CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Senators John Warner, Chris Dodd, "Washington Post's" Bob Woodward
Aired March 6, 2003 - 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: I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons.
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LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, we've just seen the president make his case on Iraq, and now instant reaction from legendary journalist Bob Woodward. His extraordinary White House access resulted in the runaway best seller "Bush at War."
Plus Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
And Democratic Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Three heavy hitters for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.
One note, Senator Robert Byrd, the dean of the Senate who was due to be our guest tonight will be our guest tomorrow night. We're in Washington for both evenings.
Let's get right to it Mr. Woodward. I don't think I've ever seen a press conference or news conference like that. What do you make of it?
BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, it was very somber, and it -- the president was quite repetitive. And this process of calling on people and then having long speeches somewhat from the reporters and multiple questions, I think didn't kind of get to some of the key points.
I think there also was a really headline in all of this, where the president said he's going to call for a vote on the second resolution. He said you bet, everyone's going to have to show their cards.
KING: And win or lose, he's going anyway.
Senator Warner, did it appear a little stilted to you? I mean...
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), CHMN., ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: No, I'd say somber, very thoughtful. It's as if he's reaching into his inner heart and inner soul and saying to America, I have confidence in myself. My courage, my judgment to make this tough decision, and I have not made it yet.
I think six times he clearly said, we have not made the decision. Diplomacy has not run its course. But, Larry, he stayed his course, he kept on his message.
KING: Senator Dodd?
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D-CT), FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE.: Well, the good -- first that he hasn't been a press conference in a long time. So this is not a familiar forum for him. It's been a year and a half.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) everybody out in order, too. there was no show of hands.
DODD: This is not a spontaneous press conference, the kind we're normally used to from presidents over the years.
I pick up on something Bob has said, the headline here and the very good news, I think, if you want to find the very good news here is his commitment to go once more and to try and win U.N. support for a resolution.
I was concerned and many others were that he would just walk away from that process. None of us know how that'll come out. But I've got a feeling that they may do better than some people think in terms of winning support, maybe abstentions in some cases and avoiding the kind of the vetoes that could scuttle that and force us into a unilateral situation, which I know the president said he's willing to take. many of us believe that ultimately if there's no other recourse, that's the way you go.
But I think most people believe that the best way for us to be doing is with the support of the international community. I hope that would happen.
KING: Bob, did anything tonight make you more optimistic, less optimistic about what's coming?
WOODWARD: Well, Senator Warner pointed out, multiple times, almost like it was scripted, he kept saying I have not decided. There was a moment, though, where he almost sounded like he had decided. He said we will prevail, and there was no conditional part of that sentence.
If you go back to the Gulf War, there is a very interesting, and I think important chronology on this. Eighteen days before the first President Bush started that war, he set out what's called a "warning order" to General Schwarzkopf. It's top secret, not public. Saying get ready to execute the plan on a given date.
Then two days before the war started, President Bush signed a top secret order saying we will start the war, but then there was a condition in it. If there's a diplomatic breakthrough, let's wait. And it was literally not until 26 hours before the Gulf War began that there was actually an execute order.
KING: How, Senator Warner, does Saddam comply tonight with this request by the -- how does he disarm tonight to the satisfaction of this country?
WARNER: Just read 1441, the resolution to the Security Council. It's laid out there.
And let's not forget, we're watching this courageous president under enormous pressure stay the course. And we would not, as a world, be in the position we're in now giving diplomacy its last chance, had it not been for his decision and of that Tony Blair and others to move the forces into place, to put the teeth in diplomacy.
Because often diplomacy can be no more successful than the clear manifestation, the commitment to follow through with force if it fails.
KING: What do you think of the idea, Senator Dodd, of giving a due date?
DODD: I think that made a lot of sense. I wish that had been a part of 1441. I think it might have been easier, with greater clarity, if that had been a part of that. I think it was a mistake not to have it.
I think in this next resolution, if they're going to have one, I think that might help bring some clarity to it. So there's a clear timetable and people know what they're getting in for.
I would also mention to you, I thought something else the president said throws this debate into somewhat of a contradiction a bit. The president was asked on several questions of the about North Korea. He made strenuous strong points, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), that he's determined to try and resolve this diplomatically. That he'll use all of the tools diplomatically.
