of some of my comments.

KING: OK. Let's review your comment for our viewers and then get you to you explain just what you meant, sir.

This is what you said Thursday on your show, "The 700 Club": "I have taken issue with our esteemed president, in regard to his stand in saying Islam is a peaceful religion. It's just not, and the Koran makes it very clear. If you see an infidel, you ought to kill him. That's what it says. Now, that doesn't sound very peaceful to me."

You believe the faith overall, the Muslim faith, is a violent faith?

ROBERTSON: John, I looked up Encyclopedia Britannica to prepare for this interview. I looked up two words: "Tours, Battle of" and also "jihad," and the encyclopedia says this, and it's very clear: "Believers are under obligation to wage war against all unbelievers." That's the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Battle of Tours, you remember in 732, repulsed the so-called Muslim hordes who were coming in to overrun Europe, and they swept on jihad for about 100. And Mohammed said the second most important duty of a follower of Islam is to wage jihad against the infidels. I mean, it is very clear in the Koran and in his writing and in his words what he intended.

KING: Now, I want to make clear that you're certainly not the only Christian minister to make this point, and I want to show a quotation from Franklin Graham back in October. Dr. Graham wrote, "I don't believe this is this wonderful peaceful religion. When you read the Koran and you read the versus from the Koran, it instructs the killing of the infidel, for those that are non-Muslim."

So Reverend Graham makes the same point you make, Reverend Robertson. I guess my question is, if you believe that, is it then -- do you feel an obligation then to preach that message publicly? Or do you think and do you worry, that perhaps, because we are at a time when perhaps some prejudices have been stoked by the events of September 11, that it would be best off if you turned the other cheek, said nothing?

ROBERTSON: Well, it's not a question of saying nothing. I think people ought to be aware of what we're dealing with. There are many, many people in the Islamic world who don't have a clue what the Koran says. They're sort of fellow travelers, so to speak. They're wonderful, lovely people, and I have many friends.

The same thing is true in America. They don't really hold to the teachings of Mohammed, but the Koran says the -- a central part of Islam is that, A, you would make Allah the one true God and Mohammed is his only profit. And if he is the only profit, then what he said is taken literally by hundreds of millions of the radical -- and the Muslim population around the world has been radicalized. And Osama bin Laden, whether we like it or not, is a hero to the street people over there.

KING: Your comment has stoked a bit of a political controversy. I want to quote to you from an editorial in The Washington Post. This editorial in the Post just yesterday: "Is Mr. Robertson trying to start a pogrom? If so, he's headed in the right direction. These sorts of words aren't innocent talk, particularly not when broadcast into millions of homes by a religious leader to whom many look for moral guidance."

How do you make the judgment, sir? You know you have a large audience. You know you are influential among conservative Christians across this country. How do you make the judgment that you want to say something like that? And do you worry, again, that it could incite some prejudice?

ROBERTSON: Listen, it's not a question of prejudice. The World Trade Center was blown up and so was the Pentagon. We have thousands and perhaps hundreds and thousands and millions of people who hate America and who are trying to destroy Israel.

And something has been unleashed in the world which is a terrible evil. And it's aimed at the United States, and it's aimed at Israel. And it's especially aimed at Jews and Christians. And for me not to tell our audience that this is the belief of these people is wrong.

Now, sure, in America, many, many so-called Muslims had watered down the teachings of Mohammed. They say, we don't believe that, we don't believe the Koran, really it's something else.

But if you believe what those people in Mecca believe, what the people who follow Osama bin Laden believe, then we have an enemy we have to do something about.

And it's like, Paul Revere, was he trying stir up prejudice when he said the British are coming? I mean, it's, we need an alarm, because this country's under attack.

KING: Reverend Robertson, we want to continue our discussion. I understand we have a caller from Virginia.

Go ahead with your question. ROBERTSON: All right.

CALLER: ... Robertson?

ROBERTSON: Yes.

CALLER: Sir, the history of the Christian church shows that there has been more violence committed by Christians than Muslims. By the Serbs in Kosovo, in Bosnia, in Iraq, and in Palestine, killing Muslims. So how can you say Islam is evil, when in fact it's Christianity?

ROBERTSON: You haven't heard me say Islam is evil. I didn't say it was evil. I merely said that the founder of Islam preached violence.

And here's what he said. I'm quoting directly from the Koran. "Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them. Seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them. Fight them. Allah will punish them."

Now, that is the message that's coming out of the mosques. It is the message that is coming from many of these mullahs all over the Muslim world. You're not hearing Christian ministers telling people to go kill Muslims. I love Muslims. I don't want to hurt anybody. I think we're a religion of love. We don't preach hate, but this is the message of Mohammed.

Now, if you, as a Muslim, want to repudiate Mohammed, that's fine with me, because we're finding hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Muslims who are indeed repudiating that message, and that's wonderful.

KING: Reverend Robertson, let me frame the question this way then. You believe you are right, and you believe you have a moral obligation to repeat what is in the Koran, to let people know what is in the Koran.

If that is the case, then is President Bush wrong? Is he doing a disservice, is he misleading people when he stands up and says this is a peaceful religion?

ROBERTSON: Listen, John, the president made a masterstroke. What he's saying is, "Look, we're against those bad guys, but you are the good guys, and we're not against you. We're not against Islam. We're just against those who hijacked your religion."

Well, if you get right down to it, Osama bin Laden is probably truer to Mohammed than some of the others, but nevertheless it was a masterstroke politically. There are 8 million Muslims in America, and he didn't want to offend them, but he also wanted to put a coalition together to go after the terrorists. And it was a brilliant stroke to say that.

But I do believe that we -- all I'm asking people to do is read the Encyclopedia Britannica and a few verses in the Koran, and say, maybe we ought to open our eyes. You know, John, in World War II, if the allied powers, France and Britain, had just read "Mein Kampf," they would have been prepared, but they didn't believe Hitler was serious.

Believe me, these people over there are very deadly serious, and they do hate America, they hate Israel. They not will rest until every single Jew is kicked out of the Holy Land. And I don't want to see that happen. So, as a friend of Israel, I'm going to stand against them.

KING: Reverend Pat Robertson, thank you for sharing your thoughts today with us from Virginia Beach.

ROBERTSON: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, sir, very much.

ROBERTSON: All right.

KING: And up next, the Islamic response. We'll talk to the spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Hussein Ibish.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. We're joined now by Hussein Ibish. He's the communications director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Sir, welcome to LATE EDITION.

IBISH: Thank you very much. Delighted to be here.

KING: You heard Reverend Robertson in the prior segment. He says this book, the Koran, teaches violence...

IBISH: Yes.

KING: ... in the guise of religion, teaches to kill people who are infidels. Do you agree?

