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Interview With Panel of Former Senators on War With Iraq

Aired March 10, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, as America stands on the brink of war, a powerhouse lineup.
In Washington, fresh from his "60 Minutes" face-off with former President Clinton, Bob Dole, former Senate majority and Republican presidential candidate.

And former Republican Warren Rudman.

In Denver, former Democratic Senator Gary Hart.

In Cody, Wyoming, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson.

And in Havana, Cuba, where he's meeting with Fidel Castro, former senator and Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern.

And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We're going to spend the first two segments with our old friend Senator Bob Dole and then four former United States senators will be our panel for the rest of the hour. Senator Dole joins us from Washington with the discussions apparently delaying any vote past tomorrow. Does that make that 17th of March date out of the picture now?

ROBERT DOLE (R-KS), FORMER REPUBLICAN SENATOR: I don't know that it's out of the picture. I don't think it's going to happen on the 17th deadline. I think there will probably be some compromise.

I don't have any inside information, but it is pretty much like a negotiation in a Congressional committee. You've got 15 members of the committee and everybody is trying to negotiate to get a majority. And I think that's what is happening now and it may not be possible to do that by -- with a 17th -- a March 17 deadline.

KING: What do you think will happen if they keep working on the language and they get the votes and suppose then France and Russia veto? Will they go it alone?

DOLE: I think the important thing, if at all possible -- again, I'm not privy to any of this, maybe some of orbit senators -- former Senate colleagues will know, but I think it's important to get nine votes. I mean, some of these people are cynical. France, for example, voted for 1441 and we haven't seen any response, real response from Saddam Hussein and now they're going to -- they said they're going veto any more -- any other resolution.

But, again, Secretary Powell is doing a good job. President Bush is on the phone, going to be on the phone tomorrow. There is a lot of negotiations, horse trading going on, pretty much like Congress.

KING: Now, if they don't get the votes, Senator Dole, in your opinion, will this administration go it with the friends they have and kind of go it alone?

DOLE: I think they'll probably go it with what has been referred to as the willing majority. And the willing nations and, you know, they certainly outnumber France and Germany in Europe, for example.

My view is that it's up to Saddam Hussein. We can have either peace, or we'll have a war. And it's up to him. If he announces by the 17th or by the 24th, whatever date it might be, that he's going to disarm, and if Hans Blix reports to -- back to the U.N. Security Council accurately and doesn't leave out certain things like they discovered today, delivery systems for chemical and biological weapons and drones, then I think, you know -- Saddam Hussein can save the day, put it that way.

KING: What do you think of the competency of Blix?

DOLE: Well, I don't -- I think he's probably a very fine man but I can't -- we just can't let some international bureaucrat, whoever he may be, decide America's foreign policy and decide what's best for the United States of America.

The president has a constitutional obligation to protect America and protect the American people and he's made that very clear. I don't have any -- I never met Hans Blix. I think he is probably opposed to any war with Iraq. He's an inspector. He would like to keep on inspecting. After 12 years, I think sooner or later you to set some kind of a deadline and say, This is it, Saddam you can give the world peace by simply leaving. You don't have to hurt yourself, just leave.

KING: The governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, former ambassador to the U.N., said he thinks it would be -- and this is his quote -- "catastrophic" if the United States goes to the Security Council on this issue and loses the vote. He said we should put it off a week or two.

DOLE: Well, he's a -- you know, his judgment is pretty good. He's been at the U.N. he's a good person. I've known Bill for a long time. But, again, that's his judgment.

I think the president has to make the final judgment, after being advised by Secretary Powell and others in the administration, Condoleezza Rice and others who advise the president on foreign policy. But you know, sooner or later you to make some decision and if the U.N. decides that it's not going to happen, then the president has got a tougher decision, no question about it.

It would be much better -- everybody wanted him to goat U.N. Security Council, go Congress first, which he did, go to the Security Council, which he did, and now he's back to the Security Council again and I believe if they get some deadline, you'll see Saddam Hussein finding something else he didn't know he had, like chemical or biological weapons. I mean, this man is full of tricks and deception. And the president has to decide what do I do to protect the American people -- maybe not today maybe not for 30 days but six months or a year or two or three year years from now.

