CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Familes of POWs, Politicians, Analysts Discuss War in Iraq
Aired March 24, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: With CNN's continuing coverage of the war, the number of American soldiers known to be held prisoner by Iraq has climbed to seven, including one woman. And tonight we'll talk with mothers and families of some of those American POWs, with Senator John McCain, a POW himself, in the Vietnam War, and with a courageous woman who survived being an Iraqi prisoner in the '91 Gulf War.
And of course, we'll also hear from reporters all over the front lines. We'll start right there with Nic Robertson in Amman, Jordan. Amman has a very interesting place in all of this. Nic, what can you tell us? What's going on tonight from that vantage point?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, from here there's been speculation recently, of course, that Amman might become some sort of staging point for a lot of U.S. troops trying to not only get into western Iraq, but also into the north of Iraq. That's not the case, says Jordan's prime minister and foreign minister.
But the real, perhaps, news from here today is from our standpoint is watching what's happening in Baghdad.
And yet another day where Iraqi officials have come out to say President Saddam Hussein is still in power. And the reason they're so forceful in this message is because every time President Saddam Hussein appears on television, in the west, there is speculation about when it was recorded, is it really him, is he really alive, is he injured?
And the message coming from Iraqi officials, again, and this isn't just for international consumption, it is very much for domestic consumption, and that is President Saddam Hussein is still in control of Iraq -- Larry.
KING: Nic, you've covered lots of war, lots of activities. Is there always, always friendly fire incidents? And if so, are they preventable?
ROBERTSON: There always does seem to be friendly fire incidents and every incident will no doubt be scrutinized and analyzed to find out how it can be avoided next time.
But with so many people moving forward so quickly, so many different activities going on, it does appear to be almost inevitable that people will get caught up who shouldn't be caught up and who get shot at when they shouldn't be shot at.
So I'm sure there will be a lot of analysis but it does seem to be a factor in modern warfare.
KING: Thank you, Nic Robertson in Amman.
Let's go to Frank Buckley, embedded with the United States Navy aboard the USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf. He has filed a report using home video shot by the pilot and co-pilot of an F-15 Tomcat during the first night of air strikes.
Frank, what's the situation where you are?
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, just to pick up on a point you were discussing with Nic there regarding collateral damage, the military calls it, civilian casualties as we would call it, you know, when you talk to the people on this aircraft carrier and probably in the Air Force as well, they will tell you that they are doing everything possible to limit those civilian casualties with this precision bombing, with the laser-guided bombing, the GPS-guided bombing.
We were talking to the deputy air wing commander on this aircraft carrier yesterday about the fact that they can even set the fuses to the point that when a munition, a bomb goes through a building, it can try to set it off at a certain floor of the building. The analogy they used was if you want to go after the boss, you can hit the boss' office instead of hitting the secretary's office.
They're doing a great deal from their point of view to try to limit those civilian casualties.
Meanwhile, the flight operations are continuing off this aircraft carrier and the four others in the region. That is keeping the Navy air assets over Iraq pretty much 24 hours a day, various flight aircraft.
And they're increasingly being used for close air support, that is they're coming in to help the troops on the ground, trying to hit the tanks and artillery pieces ahead of those troops on the ground.
It will become a challenge if and when the coalition troops get into Baghdad, when you have problems of being able to see clearly the targets and on that issue of collateral damage for civilian casualties, trying to limit civilian casualties when you're inside of an urban environment.
KING: Frank one other thing, what about the report you filed about the home video shot by that pilot?
BUCKLEY: Yes, really amazing home video. You know, we talked to all these pilots on the first night after they returned from the first flights and they gave us this description of a spectacular light show. And when we saw the video that was released today finally, you got a sense of what they were talking about. This is video shot by a radar intercept officer, a back-seater on an F-14 Tomcat, as they were flying in the vicinity of Baghdad. And you see everything from the Tomahawk cruise missiles and impacting on the ground one after another to some of the triple-a fire coming into the sky.
You see -- and this was all shot through the night vision goggles that the -- all of the flyers wear. They like to say that they own the night. And I had a chance recently to actually look through one of those. And you look out at the night sky, completely dark, you put that up to your eyes and it is almost as if it's daylight with a slight green tinge to it. And that's the video that we're able to see.