IBISH: Well, of course not. That's absolutely preposterous. If we want to play this silly, vicious game, there's no problem to do it with the Koran, with the Bible, with the Talmud. You can go into any of these great religious texts and pull out quotes randomly here and there to prove all kinds of things. You can prove the religion is peaceful, you can prove it's violent, you can prove it's for something or against something. We can do this, and if we wanted to stigmatize each other, we can all play this game.

You know, there are dozens of Web sites, anti-semitic Web sites with quotes pulled from the Talmud. Anti-Christian Web sites with all kinds of quotes from the book of Joshua to the book of Revelations. Anyone can play this game if you want to smear and attack one of the great traditions of the world.

The question is, what is the history of the tradition? What is the essence of the faith as it has been interpreted throughout the years? And I think there's no doubt that Islam is a peaceful religion.

What is Pat Robertson saying? Well, first of all, let me tell you he doesn't know what he's talking about. He just got on your show and said that in Islam Mohammed is the only prophet of God. The most elementary fact about Islam is that the Jewish and prophets and Jesus are all profits of Islam from Abraham to Jesus. He doesn't know the first thing he's talking about.

What he's doing is he's trying to malign and stigmatize an entire community. Why he wants to do that, I don't know, but that's what he's doing. And it's very cynical, and it's really despicable.

KING: Help us on the point you just made about lifting passages from any religious text and putting them into context of what they mean today.

Let's take this one. Here's one quote, I believe it's one of the quotes Reverend Robertson cited from the Koran. "Those that make war against God and his apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be slain or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides or be banished from the land."

IBISH: Right. I mean, look, as I say, it's a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Here is a quote ripped from its context, ripped from this very large holy book which is being interpreted in many different ways by many different people in dozens of traditions. You're talking about one of the great philosophical traditions of mankind.

IBISH: You pull this quote out and put it down. We'd have to ask who are the people, who are making war against God and what does this mean? Is this literal? Is it metaphorical?

Look, I'm not a theologian, and there is no point in having a theological debate here. We don't need to do it.

I could come here, as I say, with quotes from the Talmud and quotes from the Bible and try to paint Judaism and Christianity, or any other religion, in this negative light too. I think that is, as I say, a really despicable and sick game that we don't need to play.

What we need to ask ourselves is, what is Reverend Robertson saying in his piece on "The 700 Club" that created this controversy? What he was saying overall is, "Look, in our midst, next to you there are Muslim neighbors, there are Muslims among us. And they may look normal, they may seem to be normal, reasonable people, but actually they are not. They are different from us. They have a different value system. They hate our culture, they hate our country. They worship an alien and hostile God. They're trying to take over, destabilize and undermine our Western Christian way of life." That's what he's saying. This is exactly what was said about Jews in the late 19th and early 20th century. This is a slightly warmed over, slightly rehashed version of anti-semitism. It's coming from very similar quarters, that is to say, far right-wing extremists like the Reverend Robertson.

And I think it ought to trouble everyone that what we're getting is just a slightly warmed over version of anti-semitism. And it's spreading in this country.

KING: Let us continue and bring into the discussion a caller from Kentucky.

Go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Thank you for having me. I'd just like to ask Mr. Ibish what -- how he explains, if the religion is not there to promote hatred and murder and so forth, how does that explain the death of Daniel Pearl, who was an innocent American simply doing a job over there?

IBISH: Yes, the death of Pearl was absolutely horrible. And it's sad to say that lots of journalists are killed in the world all over the year. This was a particularly heinous and brutal murder.

And it was committed by Muslims. But look, there are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world. One-fifth of the people on the planet are Muslims. Obviously some of them are going to be committing some murders. That no more indicts the faith than the actions of Timothy McVeigh or the Branch Davidians or the Real IRA or the Orange Order or any other group of people, the Ku Klux Klan for that matter, who act under the name of Christianity or right-wing Jewish extremists in Israel in the settler movement who act in the name of Judaism.

I mean, you know, the question is, are we going to really start stigmatizing each other based on guilt by association? And are we going to start pointing the finger at each other collectively? Or are we going to ask each other whether we should not actually have a tolerant society? Whether it's not more reasonable to judge each other as individuals and to judge traditions as whole traditions and not look for accusations like this? I mean...

KING: What type of challenges do you face, though, from a public awareness standpoint, when many Americans don't understand your faith and they hear the kidnappers and killers of Daniel Pearl justifying it, Osama bin Laden on tape justifying it, in saying that he is acting in the guise of religion? What do you do? And what are you having to do now, I guess, at a higher volume, higher level of activity because of this?

IBISH: Yes. Sure, sure. Well, of course, my organization is nonsectarian. We have many Muslim members. We also have a lot of Arab Christian members, and we have other people who are involved. But we do face this problem of the stigmatization of Islam, and it's a major problem for us.

And of course, people like bin Laden and people like the murderers of Pearl have definitely called the faith into disrepute. There is no doubt about it, as the other groups I mention have done with other religions.

So I think what is necessary is to counter this campaign of anti- Arab and anti-Muslim propaganda coming from people like the Reverend Robertson, like Franklin Graham, like professional Arab and Muslim bashers like Daniel Pipes (ph) and Steve Emerson, who are basically trying to cast the American-Muslim and Arab-American community as outsiders. I think we need to show that we are normal, patriotic, productive Americans.

And our organizations have all spoken loudly and clearly on this issue, and, you know, that's what we have to do, I think. I think we have to keep reaching out with a message of tolerance. And I also I think to continue to urge that the responsible politics are secular politics, they are not religious politics.

Right now the world is breaking up into two camps: a camp of tolerance and coexistence and a camp that essentially casts everything as class of civilizations -- East versus West, Islam versus the United States or something like that.

Unfortunately, people like Mr. Robertson are putting themselves in the bin Laden side of that equation, saying, yes, there is this contradiction between Islam and the West. There is a generalized conflict. There is a clash of civilizations.

We are with the president and many other responsible people saying, no, there is no contradiction between Islam and Christianity or Islam and the West or the Arab world and the United States.

IBISH: We can live together and we do live together. We will live together. And trying to cast aspersions on each other, calling each other demonic and evil, and, you know, sort of attacking Christianity or attacking Islam is really a despicable and counterproductive thing to do.

KING: That debate, I'm sure, will continue. That's all the time we have for that part it today, though.

Hussein Ibish of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination...

IBISH: Thank you very much.

KING: We thank you very much for sharing thoughts with us.

Up next, your letters, plus Bruce Morton's essay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Execute retarded people? The Supreme Court upheld that in 1989, but they have taken the issue up again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Should government be in the business of killing to administer justice?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It's time now for Bruce Morton's essay on state-sanctioned death as punishment.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON: When should the state kill people?

The Supreme Court this past week wrestled with whether retarded people should face the death penalty. Well, a jury in Houston must decide whether Andrea Yates was insane when she drowned her five children.