And what will be the cost of doing nothing? Everybody talking about the cost if we go to war. It will be very costly. We don't want to do it. It's a last resort. But the president of the United States, it has always been the case, Democrat or Republican, has to make that final judgment.

KING: What do you think, senator, and every -- despite the fact that everyone seems to think he's a despot, why are so many people, nations, others around the world opposed to this?

DOLE: I think there are some opposed to the United States, maybe to our foreign policy. We are the richest, most powerful nation on the face of the Earth. And I think if maybe a country like France, who, once a superpower, now sort of a diminished power, they look at the U.S. and they have a chance -- I don't say to get even, but to veto something they voted yes before on, Resolution 1441. But it's hard to tell.

I think a couple of days after the war, if there say war, the conflict starts and if it's ended very quickly and successfully, we're going to have a lot of friends around the world that have been silent the past few months.

KING: Is the -- has the administration, in your opinion, made its case well?

DOLE: I think quite well. I mean, there is still -- still a little weak on the link to al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, though today there were CIA reports there were more of these cells in Baghdad that they were preparing to tack American soldiers if there was a conflict.

But it hasn't been -- you know, it's hard to connect the dots. You have to -- it's a little stretch and if somehow that could be done, I think it might persuade some of these -- maybe one or two or three of the six countries that are still undecided and it might persuade more of the American people.

But the American people are going to support the armed forces, the young men and women who are in harm's way and the president of the United States when and if something happens. No doubt about it.

KING: President Carter, the Nobel laureate, wrote in Sunday's "New York Times" "It's quite possible," he said, "the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home." That make any sense?

DOLE: I think that would have made sense if it had been a private letter to President Bush, a former president expressing his views privately to a sitting president, I think, makes a lot of sense.

But for former presidents to sort of be out being, you know, trying to be presidents after the fact, I don't think it serves American foreign policy. But, again, that's a judgment that President Carter has made. And he's done this many, many times. You just go back and look over the past several years, he's always been second guessing the occupant of the White House.

KING: And you don't agree with that?

DOLE: Well, I think President Carter has been a fine -- been a model almost for an ex-president, all the good things he's done. But I think in this case, when a foreign policy is at stake and young men and women are over there, we got almost 200,000 now and another 60,000 on the way, he knows as well as anybody the record of Saddam Hussein over the past 12 years. But he said pretty much the same thing in 1990. And I think he's had said pretty much the same thing in Bosnia and Kosovo. So it's not -- President Carter is a man of peace. He thinks everything can be settled diplomatically. I wish he were correct.

KING: We'll be back with Senator Dole and take some calls for the senator and then meet four former United States senators, distinguished all, to continue our discussion.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back. Don't go away.



WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator, we're approaching a $400 billion deficit, and you're the one saying either, or. Either a victory in Iraq and tax cuts or homeland security, education, keeping Social Security and Medicare strong. Leadership is about choosing. So let's give up our tax cut.

DOLE: With all due respect, Mr. President, much of our current problems can be traced to the economic hangover of the '90s. The Bush tax cut has barely kicked in. But I'll tell you what, I'll gladly donate my tax cut to a worthy charity if you will. Maybe even to the Clinton Library.


KING: Cute, Bob, cute. That was from CBS's "60 Minutes" last night.

Are you enjoying this concept?

DOLE: Yes, it was the first time out. I think we did pretty well. We have to get more comfortable and maybe a little more edge. But, you know, I think with respect to each other, he's a very bright, articulate guy. We've known each other -- not close friends but we've known each other. We've been combatants you might say. We were opponents, never enemies, I guess that's the difference.

KING: You did this similar thing with Senator Kennedy on radio years ago, did you not?

DOLE: I did. Years ago. And Al Simpson, your next guest, followed me.

KING: I remember it well.

DOLE: Yes, we did it for years.

KING: From mutual radio in Westward 1.

DOLE: That's right. Anyway, we're going to get better each time.

KING: Let's take some calls.

Eljay, Georgia for Senator Dole.

CALLER: Senator Dole, with the economy and the stock market down, because of the war worries, don't we need the Bush tax cuts to energize both the economy and the stock market, sir?

