CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Analysis of New Bush Speech
Aired March 17, 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: Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: With America on the brink of war, the president has just issued an ultimatum and a deadline to Saddam Hussein.
Now, instant reaction with Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee.
Christiane Amanpour in Kuwait.
Republican Senator John Kyl of Arizona, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.
Former Senator Warren Rudman, co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on National Security in the 21st Century. He warned the United States was vulnerable to terrorists and he did it before 9/11.
And former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Democrat of Maine, was a peace broker in Northern Ireland, led a fact-finding commission on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
All next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin with Senators Warner and Levin, both are in our Washington bureau. Senator Warner, Republican of Virginia, chair of Armed Services Committee.
Senator Levin, Democrat of Michigan, a member of that committee. Both met with the president this afternoon. What did he say to you, Senator Warner?
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), CHMN., ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: The president was calm. He was confident. He spoke great, just straightforwardly, looked us in the eye, went over the basic facts. He is right as he said, we have tried every possible means to make diplomacy work.
And now this last opportunity, where, again, the responsibility is where it belongs, it's on Iraq and Saddam Hussein to recognize the frightful things he's done to his own people, the threat he poses to the world and to give him these 48 hours to pick up with the immediate family and perhaps others and leave Iraq.
And then we would go in, as the president said, for the purpose of re-establishing a new government to hold the Iraqi nation together. And as soon as possible, depart.
KING: Senator Levin, you voted against the vote in October, the resolution authorizing the use of force. You were also at that meeting today. What are your thoughts?
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I offered an alternative in October which I thought was preferable and still do which was if the president did not achieve the Security Council approval, which he obviously has sought to achieve, that he then would come back to Congress before he proceeded without that Security Council approval.
The president has tried hard to get those nine votes. He has not succeeded. He now minimizes the importance of that. But I think we would be far, far better off if the world community acting through the Security Council gave us the explicit authority which the president has sought to achieve so hard in the last few weeks.
The risks are a lot greater and proceeding without that explicit authority. And now the president has decided end the diplomatic approach to set down this ultimatum. I hope Saddam Hussein complies with that ultimatum, of course. But if he doesn't, and it's unlikely that he will, it then, as it seems to me now, for those of us who have disagreed with the president's approach, ongoing without the Security Council authority with the second resolution, it's now, I believe, up to us to rally behind our troops.
That, they deserve, the men and women who we put in harm's way are there because of a democratic decision, whether I agree with it or not.
WARNER: Larry, if I may say we are going with the Security Council. We've had these 12 years now we've worked with the Security Council. We have 17 resolutions.
We have 1441 in which the entire unanimous Security Council, all 15 voted for it. So it's not that we're going it without the Security Council, we're going it with.
Now, the failure to get the last resolution was not owing to any lack of efforts by this president, but clearly France indicated that it was not going to hold Saddam Hussein accountable as 1441 requires and there was no other recourse than to take what action the president took tonight. LEVIN: It's far more than France. Many other members of the Security Council would not vote for it. It's obvious the president tried to get the nine, he could not. This is the key resolution that would have authorized military force.
KING: Senator Levin, are you saying, are you speaking for your fellow Democrats that they will be supporting the president and his action taken somewhere after 48 hours?
LEVIN: Well, I think -- I hope so. The men and women of our military are not just following orders of the commander in chief if they go to war. They are now implementing a decision of a democratically elected Congress. I did not agree with that decision to proceed unilaterally. I thought the president should come back to Congress if he did not this key U.N. resolution that he has sought.
But I was outvoted. And the majority, the majority spoke in both houses. And now the men and women in our military are not just implementing an order of a commander in chief. They are actually carrying out the democratic will of the Congress, whether we agree with it or in the majority or not.
KING: Go ahead.
WARNER: I want to -- my good friend here and I worked with him these many years on this committee, we're not going it alone. Great Britain is standing steadfast with us. Australia is standing. Nations are giving us overflight rights, port facilities.