Where does the country stand in October of 2001? Sixty-eight percent of Americans said they favor the death penalty, in general.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE RYAN (R), ILLINOIS: I now favor a moratorium because I have grave concerns about our state's shameful record of convicting innocent people and putting them on death row.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: But asked if other states should follow Illinois and impose a moratorium until they're sure it's administered accurately and fairly, 53 percent said yes in May of last year. Yes, they were for a pause.

Execute retarded people? The Supreme Court upheld that in 1989, but they've taken the issue up again. Back then, just two of the 38 states which have the death penalty barred executing retarded people. Now 18 of the 38 do. Times may have changed some.

A Fox News poll in May of last year found only 19 percent favored executing retarded people found guilty of premeditated murder; 67 percent opposed it, so there may be a consensus on that.

Insanity is a closer call. Should people temporarily insane at the time of their crime face the death penalty? A "Newsweek" poll in 1995, the newest one we could find, showed an even split -- 46 percent yes, 46 percent no.

Which brings us to Andrea Yates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): You also hear evidence that showed she knew it was an illegal thing, that it was a sin, that it was wrong.

(END VIDEO CIP)

KING: The prosecution will argue she knew what she was doing. As a parent, though, you have to think she's crazy. Emotions among grownups, husbands and wives, lovers are complicated and can lead to murder. But asked, would you step in front of a speeding truck to save your kid, most of us would say "Of course" and walk into the traffic. Yates is different somehow, and crazy is the easiest explanation.

She won't, of course, go free. John Hinckley found not guilty of shooting Ronald Reagan by reason of insanity, is still in a mental hospital, allowed supervised day trips, but it would take a judge's order to set him free.

For Yates, maybe death would be the kindest thing. Hinckley has had 20 years now to contemplate his crime which, by good fortune, took no lives. What if Yates somehow gets her sanity back? She is 37. Imagine having another 30 or 40 years to ponder the awful fact that you killed your children? How many of us would want to face that?

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Thanks, Bruce.

And now your letters.

Paul from Illinois asks, "Why is there no investigation regarding the possible connections of government officials to the insider trading that obviously took place prior to Enron's bankruptcy?"

Don from Florida points out, "China sells arms to Iran, an axis of evil member, which I believe can be interpreted as supporting terrorism. But then again, I forgot, they have favored-nation status. What a joke."

And finally, this compliment on our new "Final Round" panel. Christine from Connecticut writes, "Most roundtable programs features conservatives that are so mean-spirited their arguments get mired in their own spite. I may not agree with the opinions of your conservatives, but I'll gladly tune in to hear it." We're grateful for that.

As always, we welcome your comments. You can e-mail us at lateedition@cnn.com.

And a reminder that, right after LATE EDITION today, it's is Business Unusual with Willow Bay. This week Willow talks with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani about his business ventures now that he's a private citizens. That and more on Business Unusual coming up at 3 p.m. Eastern, noon Pacific.

But first, the next hour of LATE EDITION. Two Republicans on opposites sides of campaign finance reform debate its faith.

Then, the "Final Round." Our very opinionated panel never holds back on the big stories of the week. We'll also be taking your questions. All that, plus a check of the hour's headlines, when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: This is LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It was a tough, tough battle, and I know as well as anyone how tough it is to lose. It's now time for us to come together because our agenda has just begun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Campaign finance reform: Is the battle over, or has the war just started? We'll talk with two of the standard bearers in the fight, Senator Mitch McConnell and Representative Christopher Shays.

Then, fast-paced talk, Sunday style.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Leave these decisions up to the doctors.

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We all know that he had access into that administration.

PETER BEINART, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": This does not violate free speech. They're going to lose all the way around.

ROBERT GEORGE, "NEW YORK POST": As is typical of the Washington stories, you know, it's not the crime, it's the cover up.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

KING: LATE EDITION's "Final Round." You've got questions, they've got answers.

Welcome back. We'll talk about what's next for campaign finance reforms with two lawmakers who've been leading the debate, but first let's go to Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta for a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

KING: Now that campaign finance reform has passed the House, the issue moves to the Senate. But will the measure become law? Joining us to discuss it, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a Republican and a leading opponent of the campaign finance changes that recently passed the House, and Republican Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut, he cosponsored that bill.

Gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION.

Let me get to campaign finance in a second. But just quickly, each of you as members of the United States Congress, your reaction to that news today, that the lead suspect in the Daniel Pearl kidnapping and murder, Sheikh Omar Saeed, was wanted by the United States, secretly indicted by the United States, yet is roaming around in Pakistan.

What does that tell us about our law enforcement and intelligence operations and, I guess, relations with Pakistan prior to September 11, Senator McConnell?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, I think it tells you we're not perfect, obviously. And it's difficult, I'm sure, to operate in Pakistan, particularly before they became as friendly to us as they have been since 9/11.

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: I think it tells us that they don't take us as seriously as we are. I don't think our allies take the war on terrorism seriously, and hopefully they're going to wake up.

KING: All right. Let's move on now to campaign finance reform.

A bill that bears your name, Congressman Shays...

SHAYS: No longer.

KING: ... has passed.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: And the debate now moves to your realm, the United States Senate. Will that bill become law?

MCCONNELL: At some point, yes. I mean, one thing is clear, there's no particular urgency. The House changed the bill to make the effective date November the 6th, and we had, fortunately, the last week to actually read it and see what's in it.

And there are a number of drafting problems. For example, Congressman Gephardt put in a provision that allows members of Congress to raise money for outside groups, something that I support. But in other parts of the bill it makes them potentially criminally liable if they do.

MCCONNELL: So there's some drafting problems that I think need to be cleared up. And I think we'll have at least 41 senators to ensure that we have the time to get it in a little better condition.

KING: Let me hit the pause button for just a second. Senator Daschle, the majority leader obviously sets the calendar in the Senate. Earlier today this issue came up, when would the bill actually reach the floor? Let's listen to Senator Daschle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I made a commitment to take up energy. I'm going to try to finish it. But then immediately following, we're going to take up the campaign finance reform bill, if we don't get an agreement to take it up sooner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: "Immediately following," Senator McConnell, what does that mean? And you are on record saying you do not want this bill, Shays- Meehan/McCain-Feingold to become law as is. Will you filibuster it to stop it in the Senate if necessary?

MCCONNELL: Forty-one senators could do a number of different things. One would be to stop it entirely, which I've said repeatedly I think is not possible now. One would be to have a conference with the House. The third would be to insist on some changes. The bill is amendable and debatable as it passed the House and comes to the Senate.

All of those options are before us. Unfortunately we had, the last week when Congress was not in session, to have a large number of lawyers actually figure out what's in it. And I now know what's in the bill and I'll be discussing that with Senator McCain and others tomorrow and Tuesday.

KING: Congressman Shays, it was a tough debate in the House. The speaker and the leadership of your party, the Republican Party, tried to kill this bill and they didn't. Senator McConnell says it is amendable and debatable.