DOLE: I think we do. We also need some certainty about the Iraqi war. I think one reason today the stock market is down 172 points, it's -- the Nasdaq is down 75 percent from its high just a couple of years ago, and a lot of this is brought about the uncertainty.

Are we going to do it or not going to do it?

When are we going do it?

I mean, the stock market likes certainty. We also need a stimulus. The best way to get that is move up the tax cuts that were passed last year and get what you can for the dividend proposal by President Bush and get it done very quickly so the taxpayers with start to feel that, get the money back and spend it and energize the economy.

KING: Cote Saint Luc, Quebec, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. I have an excellent question for the senator.

What will be President Bush's plans following a post war with Iraq?

DOLE: I hope it is not -- we don't have any plans of occupying Iraq. Obviously, it would be somewhat in charge, the United States, I assume militarily for a while. But then as quickly as possible, turn it over to the opposition forces and that's what they're working on now. I think there is plan -- I don't -- I'm not privy to the plans but we're not going to be an army of occupation of Iraq.

KING: Phoenix, Arizona, for Senator Bob Dole, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Thanks for taking my call.

My question is we -- we know that Saddam Hussein is a dictator, and that he has terrorized his own people, but as we all know most of the September 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Most of the people who were trained they were from Taliban who are Pakistani based militants. Why do we have double standards when it comes countries like Pakistan and Iran which are nuclear powers, Islamic nations. Whereas we have a different standard when it comes to Iraq which is clearly not a nuclear country.

Why do we have a double standard in our foreign policy?

Thank you.

DOLE: Well -- thank you very much. I don't think we have a double standard. I mean Saudi Arabia didn't invade another country as Iraq did when it invaded Kuwait. And they did kill his own people, maybe a million, who knows how many. Even some of his own family as Saddam Hussein has done. But I don't suggest we just turn our blind eye to Saudi Arabia or to Pakistan or to any place else. The president has been talking about more democracies in that part of the world. It is not going to be easy. It is going to take a long, long time. But, I don't disagree with the caller, we can't have a double standard.

KING: Cottonwood, Arizona, for Senator Bob Dole. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. This is from Cottonwood, Arizona.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: And I'm calling to ask why we are not able to exercise our first amendment right which to disagree with the president?

And we've always been able to in our lifetime to ask why we have to have this war. And now we seem to be criticized.

KING: No one is questioning that. I think, Bob, a fair question would be why are they being called traitors or calling them the wackos?

DOLE: They shouldn't be called traitors or anything else. I mean, I think people have a perfect -- the caller has a first amendment right. I have a first amendment right. My comment was directed at the former president. I think they have first amendment rights but they have to be pretty careful.

But the average person in America can do anything lawfully they wish to do. Nobody is saying you can't go out and demonstrate or have a parade or do anything you wish. But other people have rights, too. Those who -- nobody is for a war. Let's make that clear at the outset. Others may have questions about the president's handling of the war, but we all agree on first amendment rights.

KING: Senator, honestly, is the war a foregone conclusion?

DOLE: I hope not. I don't -- I haven't reached that point yet. I think it is probably, what, 60/40 and maybe moving up a percent or two each day. It is probably going to depend somewhat on what happens in the Security Council what the vote finally is. Whether there is some compromise or whether there's some new deadlines imposed on Saddam Hussein that he can't escape. But this guy is an escape artist. I mean, he's been doing this for 12 years. And it is going to be pretty tough to nail him down. I still wish he would decide to take a long, long vacation. And maybe go to Havana or somewhere.

KING: Where we'll be going...

DOLE: Maybe Senator McGovern can make a reservation for him there at the Holiday Inn.

KING: Is there a Holiday Inn?

Thank you so much, Senator Dole. Always good speaking with you.

DOLE: Thank you.

KING: Senator Bob Dole, the former presidential candidate of his party and the former majority leader of the United States Senate, Republican of Kansas.

When we come back for distinguished former Senators, Rudman, Hart, Simpson, and McGovern. They'll be taking your call too, don't go away.


KING: We've got a real powerhouse panel for you now the rest of the way. Four distinguished former members of the U.S. Senate. In Washington, Warren Rudman, Republican of New Hampshire, former member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, also known as the Hart-Rudman Commission. Founding co-chair of the Concord Coalition.