The president tonight, in response to question by my good friend here, rattled off, I think, close to a dozen nations and he said there are many others that have joined us in this commitment.
LEVIN: And the contrast to the Gulf War is very sharp where we had not just a U.N. resolution supporting the use of force, but 28 nations providing military forces including Muslim nations. And none of the Muslim nations...
KING: This is now an after the fact debate. What's going to happen happens. Do you give any chance, Senator Warner that Saddam Hussein might leave?
WARNER: Well, I have to believe that our president would not have made this offer unless they were present somewhere some fact. But at least the president gave him the offer because the president put the responsibility where it belongs, Saddam Hussein's failure to cooperate as required by the United Nations unanimous 15 vote of the Security Council.
KING: We'll take a break and come back with more of Senators Warner and Levin. More senators to come, Christiane Amanpour as well. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. By the way, tomorrow night, one of guests will be the former prime minister of England, John Major. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Before the day of horror can come, before it is too late to act, this danger will be removed. The United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security. That duty falls to me as commander in chief by the oath I have sworn, by the oath I will keep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: By the way, if you missed it, immediately following the speech the terror alert has been raised again to orange. Senators Warner and Levin are our guest. In a speech to the American Federal (UNINTELLIGIBLE) County and Municipal today, Tom Daschle said the following. Watch it and I'll ask for Senator Warner to comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: I'm going the White House this afternoon. And I have a pretty good understanding, a pretty good idea of what I'm going to hear.
And I'm saddened. Saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country. But we will work. We will do all that we can to get through this crisis like we have gotten through so many.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What did you make of that Senator Warner?
WARNER: Well, Larry, I didn't see him at the meeting with the president.
KING: He didn't come?
WARNER: Not to my knowledge. I didn't see him in the room. I guess what came to my mind, having once had the opportunity to wear the uniform and be overseas is to how the families thought and how the troops who are poised and ready, how did they think?
And we received reports today that Saddam Hussein is moving his artillery and other weapons that could threaten our troops as they're staged in their positions, ready for the president's order. Those are the thoughts that went through my mind when I heard those words with a measure of disbelief.
KING: What you to make, Senator Levin, of the coming battle itself? Will it be swift? What kind of war are we awaiting?
LEVIN: We all hope it will be swift. And the other hand I think the military will be preparing for the much more difficult scenario, which is that -- particularly in the battle for Baghdad that it could be a very long, very difficult, and very bloody one. We are ready for that. We obviously hope that he would collapse. We hope he'll go into exile for that matter and do what the president urged him to do tonight.
But, if there is going to be a battle in Baghdad it could be a very difficult one and we should be prepared for that while praying for a much swifter outcome.
KING: Senator Warner, don't you wonder the odds are so stacked against them, why these people might not listen to President Bush and give it up?
WARNER: Well, Larry, part of the program that our government and other governments have been involved in the last 60 days is to give that very information to the people of Iraq, through dropped leaflets, Through broadcasts and otherwise.
But again it comes back to the absolute legitimacy of this dictatorship. One that has oppressed those people beyond the ability to even use good judgment. They feel that there is no way to reach out. It is a hopeless society. All the more reason that we've got go in and remove these weapons from Saddam Hussein.
KING: Senator Levin, the president did not firmly attack the U.N. tonight. He pointed out the differences, but certainly it wasn't some sort of an opposition to the body as a body.
What goes the future of the U.N. do you think?
LEVIN: Well, I hope that the u.n. Can be stronger as a body, somehow or other. I don't think it helps, frankly to invoke the Security Council resolutions as the president does as the basis for the military attack. And at the same time, ignore the obvious refusal of the Security Council to authorize this explicit military action. I don't think that strengthens the U.N. but the president has been authorized by the Congress to make this decision with or without the U.N. and he's done so.
Now and it seems to me it is incumbent on all of us to give all the support we possibly can to the men and women in our armed forces who deserve it, who are carrying out the missions that have been assigned to them by the commander in chief.