There are many who would argue that the situation in North Korea, I being one, is a far more serious and precarious situation for the United States. The president called it a regional concern, although we have a stake in it.
I think it's a vastly understated case. This is not a regional issue, this is a global issue, this is the largest exporter of weapons around the world, this is a major problem for the world. And I kind of wish the president had shown as much willingness to deal diplomatically with the a situation that I would argue is less serious than North Korea. It seems to me there was a bit of a contradiction.
KING: I'll (UNINTELLIGIBLE) question for Bob. But, John, you want to respond?
WARNER: I would say both of these situations are terribly serious. And what perplexes me about my good friend's position, and indeed many of his following, is that their demanding the president continuously do a multilateral approach to the situation surrounding Iraq. But then they're trying to say, Mr. President, in this situation on the Korean Peninsula, you should do a bilateral.
And the president simply says, we should do a multilateral in both situations, and that's the course he's following. It doesn't rule out at a later date a bilateral...
KING: You're not saying...
DODD: ... I voted on the resolution last fall on Iraq, along with John and others. Secondly, it's not just me. Knowledgeable people will say this is about talking. Now we're not talking about engaging in conflict. Whether or not we ought to be willing to have a bilateral conversation with North Korea to move us off the dime. And I think we ought to do that. I think most people who understand that part of the world think it's foolish for us...
DODD: If he can't get, it seems to me arguing for this irrelevant argument about whether or not it's bilateral or multilateral. Get to the table, start talking.
KING: I want to get back to North Korea. I want to ask Bob, how do you think he handled the questions about protests and people unhappy with war?
WOODWARD: Well, he didn't argue with them. He seemed respectful. But he -- and made the point which is frequently made that you can't do this in Iraq, that you can't protest like this.
But what -- very important theme line in what he said tonight, and it was repetitive and he did go back to it many times, is the lesson of 9/11. That this changed the condition for everything and his job as president sitting in that chair is to look around the world and say where is there a serious threat? Saddam is more than a serious threat...
KING: To the United States?
WOODWARD: To the United States. To, as he kept saying, the neighborhood in the Middle East. And, to a certain extent, to everyone. And they've been working on this a year. The problem in North Korea at least came to a head, really, in the last four, five months.
KING: Let's get a break. Come back with more. They're with us for the full hour. We'll take your calls later,a s well. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
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BUSH: In New York, tomorrow, the United Nations Security Council will receive an update from the chief weapons inspector. The world needs him to answer a single question -- has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed as required by Resolution 1441 or has it not?
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KING: We asked it off the air, we'll ask it on.
What if Saddam Hussein tonight in a fit of sanity decides he totally wants to cooperate. That's it. Whatever Bush ask for short of exile.
What does he do?
WARNER: You asked me what does he say, and my reply to that would be, he has no credibility.
KING: But he can't -- that's nothing.
WARNER: But he could establish credibility with quick and prompt actions.
WARNER: And they'd have to manifest themselves as compliance with the Security Council resolutions all of them. But especially 1441. I am going to disarm, here it, is go find it. Not hide-and- seek.
KING: That would satisfy you Senator Dodd?
DODD: Listen, I feel if he moves in that direction, I know the president can start claiming victory here. He's almost sounding like he's disappointed by his own success. This is working to some extent here, you're getting result, not to the satisfaction, obviously, of what John has just described, but clearly we've got him moving in that direction.
I come back to the point, Larry, I think it's critically important not only for the conduct of the war, which clearly we with win on our own but the aftermath of this. The management of Iraq. The post-Hussein situation. The cost of it. Other situations where we need that kind of cooperation internationally. So, the president's winning on this. He's getting the kind of results. It hasn't produced the victory tonight we'd like to see. But clearly he is moving in that direction. We shouldn't underestimate the value of that.
WOODWARD: But I think it's really important to understand what bush and the administration are saying. They're saying weapons inspection is not working. That there may be some visible successes and missiles destroyed here and so forth, a few things found. The intelligence shows and the senators can back this up, there are massive amounts of weapons of mass destruction hidden, buried, unaccounted for. And if you chip around the edges and you look at the record, particularly after the weapons inspectors got in again in the '90s, you see that for years Saddam denied he had anything, and then all a sudden, they discovered massive amounts.