In Denver is Gary Hart, former U.S. senator, Democrat from Colorado, presidential candidate in '84 and '88. His presidential cycles then, exploring another run now, co-chair of the U.S. Commission on National Security and the co-chair with Mr. Rudman.

In Cody, Wyoming is Alan Simpson, former senator, Republican of Wyoming, served in the U.S. Senate from '78 to '97, and 10 of those years as party whip. And in Havana, Cuba, George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, former U.S. senator from South Dakota.

First quickly, Senator McGovern, what are you doing in Havana?

GEORGE MCGOVERN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, I came here as the guest of 100 American pharmacists. They were organized by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, one of the great pharmacy colleges in this country. And we're comparing notes with some of the Cuban scientists and medical researchers on some of the breakthroughs that have occurred here with regard to the treatment of cancer, the vaccinations for hepatitis, meningitis and other illnesses.

KING: Really?

MCGOVERN: One of the reasons I favor more open relations with Cuba is that I think we need to share these ideas as well as have an exchange and visitors both ways.

KING: Did you meet with Mr. Castro?

MCGOVERN: I met with Mr. Castro tonight, along with a dozen other members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats. We had a very good discussion, focused largely on these issues of how to improve relations between the two countries.

KING: Senator Rudman, let's start with you. Has the president made his case to go to Iraq?

WARREN RUDMAN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Larry, I agree with what the president is going to do, or it appears that way. But I must say that I think the case could have been made in a better way. Bob Dole referred to it. Whether or not the al Qaeda connection exists, it has not really resonated around the world. The statement that Iraq is an imminent threat probably doesn't really make it.

But the case is quite simply stated. Saddam Hussein for the last 10 or 12 years has been attempting in every way that he can to build weapons of mass destruction. His reasoning is quite obvious. He wants to dominate the Middle East. He has a lot of scores he would like to settle. And allowed to continue, without some sort of regime change or total disarmament, this man will come back to haunt all of us.

The president has taken on a decision which I think is politically very risky and quite courageous. I believe that if we don't move now, or something doesn't give in the next two weeks, we will live to pay for it in the Middle East and here.

KING: Senator Hart, what do you think of what Senator Rudman, your friend, just said?

GARY HART, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, I've listened to everything the president has said, and I'm more confused now than ever before. If, in fact, we are -- the justification for a military invasion is to carry out U.N. sanctions, apparently the U.N. doesn't want us to do that. If, in fact, Iraq on the other hand represents an immediate and unavoidable threat to us, we don't need U.N. approval.

What I think -- where I think we got caught was we're trying to get the U.N. to support us in the unilateral action that the president -- where the president believes Iraq represents a threat to the United States that is imminent and unavoidable, and the world simply doesn't believe it. And further, as I've said, the president has not leveled with the American people about the costs in dollar terms, but particularly in human lives that this -- this adventure might involve.

And until he does, the American people can't make a judgment as to whether they want their military committed in this cause.

KING: Senator Simpson, what do you think?

ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, of course, these are wonderful colleagues with great ideas. The commander-in-chief of the military will decide what the cause is. It won't be the American people. It will be the commander-in-chief, the president of the United States.

I think there isn't a single American that isn't deeply troubled about all this, deeply troubled. We don't know what we think. One day we're -- we're let's go, let's get the bozo out of here. The next time we think, wait a minute, let them do some more inspecting.

I think Bob Dole is correct. It was splendid being his assistant for 10 years and to work with Warren and Gary, and we did closely on issues. But I think he's right. I don't think that deadline of March 17 is going to be it, you know, when the balloon goes up. I think they're going to still be talking. It's like a conference committee, or when the leader comes in and says, you're going to finish this by this time at midnight, and then you put together -- cobble together would be the word or cabbage together -- a result. I think they'll get to that without war. I still believe that.

KING: I know you do. Senator McGovern, do you think it's avoidable?

MCGOVERN: Well, I hope so. I want to make clear right at the outset that those of us who oppose an American invasion of Iraq do so because we are patriots. We're vitally interested in the well-being of this country. And we're interested in that -- in our servicemen so that we don't want to sacrifice them needlessly in a war against a country that has done us no harm.