KING: Thank you, Frank. Outstanding job.
Now we go to Gary Tuchman, embedded with the U.S. Air Force at the air base near the Iraqi border. Gary, what can you tell us from your vantage point?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, we've been at this base since the "shock and awe" campaign began three and a half days ago. And there's absolutely no letup. Warplanes such as this A-10 behind me, they're coming down the runway at all times, they are landing at all times.
And it's expected to continue for the immediate time being. The pilots here are being told to plan to continue going out.
A short time ago we went into the pilots' lounge, which is a short distance away from here. That's where the pilots go before they go on their missions and after they come back from their missions.
They're watching big screen news coverage of the Apache helicopter pilots who are now being held prisoner. There is so much going through their mind as they sat there intently staring at the TV. These is their flying brethren who are being held prisoners now.
We talked to them about it. They said they were angered watching it, they were saddened watching it. But they also said it's something they have to keep out of their mind when they go into their airplane and fly over Iraq. They have to concentrate on their job.
This facility alone, 300 sorties in a 24 hour period, the most recent 24 hour period. Overall 2,000 flights, 2,000 different airplanes in the most recent 24 hour period, flying over the country of Iraq -- Larry.
KING: One other thing, Gary, how do you like being embedded?
TUCHMAN: It's a very interesting experience. It's quite unique because, considering the fact that during the first Gulf War and during the war in Afghanistan, if you wanted to find out how a pilot's mission went, you had to wait for the new conference with the Pentagon. Now we are literally talking to pilots after they get out of the cockpit before the Pentagon knows anything about it. They're telling us about their mission. They're telling us about the bombs and missiles they dropped. They're telling us about their experiences right away.
KING: Thanks so much, Gary. Another outstanding job being done by what a crew of reporters we have on this.
By the way, in a little while we're meeting Scott O'Grady, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, shot down in the Bosnian incident. Hackworth returns, Colonel David Hackworth, our man on the scene. And Colonel Rhonda Cornum will be joining us, as well. Flight surgeon, was also on a mission, downed during the first Persian Gulf War.
Early this afternoon I spoke with Senator John McCain and I began by asking him his reaction to Iraq showing the pictures of the American POWs and the dead soldiers.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Like all Americans, I'm saddened by it. This is why war is the last option and not the first. And these things are the tragic byproduct of war.
But let me also add, Larry, we are committed to the return of these prisoners. If they are harmed or mistreated, we will go after them. We will pursue them, no matter what it takes, and they will pay the ultimate penalty, if necessary, if they do not observe the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners of war.
KING: You were a prisoner of the Vietnamese. You were not treated humanely. Were they ever punished?
MCCAIN: No, because we didn't win that war. But we're going to win this one and I'm confident we're going win this one and the Iraqis know that. And that's why I have some confidence that they will, at least, be some modicum of treatment.
We are proud of these young people. We praise their courage. They know that all Americans are behind them and our government will do whatever is necessary to secure their safe release. And I know that the families need to know that, as well. We will do whatever is necessary to bring these brave young Americans home.
KING: Senator, we're going to have some family members following you and we taped this earlier this afternoon for broadcast tonight, so they'll be hearing what you had to say. What would you say directly to them, family members whose loved ones are being held by an enemy?
MCCAIN: Be proud of them. They are trained, they are prepared. You will be proud of them as you are proud of them now. And we will all, all Americans will look forward to welcoming them home.
Now, look, it's not easy. The first 24 hours are the toughest. But they are trained. They are prepared. They're the best that America can give. And I know that they will perform with courage and we'll be proud of them.
KING: How well were you trained for capture?
MCCAIN: Pretty well. Pretty well. We had the Korean experience to fall back on. As you know, the 1991, we had prisoners held. They were treated badly. But all of them, with the exception of Commander Speicher, were returned.
Look, this is not -- to the families again. This is not a day at the beach. This is a tough ordeal that they are going through. But they will come through this ordeal with honor and we will all be proud of them.
KING: Before I get your opinions on the progress of the war, and as a prisoner yourself and as a student of this, can you give us a general outline of what the Geneva Convention generally says about prisoners?