WARNER: You know, I asked George Tenet, CIA director basically what you just stated, and he's written a letter, it arrived in my office an hour ago. And he states, we have now provided all of the information that we could to the inspectors. Yet they have not uncovered anything. Because Saddam Hussein from the very beginning after 1991, decided that he's going have to endure some type of inspection regime as he continues to build weapons and he's become very skillful to keep these manufacturing base of weapons of mass destructions active, mobile and beyond the ability of any inspections to really catch it. And this is proof of it. We've given them all the information, they can't find it.
KING: What's his purpose, he's inviting war.
DODD: Well, I don't know. Look we have also -- 1441 calls for inspections, we wrote the resolution, basicly. And from the very beginning there's been a ridiculing attitude about inspections. There's never been a moment when we embraced this as a policy, yet nonetheless we include it in the resolution, 1441 and secured 14 of the votes for. Every since that we've been minimizing the significance and the importance of this process. Now I never believed for a single second this is necessarily going to resolve the issue, but it seems to be working.
KING: How do you know about without inspection?
DODD: Well, that's the point, why do we ask for it in the first place if we never believed it's going to work. What is the purpose for the resolution?
WARNER: The group of nations agreed on it, and I think Hans Blix tried to make it work. But he's been outsmarted.
DODD: From the beginning, this administration never embraced the inspections process. We've know that.
WARNER: I've shown you they've given Blix the information.
DODD: You know what I'm talking about. From the very outset there is the idea the inspections are not going to work.
KING: Then what were they embracing?
DODD: Well, I don't know, that's a good point.
WOODWARD: The reason they say or there's some skepticism about weapons inspections is that they were inspecting in Iraq for four years when Saddam Hussein said we have absolutely nothing, and they uncovered tons and tons. They uncovered his whole nuke program, which we had no hint of.
WARNER: Only after defection though.
WOODWARD: Then started the process.
WARNER: That's where we got the information that led to the success of that inspection.
WOODWARD: So when you try to do something for years and there is denial, and then you get to a point with, oh, my goodness, look at mother load we've discovered. You have to get very cynical about the inspection process.
KING: What effect do you think he had against those who disagreed with him?
WOODWARD: Don't know. I mean that's the -- the polls will show. I mean, there's a certain somberness as everyone has said. There clearly is a conviction. It's my read that he's going to fix this problem, and then he's getting quite impatient with it, and at the end there most likely will be war.
WARNER: You know, someone has to stand up in an unflinching manner and keep look Saddam Hussein and stay in the course. And the president is the one individual that's doing that. I mean, there's so much back room negotiation, tonight, tomorrow, in the U.N. A new resolution, let's have it a week, lets have it three or four days, all of this sort of thing. The one individual that's up there. And Saddam Hussein is watching this president very, very closely, and he does not see this president flinch. He sees him say I'm working on diplomacy, Saddam Hussein, but I'm not flinching.
KING: He sees. That Senator Byrd, who will appear here tomorrow night said in the February 12 speech accusing his colleagues of sleep walking through history. I want you to comment on this. "As this nation stands at the brink of battle, this chamber for the most part is silent, there is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for nation the pros and cons of this particular war. We stand passively mute in the U.S. Senate paralyzed by our own uncertainty."
How would you respond?
DODD: I think there's some truth in that. We had a good debate last fall around the resolution, but I don't think we've had taken the time that the Senate should over the last number of weeks. We're going to have debate I guess tomorrow, John, a couple of hours on the floor on a Friday afternoon.
WARNER: I'll be there and I hope you're there.
KING: Why so little time down on it?
DODD: How is the rest of the world affected by what the president said tonight. I there was a positive piece of news. That is we're going back to the resolution, there will be a resolution and there will be a vote. You can not minimize the significance of that decision, I applaud the president for making that decision.
KING: We'll get a break and come back. By the way at the bottom of the hour we'll take your phone calls as well following the president's speech with Senator's John Warner and Chris Dodd, and Bob Woodward of the "Washington Post." The author of the timely titled "Bush at War."
We'll be back.
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BUSH: My job is to protect America, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. People can describe all kinds of intentions. I swore to protect and defend the constitution, that's what I swore to do. I put my hand on the Bible and took that oath. And that's exactly what I am going to do. I believe Saddam Hussein is a threat to the American people.
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KING: Senator Warner wanted to comment on the statements by Senator Byrd.
He inferred that the Senate was not living up to its responsibility as a co-equal branch of government with the executive branch, and I respectfully disagree with him.