I have the feeling that if we press an American Army into Iraq at this time, we're going to set off a wave for years to come of increased terrorist attacks against the United States, something like what is going on between the Israelis and the Palestinians today. Senator Rudman and Senator Hart did the country a great service in warning against the terrorist dangers that hit us at the World Trade Center. But if we want to reduce that terrorism against the United States, let's not, for goodness sakes, drop an American Army into that Middle East tinder box that will set off convulsions from one end of the Middle East to the other.

KING: Let me get a break. Hold it, senator. I've got to get a break. We'll come back. Stay with us for another full half hour. We'll be taking calls for this distinguished panel.

Tomorrow night, Christian clergymen debate war in Iraq. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with our panel. Have an individual question for each member and then we'll go to phone calls.

Senator Rudman, do you think with the vote being delayed past tomorrow and more discussions going on that the date of March 17 is now out the door?

RUDMAN: Oh, I absolutely believe that. And I believe the key issue, which Bob Dole alluded to, is simply whether or not enough pressure internally within Iraq will be brought against Saddam Hussein to make some change in his policy or to abdicate. I don't think that's likely.

There's no question in my mind that if we don't have some action in the next ten days, that is really different from the hide and seek game he's been playing, unfortunately and with great reluctance I would have to think that we will commit forces.

KING: Senator Hart, what will be the deciding point on whether you run or not? In other words, what will make up your mind?

HART: Well, I think we better settle the problem of the war first before we get to politics.

Let me just take issue with something Bob Dole said and that is that we'll be out of there quickly. That's not what the president said in the speech last week at the American Enterprise Institute. He talked about long-term American involvement in the region to bring democracy to the Arab world, in this case, at the point of a bayonet.

If that is in fact our foreign policy, we're going to be there 50 years or more. And as Senator McGovern said, we're going to stir up a hornet's nest and this country is not ready to prepared to deal with that level of terrorist attack.

KING: Senator Simpson, why do you continue to be fairly certain that there's not going to be a war?

SIMPSON: I have my own deep gut reaction to the fact that this guy knows -- he's watching you right now. He's read everything in "USA Today" and everything in "The Economist", everything in "TIME," where everything is deployed. He knows where the armored infantry is, he knows where the mechanized infantry -- he knows everything.

And I think as time comes right up to the final end, he knows that this trip, they're going rout him out like a hog, they're just going to rout him out wherever he is. And they're going to take him out. And he has his chance.

The only chance he has so enjoy the good life with all his stolen bucks and all the little pleasures of life he enjoys is to get out of there and get up to Algeria or Libya or maybe Havana, I don't know, the whole works. But he is too selfish, too imperious, too spoiled, too pandered to know that he's just going to die in the rubble like Adolf Hitler.

KING: Let's go some calls. Spokane, Washington, hello.

CALLER: yes, my question to the panel is why do we need a first strike on Iraq now when we have him contained in a box with inspectors and what are the real reasons for this other than George W. Bush's revenge?

KING: Senator McGovern, do you agree that he's in a box and you don't need to strike?

MCGOVERN: I think he was put back in his box ten years ago by the senior President Bush. So far as I know, he hasn't stuck so much of his big toes beyond the borders of Iraq since then.

I don't buy this line that Saddam Hussein, a miserable, obnoxious character, actually a little tin horn dictator is the great threat to the survival of the United States. He would have to be totally insane to use weapons of mass destruction against the United States, the most powerful nuclear nation in all the history of the globe.

One of the things that worries me about this thought of going to war in Iraq is that just about the whole world is against us. We've got Tony Blair, we've got a few other political leaders in Spain and Italy and elsewhere.

But all the polls in every one of those countries show that the overwhelming majority of the people in those countries oppose an American invasion of Iraq.

KING: I asked Senator Dole that. Senator Rudman, why do you think Warren, that the world if we poll the world, it is against it?

RUDMAN: Well, as I said earlier, with all due respect, and it is a hard case, the administration, I believe, has not made the case that they should have made. And with all due respect to my friend George McGovern, anyone who's looked at U.S. intelligence in the last 10 or 12 years will tell you this man has been working overtime to build weapons of mass destruction for use certainly in the Middle East or to deal with terrorists.