If it is amended in the Senate, does that kill it for this year. Does that put it away? Could you see this going back and forth between the House and the Senate?

SHAYS: First off, he's right. It is amendable and it is debatable. I hope in the end that the senators choose not to amend it, and to pass it to the president.

We basically -- this is basically McCain-Feingold. It is McCain- Feingold with some changes, and the changes are minimal. So this is not a great mystery to the senators. They'll see this bill, they'll recognize that 95 percent is exactly what they gave us, and then they have to decide whether they like the changes that we made.

We conformed the 1,000 to 2,000 we have, the same millionaires (ph) amendment that the senate does. We tightened the Levin amendment to make sure that no federal office holder would raise money for federal elections, soft money from corporations and unions.

KING: President Bush set out some principles at the beginning of this debate, and now, though, senior White House officials tell us he will sign this bill if it reaches his desk. It doesn't meet many of those tests.

Has the president failed, in your view? Has the president failed to stick by his own principles?

MCCONNELL: Well, it certainly doesn't meet many of the president's principles. On the other hand, legislating is often an imprecise business. KING: But could he and should he, in your view, have made himself more clear to try to influence the House debate?

MCCONNELL: Well, you know, I'm not going to criticize the president over this. We're in the principal business of making laws up on the Hill.

We're not through with this one, and there are going to be additional changes to it. They probably are not going to be major changes, which is why I don't think that this will unduly delay passage of the bill or prevent its subsequent passage in the House, because we're now arguing about, John, some details that are significant.

For example, when members found out their likely to end up having criminal problems as a result of raising money for outside groups, I think they're going to want to adjust that. And we're going to have the votes to do that in the Senate.

KING: Do you agree with his characterization that there's language in there that could get you, Chris Shays or Senator Mitch McConnell, in legal trouble, criminal trouble, if you go out and raise money on behalf of an outside group that you support?

SHAYS: Only if you knowingly raise money for a federal election and pretend you don't know it.

You know, this takes the president's principles and gives him about four out of five. He wants to ban corporate treasury money. We do it. He wants to ban union dues money. We do it. He wanted to allow individuals to give unlimited sums. They're still allowed to do it as individuals, but they can't contribute unlimited sums. They can spend unlimited sums. And so we stayed true to the 1974 law.

So I think, you know, he gets three out of four, four out of five of what he wants. And Mitch is right, you know, you don't get everything you want.

KING: Your speaker called the debate Armageddon, and he said he believed that, if the bill passed, that the Republicans would lose their majority. You accept that characterization?

SHAYS: Well, I think it was an overstatement. I think it's almost foolish, frankly.

That implies that we need corporate treasury money in order for the Republican Party to be in the majority. We're in the majority by the good job we do, and if we don't do a good job, we won't be in the majority.

Admittedly we raise about the same amount in soft money as the Democrats do, but we raise more in hard money. We'll have an advantage there. The Democrats will have an advantage in getting out the vote. They do a better job of getting people on the street on Election Day. So Republicans will have to learn how to get the vote out on Election Day and involve more people, and Democrats are going to have to learn how to raise more hard money.

KING: I'm going to go way out on a limb here and bet that you'd like to be back in the majority.

KING: Is there anything in this bill that you think unfairly hurts the Republicans more than the Democrats? I know there is stuff in the legislation as it now stands that you don't like. But do you think the negative impact of that is disproportionate toward the Republican Party?

MCCONNELL: Well, Democrats do have the more reliable outside groups that go to bat for them, the AFL-CIO, the American Trial Lawyers Association, the Sierra Club. We don't have any groups that are basically divisions of our parties like that.

But I think a better way to look at the bill is not who's advantaged and who's disadvantaged, but rather, is it a solid piece of legislation. Provisions in this bill violate the First, Fifth and Tenth Amendment -- free speech, freedom of association in the First Amendment. Equal protection in the Fifth Amendment, and concepts of federalism in the Tenth Amendment -- by singling out six national party committees and say only they, out of a universe of hundreds of committees, can't engage in issues speech. Utterly -- utter nonsense.

KING: So if you can't beat it in the Senate, you think somebody will in the courts. And would you yourself try a court challenge?

MCCONNELL: Well, you're looking at the plaintiff. I think this is going to become law at some point, regretfully. And we will be going to court. I'll be the lead plaintiff. And I think we have an excellent -- well, first, there's almost a lead pipe sense that we'll be able to strike down the provision seeking to make citizens groups have to register with the government and raise federal hard dollars in order to criticize people like Chris and me within 60 days of an election.

In addition to that, the party soft money ban, the practical effect of that is to federalize the parties and make it impossible for them to operate in governors' races and mayors' races unless they use federally regulated dollars, and to segment them out and say they can't engage in issues speech. I think these are serious constitutional problems that will get fixed in court.

KING: Is he right? Is your name on a piece of legislation that violates the United States Constitution?

SHAYS: What's absurd is his description. First off, we enforce the 1907 law banning corporate treasury money. That was passed under a Republican Congress, House and Senate.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCONNELL: ... in Canada. SHAYS: Signed by a president. We banned union dues money in 1947. That banned union dues money. And we enforced in 1974 having limits on what people could contribute to campaigns. Soft money blew all three of those laws apart.

Now, the parties were stronger before under those laws. They are weaker today. And for people to say somehow going back to the way it was will weaken the parties, I think is crazy.

And I also make this point, reformists have won the last two constitutional court cases, admittedly five-four and six-three. So neither Mitch or I can say with certainty how the court is going to rule. But the reformists have won the last two times.

MCCONNELL: There have been almost two dozen cases striking down provisions making it impossible for people to comment on elected officials within 60 days of an election. There's almost no chance that will be upheld.

KING: Take LATE EDITION off the air 60 days within an election.

(LAUGHTER)

Let's stop on that point. We have to take a quick break here.

When we come back, your phone calls for Senator McConnell and Congressman Shays. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Republican Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut, discussing, of course, campaign finance debate.

And we have a question from a caller in Wisconsin. Go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Hello, this is Johnathan in Milwaukee, and I have a question about the campaign finance reform bill. If and when it hits the Supreme Court, will there be a specific provision that is most likely struck down, or will the entire bill be struck down outright? Thank you.

MCCONNELL: I think the answer is the entire bill will not be struck down. There are a couple of portions of it that are the most vulnerable.

The first most vulnerable, obviously, is the provision that seeks to make groups register with the federal government and raise hard dollars in order to mention political candidates within 60 days of an election.

And secondly, the so-called soft money ban, which, in effect, federalizes the parties, raises serious First, Fifth and Tenth Amendment issues. All of those will be litigated, and my side is, obviously, optimistic that we'll win on all or some of those in court.

KING: We have a caller as well from New York.

