CNN LARRY KING LIVE
The View From the Hill: Reaction to President's Speech
Aired October 7, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein must disarm himself, or for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.
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LARRY KING, HOST: The president goes prime-time with his case for action against Iraq. How did he do? Tonight, a special LARRY KING LIVE, the view from the Hill, with congressional heavyweight from both sides of the aisle.
Joining us from the Senate, Arizona Republican, decorated Vietnam war veteran John McCain, West Virginia Democrat and president pro tem of the Senate, Robert Byrd. Republican John Warner of Virginia. Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California. Republican Jon Kyl of Arizona, and Democrat George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, who won the Presidential Medal of Freedom by helping bring peace to Northern Ireland and wrote the Mitchell peace plan for the Middle East.
And from the House of Representatives, Connecticut Republican Chris Shays. California Democrat Jane Harman. Four Democrats, four Republicans on one big presidential speech about Saddam Hussein. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We will spend our first segment with Senator McCain, our second segment with Senator Byrd, then our senators and later the congressmen.
Senator McCain, did -- what most impressed you about the president tonight?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I think he laid out in a very somewhat methodical but convincing fashion the rational that Saddam Hussein cannot remain in power while maintaining his pursuit of the development of weapons of mass destruction. And I think he made that argument cogently and coherently. There wasn't really anything new.
I didn't know that an al Qaeda operative had been treated in Iraq. That's a very minor item, but I do believe that he made it very clear that our intelligence estimates concerning Saddam Hussein have always underestimated what he's done and what he's capable of. KING: One of the things that Senator Byrd has discussed and we'll ask him about it when he follows you, is that what's new from six months ago, eight months ago, a year ago? Why now?
MCCAIN: Why not four or five years ago when Senator Byrd was amongst those who voted for regime change in Iraq after they had, in complete violation of the cease-fire agreement and U.N. Security Council resolutions, thrown our inspectors out of Iraq?
There is no doubt in most experts' mind that the threat is growing. The threat of him using a chemical or biological weapon, say, against Israel at some point grows ever larger. And his -- it is not a question in the minds of most of us that it's not a matter of whether, but a matter of when he develops a nuclear weapon.
Larry, the point is that at any time over the last 11 years, he could have taken out his own capabilities, he could have stopped this acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and he wouldn't have had a problem. He would have guaranteed his own survival, as odious as his own regime may be.
KING: Will this, as Senator Daschle predicted, be overwhelmingly passed in both houses?
MCCAIN: I believe it will be overwhelming, and I think that the debate will be good. We had an excellent debate in 1991. We only prevailed by 53-47. And Senator Byrd voted against that then, as I recall, and so did Senator Mitchell. I think those of us who voted to support the president at that time were correct in our vote.
KING: In all fairness, though, senator, years ago in a war you were involved in, it was the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, only two senators voted against it, and they were condemned and later praised. They turned out to be right.
MCCAIN: Well, I think that's true, Larry. And I think the specter of Vietnam fell over the debate in '91, much more so than it does today. But I think we're going through, more importantly, the president is taking us through the proper procedure here. Go to the Congress, get an endorsement, which means that -- the representatives of the American people support him, get a resolution from the United Nations Security Council so that all Americans are convinced that this is the last option, that military action is the last option, and I think the president made that clear tonight.
KING: He did. So that means Saddam Hussein has to do what now to convince us now not to do anything? What does he have to do?
MCCAIN: For my part, it would have to be a regime of very intrusive, comprehensive inspections accompanied by military force so that they couldn't play the same tricks on us that they played in the past, and that in the minds of neutral observers, there would be a system of inspections that we could insure that these weapons of mass destruction are eliminated. It would have to be a very tough regime, not back to what we used to do.
KING: What is the likelihood of that?
MCCAIN: Well, I have to say his record over 11 years indicates that we would play a game of hide-and-seek. This scenario is like the movie "Groundhog Day," every day he wakes up and says I'll allow inspections, and then we start moving forward the process, and then he doesn't. So I'm not optimistic, but I do agree that the president's position that we take every action short of military action before we go in militarily.