Yesterday afternoon, you'll find in the record, I went toe-to-toe with him and debated this issue on the floor of the Senate. And I showed him that maybe the rafters of the Senate chamber are not ringing with the rhetoric, but here's a list of 25 meetings and briefings that the Senate Armed Services Committee has conducted on Iraq since October.
We are doing a great deal. This morning, the Armed Services Committee, four hours, with the secretary of army, navy and air force.
KING: How about you, Senator Dodd?
DODD: Dick Lugar's been doing a good job both on Korea, North Korea, and again I want to come back to that, that's an important comparison to make here. We've had a good discussion.
What we haven't had, a, I think, what Senator Byrd is rightly talking about in the public -- not that the hearings are not public, but the Senate floor itself considering...
DODD: Considering we're on the brink, where 200,000 of our young men and women are in uniform in this part of the world on the brink of a very, very difficult military combat. And are we really thoroughly debating here of what the costs may be and other options to the military action?
WOODWARD: But what's the resolution -- once the resolution has been passed, unless the Senate wanted to reconsider the issue and then have another vote, there's not much that can practically be done at this point.
DODD: Bob, I disagree with that. This is evolving.
We did have the vote and many of us voted for it. But there are events that have occurred -- the U.N. activities and actions occurring here.
I think the Senate is an expected forum...
WOODWARD: Would you take your vote back?
DODD: No. But I'd like to debate the issue where we're going and certainly raise the issue of whether or not a bit more time here to make sure you've got the kind of multilateral support you ought to have here.
I'm very, very concerned, and most people are, about going alone here. There is an awful potential price we pay, and I want the president to show as much thought and balance that he is about North Korea here. And that's a huge distinction.
KING: Putting it bluntly....
WARNER: Larry, he says going alone. You're on the Foreign Relations Committee. You know Great Britain is with us. There's a coalition of many nations that joined us. You shouldn't make that statement about going alone.
DODD: You and I both know this is called a coalition of the billing, not the willing.
WARNER: While the Senate rafters are not ringing with rhetoric and debate, but the serious discussions in all the committee rooms.
We're at war and we've been at war. Our aviators have taken enormous risks in southern watch, northern watch. We've been fired on since the inspections started.
Since 1441 has passed, our planes have been fired on several hundred times. We've got 200+ thousand men and women, and I was over there just 10 days ago in the Gulf. There they are, their families are at home. Should now be the hour of this debate as to whether we should be doing what we're doing with all of these people in place with all that personal sacrifice, of all that risk that they're taking?
WOODWARD: OK, you obviously can't reopen the debate in either formal way. But Senator Dodd, saying in some sort of informal way, to get information in -- and the reality here is there is an immense amount of anxiety that the public has. KING: You spent a lot of time with him for the book. Does he ever question -- he answered tonight that he does not -- he sleeps well. Does he ever question -- did you ever get the impression that he questions his resolve?
WOODWARD: I asked him -- President Bush about this, and he just -- he almost, again, almost jumped out his chair. He said I just have no doubts. And literally said that -- this was on the war on terrorism. But when it comes to Iraq and his decision-making, I think he is a person who grinds it out in the war cabinet and then makes a decision and does not revisit it.
KING: The question is, is that good to have no doubts?
WARNER: Oh, I defer to what you have in your book says an accurate recitation of your own views and what he said.
But he's a human being. And he spoke of his faith. And, to me, faith implies you've got to listen to others and be mindful of the wants and the needs of others. And I'm certain that he does that.
But we cannot have someone out there blinking and flinching at this hour, and I commend you.
WOODWARD: I think exactly what he feels -- what President Bush feels.
DODD: This is not about blinking or flinching. It's about making sure that we're going to do is going to make a lot of sense for us here.
You know, again, I almost sound like I'm listening to people who support the president. I think he's losing it.
I thinking he's doing a great job with this in the sense he's achieving good results here. We're acting like this is somehow a major setback. We're achieving our desired goals, at least to this juncture. The only question remains whether or not you're going to have the kind of support that we ought to have.
WOODWARD: But what about the public anxiety? I'm sorry, that is a big -- that is the elephant in the room.
WARNER: There's anxiety in the Congress.
WOODWARD: Why is that there and has it been addressed and alleviated?