They are great supporters of Hamas, Islamic Jihad. And these are dangerous people if you turn them loose with weapons of mass destruction. So I happen to believe that the bottom line is that unless we are satisfied, that there is an absence of those weapons and their production, we're unfortunately going to have to go to war.

And let me say, and I have great respect for George McGovern and his extraordinary record in World War II. I served in the infantry in Korea, I am very, very reluctant to put American forces in harm's way. But unfortunately, if this nation and the Middle East is to remain strong and free and free of terrorism, we cannot let this man continue to do what he's doing.

I do not believe he's been contained. I believe he's been ignored for the last several years.

KING: Glendale, Arizona, hello? MCGOVERN: Larry, could I comment on that?

KING: All right, hold on, Glendale. Go ahead, Senator. Yes. Go ahead.

MCGOVERN: I just wanted to say that to my friend Warren Rudman, Larry, that the only way I can see that Iraq would be reckless enough to use weapons of mass destruction against us, if they had those weapons, is if we were to invade. Certainly they're not going start a war, chemical, biological or nuclear within the United States unless we provoke them to it by invading the country.

I'm convinced that the one danger of these weapons of mass destruction, if the administration is right and if Senator Rudman is right, that they have those weapons, why do we want to put young American soldiers across that border into their country to be the first victims of poison gas...


KING: Glendale, go ahead.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry. Yes, gentlemen, regarding these biological weapons. If the United States bombs Iraq, is the world going look upon the fact that what happens if the U.S. bombs a nuclear or biochemical facility and the reactions to it?

KING: Senator Hart, do you fear that?

HART: I think, yes. If we detonate a major explosive including one of the new devices that borrows under the ground and vaporize a biological or chemical dump, a lot of civilians are going to be killed and I gather that's part of our strategy.

By the way there is also another alternative. I know a lot of people say if we don't invade, then we're just going leave him alone. That's not the alternative. If the United States were to seek U.N. and international support for a declaration that we will have a uniform fly-zone over Iraq or an Iraqi no-fly zone nationwide, triple the inspectors, accompany them with U.N. troops, we can shut him down and nobody needs to lose their lives.

So there is an active -- proactive alternative to invasion.

KING: We'll be back with more calls for our distinguished panel right after this.


KING: Greenville, South Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.

KING: Yes, hi.

CALLER: And hello to your distinguished panel. I was wondering, where is Vice President Dick Cheney and why isn't he more visible during this time of crisis?

KING: Do we know -- Warren, do we why we don't see more of the vice president?

RUDMAN: I think the administration has made it quite clear that the point people on this will be the president, Colin Powell, and, I guess, Secretary Rumsfeld. I think the vice president, his own preference is to be more invisible, if you will. I think that's his preference.

KING: Irbil, Iraq is our next caller, hello.

CALLER: Good morning, gentlemen. We are on satellite. Thank you for the company to connect us.

KING: Go ahead. What's the question?

CALLER: A statement from the Iraqi people and also a question. We salute the U.S. We welcome the U.S. intervention. We are pleased -- we -- freedom calls upon you. We have only the Americans to let them know that they can deliver us from the tyranny we have been living under.

The question, gentlemen -- recently the president has asked us to dig trenches. One out of two houses as they are digging, oil started seeping into our gardens. When the American come in and help us, is this oil belong to us, the owners of the house or who?

KING: Good question.

Senator Simpson, they're finding oil, digging trenches. Who does it belong to?

SIMPSON: Well, I thought Colin Powell handled that several weeks ago when he said that if we go, that we will hold the oil in trust for the Iraqi people. I didn't see a lot of play on that one, but that's what Colin said.

And I think that's exactly what they should do -- to use it for reconstruction, use it for as they move forward to rehabilitate their country. There isn't any question about the fact that all of the detractors say this isn't about anything but oil. That is not the truth. This guy is cooking a chemical cocktail, he's been doing it for 12 years, and I happen to see him personally and know that.

KING: Are you surprised, Senator Simpson, to hear a caller from Iraq asking for intervention?

SIMPSON: Yes, I was rather surprising to me and I wonder if they've pinpointed him. I wonder if you go back, see if he's still there.

KING: Minneapolis, hello.

SIMPSON: Any way, yes, very surprised.