And, by the way, I believe that this action will not be easy. It is never easy because American lives are at risk. But I don't know of many Iraqi soldiers that are ready to die for Saddam Hussein.
KING: So what happens -- and what about those who say what is the post-mortem? OK, you take him out. Then what?
MCCAIN: We have got to do a much better job of laying out a scenario. We all know that Iraqi -- the country is held together only through Saddam Hussein's rule, that there is factions of Kurds in the north and Shias and other factions, and it is going to be tough, and it is going to require American presence, it is going to require our allies' presence and it is going to require an infusion of money. But we will -- no regime that comes to power in Baghdad would pose a direct threat to the security of the United States of America.
KING: By the way, we are going to do a full hour, we're going to tape it later this week and play it within the next couple of weeks, with you, senator, on your new memoir, "Worth the Fighting For." And there you see its cover. And that will be airing -- we tape it on Friday and we'll let the public know when we air. What do you fear the most? I mean, what is the worst case scenario here?
MCCAIN: Worst case scenario is that Saddam Hussein launches a chemical or biological weapon on a SCUD missile at the state of Israel. That's the most devastating scenario, and it is one we have got to take every measure to try to avoid.
KING: And if he's painted to be the insane person he is, and the despot he is, isn't that -- if you start going to him likely?
MCCAIN: I think it is less likely that it would be a year from now or two years from now or five years from now. The arrow missile capability the Israelis have is pretty good. We'll have Patriot capability, but that's the worst case scenario. Also, Saddam Hussein has to find some people to carry out that order as well.
KING: And you think that would be a problem?
MCCAIN: I think so. But most importantly, I think we have got to identify these areas where these weapons are kept, and we have to take every possible measure to counter any movement we see of that nature.
KING: The president said that he loves the Iraqi people, has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. In your scenario, how many of them are going to die? MCCAIN: I think very few. I think we demonstrated in Afghanistan that we have incredibly accurate weaponry, and it's pretty clear from published reports that we're going to go after those we consider enemies, and that's the elite rulers, in hopes that those that serve under them would turn against their leaders or at least not engage in combat.
So I think you're going to see a minimum of casualties, and yet tragically, the reason why we try to avoid war is we will lose American blood and there will be civilian casualties, but it will be minimal.
KING: Thank you, senator, as always.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.
Senator Robert Byrd, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a member of the Armed Services Committee, the president pro tem of the Senate, Democrat of West Virginia, joins us next. Don't go away.
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BUSH: Regime change in Iraq is the only certain means of removing a great danger to our nation. I hope this will not require military action, but it may. And military conflict could be difficult, and Iraqi regime faced with its own demise may attempt cruel and desperate measures. If Saddam Hussein orders such measures, his generals would be well advised to refuse those orders. If they do not refuse, they must understand that all war criminals will be pursued and punished.
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KING: It's always a great pleasure to welcome him to LARRY KING LIVE, Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia.
Senator Byrd, did the president say anything tonight that might have changed your mind?
SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D-WV), PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE OF THE SENATE: He didn't say anything that was new. There was nothing new, nothing that we haven't known for a month, six months or a year. I kept waiting.
He continues to demonize Saddam Hussein. I agree with all of that. Nothing new in that. But what he does in doing that is he obscures the fact that the United States Senate is being asked to vote on a resolution which puts the stamp of approval on the Bush doctrine of preemptive attacks and preventive war. I think that's wrong.
KING: What then is the answer? What is the answer to despots like Hussein? BYRD: Well, the answer is to get the United Nations to take a stand and to join in the effort, give the inspectors a chance to -- again, to go back into Iraq. And continue to try to get allies. After all, during the "Desert Storm" 10 years ago, we were left to pay about $7 billion out of a total of $61.1 billion as a cost of the war.
What are we doing now? Try to get help from other countries? We're not doing anything. We're saying to them, we're saying to the United Nations, if you don't do it, we'll do it. Now, it seems to me that that puts a new face on America. Here we are, a nation that is always appeared to be a nation of justice and liberty and respect for law, but here we're now saying If you don't do it, we will. We're making ourselves look like the bully in town.