WARNER: Could I add, Larry, that the president specifically brought up the United Nations tonight in a very positive vain in saying that if force is required in the aftermath of the battle, he would turn to the United Nations. And seek their assistance in working through the myriad of problems that we all anticipate in the aftermath, the battle to reconstruct Iran. To allow that government to emerge as a voice of the citizens of that country, and to maintain the integrity of the borders. Furthermore, my own view, is that the United Nations today, in this point in history after these 50 plus years of its existence is more important than ever as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particular nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula, in Iran, that proliferation, this is the time for the U.N. To Stand strong and hold those nations that breach the international agreement accountable.
LEVIN: Kofi Annan, who is the secretary-general of the United Nations Security Council -- excuse me, the general assembly has pointed out, however, that if the Security Council does not authorize as requested military force that it will be more difficult for members of the Security Council and the general assembly to participate in the aftermath, because the military attack would have less credibility without that Security Council authority.
KING: Arlington, Virginia, let's take a call in for our two senators. Hello.
CALLER: Senator Warner, how are you?
CALLER: As a writer and counselor of veterans for the past 25 years, I want to commend you for standing by our president the way you have been. And my question is, with everyone going on the way it is and how everybody rallied to support him after 9/11 and now everybody -- there are so many that are not, is it not true that the very actions of our previous administration led to this exact type of problem that we're at today?
WARNER: Well, I think it is not time to try and get into partisan politics. There were times when we thought President Clinton, he initiated bombing in '98 but did not follow it up with the demand like our president got in the resolution 1441. He might have achieved that at that time. But the nation is behind our president. We expect some dissent and expressions to the contrary. But fortunately the nation stands firmly behind the men and women of the armed forces, its commander in chief, our president.
LEVIN: I don't think it does pay it look back too far because we have a big challenge ahead. Perhaps if one does want to look back, one would look to the failure of the first President Bush to finish the job back in 1991. But I agree with Senator Warner. I think rather than looking back here, trying to assign blame for how we got here, the blame belongs to Saddam Hussein.
The issue is how do you deal with him?
There is a number of alternative ways to deal with him. The president has chosen the military force at this time.
KING: Will there be a resolution of the Senate, Senator Levin, supporting the troops, do you think?
(CROSSTALK) LEVIN: I think will be such a resolution. And I think those who thought that proceeding this way is a mistake including myself, will first to vote for supporting our troops. I think it is important.
WARNER: I worked today with the majority leader on the drafting of that resolution. Senator Frist already initiated it. I presume he'll be consultation with others.
KING: OK, let me get a break. We'll have our two senators remain through the next segment and have Christiane Amanpour from Kuwait join us. Don't go away.
As we go to break, here is the president addressing the Iraqi people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: There will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors. No more poison factories. No more executions of dissidents. No more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining Senators Warner and Levin from Kuwait is Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent. Any immediate reaction to this historic 15-minute speech tonight, Christiane?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, way too late in the morning for there to be any immediate or official reaction. People basically either watched it on television or in their homes.
But certainly before this speech people knew that this was coming. They watched diplomacy collapse over the last couple of days. And here in Kuwait, perhaps, there is a sort of feeling, because they've been through Saddam Hussein's aggression before, they are not at all inpatient -- rather they are impatient and they want to see this wrapped up and see this threat removed.
But, of course, around the rest of this world, the Arab world, and, indeed, in many parts of Europe, the feelings are quite markedly different.
KING: Christiane, you know the region as well as anyone. What chance you to give of Saddam leaving?
AMANPOUR: I pretty much put that at zero. I mean, here I am saying zero, but, you know, we watched -- we watched almost these almost similar negotiations and ultimatums and deadlines and things during the buildup to the first Gulf War. He could have moved back a few kilometers out of Kuwait City, for instance, and perhaps avoided an invasion and he didn't do anything to avoid an invasion then. And even though the stakes obviously for Saddam Hussein and his regime are so much higher now, he's not the kind of leader who has shown -- who has shown he's willing to face the -- you know, the sharp realities when they're really confronting.