KING: Yes, I was surprised. Minneapolis, hello.

CALLER: Thank you, Larry, for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: My question is, Hans Blix in his report last week said that -- in a statement they're making some progress. My question to the panel is I just don't understand why the U.S. is not willing to give more time because that's what they asked for.

KING: Why not, Senator Rudman?

RUDMAN: If you believe that Saddam Hussein is trustworthy, and will come forward truthfully with the inspectors, then Dr. Blix is correct. I think most of white house have studied this situation over the years recognize that he is playing a game of hide-and-seek. He uses every thing to his advantage. He's a master of deception.

There is no doubt in my mind he has not given a satisfactory explanation for all of the VX gas that we knew he had, all of the biological agents that we knew he had, and there is no way that inspectors in a country the size of California are going find those, and what he is counting on is our running out of steam, enough opposition in the United States that we back off, and let three or four years go by and it will be business as usual.

Let me say one other thing to my friend George McGovern. I'm not worried about Iraq launching a weapon against the United States. I am worried about the Iraqis giving these types of agents to terrorists who can deliver these agents here by surreptitious means. We saw what happened on 9/11. Far worse can happen here. And I think the president is right on in saying he goes or they're disarmed or both.

KING: Burnsville, Minnesota, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Hi. Thank you, Larry....


CALLER: ...for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: If we are the people of Iraq asking the United States or the president of the United States for help, why should we wait for another resolution? Why we don't -- if we are the people of Iraq asking the United States to help us, why should we wait for another resolution?

KING: Senator Hart, you understand that?

HART: Well, I do.

It asks -- it really asks a broader question and that is if the United States -- is the United States in the business of liberating people in the world? And if we are, then there are a lot more countries after Iraq that would love to be liberated. It simply means if there is -- I suppose the question is, if a significant number of people in a country don't like their government or are repressed and appeal to the United States to liberate them, should we go do that?

KING: Yes.

CALLER: And I would guess that the majority of Americans would say no, as appealing as that proposition is.

KING: Bochum, Germany, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

Senator Rudman, how can you credibly claim that Iraq has been building up its weapons program over the last 12 years and use that as justification for war when we've had them under such tight surveillance with the no-fly zones the entire time. Thank you.

RUDMAN: Well, the fact is that your caller may be well intentioned, but the bottom line is that aerial reconnaissance is totally inadequate to determine what's going on in underground facilities, which they have, and which we know they have been building all sorts of weapons and have been trying to build nuclear weapons, probably without much success but not lack of trying.

We have not, in fact, had inspectors in that country now for roughly six years. We haven't the foggiest notion of what is actually going on in some of those places.

KING: Then how do we know they have them? If the air reconnaissance doesn't work and we haven't been there in all this time, how do we know?

RUDMAN: You know, Larry, I'm not going to get into the information that I'm aware of, having been in the intelligence work for this country over the last 12 years. I will make this simple statement. I believe there is hard, credible evidence from defectors and others of many things going on that the administration, for whatever reason, good reason, has been unwilling to share and I understand they're unwilling.

KING: I don't think any one Senator Rudman's word. Go ahead, Senator Hart.

HART: We know North Korea has nuclear weapons. We know that Iran, that held some of our people hostage for quite a long time, either has them or will get them. Both these countries are in the axis of evil and yet no one that I know of is advocating invasion of these countries.

And by the way, I suppose a lot of people in Iran and in North Korea would like to be free of their dictatorship government. So why are we behaving differently in these countries?

RUDMAN: Well, Gary, if I can respond to you. I think that's precisely the point. I think it's gone so far in North Korea that we now know what nuclear blackmail is all about.

The truth is that military action against the North Koreans, who probably possess several deliverable nuclear weapons, is almost unthinkable at this particular point. That is the problem.

HART: Would you have advocated it several years ago when they were developing those weapons?

RUDMAN: I might well have.

KING: All right. Let me get a break and we'll be back with our remaining moments. We invite -- we're going to have this panel on a lot.

Don't go away.


KING: Grand Ledge, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. This is to -- I would like to know what is his opinion on the American people being advised of Saddam's buildup of chemical weapons.

KING: What do you mean being advised?

CALLER: Well, should we all be advised of everything the government knows?