KING: Senator, if the U.N. adopts such a resolution and Hussein does not comply, isn't that the last resort? Isn't -- Don't we have to go in then?
BYRD: Well, I think we might have do that. But that isn't tomorrow. What's happening here is that the Congress is being stampeded into voting on a resolution which gives the president, which authorizes the president to use the military forces of this country, wherever he wishes, whenever he wishes, however he wishes, for as long as he wishes. There is no sunset provision in this. And this is wrong. The American people deserve better than this. We ought to be -- we ought to be answering the questions of the American people and the president himself ought to come out of that war room long enough to talk about the economy and to act with reference to the economy.
Here the American people want questions answered. I saw that in a New York poll yesterday. They want the Congress to ask questions. They don't expect us to roll over and play dead. We ought not be voting on this now. We ought to go home, see what the American people want, see what they're saying, see what they're asking and get some answers from them.
After all, they're the people who are going to have to pay the price. It's their blood, their treasury, their sons, their daughters, and here we're going to -- we're being asked to make this decision in an atmosphere that is supercharged with partisan politics.
Right here, just four weeks from tomorrow is the election. And I think it's unfair to the American people to ask their representatives to vote on a matter so weighty as war or peace at a time when we ought to be giving our best attention to the economy and to the questions that the American people have on their mind.
But yet we're being asked here to showdown on this question and there is no way that members of the Senate and the House can vote on this weighty question without being distracted -- distracted by the concerns with respect to how the election is going to turn out. That's not right.
KING: Do you agree, though, that he will get that way -- it will pass? BYRD: Well, it appears that that's going to be the case. I think we're doing the wrong thing, however, in letting ourselves be stampeded into taking action now. Why now? To do this?
We have known these things for months, years. So why is it that we've come down to the election when six weeks ago, Larry, the American people were being told by the president and by his surrogates that the president doesn't have any plan on his desk?
And he was trying to stamp out the intense speculation that was occurring just six weeks ago with respect to his attentions. And Secretary Rumsfeld referred to it as "a frenzy."
Well, why was it a frenzy then? Why don't we get on with the business of dealing with homeland security and the economy and these other weighty measures now without being asked to showdown on this question which would be better to wait until we could go home, listen to the American people, come back after the election, and then cast our vote on the merits of the question of war or peace?
KING: The president says that the difference is September 11 and the post effect since then.
BYRD: Well, September 11, that's over a year ago. We all -- we all reacted to that with dispatch.
But why did -- why does the administration wait until this particular moment to beat the drums of war? We've known these thing for quite a long time. Why did they wait?
KING: Senator McCain said that you voted against the war in 1991 and you were wrong then and you're wrong now. You want to react to -- he did criticize your vote then. Do you want to respond?
BYRD: Well, it's not the first time he has criticized my vote. But I will say this: that rhetoric of four years ago is not relevant today. And we ought to get way from that kind of rhetoric. The problem then was that we're -- let's take a look at the Tonkin Gulf resolution.
That was when we listened too much to an administration and we're listening now. And the bill that we're about to vote on is the Tonkin Gulf resolution. The American people deserve better than this. We ought to give them a chance to -- they don't think that we're about to vote on is the Tonkin Gulf resolution. The American people deserve better than this. We ought to give them a chance to -- they don't think we're asking enough questions.
KING: In Tonkin, senator, if memory serves me correct, we were given the wrong information.
BYRD: That's right.
KING: The president said he was given the wrong information. Are you saying we're getting the wrong information now? BYRD: Well, I'd say we're not only getting the wrong information, we're not getting enough information. We're not getting the facts. And the president indicated he felt we were about to enter upon a historic vote and he hoped that the Congress would vote for the facts and we don't have the facts. We don't have the facts. We haven't been told the facts.
I asked no farther back than two weeks ago, I asked the director of the CIA what is new. Tell us about your intelligence. You're not making policy, but you're the expert on intelligence. What is there new in your intelligence that says we have to vote now? That says we have to vote on a war resolution now? And he didn't have anything new.