KING: Let me get a break and we'll come back and pick up...
WARNER: Nobody wants war.
KING: All right. We'll pick up on that and take your phone calls as well. We'll reintroduce our panel. We'll be right back.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE with Bob Woodward, the assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post", best-selling author, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. His latest "New York Times" best-seller, all had been. "Bush at War" is available, by the way, on audiotape.
Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, chairman of Senate Arms Services Committee, former secretary of the Navy, veteran of both the Navy and the Marine Corps.
And Senator Christopher Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, ranking member of Rules and Administration Committee, recently announced that he's not be a candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. And he's the one that's not a candidate. So many others have announced.
Before we get to the first call, Bob brought up anxiety. Did anxiety get relieved tonight?
WOODWARD: Quite possibly not. Because as you said, there was this tone that Bush had. He was slow talking, and almost like a wake. And then he kept saying I haven't decided and war is the last resort, and there was a disconnect there a little bit. And I think lots of people are going to think maybe he has.
KING: There is anxiety in the land, is there not?
WARNER: No question, there's anxiety in the halls of the Senate. And you're looking at a senator who thinks about this night and day. But I'm thinking about you professionals looking at this press conference, what did you want? A shouting match and everybody being unruly as so many of these are? This is too serious a subject to have had that type of...
KING: It was a little studied.
DODD: Yes, that wasn't the issue (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's raucous.
DODD: It's the president's demeanor. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bob has said and I certainly don't know him well enough to disagree with at all. The sense of being comfortable, at ease with where you are. Confident about your decision-making process is.
And I think the conclusion one would reach, still the good news, he's going to go to the U.N. and try to get that resolution. But I think behind all of that is we're going to war, and that's what came across tonight, I think, to most people probably watching this.
KING: Let's take a call. San Francisco, for Bob Woodward, Senator John Warner, Senator Chris Dodd. Hello. CALLER: Hello. There appears to be only yes people surrounding the president. Who on this panel is willing to give him a reality check on how strongly the American people are opposed to going to war with Iraq alone?
KING: Well, the polls don't show that they're strongly opposed. Do they, Bob? What's the latest poll? Significant number.
WOODWARD: ... people want, if there is a war, for it to be U.N. backed.
KING: I'll give you a question (UNINTELLIGIBLE), is there a George Ball in the president's circle? George Ball was the one guy who told Kennedy don't send one troop to Vietnam. Is there a George Ball in this administration?
WARNER: I feel that he gets good, strong, cross-section of the diversity within his cabinet. Certainly Powell and Rumsfeld go at it pretty well, as they have, and their predecessors have had.
WARNER: ... that's a good question she asked.
KING: Hold on a second.
WARNER: And I'd like to answer it. I would simply say that your voice is counting and your voice is being heard. And across America and across the world, I think people of clear conscience are gravely concerned. And I'm sure the president is taking that into consideration.
KING: New York City, hello.
KING: Yes. Go ahead.
CALLER: I have a question for Senator Warner. Why can we not meet France and Germany's demands for last-ditch diplomatic efforts now?
WARNER: The president tonight did not foreclose the options that France, Germany and Canada and great Britain are putting towards the Security Council. He simply said in a very straight-forward way, let's wait and see.
KING: Senator Dodd, is there a Democratic Party position on this?
DODD: No, and the leader Tom Daschle, Nancy Pelosi have not asked even for one at all.
KING: Should you have one? DODD: No, I don't think so. I think in the conduct of foreign policy you don't ever try to get caucus positions. When matters reach the water's edge here, hen you try to let people form their own opinions rather than have sort of caucus or party views.
I think again, based on the votes back last fall, we had, I think, a significant number, I don't know the exact number, of Democrats who supported the resolution, I was one of them. There are many of us here who believe that the president's been succeeding.
We also agree on -- I think most people are in this country, that it would be far wiser and far better if we're going to engage in war here that we do so with a kind of multinational cooperation that the president's father was able to cobble together back a decade or so ago.
They're going it alone here. While we don't have any question about the success militarily, the problems that that creates in terms of dealing with terrorism, dealing with North Korea, dealing with a whole host of other issues where international cooperation would be vitally important, maybe damage for sometime. And we worry about that.
KING: Wichita, Kansas, hello.
CALLER: Hello. This question's for the panel. What evidence, if any, is there that Saddam Hussein is linked to the 9/11 attacks in New York City?