KING: In setting a time and setting 48 hours, does that tell you -- does your repertoirial instinct tell you something is going to happen Wednesday night?
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, all I can say is what happened the last time there was a deadline, 12 years ago. And it happened, you know, virtually hours after the deadline expired.
KING: I wonder if senators Warner or Levin have any questions for Christiane?
John Warner, do you have a question:
WARNER: Yes, I would say I agree with you, Larry, that Christiane is a very knowledgeable observer of that whole region and, in particular, Iraq and Saddam Hussein. What is the reason why he has not given any cooperation, really, to the inspectors and been forthcoming, given that he clearly has knowledge of the enormity of the forces in place? Why do you suppose he wishes to inflict this tragic potential damage to his nation and to his people?
AMANPOUR: Well, let me take it from the point of view who -- of people who do believe that he's actually moved.
For instance, the French president, Jacques Chirac, who, of course, is bearing the brunt of a lot of criticism for his position. He has said very clearly and many people feel this way, that it is because of this massive array of force here in Kuwait, mostly, that Saddam Hussein has moved as far as he's moved, which is not to say that he's completed the task by any means and which is not to say that he's given the kind of active cooperation that either the U.N. or the U.N. inspectors have demanded.
However, a lot more has been accomplished, according to the French president, the Russian president and other leaders around the world, than had been for the last several years. And they believe that there was time for it to continue and that the inspectors should have been given at least a slightly longer deadline before calling a halt to this kind of impasse.
As to why Saddam Hussein hasn't -- well, he has a history of taking it to the brink, in every recent incident that we've seen him in, whether it was the Iran-Iraq War, whether it was with the invasion of Kuwait. And now it appears that he believes and while one doesn't want to enter the realm of reading somebody's mind or, as many people call it, psychobabble, it appears that his actions demonstrate that he believes that he has his own version of victory, you know? He's been defeated in Iran. He was defeated after Kuwait. And he's likely to be -- very likely to be defeated again.
But he seems to want to turn that defeat into a sort of victory. At least to try to call it that, and to try to make himself somebody for standing up to the United States.
KING: Senator Levin, go ahead.
LEVIN: My question is this, I think most people believe that Saddam is more than anything else a survivalist, that he wants more than anything to survive. And that's his goal. Could he possibly have any idea of the vast military power that is about to attack Iraq and still be a survivalist? Is there any way he thinks he could survive militarily? Maybe he can create a legend for himself and maybe he is interested in going to heaven like some of the fundamentalists that he claims not to be like.
But he cannot survive militarily. How can he then be thought of as a survivalist, which many of us thought he was?
AMANPOUR: Well, that's precisely the kind of backward logic that he's been trying to peddle for all of these years. And I guess for him, survival certainly in the first Gulf War, if you remember, after the war ended, he portrayed himself as having won. Why? Because he was still alive and his regime was still in tact after such an enormous military coalition went to war against him.
Yes, he was defeated. Yes, he was thrown out of Iraq. But he did manage to portray it to himself as a victory. Now, very few people actually believed that it was a victory, perhaps only Saddam Hussein and his close regime.
But he, you know, has tried to sort of say that because I survived and because this massive military machine was a raid against me and didn't get me to leave, well then, here I still am. And I do think that certainly those who know of him and observed him closer than I have and have done much more study into Saddam Hussein believe that he believes that he is sort of an heir to the Great Allah-hadeen (ph), that he wants to survive and others have speculated that his war plan would be to draw the forces up to Baghdad and then hunker down. And portray -- perhaps may be it will be a siege. Who knows what will happen?
But if there is a siege of Baghdad and Saddam Hussein is somehow able to sort of stick it out for at least some period of time -- well, then in his mind, perhaps, he'll think that the legend grows. And certainly other analysts have said that what he's going try to do is draw the forces in, engage them in urban warfare and see whether he can beat them on his terms.
It doesn't seem likely, but that's what people think that -- that's what his plan is.