SHAYS: (OFF-MIKE)

KING: Oh, go ahead. Hold the call. Go ahead.

SHAYS: First off, there is no limit to what people can do in advertising. The only issue is 60 days to an election, you can't use corporate treasury money, dues money, or unlimited sums from individuals. But you can use individual contributions. And he is right, Mitch is right. Sixty days to an election, those are recorded so we know who is spending them. That is true. We will know who is spending these advertisements.

KING: Caller from New York, go ahead with your question.

CALLER: My question is directed at Senator McConnell.

Mr. McConnell, you have spent many years defeating campaign finance proposals. I was wondering, up to and including this current proposal which you are seeking to defeat, do you happen to have any constructive proposals to satisfying the public's urges to remove corporate influence out of the political process?

MCCONNELL: Well, I certainly am not in favor of anything that reduces the amount of speech in America, and that is what this bill is all about -- trying to quiet the voices of those that we don't like.

There is one very positive feature in the bill, and I want to commend Chris for it, and that is a significant increase in hard dollars, not only those that can be contributed to candidates, but those that can be contributed over a cycle and to parties. That's clearly a step in the right direction.

So, there's actually a part of this, believe or not, that I like.

SHAYS: If we don't change the system, you're going to still have Enrons. You're going to have Enrons giving to both the Republican and Democrat parties, and they are going to drown out the voice of the individual Americans. That's the problem with the present system.

And the people who have the power are the leaders who collect all this money and then decide what candidates get the money and what candidates don't.

KING: I want to bring up Enron in a minute, but let me ask this question. There have been some complaints now, largely from conservative groups, who say that this bill is unfair to them, it would put them out of business, reduce their free speech rights, as you noted.

Any doubt in your mind, Chris Shays, that the president will sign this bill? He's under some pressure now again from some groups who are loyal to him, saying don't sign this bill. Any question in your mind that the president will sign this bill? SHAYS: Well, I mean, it's never going to be a law until he signs it. Am I certain he's going to sign it? No. But he basically told me that he said he wanted the House and Senate to work this out, and if it moved the ball toward the goal line, he was going to support it. And it does that.

It does most of what he wants. The advance of corporate treasury money, advance union dues money, and it gives the individual a little more say in what happens in campaigns.

KING: You would not be talking about going to court or talking about trying to find 41 senators to hold this thing up in the Senate until you can try to change it some? If you were pretty sure that this thing gets to the White House, it's going have the name George W. Bush on it pretty quickly.

MCCONNELL: Well, that is certainly what all of aides are apparently telling people like you, not for attribution. The president himself has kept his cards pretty close to his vest.

I'm assuming that we have to correct it ourselves. And I believe that as long as the changes don't go right to the heart of the bill, that I will have 41 senators, which will guarantee that we have the strength that we need to make some of these changes.

And then I don't think, given that margin in the House, I don't think that Chris will have any problem passing what we pass after it goes back over there.

SHAYS: Wait a sec, that implies that somehow the speaker is going to allow it to come out a conference committee. He's going to appoint opponents to reform.

And that is just going to die a very big death and a big, big hole called the conference committee.

KING: Hello. Let's take another caller from New York. We'll get our viewers involved here in the conversation. Go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Hi, sir. How are you today?

KING: Doing great. Thank you. Your question?

CALLER: Thank you. Yes, my question is to both senators -- the senator and the representative. Which party, at this point, does the campaign finance reform benefit most, the Democrats or the Republicans?

SHAYS: Well, I can answer that. It benefits neither. In the end, both Republicans and Democrats raise the same amount of so-called soft money corporate and union dues money, in unlimited sums from individuals.

Republicans raise more hard money contributions. They're limited contributions. But Democrats do a better job with union support and getting out the vote on Election Day.

So I'm just going to repeat what I said before. Republicans are going to have to learn how to do a better job on Election Day. And Democrats are going to have to learn how to do a better job raising these hard-money contributions.

KING: Enron came up in one of your answers earlier. Any doubt, in your mind, that it is the focus on Enron and all the money given to both parties from Enron that tipped the scales here in this debate? Do you think that is?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think the truth is that that soft money had about as much to do with Enron's debacle as Martha Stewart had to do with Kmart's debacle. They're two entirely separate subjects.

This bill was close to passing in the past, and when it cleared the Senate last year, it made the odds of changing it much longer. But we still have a chance to correct it. It doesn't necessarily require conference. It could require -- what may happen is we may be able to amend it in a number of different ways, without a conference, send it back to the House. And then if Chris can convince the speaker of the House...

SHAYS: I don't want it back. Keep it in the Senate.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCONNELL: I know you don't. I mean, it's a pretty big mess. It may need to come back with a little cleaning up.

SHAYS: It's a great bill. It's a great bill.

KING: Let me raise another issue, quickly, that has come up, the General Accounting Office finally sued. Said for months it was going to sue Dick Cheney, sue the Bush White House for access to the records of the energy task force that came up with the energy formula.

The vice president and the president say they that they will fight this in court, that they have a right to private advice, even from outside corporations.

Should they turn over the documents? Should they fight in court?

MCCONNELL: I think they should fight in court, and I think they're going to win.

SHAYS: I think they should turn over the documents. I think the court should decide.

But if the administration wants more power, they're going to have to have more oversight. If we're going to have wiretapping and tribunals and all those things, I think the administration has to be more open, not more closed.

MCCONNELL: This is about putting together a legislative proposal. If the president and the vice president can't even meet with people privately, without having to tell Henry Waxman who they're meeting with, to put through a legislative proposal, which has already been made public, then I think you've really made it very, very difficult for the executive branch to function.

It's noteworthy, John, that we exempted ourselves from all of this. We don't have to give you the people that we consult with in order to come up with a legislative proposal. We conveniently eliminated ourselves from this requirement.

KING: Quick yes or no answers. Do you worry -- I understand your position and your position today are different on this issue. Do you worry, as Republicans, that the dust, the political dust, something to hide, the Enron story out there and Cheney and the White House have something to hide, that the Democrats can make gains of that against Republicans in this year's congressional elections?

MCCONNELL: No. This is a corporate scandal, and Americans know that.

SHAYS: I don't think the administration has anything to hide. I just think they should get it all out.

KING: All right. We need to end it there for time. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Congressman...

SHAYS: Thank you.

KING: ... Chris Shays of Connecticut, thank you very much.

And up next, the "Final Round." Our panel weighs in on the day's big stories. You can join in as well. LATE EDITION's "Final Round," right after a news alert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to LATE EDITION's "Final Round."

Joining me now, Donna Brazile, former Gore campaign manager; Peter Beinart of the "New Republic"; Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online; and Robert George of the "New York Post."