KING: Bob, have they linked it?
WOODWARD: They have not. There has been some very fuzzy intelligence on that, but there's nothing substantial. And in fact, if you look at what Secretary of State Powell said at the U.N. on February 5 he never alluded to any connections between Iraq and 9/11.
KING: You agree, Senators?
WARNER: But apparently Saddam Hussein has links with a number of the terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda. Now whether it was a direct linkage to 9/11 has still not been established.
DODD: Not that I know of. And I don't think it doesn't serves our cause well to try and link him to every fear we have. There's enough problems that he poses with the weapons of mass destruction. I think being credible about Saddam Hussein is a far wiser course than trying to stretch connections that are barely exist, if at all.
KING: Would this be a time, Bob, where North Korea could get a little risky knowing that the attention is focus so much on Iraq?
WOODWARD: Yes, and I think that's very deep worry within the administration that not only North Korea, but the India/Pakistan confrontation, that that could flare up, where people are trying to take advantage of the situation. And that compounds the problem. Now, you know, what we need to do or try to do is at least understand, we don't have to agree, but understand how Bush sees all of this sitting in that chair. And as he kept saying tonight, 9/11 changed everything. You're sitting in that chair. America is attacked in a way that it never was attacked before. After that, you have to say, we will do anything to protect.
Look around the world. Saddam Hussein, as somebody in the CIA said, he is an industrial-strength package of psychiatric disorders. He is the kind of wacko leader that is very rare and perhaps not seen on the world stage for 50 years.
KING: Roseburg, Oregon, hello?
CALLER: Yes, my question is for Senator Dodd. Isn't it time we all pull together and support our president? I have never been prouder to be an American.
DODD: Well, I think people are. And as I said earlier, I think people are a lot of people who are rallying to this cause and believe that this is a threat here.
There are also those that there's some disagree, as we ought to have in this country, where debate and dissent ought not to be seen as unpatriotic. In fact it was the absence of debate and dissent in other points in our history where I think we've regretted afterwards that we didn't have more discussion about it.
And so backing the president where he's right is appropriate, and where there's a disagreement, respectfully disagreeing is also appropriate. We're about to engage in a military conflict. The question people are raising is if we do it alone, what cost is that going to involve? How long are we going to be there? What cost to the young men and women in uniform? Are there other ways of resolving the issue?
And just as the president suggested this evening, that we ought be to using all our diplomatic tools to solve the problem of Korea, there are many of us here who would like to see him use that same kind of influence in dealing with Iraq. And if he can't do that in the end, then our security is, as he suggested is, in jeopardy then we ought to use military force.
Clearly, part of our answer to 9/11 is keeping international support what we want to do. We cannot defeat terrorism alone it. It requires international cooperation. We need to work on that all the time.
KING: We'll be right back with more after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: If the world fails to confront the threat posed by the Iraqi regime, refusing to use force, even as a last resort, free nations would assume immense and unacceptable risks. The attacks of September the 11th, 2001 showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with weapons of mass destruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Bob Woodward, Senator John Warner and Senator Christopher Dodd. If you were holding on the phone sorry, we had a little power surge here in the building and lost all phone calls. So if you could redial back in and as soon as -- we'll try to get back to the people that we missed.
He laid on it earlier and North Korea comes in. What's to play there, do you think, Senator Warner? What's the play?
WARNER: Very simply, people keep contrasting it with Iraq. But for 12 years we've been trying to get the international accountability through the U.N. and the Security Council, with regard to Iraq. As Bob said, North Korea broke its promises to President Clinton. President Bush acknowledged that tonight, that Clinton had made an honest effort with North Korea.
And now there's very erratic behavior. I mean, this idea of sending up your fighter aircraft against an unarmed U.S. surveillance aircraft operating in international airspace -- now, those are actions which are irrational. But at this time, Bush is solidly of the opinion, and I agree with him, that dangers to Russia, China, Japan, South Korea are just as grave if not graver than they are to us. They're the immediate neighbors, and they should be the roundtable to discuss this issue.
KING: You brought up cost. What is the cost going to be?
DODD: In Iraq? Well, no one's prepared to really say here. No one really has said...
DODD: Well, I think you're certainly talking in the multiples of billions of dollars, and that's not an exaggeration, and depending how long you stay thereafter, we're talking five years, 10 years, whatever the duration may be.