KING: Thank you, Christiane. Thank you, Senator John Warner, Senator Carl Levin and Christiane Amanpour. We'll be calling on all three of you in the nights ahead, be sure of it.
When we come back, an outstanding panel. Senators John Kyl, Governor Bill Richardson, former Senator Warren Rudman and former Senator George Mitchell. All of them next on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
LARRY KING, HOST: ... co-founder and chairman of the Concord Coalition, former chairman of the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, himself an Army veteran, and in Miami, George Mitchell, former Senate majority leader, Democrat of Maine, chairman of the El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee which gave President Bush recommendations for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, peace broker in Northern Ireland and a veteran of the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps.
First, let's get each of our panelists' reactions to tonight's speech. Senator Kyl, we'll start with you.
SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Thanks, Larry. I was impressed that the president was serious tonight and made that point known, that Saddam Hussein only had 48 hours left. And perhaps the most impressive thing was the message to the Iraqi people, that they had a choice. And the message to the family of Saddam Hussein and his generals, that they too had a choice, between the destruction of their country and casualties for their people or peacefully ending this so that we could disarm and give the Iraqi people an opportunity not only for economic freedom but also political freedom. All in all, I thought it a very, very effective speech.
KING: Governor Richardson, your reaction.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: I think the president made a good speech. I don't think diplomacy was our best weapon here. I regret how the U.N. issue turned out. But I think this is a time to close ranks, to support the commander in chief, support our troops, and I do want to commend the administration. We just received the briefing as a governor from Homeland Security Department about the potential threats to our state, and I think the contact with the states is very important, because there are a lot of very nervous people everywhere right now.
KING: And we're on orange alert, right? Back up to orange?
RICHARDSON: Right. Orange to yellow, which is pretty high, yes.
KING: All right, Warren Rudman, former senator, what did you make of the address tonight?
WARREN RUDMAN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, I think what has been said is accurate. It was direct; it was to the point. I think personally I was struck by his comments about our troops. You know, this is a very somber time. We can talk about diplomacy, whether this worked or didn't work. You know, hundreds of thousands of Americans and a lot of Iraqi civilians are about to be put in harm's way. That's a somber time for any president of the United States to take that step. And I was impressed by the way he handled that.
KING: And finally, Senator Mitchell, your thoughts?
GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: In past few days, Americans for the most part have come to accept the reality that war is imminent. They've already began the process of rallying around the commander in chief and the troops. This speech moved them further in that direction, and it will be complete when the shooting starts and the troops actually are under direct threat. Then I think Americans will, as they always have, keep with tradition and rally around the troops and support the American cause.
KING: You expect the resolution to be introduced in the Senate, to pass unanimously?
KING: Senator Kyl, what do you make of the possibility of Saddam leaving?
KYL: I think that's remote to the point of being nonexistent. Here is a man who right now is putting his own citizens in harm's way by actually deploying some of his weapons beneath hospitals and in schoolyards and putting artillery amongst the oil fields.
KING: You know this for a fact?
KYL: This is what our intelligence has told us just in the last few days -- just in the last couple of days. So this is a man who is likely to fight himself to the death and unfortunately take a lot of his citizens down with him.
KING: Governor Richardson, the president, as John Warner pointed out, was not very critical of the U.N. tonight. In fact, still spoke of its importance. Were you surprised?
RICHARDSON: No, I think the president is smart to do that, because we're going to need the U.N. after this war is over for reconstruction, for peacekeeping, for some kind of new alignment in the Persian Gulf. We need to rebuild our ties with the Arab world, and I think the U.N. -- and I do feel the U.N. did not act in its best way in enforcing Resolution 1441. I think they abdicated.
But we still need them. We still need the U.N. in areas and conflicts where we want to get others involved. On refugees, we're going need them in Iraq. On just bringing that country and that region back into some kind of focus. I don't want the American taxpayer to be struck with all of the bills, and I think the U.N. will be a vehicle to bring other nations and other entities in this effort.