Ask any of the administration officials. They don't have anything new. It is not new. They're just hellbent to get a vote on this war resolution right here, at election time, in order to take the people's eyes away from the real problems that the administration has with respect to the economy.
KING: Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Always great to see you. The voice of the loyal opposition.
BYRD: Thank you.
KING: It has been my -- always good to see you, senator.
BYRD: And thank you for sending those nice flowers to my wife. She's been ill.
KING: I know.
BYRD: But the flowers helped. Thank you.
KING: Thank you.
When we come back, Senators Warner, Feinstein, Kyl and former Senator Mitchell. We'll go at it with them. And you don't go away, OK? We'll be right back.
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BUSH: If we have to act, we'll take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully. We will act with the full power of the United States military. We will act with allies at our side. And we will prevail.
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KING: We love doing these kind of shows because we like bring a microcosm of the Senate right into your home.
And as we continue now in Washington with Senator John Warner -- Republican of Virginia, ranking member Armed Services, veteran and former secretary of the Navy.
Senator Dianne Feinstein -- Democrat of California; member of Select Committee on Intelligence; chairperson Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.
Senator Jon Kyl -- Republican of Arizona, member of Select Committee on Intelligence; ranking member Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.
And George Mitchell, winner of the Presidential Medal, a court of the Presidential Medal and former Senate Majority Leader.
We'll start with Senator Warner. We heard Senator McCain and Senator Byrd eloquently express their sides. Where, Senator Warner -- in your opinion -- is Senator Byrd wrong?
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), RANK MEM. ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: I had the privilege -- and I say that -- debating him for several hours on Friday afternoon. My good friend, Senator Byrd, I think is in error in his what's new.
You know, Larry, I've studied this issue as my colleagues and almost all of us have. What's new with this particular center is the fact that these biological weapons are now being manufactured in various places in Iraq by bringing together some trucks. Making an industrial base, those trucks can be moved and hidden which says that the biological material can be moved.
To me, Larry, that says -- as the president said tonight -- he could put that material in the hands of this international terrorist group and that could be transported by them to the United States without their fingerprints. What's new is a growing network of terrorists who are willing to inflict harm on the United States and they're hungry to get the weapons that he's manufactured.
KING: Senator Feinstein, what did you make of the address? How do you stand?
SEN. DIANE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), TERRORISM SUBCOMMITTEE CHMN.: Well -- I -- the good news of address for me was the concept was the coalition -- the multilateral approach, going to the United Nations, having a resolution that backs up the arms inspectors with force if necessary. I think that puts the moral (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on it and it is something that I really very strongly support and am very grateful for. I think that's the right way to do it.
Now, if it's carried out in that way I think there will be substantial support. The part I felt was lacking, he made the case for regime change, but not how. And I don't think Saddam Hussein is just going to stand up and say, Yes, America, I surrender. I think it is going to be a pitch battle with some of his fiercest Republican Guard and I think once you surround Baghdad and have to go in, there is a big commitment of military. And this concerns me very deeply.
So I am hopeful that this will be able to be done through the United Nations with a true coalition and be a shared burden and the aftermath a shared burden as well.
KING: Senator Kyl, what is wrong with Senator Byrd's suggestion that instead of doing it now, you all go back, seek out the counsel of people in who you represent, exchange thoughts hold town meetings, come back and vote then?
SEN. JON KYL (R-AZ), RANKING MEM. TERRORISM SUBCMTE.: We've been doing that. As a matter of fact I think an election season is the best time to find out what is on your constituents' minds and for them to find out where you stand. The wrong time is for you to hide the ball as to what you're going to do, get yourself elected, and then make a decision. At that point, they're stuck you for six years whether they like your decision or not. Better to have that debate occur during this season so they can make an informed decision about what you've decided.
And as to the question why now, it is the wrong question, Larry. The fact of the matter is our intelligence is pretty good, but it is not good enough to predict exactly when a very evil man is going to finally decide to put to use these weapons that everybody agrees he has. And therefore, we can't calibrate our intelligence with our action. We can't say, Well, it is now going to be the 30th of next month, so we better get going with our plan now. We're just not that good at intelligence.