I talked with senior member of the European Commission the other day who has suggested that their billion dollars contribution to Afghanistan will not be forthcoming in a place like Iraq -- that we'll probably have to bear this cost alone. You start looking at the overall budget situation here at home, we're now in excess of $400 billion in red ink each year. By the administration's estimates, that will be the case over the next 10 years. That number does not include the cost of the conflict or the cost of the winning the peace.
So it's going it be borne almost exclusively, unlike the Gulf War, which we only paid about 10 percent of.
KING: Is this a war, Bob -- is it going to be a walk in the park?
WOODWARD: No war is a walk in the park. And I served during Vietnam, and you learn that the unexpected always occurs.
The military thinks they have a good plan. We obviously have much more sophisticated weaponry. We have better intelligence. There is talk about two-week war, three-week war. But who knows?
And I -- you know, these discussions of cost in money, I think the real issue, and I think the issue that plagues the president and should plague everyone, is what is the human life cost? How many people are going to die? Not only on our side but inside Iraq?
KING: Do they make those estimates, Senator Warner?
KING: Eisenhower made estimates on V-Day, that -- how many Americans would die.
WARNER: Yes, but also, I remember very well, and you do too, Chris, on the floor of the Senate, when we were debating the 1991 resolution, there were estimates of tens and 15 and 20 of thousands of casualties in that operation, and fortunately we didn't suffer -- we suffered casualties but nowhere near that number.
Do you know these demands for this president to give us firm costs, duration of the war -- with no disrespect to President Clinton, you remember he said we'll only be in the Balkans, in particular Kosovo, for another year? And here it is eight years later we're still there.
Some body should ask also what are the costs if we don't do anything?
DODD: I remember the debate opposing him, by the way. Why the troops are there?
WARNER: My good friend, we saw the president give that estimate and it fell flat.
You know, what are the costs of inaction.
DODD: It's a simple enough question. The American people are going to pay for this. They'd like to have some idea. Don't tell me for a single second that the people at the Pentagon don't have some estimates here.
Now they don't want to share them , that's their business. But don't tell me they don't know. They do know. WARNER: Now wait a minute. We brought that up today in our hearing with the armed services secretaries. They're not -- they're -- how long do you think this operation is going to take?
DODD: Isn't it better to be level to the American public and say? What's wrong with telling the truth and saying this is what it's going to cost?
WOODWARD: Could I just break in here?
KING: Yes, Bob.
WOODWARD: In the midst of this lovefest -- that there is a certain partisan edginess here.
KING: You sense that?
KING: So do I.
WOODWARD: That is probably going wind up not serving anyone particularly well, particularly if we get into..
KING: But it's a reflection of the country, isn't it?
WOODWARD: It is, you know, I wonder where -- I, you know -- we're talking about human life here, and it seems to me that the question that interests me about Senator Warner is, is the military prepared? Are they fully equipped? Do you know they have a good plan? Are -- when the president says, specifically, are we going -- we're going to take account of Iraqi civilian lives?
WARNER: May I answer that?
WARNER: First, we had a hearing today. Those questions basically were asked. Ten days ago I was in the Gulf region with three other senators -- Senator Levin, Roberts and Rockefeller. The combinations of two leaders and authorization of the military and two in the intelligence. We asked those questions of all of our commanding officers there and we received good responses. They shared the plans with us.
I don't claim to be a military planner of any great expertise, but it carefully, methodically went through what they were going to do and they were conscious of the civilian collateral damages, let me tell you. KING: Let me get a break, and we'll be back with our final segment and more questions, get a phone call or two more right after this.
KING: Take another call, Stockholm, Sweden, hello.
CALLER: Good evening, gentlemen. My question is this, who will run Iraq, since your own experts have said the Iraqi opposition is humpty-dumpty. There are no structures in Iraq except the Saddam Hussein structure.
Will the American government introduce a new despot?
KING: Good question.
WARNER: It will be up to the people of Iraq to make that decision. Following the use of force if that becomes necessary, we would move in and the American military for a shorter period of time as possible, will keep a structure such that the people can be feed, there's some measure of law and order, and that the oil fires, which are likely to occur, can be put out. And to hold the nation together intact, and not let it fracture. But there will be an evolution, and the president said many times, we, the United States, do not want to run Iraq. Let the people of that nation decide for themselves.