MCCAIN: Well, the prisoners will be treated as noncombatants. They will be provided with certain visits from Red Cross, from certain standards of confinement, et cetera. But most importantly they will not be humiliated, they will not be tortured. They will be allowed to give only their name, rank, serial number and date of birth.
Now -- and they are specifically, there's prohibitions against exploitation for either propaganda purposes or any other purpose and clearly the Iraqis are in violation of that.
But, again, the Iraqis should know that if they mistreat these prisoners, they will pay. It's one thing to show them on television. That's bad. But if they mistreat them physically, they will pay for it.
KING: Before I ask about your thoughts on the war thus far, what was the determining factor that kept you going for over seven years, right?
MCCAIN: Same motivation that these young Americans are going through now, love of country, love of God, and a total confidence that my government, that our government, the government of the United States of America is doing everything in its power to return -- to ensure that they are returned safe and sound.
KING: Senator, we've had some individual pieces of bad news; yesterday was not the best for the United States. What is your assessment thus far?
MCCAIN: My assessment is that this campaign is going on very successfully.
We have prevented an environmental disaster by securing the oil fields and the outlets to the Gulf. We have not seen a chemical or biological attack against Israel. We have succeeded by going faster in a shorter period of time than any time in military history.
And, of course, we have had setbacks. That's, again, why wars are so dangerous and things happen during war that are unexpected. I believe that we will succeed and we will succeed fairly quickly.
I just want to make one comment. I -- One of my fellow senators one day said, this war can drag out for a long time, perhaps even as much as a couple of months.
Well, Larry, that's a mind-boggling statement. Look, this war is going along and I believe it will be done relatively soon. But a couple of months is certainly not a long conflict. We are now seeing for the -- the war that I grew up on and that I was involved in was the first televisioned conflict, where it was brought into people's homes. But it was brought in on a delayed basis.
Now, with the embedded reporters, we are seeing real time and that is, of course, going to affect all of us. It's going to make us depressed when we hear about a pilot or an Army or service member captured. It's going to upset us when we hear about brave young Americans wounded and killed.
But I think it's important to look at the big picture here and it is quite successful. We will see other -- we will see other setbacks, but so far, it's been quite successful.
KING: You wrote yesterday about taking out a dictatorship. Is this setting a pattern? Are we now the world's moral leader and do we go after other dictators?
MCCAIN: Only if they -- only if they're a real threat to the United States' national security. I believe the military option is the last option and the very last option.
But there's a lot of things we can do to try to spread freedom and democracy throughout the world. Everybody in the Middle East deserves the same opportunity that all Americans and people in other parts of the world have.
I believe that it's going to be tough, but we will put a free and democratic government into Iraq. It will take a long time. It took us a long time to get a free government. And I believe it will have a beneficial impact on other countries in the Middle East.
Do we face threats? Absolutely we do. But we've got to play out all of the other options before we exercise the military one.
KING: As always, thank you, Senator.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Senator John McCain of Arizona. We'll be back right after this.
KING: CNN has decided not to air any video of the captured soldiers until the network was certain the families of the POWs had been contacted. The Pentagon asked that those interviews not be shown, but CNN has decided as we learned families have been notified we would air brief audio and video from the POWs because coverage of their treatment is an important part of the coverage of the war in Iraq.
And here's the tape showing Joseph Hudson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name?
JOSEPH HUDSON, CAPTURED SOLDIER: Specialist Joseph Hudson. 505- 65...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We talk now with Anecita Hudson. It's her son, Army Specialist Joseph Hudson. She's in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Thank you, Anecita, for joining us. Your son is not in a combat unit right? He's in a maintenance company, isn't he?
ANECITA HUDSON, MOTHER OF JOSEPH HUDSON: Yes, sir.
KING: So were you surprised that he was taken?
A. HUDSON: Yes, sir. I'm very surprised that he was taken, because I'm not expecting for him to be taken like that.
KING: When was the last time you saw Joseph?
A. HUDSON: I saw Joseph before he got deployed. That was three weeks ago.
KING: Was he confident? Was he looking forward to going? I mean, some people get very gung ho about this?
A. HUDSON: Yes, he looks -- he looks kind of half and half. He got one of those happy sides and then a sad side. Because, you know, he's going to leave his 5-year-old daughter and wife. So, you know, he got half and half about it.