And so the point is would you rather do it now when we have the capability of taking him out or wait until after he has a nuclear weapon when it is too late.
KING: Senator Mitchell, your thoughts are always important. And both sides of the ledger in the Senate always like to hear from you as former leader and winner of the Medal of Freedom accorded you with a great honor -- settled that dispute that lasted forever in Ireland. Author of the Mitchell Plan. Where do you stand?
GEORGE MITCHELL, FRM. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I thought the presentation by the president tonight was much more effective than it has been previously. There was a much greater emphasis on disarming the regime and much less emphasis on unilateral action to change the regime.
I think that reflected several realities. First, that the previous presentation was not persuading the American people or more importantly the other members of the United Nations Security Council. I think the administration wants the U.N. to act and I think this is a step in that direction, a very important step.
In addition, according to the "Financial Times" today, the attorney general of Britain has advised Prime Minister Blair that a unilateral attack with the objective of changing the regime is in violation of international law and it would greatly complicate Prime Minister Blair's ability to have Britain participate in such an effort.
So I think on balance the president's presentation today was much more effective and persuasive than the previous rhetoric on war unilaterally.
KING: Did Senator Byrd say anything to persuade you differently, George Mitchell?
MITCHELL: Well, I have great respect for Senator Byrd and I think he said a lot of very wise things. But the reality is, of course, there is going to be a vote in the Congress this week. And there will be action at the United Nations in the near future.
I think the important point is that the president has -- seems to have made a decision to go the U.N. route, to try to get U.N. resolution act because it will be extremely difficult for us to act unilaterally without trying to go through the U.N. route of renewed inspections with a new and more rigorous inspection regime. I think that's the right course to take and that's the course the president now appears to be headed on.
KING: Let me get a break. When we'll also include some phone calls. Later two members of Congress. And our continuing coverage of the president's address tonight here on CNN. I'm Larry King, don't go away.
KING: Always like to include the public. We have a distinguished panel, so let's take a few calls. Manatee, Puerto Rico, hello.
CALLER: Yes, my question is, why is it so important to have the outside help of our allies? Do we actually want to show the world that even if we have the world's strongest army and -- why is it so important for us not to go it alone?
KING: Senator Warner, why?
WARNER: Yes, that's a very good question. And before I respond, I want to say what a pleasure it is to be here with my old colleague, George Mitchell. We were toe to toe against each other in '91. And I was very impressed with what George said tonight. And, indeed, our president did reflect in a very moderate tones great confidence in the direction in which he's leading this nation.
But to the caller, I would say the following: This is not the United States against the people of Iraq, as the president said. It is the world struggling to preserve its freedom for this generation and future generations. And far better that they share with us the burdens if, as our president said, and he has not decided yet to use military action, if diplomacy fails and combat is necessary. It is better that it is the world that is bringing the end to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction than just the United States.
KING: Senator Feinstein, Senator McCain said the worst case scenario falls on Israel's head. They'll get the brunt of this in his worst case scenario. Do you agree with that, and do you fear it?
FEINSTEIN: Yes, I think the likelihood of an attack on Israel by Saddam Hussein is a very real one. He can hit Israel. I think Israel is prepared for this. It would respond depended upon the kind of damage that that attack did. But it certainly complicated in my view the Middle Eastern picture, and it even makes the entire Persian Gulf difficult.
This is one of the reasons why I want to answer your questioner. It is so important that we not do this unilaterally, if we can avoid doing it, because our nation has never on a preemptive basis attacked another sovereign nation, and this would be the first time. And there is some of us that believe the threat is there, but the fact that he hasn't used chemical weapons for 12 years indicates something to us as well about the immediacy of the threat.
Therefore, disarming him through the United Nations, backed up by force if the United Nations cannot compel disarmament, I strongly feel is the way to go, with the world, a civilized world saying, Saddam Hussein, you have had it. We're going to come in, we're going find these weapons, we're going to destroy them. And if you don't allow this on an unfettered basis, then military might of all of our nations will back this up.
KING: Ellijay, Georgia, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Senator Warner, in the event that we decide to attack Iraq, how long do you think it will take to win the war and how many ground troops do you think will be needed?