KING: Any comment, Senator Dodd or Bob?
DODD: Well, just that I think there's a danger obviously and John said a brief period of time under military control. If you're trying again to attract international cooperation, that gets harder if that military presence is a governing presence remains for too long a period of time. You have to transition fairly quickly.
KING: Plattsburg, New York, hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry. My questions for the panel.
What is a bigger threat, going to war with Iraq or having Saddam Hussein sell biological or chemical weapons to terrorists that they could use on our own country? What's a bigger threat to them?
WOODWARD: President Bush repeatedly said the inaction is the big worry. In other words, if we don't take care of this problem.
KING: Do we know he sells this to others? Is that a fact?
WOODWARD: No. No, it's not. It is a hypothetical, and some people, some analysts think that he really is a control freak, and there's a lot of evidence of that in that he would not give up any of this stuff.
KING: Arlington, Virginia, hello. CALLER: Hello. Whatever happened to our constitution that says only Congress can declare war against head of state?
KING: Senator Warner.
WARNER: Boy, that's a good question. And I have to tell you the last time Congress declared war was World War II. And our military have been engaged in operations with loss of life and limb, many, many, many times.
KING: So, we've never had a war?
WARNER: Well, certainly the war in Vietnam.
KING: Was a war.
WARNER: A war in Korea. I was in Korea as a Marine for a brief period in the winter of '51, '52. That was war. Fifty thousand men...
KING: Killing people is a war.
WARNER: You bet. So, You're right, but we have not done it.
WOODWARD: Well, but the reason just -- I mean, it is a good question, is that the constitution makes the president the commander- in-chief, and particularly in a modern era, he can command the forces. So all the congress can do.
KING: Isn't that a contradiction, then?
WOODWARD: No, all the Congress can do is literally cut off funding, but he can employ, the president can employ the troops as he sees necessary.
WARNER: Share the burden of responsibility and accountability with the president, and the caller's quite correct.
KING: Meridian, Mississippi, hello?
CALLER: My question is why do the citizens of the world at large not understand what resolution 1441 means?
KING: Senator Dodd. Put it in another way why are so many disagreeing with us?
DODD: Well, I think they disagree monolithically in a unanimous vote. I think the question is not so much that they disagree with the resolution, but to the extent they feel there's a way of resolving this matter to use the president's word. He doesn't like war, it ought to be used to quote him, over and over again, "as a last resort here." And there are other ways this mattering resolved short of having to engage in combat. Can we solve this problem with out that?
It may not be at the end of the day. The question is are we going to exhaust those options, we're not anxious to do that. I'm not saying that's a correct view. I think the president by going back to the U.N. has made a very strong point, but that's the reason people are concerned.
KING: We have a minute and a a 1/2 left, are we going to war?
WOODWARD: It looks like that. And one of the headlines from what the president said tonight. And he repeated it, he said there will be regime change in Iraq. And that means the end of Saddam Hussein.
KING: Going to war, senator?
WARNER: We're in war right now, sacrifices are being...
KING: Are we going to war in Iraq?
WARNER: And It's just a question whether it intensifies, and that's up to Saddam Hussein to cooperate, and that's the only way.
KING: You're not going to predict?
WARNER: I said we're at war now. That's no prediction, that's a statement.
KING: Will there be military action in Iraq?
WARNER: This will war intensify? It's up to Iraq, not by Saddam's words but his actions to cooperate.
KING: Senator Dodd?
DODD: I'm fearful we are. And I certainly don't disagree we need to deal with this threat, but I join others who expressed a concern that we seem to be disregarding at least the available options to try and avoid that to means other than going to war. And I would hope that the president would do what he said this evening, he's going to give this a chance to put a resolution together to see if we can't get additional cooperation. Ultimately we may go to war. It looks like we are heading in that direction. But I think an awful lot of people hope we might exercise some patience here, listen to some wise counsel. The president might in fact invite all the former presidents to sit down and analyze this one more time about the best way to move.
KING: Thank you very much. Bob Woodward of the "Washington Post," the author of "Bush at War," which is also available at on audiotape. Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services. And Senator Chris Dodd of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
We'll be back in a minute to tell you about tomorrow night.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We'll be back again in Washington tomorrow, our special guest, the dean of the United States Senate, Robert Byrd.
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