KING: Warren Rudman, what do you think of the idea of an ultimatum in hours, 48 hours?
RUDMAN: I think it's an excellent idea. It is essentially what happened, as I recall, back in '91. It had to be made to notify a lot of people, innocent people, they'd better get out of Iraq and surrounding areas. I just want to just pick up on one thing that you and Bill Richardson were just talking about. It should be noted that 1441 had some pretty strong language in it, as did the two resolutions beforehand. Had the French not essentially shot down the British proposal, before they even had a chance to read it, my expectation is that those in the administration who were counseling more time, more diplomacy, might have prevailed. But when the French essentially said 48 hours ago we're not interested in any new proposal, it became apparent to me that the president had little choice, and I think that the deadline tonight was precisely the right thing to do.
KING: George Mitchell, why didn't the United States get Canada and Mexico on its side? Its two friendly neighbors on each border?
MITCHELL: Canada, Mexico, Chile, three African countries, France, Germany, Russia, China, a whole laundry list.
KING: But specifically Canada and Mexico, our two friendliest nations, aren't they, supposedly?
MITCHELL: Certainly our neighbors and historic friends, and will be in the future. I think the real question, Larry, is how do we now take steps to rebuild the North Atlantic Alliance, rebuild relations with Canada and Mexico and many other countries. And I think that will be possible because everyone involved will have a self-interest in a multinational effort in the reconstruction that follows the conflict.
U.S. and British military planners and intelligence officials are increasingly confident that the conflict itself will be relatively short and successful. The outcome cannot possibly be in doubt. We have by far the largest, most powerful military force in all of human history. Iraq is a relatively small country. It has been badly weakened by 10 years of sanctions, so no one can doubt the outcome. It is just a question of how long and at what cost.
After that, I think the real problems begin. We'll need others, as both Warren Rudman and Bill Richardson have said, and they will want to get back in the process. So I hope very much that there will be an effort to mend our alliances, not just Canada and Mexico, the North Atlantic Alliance, which has been the most successful political and military alliance in recent history and arguably all of human history, has to be rebuilt as well.
KING: We'll be right back with our panel, and we'll include some phone calls as well. And don't forget, John Major, the former prime minister of England, will be one of our guests tomorrow night. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: For the last four and a half months, the United States and our allies have worked within the Security Council to enforce that council's longstanding demands. Yet some permanent members of the Security Council have publicly announced they will veto any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq. These governments share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it.
Many nations, however, do have the resolve and fortitude to act against this threat to peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's include some phone calls and we begin with Tblisi, Georgia in Russia. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
KING: Yes, hello, go ahead.
CALLER: My question is, how the will the war with Iraq and aftermath will affect the U.S. economy?
KING: John Kyl?
KYL: I think the effect will be positive. You saw the stock market increase immediately today the -- on the news that we were going to be giving a notice to proceed.
And I think that once the uncertainty is over, the economy can settle down, get back to the fundamentals and begin to improve. There will also be more stability, I suspect, in the overall worldwide petroleum market. That will help our economy here by reducing the cost of oil.
KING: Everyone on the panel agree with that?
RICHARDSON: Larry, I disagree a little bit. My concern is one, I do hope the uncertainty ends now that we're proceeding. But I worry of excessive expenditures and its effects on the states. I hope Senator Kyl and members of the Congress recognize the states for homeland security for education, for Medicaid, we're hurting. Our budgets are hurting. And I just hope, you know, when we look at our priorities that after all Americans live out in the states that we're not forgotten. That's my only message.
KING: Charlotte, North Carolina, hello.
CALLER: Hi, yes. My question's for the panel is what steps are we taking to make sure that the hospitals are prepared or Homeland Security will make sure we have certain antidotes and different type of -- what is the word I want to say?
KING: OK, I got it.
Governor Richardson, you got the briefing today, how well are we prepared to meet the medical needs of a possible catastrophe?