WARNER: Most respectfully I say to you that those details, even if I did know them, should never be revealed, because we have got to at this juncture impress the United Nations of our determination to use force if they fail to live up to the charter that they all adhere to.
And secondly, you know yourself, I can tell by your voice you've had some experience. You wouldn't want to know the details of what was coming against you if you had done wrong like Saddam Hussein and if you were threatening the world with your weapons of mass destruction. Surprise is the key element of all military operations.
KING: Senator Kyl, do you fear a precedent here that, OK, based on what the United States is saying, India decides it wants to just take out Pakistan, can make a claim, make a strong speech and go in, and cite us as a precedent?
KYL: Larry, there are a lot of nations that have attacked other nations looking for any pretext that they can and maybe they would cite this, but that wouldn't make it right and wouldn't justify it. I think that the world is able to divide those cases that have justification and those that don't, and that's one of the reasons the president is trying to make his case both to the American people as well as the international community.
But we have used preemptive action before, we'll use it again, and what the president basically has said is that after September 11, the United States can act in its own self-defense when necessary. We no longer have to wait to be hit in order to fight back. And in this war on terror, it's much better to take the fight to the enemy, to hit him before you can -- before he can hit you. That's what preemption is all about.
I really don't -- let me make one more point. We're acting together today with Great Britain, pursuant to United Nations resolutions against Iraq. Our inspection regime from the air, the aerial reconnaissance, is being challenged every day by Iraqi shooting at us, as the president said. And we're fighting back there. And when we can, we're knocking out these radar sites in advance so that our airmen aren't going to get shot at. That's preemption, and nobody would argue that there is anything wrong with that.
KING: Senator Mitchell, what is your worst fear here? Do you share the fear that Israel bears the brunt of this?
MITCHELL: I don't think Saddam Hussein's attack would have the limited objective of reigning destruction in Israel. I think it would have the broader objective of igniting a regional war, to bring other countries into the region, into the war, in a manner that confuses situations, destabilizes the U.S. and other economies because of an ability or an effort at least to cut off oil supplies and other things.
I think his objective will be to trigger a wider war. And that is a matter of concern. I believe that the administration should be making an intense effort not only to continue the war on terror as we move forward with respect to Iraq, but also to bring hopefully an intense effort to bring the parties in the Middle East, the Israelis and the Palestinians, back to the negotiating table to reduce the violence there in an effort to mitigate the adverse reaction that will occur throughout the region in the event of an attack on Iraq.
KING: More with Senators Warner, Feinstein and Kyl and former Senator Mitchell, and then Congressman Shays and Congresswoman Harman on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Some ask, how urgent this danger is to America and the world? The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today, and we do, does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: By the way, Wednesday night on LARRY KING LIVE, Secretary of State Colin Powell joins us.
Memphis, Tennessee, hello.
KING: Go ahead. CALLER: My question is what are weapons of mass destructions and if the United States have weapons of mass destructions.
KING: Excellent. Senator Warner?
WARNER: The answer to his question is: Yes, we do. We do have the nuclear weapons. We no longer equip our arsenals, however, with the chemical. The biological likewise. They're not part of our active military arsenals.
But they're weapons that can destroy far more people by killing and wounding than ever Hitler had or Tojo had in World War II.
So, I would say to my good friend it's a changed world. And the high technology now really brings to the forefront this issue of preemption. I have here, Larry, and I'm going to leave for you, nine instances where the United States of America has had to use preemptive military force to, under the doctrine of international law, protect itself from anticipatory self-defense.
Check on that. It's there. And could I pick up on the nuclear weapon issue that both my colleagues, Senator Feinstein and Senator Mitchell raised? About Israel, we're all very concerned about that. But we do know that Israel took out his nuclear weapon base in about the early 1980s.
We do know that he's working night and day to acquire a nuclear weapon and perhaps to build one. Far worse would it be for Israel and the whole region if he, in the future, acquires one by result of our inaction today. Then he threatens the region and Israel far more seriously than at this moment.
KING: Senator Feinstein, what do we know know? Do we know he has a delivery system? Do we know that?