KING: What should we know, Senator Simpson?

What is the public entitled to know before we go to war?

SIMPSON: Well, this gray haired old cat here, 71, and I remember during the second World War, the issue was loose lips sink ships. You were told to keep your mouth zipped. Churchill was right, he said, you know, it is great to have this communication, but not in the time of war. There are things they're not going to share with the American people and don't throw anything out there in America. You have to come down to something called trust. And I know we have had presidents who said trust me and it didn't seem to go.

But this administration with what happened after September 11 and everything up until now we have had an element of trust. And when you have Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and Rumsfeld and my old pal Dick Cheney, you're not dealing with a bunch of lying scamps that just love war. Now, that's not the way it is and anybody that is dreaming that way is missing the whole point. I don't know how much they're going to show, if they showed it all, that cat would have it all solved in 12 hours. You can't share it with him. He's watching everything we do.

KING: Senator McGovern, do you trust the administration?

MCGOVERN: I disagree with their judgments. I think they're good, decent people but I disagree strongly with their judgments. KING: OK.

MCGOVERN: We wouldn't even be having this discussion tonight, Larry, if it were not for the trauma of the 9/11 tragedy. The president said after that tragedy, I want Osama bin Laden dead or alive. When our forces couldn't find Osama bin Laden, the president discovered a scapegoat, Saddam Hussein and Iraq. But I think what we're doing now is fighting the wrong war against the wrong enemy in the wrong country.

Gary Hart made a very important point here a while ago, that those of us who oppose this war are not saying do nothing about Saddam Hussein. We're saying keep those American surveillance planes flying every day over Iraq. We're saying keep the U.N. monitors in there. For 50 years the United States contained the Soviet Union, a country that had enough nuclear power to pulverize everybody on earth. If we can contain the Soviet Union with all that nuclear power, for half a century, don't you think we could figure out with the help of the rest of the world how to contain a little country like Iraq?

KING: One more call and have Rudman respond to

that. Notasulga, Alabama, hello.

CALLER: Thank you, Larry. They keep referring to an invasion of Iraq. And that absolutely is the only thing American should cross into the border of Iraq should be missiles.

I want to ask the panel, including you, Larry, if there is an invasion and there are people lost, what would be an acceptable kill ratio if the Americans killed were your child or grandchild?

KING: Senator Rudman, you better handle that.

RUDMAN: The bottom line is that anyone who has known people or seen people killed in combat, zero is acceptable. But the fact is that in any war you fight, you're going to lose people. There is no number that is acceptable to anyone, but the bottom line is...

KING: He said just use missiles? Why use...

RUDMAN: Because missiles won't do it by themselves. In this particular case, you need to be on the ground. And let me respond to George McGovern's last point. You know, George, containing the Soviet Union with both of us being able to wipe out the other, assured mutual destruction if you will, was a pretty good policy and it worked. Unfortunately it doesn't work against terrorism.

It doesn't work against chemical and biological weapons which are easily transportable. That is the central issue that is the difference here. The president has made a decision that Saddam Hussein is an enormous threat to the region and to the world. I happen to agree with him. I hope it can be decided short of armed conflict, but if it is armed conflict, then the world will be better for it when it is over.

HART: I could comment on the question.

KING: Quickly, Gary, the will be the last comment. Go ahead, about 30 seconds.

HART: Most Americans who support this war think it will be quick and bloodless. If the Republican Guard fights in the cities, we will lose American lives, possibly in large numbers. And we will kill a lot of civilian Iraqis. I pray that does not happen. And that does not have to be our policy.

KING: We'll be doing lots more on this and we thank our distinguished panel. They are Senator Warren Rudman, former U.S. senator from New Hampshire, Gary Hart, former U.S. senator from Colorado, Alan Simpson, former U.S. senator from Wyoming, and George McGovern, former U.S. senator from South Dakota and former Democratic presidential nominee and earlier the Republican standard (UNINTELLIGIBLE) formerly of his party, Senator Robert Dole.

We'll tell you about tomorrow night after this don't go away.


KING: Since everybody and his brother with debating war in Iraq, tomorrow night we'll have four prominent members of the Christian clergy go at it. Opposed and in favor. Christian clergymen discuss Iraq tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.


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