RICHARDSON: Well, I believe the administration's done a good job in communicating with the states, on setting standards, especially in the public health area. We do need some resources for first responders, for police, for fire. I know the administration and the Congress just finished in their negotiations on those $3.2 billion that going to the states.
But we need them fast, Larry, because I worry in my state we have got four military bases, we have got two nuclear weapons labs and I just want us to be ready and we're not quite there yet.
Country Club Hills, Illinois, hello?
CALLER: It's a give than Americans will support the troops. I'd like to know from the panel why it appears the president is ignoring the protests of the people not only in the United States, but abroad as well?
KING: Warren Rudman, why?
RUDMAN: I don't think he's ignoring him. I think he disagrees with them.
You know, one of the prices of leadership is you have to do in the final analysis what you think is good for the country. And there is no question that President Bush is really spending a lot of political capital on this because a lot of people do disagree and this country we have a right to disagree.
But the fact is when you're the president, that only is going to react to people in the street demonstrating, you're on the first step to a very bad presidency. Presidents have to do what in their minds and their hearts and what their advisers all believe is right for the country. And many presidents have gone against -- with success and some with failure.
So I don't believe that he's ignoring them, but he disagrees with them.
KING: Odense, Denmark, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. I have a question for Mr. Warren Rudman. I want to know what he thinks the odds are of finding Saddam Hussein in two days when the U.S. troops enter Iraq.
KING: Good question.
RUDMAN: If I knew that, I'd go out to Las Vegas, Larry. I mean, I'm not an oddsmaker, but I would just simply say this: I think the chances are good that either he will be found or he will be essentially destroyed.
But really -- you know, let's not focus on that. What's fundamental here is to take the threat away from this country and the world of what that country is represented for the last really ten or 11 years. And once we're in there, whether we find him immediately or not or ever, if we reconstitute that government, destroy their capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction, then we will accomplish our mission.
KING: Moses Lake, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Yes, my question is if we do find Saddam Hussein, are we going to try to -- are they going to try to kill him or are they capture him? And if we do capture him then what do we do with him?
KING: George Mitchell, what's your answer to that?
MITCHELL: Well if he's captured, he will almost certainly be subject to trial for war crimes. That's been made clear already by the administration. I think that's widely expected.
In answer to the previous question, I think it's very likely that he will be captured or killed. I think the circumstances are quite different both in terms of the terrain and the nature of the person with those of Osama bin Laden.
I think it was much easier for bin Laden to conceal himself in the remote mountainous region that stretches between Pakistan and Afghanistan. That's not the same circumstance in Iraq and I think there Saddam Hussein has accumulated a long list of internal enemies who will only be too happy to participate in locating him.
I think the chances here are much greater that he will be located, either killed or captured and tried.
KING: Back with more after these words. Don't go away.
KING: We are watching now for those of you viewing us on CNN the Iraqi troops training for what is coming as the minutes tick away from the 48 hour deadline given tonight. That deadline would be at about 8:10 Eastern time Wednesday night.
Orem, Utah, hello.
CALLER: Hi. My question, I have two. When we first go in and do the bombing, I'm supposing, the first three days of bombing, what exactly are we bombing, and secondly -- are we going to bomb his palace? And secondly when the troops go in, they're looking for Saddam Hussein, will they knock on his door? Where is he going hide?
KING: Two good questions.
Jon, what are the bombs going?
KYL: I think the first thing is to try to decapitate Saddam Hussein from the rest of his forces. Destroy his command and communications structure so that he cannot issue any orders that can be followed by anyone, and to isolate Saddam Hussein. In other words, we're going basically go around him, take the rest of the country and worry about him later assuming we cut him off from any communication. The other thing will to be bomb all of his palaces and the other military infrastructure that could cause us damage. KING: What do troops do, Warren Rudman, what do the troops do?
RUDMAN: I want to add that they also, I'm sure, Jon would agree, go after all the other air defense facilities so we have total control of the air over Iraq. The next thing they will do, unless these Iraqi regular forces that are deployed outside of Baghdad wish to surrender, they will essentially eliminate the forces as effective forces. Then I believe the troops will come in, occupy Southern part of Iraq occupy the Northern part of Iraq should not be a terrible problem.