FEINSTEIN: Well, we know he has certain missiles that have possibilities for a delivery system. Well, I think, can assume he's not nuclear capable today. I think we can also assume that he is trying to become nuclear capable. That's been a long stated aim. Senator Warner was right, the Israelis took out a nuclear facility in 1981.
And there is some evidence that's been reported in open source materials that he is trying to develop a gas centrifuge process to enrich uranium, which takes a long time and a lot of tubes. So the estimate is that he could be nuclear capable, if he was able to get enough enriched uranium, within a year or five to seven years if he has to do it himself.
KING: Senator Kyl, why -- in view of all this, and all the armada of the world against him, why do you think he doesn't comply, give it up? Why does he -- I'm trying to get into the psyche here, need to take this on?
KYL: Well, Senator McCain said earlier, if he just wanted to survive, it would be easy. He could let the inspectors in and whatever they find, they could take away and he'd survive until he's an old man as bad as he is.
So clearly he has something other than survival on his mind and history is replete with his miscalculations in attacking other nations -- in attacking Iran, for example, and attacking Kuwait and deciding to go against the Kurds even though the Iranians were going to come their defense.
He miscalculates when he is not -- when he believes he can get away with it. And that's the problem. If you ask the question, Well, he hasn't done anything now for 11 years, my answer to that is the same one the president gave tonight: So we're going to trust Saddam? That's what we're betting our self-defense on? I don't think so. If he were not such an evil man, if he weren't working so hard to acquire these weapons and if he weren't -- if he wasn't devoting so many resources that he's taking away from his people in order to develop these weapons, you might have a different answer.
But clearly he is a very dangerous man. And if he were to do something before we acted, everyone one of us would be sitting around this table later saying, Look, the evidence was all there. Why didn't we do something? The president is offering that tonight. I think the president made his case.
KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be calling on you again.
We'll be right back with Congressmen Shays and Harman and get the House side of things after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In our closing moments, we welcome Congressman Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut, chairman of the government reform subcommittee on national security, veterans affairs and international relations.
And Congresswoman Jane Harman, Democrat of California, ranking member of the House intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security.
We'll start with Congressman Shays. It's both kind of a statement and a question, maybe it's the whole subject tonight. I'll ask it of you: Why now?
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: Well, it should have been years ago. I mean, we had our wakeup call from hell on September 11, and we dealt with the imminent challenge, which was Afghanistan. We have now 40 countries helping us in that effort, and we have made a tremendous success. And now we're having to deal with what is truly the imminent threat now. That's what this gentleman can get, Saddam Hussein, enriched uranium. It's about the size of a softball. Plutonium is about the size of a baseball. You can touch it, you can put it and carry it in, and it is not detectable, and that's all he's waiting for.
KING: Congresswoman Harman, did Senator Byrd say anything to cause you to think differently about Congressman Shays' opinion?
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I would see it differently from both of them, perhaps. We have to do several things now, Larry. We have to take out this threat to our security by dismantling these weapons of mass destruction. We also have to pass homeland security legislation, because people are more concerned about the potential suicide bomber than they are about Saddam Hussein, and we need an economic strategy. The Dow was down another 100 points today. Unemployment and poverty are at record highs, and we have to do all of these things at the same time.
The only thing I'm worried about is that we're dropping the ball on the economy and homeland security, and Robert Byrd said that. But I do support a resolution on Iraq, the one that was redesigned by Minority Leader Gephardt in the House, that includes a call to work with our allies, but then to use military force if necessary, but also invokes the War Powers Act and has a requirement to help reconstruct the country.
KING: When, Congressman Shays, will this vote come to the floor of the House, and how convincingly will it pass?
SHAYS: I think it will come up late tomorrow, maybe by Wednesday. I think the bottom line is every member is going to vote their conscience. This is not a political vote. You have to live with this vote the rest of your life. But I will say this to you, if we didn't threaten to use unilateral action, you would not see a multilateral effort. And the president wants this to be multilateral, but you are not going to get the French to go to Saddam Hussein like they did and say, open up your border and let the inspections in unless they fear that we would take unilateral action.