Osama bin Laden is considered the world's most wanted man. But today the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested that capturing him isn't necessarily the military's top priority.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I wouldn't call it a prime mission. Obviously, we want to get the Al Qaeda leadership. We want to get the Taliban leadership. Bin Laden's part of that leadership. So we'd like to get him, and we will get him. But I wouldn't call it a prime mission.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Peter, what ever happened to dead or alive?

BEINART: Well, I think they were probably right to try to depersonalize this.

But it seems to me, looking back, we're increasingly learning they made a pretty big mistake back in the fall. They didn't push the Pakistanis fast enough to seal that border with really high-quality troops, the Afghan-Pakistan border. A lot of Al Qaeda people get through, and we're paying the price now.

KING: But you see in the newspapers today possibilities, intelligence, maybe he's been seen again. If you're the administration and you've put this aside, you think you have, and tried to change the focus, why in the world would you want to leak that and have people start asking again where's Osama?

GOLDBERG: Yes, well, first of all, my understanding is, he's actually on that island with Bruce Lee and Kurt Cobain, waiting to come back.

But...

BRAZILE: I thought he was with Elvis.

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: Elvis is there too.

GOLDBERG: Oh, that's right, he was with Elvis.

You know, we've been talking about Osama for so long. Actually, I think Peter has it right. And I also think the Pentagon has it right, which is that he's probably still wanted dead or alive, it's just not the top priority right now.

And the irony is, you actually make Osama bin Laden less of a threat if you're not out there actively trying to kill him. If you're actually trying to kill his body, instead of the head, and take out his organization, it's a bitter strategic move, and it makes sense. But it'd be nice to kill him.

BRAZILE: Well, we can do both. We can bring him to justice. We can also, you know, find out more information about Al Qaeda. The Bush administration should not backpedal on this, they should find him. He can run, but he cannot hide. And they should go out there and find this guy.

GEORGE: We've in a sense moved on. I mean, you know, Afghanistan is, relatively speaking, under control in the context of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. We're still going after Al Qaeda across the rest of the world, plus focusing on Iraq and the rest of the axis of evil. So...

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: .. has not moved on, Robert. (inaudible) with this guy. We made him a poster boy for bad behavior, put him all over newspapers and milk cartons, and now we should go out and get him.

GEORGE: He's part -- he's just a subset now. He's part of the subset of the broader war on terrorism. So we'll get him eventually.

BRAZILE: We need to stop paying the thugs and warlords money in Afghanistan to find him, give us misinformation. We should go out and find him.

KING: One quick one, would any Democrat ever run the risk of stepping forward and says, "Sheriff Bush said wanted dead or alive. We don't have him. He's not a very good sheriff."

BEINART: No. But I do think the Democrats could...

GOLDBERG: I don't think the Democrats are that dumb, John.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: The Democrats could raise some important questions about Afghan policy. There are a lot of these caves that we've stopped going after, the press reports today. What's going on with that?

BRAZILE: That's right. Five hundred caves, we've only been into 100 or so. What's wrong with that? You're right. Maybe when the frost melt they'll go back in there.

KING: OK. Let's move on.

BEINART: The administration's caving in.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: As his family and friends and the nation mourn Daniel Pearl's death, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is promising to track down the Wall Street Journal reporters killers. But there are concerns that some of Pakistan's law enforcement may have ties to the Islamic militants responsible for Pearl's death.

Robert, does Pearl's death hurt President Musharraf in terms of his standing with the United States?

GEORGE: I don't think so, John. There is room to criticize Pakistan's handling of this investigation, but Musharraf has really been sticking his neck out in support of the U.S. effort. And I think the U.S. government should support him as strongly as possible and let him try and wade through the difficulties within his own government.

BRAZILE: You know, in his recent trip to America he thought that Daniel Pearl was still alive and that bin Laden was dead. Now, clearly we need to help him beef up his intelligence services and beef up whatever means necessary to find these Islamic militants and bring them to justice so that Daniel Pearl's family can rest easier.

GOLDBERG: In a perverse sense, I actually think it makes Musharraf's position stronger. Normally, quote, unquote, "right-wing dictators," people -- Peter calls them...

BEINART: Your friends. Your friends.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: I was going to say, Peter calls them "right-wing dictators," I like to call them strong leaders.

(LAUGHTER)

They usually get in a lot of trouble in America for cracking down and busting skulls and that sort of thing. But the heinousness and disgustingness of this murder of Daniel Pearl has taught a lot of Americans that Musharraf is actually on the side of the angels in this fight and that he actually is dealing with some really rotten people. And I think it gives him a much freer hand to do what he's got to do.

BEINART: And I think there is another lesson here, actually, not about Pakistan, about India. Remember, why is Ahmed Omar Sheikh on the streets today? It's because India let him out of their jails because they made a deal with terrorists after a hijacking a few years ago. That, I think, is one of the important lessons we have to remember here. Whenever you make deals with these people, you sow disaster.

BRAZILE: That's a good point.

(UNKNOWN): That's a good point.

KING: And you say cut Musharraf some slack. Would that include if he decided to push off elections because he didn't think the country could handle them right now?

BEINART: No, I think he actually has to go forward with the elections. The truth is, the Pakistani radical parties don't tend to do well in elections. You can continue to marginalize them as you move back to democracy.

BRAZILE: I tend to agree with Peter on that.

GOLDBERG: He'd become twice as powerful if he actually got elected to his position, which by all counts he actually could do.

BEINART (?): Yes, exactly.

KING: OK. The "New York Times" reports today the Pentagon planning to feed false stories overseas news organizations in an effort to influence sentiment on the war. But Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld says that's not the case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think the person who is in charge is debating whether it should even exist in its current form, given all of the misinformation and adverse publicity.

The Pentagon does not lie to the American people. It does not lie to foreign audiences. It does not engage in those type of things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Jonah, what's all this about?

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: We've been to figure that out, too.

It sounds like either the "New York Times" got a fraction of a big story right, or it got the whole story wrong. I mean, Rumsfeld sounds like he wants nothing do with this thing one way or the other.

Rumsfeld, I mean, let's look at it this way, Rumsfeld has become so popular because he tells the truth. He says we are going to kill people that, you know, and we're going to fight a war. And that sort of honesty has earned him huge currency. The last thing he wants to do is be associated with something that says flat out we are going to be lying.

And let's face it, also, as a matter of policy, it is idiotic to declare OK, we're going to start a policy of lying.

So, it's a very weird story. I somehow -- look, the CIA and the Pentagon are already in the business of PSYOPS and of certain misinformation when if affects things strategically. The idea that we're going to be out there placing false news stories strikes me as bizarre.

BRAZILE: You now, this is what happens when you just throw money at problems. They gave the Pentagon $10 billion extra. They do not know how to spend the money. They don't know how to solve the war right now.

And so what they did, they decide to open up an Office of Strategic Influence so they can have the blackest of black lies. I was laughing when I saw this -- the black lies and the white lies. The black lies are the misinformation and covert operation. The white lies are when you want to tell a little bit of the truth and have a little glossy photo.