I think we'll be generally welcome by the Shiites in the south. The Kurds in the north. And then we'll come to the issue of Baghdad and whether or not that is still an opposition, if there is, how we deal with it. I do not anticipate this Department of Defense deciding to have a battle of Stalingrad in Baghdad. There are much better ways in modern warfare to treat with it and I expect we will.
KING: Scarborough, Ontario, hello.
CALLER: Hello. I have two questions for your panel tonight, Larry. Initially the first one is the following, I don't believe that the Hussein family has a safe haven if they decide to leave Baghdad. Where would they go? And secondly, I'm just wondering can we forecast a big change in the living conditions and so forth in the Middle East?
KING: Where will they go, George Mitchell?
MITCHELL: Well, several months ago the foreign minister of Qatar went to Baghdad for the purpose of trying to persuade Saddam Hussein to leave. And when he got through with his plea, Saddam Hussein refused and rudely asked him to leave. It would obviously be some country in the region where he might feel comfortable. But, Larry, I agree with those who say it is unlikely. One never knows, of course, you can't predict the future with certainty.
`He has not been out of the country for 12 years. Even before that he traveled little. One of the problems is that this is not -- although he's cunning, this is not a highly intellectual person. He achieved power through the use of force and the threat and use of terror. He's maintained it as a murderous tyrant and he has a huge disadvantage of not having a single person in the country who dares to tell him the truth. That makes it very hard to make rational decisions.
KING: Governor She asked about the people of Iraq. What are their living conditions going to be like after we bomb them out?
RICHARDSON: Well, clearly they'll be better. There has been no democracy in Iraq. Saddam Hussein has starved his people. He is somebody that is misused funds to build palaces. I think clearly we want to be part of an alternative there. I would hope that our first initiative is to get some -- some electoral process there or power sharing that brings more people in. I guess on one point I did want to make, my big fear is that Saddam Hussein use chemical and biological weapons. That's a nightmare for me on our troops. And I would like to just say to those troops from New Mexico, I want them to know we're thinking of them. As I governor, I saw many of them off, and I hope all our troops are protected and strong and know that we're supporting them.
KING: I have about a minute and a half, left. Jon, Senator Kyl, what's going to happen? When will it start?
KYL: One of the good news parts of this is Iraq has a potential to be a fairly wealthy country, Larry. It sit sits on a big oil reserve. Assuming that Saddam Hussein doesn't blow them all up, we can generate wealth from that country that can be used to help rebuild the country, provide the food and medicine to the people and let them get back on their feet economically. And then establish a rule of law and free speech and free press, pretty soon the elements for real representative government are there.
KING: Running close on time, Warren Rudman, what is going to happen?
RUDMAN: I think in terms of the military action, I think it will be decisive. I think it will have some nasty surprises. I hope not the ones that Bill Richardson mentions, just certainly a deep concern. I believe we will be welcome by many parts of the Iraqi population. Not by others. I do have great concern about the aftermath. I'm not as optimistic as my friend Jon Kyl of the eventual democratization of Iraq. But I think we have no choice but to try.
KING: George Mitchell, 20 seconds. How many -- a lot of American casualties or not?
MITCHELL: Well, I sure hope and pray not, Larry. Even a few would be a few too many. I don't think they will be large unless there is intense urban fighting in Baghdad. But I think the military action will be successful. We have especially trained and equipped troops. I think the real problems begin the day after the fighting stops. Then I think we have tremendous problems preparing the alliance, rebuilding Iraq and bringing peace to the Middle East.
KING: Thank you, all, very much. Senator Jon Kyl, Governor Bill Richardson, Warren Rudman and George Mitchell. I'll be back to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: The minutes are ticking away, aren't they?
Tomorrow night, one of our special guests will be the former prime minister of England John Major. John major, tomorrow night. We'll be with you for continuous coverage for the situation in Iraq.
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