KING: Is it, Congresswoman Harman, a fair issue in congressional races open to the public to debate, and should the public decide how to vote for someone based on their vote on this?
HARMAN: I think the public should decide how to vote on us based on whether we served them well or not. I think they all want to know what we plan to do about the economy and how committed we are to the war on al Qaeda, as well as this.
But I'm happy to defend my position with my constituents. I just want to add that the House is starting 17 hours of debate with extensions possible late tomorrow. I think that's right, Chris. This will be a longer debate than we had with respect to the Gulf War 11 years ago. And it should be. We should respect each other's views. People have a right to say whatever they want would like to say. Our constituents have a right to be heard, too. The whole country has to buy into this action for it to be meaningful. And I thought the president did well tonight, with a quiet tone and a lot of information and a stress on the need to act multilaterally if possible.
KING: Every guest tonight, Congressman Shays, says the worst fear regards Israel. Do you agree with that?
SHAYS: Yes. And when we've spoken to Israeli leaders, they say don't wait a moment. We're prepared for it. We'd rather deal with it today than next year.
KING: Did that surprise you, Congressman Harman, that Israel would be totally in favor of this action, which could endanger them most?
HARMAN: Well, I was just there over Labor Day and I met with all their senior leaders, and Chris is right, from Shimon Peres to Ariel Sharon, they're all in favor.
Depends how we do this. Hopefully we won't need military action. That would be, obviously, ideal and we'll get these weapons dismantled without it. But if we are able to dismantle the SCUD capability, which is on the western side of the country, hopefully Israel won't be hit. But they are ready for it.
Let's remember that there is Hezbollah terrorists on the Lebanese border armed with long-range rockets from Syria, so they are surrounded by all sides anyway, and anything that breaks the chain of terror, according to their defense minister, will start unraveling this huge threat that they have faced for over 50 years.
KING: Congressman Shays, did you agree with the president when he said while there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone because it gathers the most serious dangers of our age in one place?
SHAYS: Absolutely. I mean, what he's doing is saying the obvious. If we just listen to what the Arab community says in Arabic, we would know the threat and we would know what Saddam has done. Forty villages, it's not that he killed nearly 20,000 people, it's that he practiced using these chemicals in 40 different places, understanding wind direction and so on. He was testing chemical warfare on his own people.
KING: Congresswoman Harman, he said also that America is a friend of the people of Iraq. Do you think they believed that?
HARMAN: Well, unfortunately they get censored information. They didn't hear the president speak tonight. They may be able to listen on long-range radios.
I don't know what information they have. I think a lot of that will depend on how we help rebuild the country. But I would say there are many threats. Iraq is one of them. Iran is a more imminent and dangerous threat right this minute to Israel.
But there were some new things tonight. I disagree with Senator Byrd on this. Two of them were that Iraq now possesses -- the president made this clear and so does this new CIA document, unclassified -- these uninhabited aerial vehicles, UAVs, which are capable of dispersing biological weapons. If they don't possess them now, they're about to possess them, and that's truly dangerous, dispersing these weapons.
The other thing that was new and I thought it was very interesting is that we are demanding to interview witnesses to the development of their chemical and biological programs outside of Iraq, with their families present so the families can't be hurt by Saddam Hussein. That could be very interesting.
SHAYS: If I could speak to that, that's when he threw us out. You know, when we started to dismantle his chemical, biological, nuclear program, he tolerated it. When we started to tear out the roots, which are the people who make these weapons, the engineers and the scientists, that's when he kicked us out. And those are the people that have to be removed from Iraq.
KING: Thank you both very much. Always great calling upon you. We'll be calling on you again. Congressman Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut and Congresswoman Jane Harman, Democrat of California.
And Colin Powell will be with us Wednesday night, the secretary of state.
When we come back, we'll tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Don't miss tomorrow night. Terry Garr is our special guest, the actress, and she has a sad and an extraordinary announcement to make. Terry Garr tomorrow night.
Always love coming to New York, because that means I've come home and it means I get to be in his presence, the presence of my buddy and my main man, Aaron Brown.
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