So, I think the Bush administration should destroy this office, return the money back to the American people. And we should, you know, tell our allies that we will...

GOLDBERG: Tax cut.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

GEORGE: I think that this is actually one of the few stumbles that has come out of the Bush-Rumsfeld operation. It was obviously some bizarre -- you usually get these kinds of stories on the front page of the "New York Times" when somebody in one of the agencies doesn't like another plan that somebody else is coming up with, and so it was leaked.

If it was just a trial balloon, it should be popped. It should be popped immediately. It was just so funny to hear Rumsfeld saying there was misinformation coming out of the office of misinformation.

And, so, I think if it was going to go on anywhere close to what they were saying, it is probably dead now. And leave the misinformation to coming out of the CIA where it belongs.

BEINART: Something that especially worries me about this is part of a larger trend. I mean, the Bush administration really seems to think that their big problem in the Muslim world is PR. And there is a small problem, but a big part of the problem is policy.

And you just need to look at Afghanistan. The government of Afghanistan is in trouble. They're pleading with us for help on this peace keeper stuff. We're turning a deaf ear. That's going to matter a lot more than whether we have one of these fancy new PR offices.

GOLDBERG: But, Peter, the United States in not unpopular in the Middle East because it's not sending enough troops to Afghanistan.

GOLDBERG: Well, no. I think actually -- look, there is a lot of disinformation, but the U.S. could, I think, improve its reputation a lot if we really showed not only that we have freed the Afghan people from the Taliban, but that we were actually willing to stay there and help them build a real society.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Time out. Time out. No disinformation here, we promise.

(LAUGHTER)

We do have to take a short break. That's the truth.

(LAUGHTER)

Your phone calls and e-mails when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to the "Final Round."

Our quote of the week is from Attorney General John Ashcroft. His remarks to a gathering of religious broadcasters raised some eyebrows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Civilized individuals -- Christians, Jews and Muslims -- all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator. Governments may guard freedom. Governments don't grant freedom. All people are called to the defense of the grantor of freedom and the framework of freedom He created.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do you make of that, Donna? Is the Attorney General trying to rewrite the Constitution?

BRAZILE: No. I think he's trying to rewrite his job description. Perhaps he's tired of being our chief law enforcement officer and he wants to go into the church and do a little preaching.

I think he needs to stick to enforcing the laws and doing his job and stay away from all of that talk about God and what God granted and what God didn't grant.

GEORGE: You may find it hard to believe, but I slightly disagree with Donna on this one. You may remember the words, you know...

BRAZILE: (OFF-MIKE) I know the Bible, too.

GEORGE: Endowed by our Creater, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ashcroft is speaking in front the National Association of Religious Broadcasters, so obviously he's going to give a speech in that context. I don't think there's any problem with this.

BEINART: There really is -- there's a really big problem here. Ashcroft thinks he's being ecumenical, because he's saying that people of all religious have bases in morality. Aetheists have a structure of morality, too. This administration, from its very beginning, has implied that, while it loves people of all faiths, it doesn't believe that you can be a non-believer in God and have a moral structure, and that is outrageous.

(CROSSTALK)

GEORGE: How are they doing that?

BEINART: Because -- look at the text of his speech. All civilized people -- Jews, Muslims and Christians. All civilized people? I just found that outrageous.

GOLDBERG: Well, leave it to Peter to come sticking up for the atheists.

BEINART: Well, you know...

GOLDBERG: Well, first of all...

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: I'm not an atheist, but someone within this administration needs to.

GOLDBERG: OK, look...

BRAZILE: And they have rights, also.

GOLDBERG: Your magazine and your former boss, Joe Lieberman, if he had given this exact same speech, nobody would have raised an eyebrow.

GEORGE: Exactly.

BEINART: I would have said the same thing. I didn't like what he said during the campaign. I don't like what Ashcroft says now.

GOLDBERG: OK. Bully for you. The fact remains that this speech went way out of it's way to include Islam and all these kinds of things. And no one -- look, more power to you for speaking up for the druids and the atheists and all these people, that's fine.

BRAZILE: The Hindus, the Buddhists...

GOLDBERG: But the only people, only people who have been screaming bloody murder here about the speech is Jim Zogby and those guys from the various Islamic groups. And those guys need to realize that they are supposed to be representing Islamic groups and not atheists.

BRAZILE: They're not -- there are other groups that are speaking out against this. Americans for the Separation of Church and State...

GOLDBERG: Robert is exactly right. This comes straight out of the Declaration of Independence and Preamble to the Constitution. If you've got an argument with those things, so be it.

(CROSSTALK)

GEORGE: Yes, that's where the problem is.

BEINART: No. Look, the Constitution -- we have evolved as a society. There are a lot of debates about what the Constitution says. But there is no debate about the fact that we have religious liberty, which applies to people who don't believe in God as well as those who do.

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: No, he implied that there were not civilized.

GEORGE: Peter, he wasn't speaking before the National Association...

BEINART: Doesn't matter where he is speaking. Doesn't matter where he's speaking.

GEORGE: Of course it does.

BEINART: He's speaking in the United States of America.

KING: All right. We're not going to settle this one here. Let's move on.

Let's take a viewer e-mail regarding the Yates trial. Andrea Yates on trial for killing her children, tragic case. Jane writes this e-mail: "This trial constitutes a black mark on the United States that it would incarcerate and try for murder a demonstrably mentally ill person. Is this not a throwback to the Middle Ages?"

GOLDBERG: Well, let's, first of all, let's not give the Middle Ages too hard a time.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: That's some of Jonah's best friends, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: You haven't left them, huh?

GOLDBERG: Look, if we're going to define mental illness as killing your children, then all people who kill their children are mentally ill.

I actually think the way to solve this thing with Yates is that she should be convicted and then her -- if she gets the death sentence, it probably should be commuted and they should figure out something to do with her.

But it's a tough case and you have to have a bright line about some of these kinds of things. But I have sympathy for the -- you know, her husband. And you know, it's a horrible story.

BRAZILE: Yes, she cried out for help and no one helped her.

GEORGE: Yes, I think the rules of justice have to go forward. I mean, it's not like we took away her rights and threw her in some kind of institution. It's going through the process. I mean, this is the way America works.

KING: OK. Let's move on. A controversy involving the Roman Catholic Church and Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, who allowed a priest known to be a child molester to serve in a number of parishes prior to his conviction last week.

In the latest issue of "Newsweek," former priest Eugene Kennedy said, quote, "The church reacted as institutions often do, as Enron did. And that is to delay, to deny, to delay, to dissemble, to fool themselves into thinking that all went well."

Robert, should the cardinal step down?

GEORGE: Yes, he should. As a matter of fact, it was actually Jonah's magazine that did a cover story a full month ago.

It's actually -- Cardinal Law is actually -- it's not so much Enron, it's more like Arthur Andersen. No, the cardinal is the one who has oversight and accountability here, and he helped basically perpetrate a multi-decade cover up. And he should step down for the good of the church. BRAZILE: No, I disagree. Robert and I are both Catholics and we have a disagreement on this. I don't think he should step down. The Catholic church has done a lot of good, not just in this country but all over.

And I think that what Cardinal Law should do is to call for a convening of all of the bishops. And that they should really assess this problem, this situation and to find a way to solve it and to come public with a new set of policy on how the church handles this crisis. But I don't think Cardinal Law should step down.

KING: Jonah, quickly.

GOLDBERG: Yes, I just think this stuff happened on his watch. He covered it up. I think his heart is pure and he's in a terrible situation, but it was on his watch and he actively participated in the covering up of a lot of this stuff. I do think he should step down because the Catholic Church has a terrible public relations problem and they have to do everything they can to clean house.

BEINART: Yes, I don't have a position on whether he should step down, not being a Catholic. But I think the lesson is that, you know, as in government, as in religion, excessive secrecy leads to disaster.

BRAZILE: Well, this is not Enron, it's not a corporation.

KING: OK. Time out. Time out.

BRAZILE: It's a church.

KING: We have to take another quick break. Our Lightening Round just ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Time now for our Lightning Round.

Hillary Clinton is traveling in Israel, where she blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the mounting violence. It wasn't long ago she was kissing Arafat's wife.

Is the New York senator, Jonah, God forbid, practicing politics?

GOLDBERG: I think she's especially practicing New York politics right now.

And, you know, actually, the question I want to ask, what ever happened to Arafat's wife? I mean, she was supposed to be the first lady of the new Palestinian state, and now I guess she's...

BEINART: She's been living in France.

GOLDBERG: She's shopping in Paris always.

BEINART: She's now out of the country. GEORGE: Well, you know, Yasser basically can't go beyond like two blocks or so, so I think Suhaf (ph) figures that she may as well stay in Europe for the time being.

But, you know, yes, I mean, Hillary, it's hypocritical on the face of it, but all politics is local, and every politician in New York has...

GOLDBERG: Are all principles universal? She believed one thing a year ago, she doesn't believe it now.

GEORGE: Every New York -- every politician that's in...

BRAZILE: Arafat has lost his credibility. Who will stand with him at this point?

KING: OK.

BRAZILE: I mean, no one will sit at the table and talk peace with him.

KING: General agreement. Let's move on.

(LAUGHTER)

Elizabeth Dole formally announced her candidacy for the United States Senate from North Carolina, her home state. Hasn't been there in a long time.

Can she sell herself beyond the Beltway, Peter?

BEINART: I actually think her problem is not the carpetbagging problem. I think it's that she's a very bad politician. She's robotic, almost in dead on the stump. And I think North Carolina's trending Democratic. I think that she could lose.

GEORGE: And she's returning against Erskine Bowles, who was Clinton's last chief of staff. And he's got a lot of credibility within the business community there, and I think she's going to have a tough race.

BRAZILE: She's running also against Dan Blue (ph), the former speaker of the House, and Elaine Marshall (ph), a state official. And this is really about not small-time values, but also about who will fight for working families.

And after 30 years of Jesse Helms, I think North Carolina folks are ready for a change, and they may choose a Democrat this time.

GOLDBERG: I'm actually kind of bullish on her chances. I think, first of all, her real challenge is not so much the carpetbagger thing, you're right, it's winning over the Jesse Helms fans and the organization, and all of that. But she could peel away a lot of suburban female votes and all that. I think she's going to do OK. And Bush is going to campaign for her. KING: We had a segment earlier in the show about the possibility of Mike Tyson being granted a license to have a heavyweight fight here in Washington, D.C. $150 million, $200 million, some people say, for the District of Columbia.

Is the District, you're a long-time resident...

BRAZILE: The mayor should stop bobbing and weaving on this one here. He should say no. He's built up a lot of good will on Capitol Hill and among District residents. We don't need Mike Tyson to come to Washington, D.C. I think it will deliver a knockout punch to the tourism industry.

So my suggestion to the mayor is, don't get punch-drunk on this one here, say no to Tyson.

BEINART: I think that was three different puns in just that...

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: I am learning from Jonah over here, from the Middle Ages.

GEORGE: You know, actually I think -- I think Williams should let Tyson fight there. Frankly, I think he will draw...

BRAZILE: You left D.C., Robert, you're in New York now. Don't bring Tyson here, you take him to New York.

(CROSSTALK)

GEORGE: I just gave you a right hook there, I guess.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: I don't think you have to go back to the Middle Ages to remember these things called moral turpitude clauses in people's contracts.

Now, we've gotten rid of those generally in our society, but I think that we can agree that convicted rapists who continually, like, bite off their opponent's ears in the ring and stage brawls at press conferences while they're on probation or parole, whatever he's on these days, would violate anyone's definition of a moral turpitude clause.

BRAZILE: And he's learned nothing, he's learned nothing over the last couple years.

KING: But is that the role of the government, or is that the role of the consumer to say I am not buying tickets, I'm not doing Pay Per View?

BEINART: No. The role of government is to prosecute him for all these rape charges. I mean, for goodness sakes...

(CROSSTALK)

GEORGE: Excuse me...

GOLDBERG: And to grant the license.

GEORGE: Just to be fair, and I know it's weird to say be fair to Mike Tyson. Las Vegas basically said that they were dropping those charges. So those...

BEINART: But how many do there have to be, before we start to...

(CROSSTALK)

GEORGE: I'm not saying he's a great guy. I'm just talking about...

KING: All right. More sports, more sports. From suspended judges to charges of doping athletes, it's been quite a Winter Olympics. Russian President Vladimir Putin called them, quote, "a flop."

What do you think?

GOLDBERG: Well, they're a huge ratings success for NBC. And let's not say too much about blood-doping; I do that every time before I come on the show.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: It shows.

GOLDBERG: I know, doesn't it?

Let's also point out that I was the one that predicted the medal count last year. These are -- the Olympics are full of corruption, and we just saw a little of it.

BRAZILE: I'm going to buy myself a pair of ice skates and try to become Vonetta Flowers in my next life.

GEORGE: The Olympics, I'll wait till 2004. This winter thing, I just don't get.

BRAZILE: Vonetta Flowers, Vonetta Flowers...

BEINART: I thought it was jingoistic when it looked like the South Koreans were going to beat Ohno. The crowed booed. I think we're better than that.

KING: OK. I need to thank (ph) there.

GOLDBERG: And the atheists got it bad.

KING: That's LATE EDITION for Sunday, February 24. Says so right there on the screen.

(LAUGHTER)

Wolf will be back next week. Join him again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm John King in Washington.

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