KING: How is his wife dealing with his being captured?
A. HUDSON: Well, I believe she got briefing under the military of the Army about -- about he got captured in Iraq. And right now just not doing well because she is very nervous right now and kind of sick.
KING: And how are you doing? How are you doing?
A. HUDSON: I try to -- my best to hang on in there.
KING: Well, you can only pray, of course, that Iraq treats him well.
A. HUDSON: Yes, sir, that's what I'm praying for, that they treat my son so well. And, you know, I just wish for him to come home.
KING: Thank you, Anecita. That's Anecita Hudson in Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Now joining us from Wichita, Kansas, is Shane Parker. His half brother is Army PFC Patrick Miller, who is an Iraqi POW. And also with us is Kimberly Miller, the sister of Patrick Miller.
We're going to show you a brief shot of Patrick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK MILLER, CAPTURED SOLDIER: Private First Class Miller.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Shane, what can you tell us about Army PFC Patrick Miller? He's married, he is not?
SHANE PARKER, HALF-BROTHER OF PATRICK MILLER: Yes, he is. He's got two kids. He's got a wife. Loving family.
KING: Career military?
PARKER: I think that's what he was trying for.
KING: How did you -- Kimberly, how did you learn he was taken?
KIMBERLY MILLER, SISTER OF PATRICK MILLER: I was with a friend. I live with a friend and well, she -- when I got up out of bed, she asked me what camp my brother was in and at first she thought it was another one, but then she -- I heard it was Ft. Bliss and I was, like, right now I don't want to know anything.
I called my mom and let my mom know what was going on and asked her what troop it was and then come to find out it was my brother's troop and then I knew it was him. Without anybody telling me anything else.
KING: How well, Kimberly, as well as you know him, how well do you think he will deal with this?
K. MILLER: He'll deal with it as best as he can. I mean, my brother is a fighter. And he'll try as hardest to make it through.
KING: Shane, how did you hear about it?
PARKER: My brother Pat -- or my brother Tom called me at work. And let me know what was go on.
KING: Has the military...
PARKER: I couldn't believe it at first.
KING: I'm sorry, go on, Shane.
PARKER: We didn't really believe it until we, like, looked on the Internet and saw the photo of the captured POWs.
KING: Has the military kept in touch with you, Shane?
PARKER: As far as I know, yes.
KING: Kimberly, have they kept in touch with you? Have you been informed as to what they know about your brother?
K. MILLER: They kept in touch with my mother and his wife and that's all that really needs to be in touch. If there is something we need to know, we'll find out from one of them.
KING: He is also a member, Kimberly, of a maintenance unit. And maintenance units usually are not considered -- they're not considered combat units. Were you surprised that he was captured?
K. MILLER: Yes, we were very surprised. I mean, there is millions and millions of people over there and why was it our brother? Why? And we can't get that answer.
KING: What do you think of Iraq showing the pictures on television?
K. MILLER: In a way I think it's good. In a way I think it's bad. Because at least with them showing it, we get to see him and with him talking, we know he's still alive.
KING: Yes. I guess the prayers of all of us are with you and we thank you, both, for being with us. And we wish you speedy return of Army PFC Patrick Miller, an Iraqi POW.
We go now to Mission, Texas, where we're joined by Joel Hernandez and his parents, Maria and Jose Hernandez. They do not speak English. Joel does. And they're -- we're talking about the younger brother of Joel, POW Edgar Hernandez and we're going to see a shot of Edgar now, I believe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDGAR HERNANDEZ, CAPTURED SOLDIER: My name is Edgar from the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now Joel, as we understand it, Edgar has been injured, right?
JOEL HERNANDEZ, BROTHER OF EDGAR HERNANDEZ: Yes, as far as we know when we saw the news, his face was all beat up and he was bleeding from his left side of his face. I mean -- excuse me, his right side. And as far as we know, yes, he's hurt right now.
KING: Now, he is a -- he's an Army specialist. Was he a career -- he is a lifetime in the military?
J. HERNANDEZ: Excuse me? KING: Did he like the military? Was he making a career of being in the Army?
J. HERNANDEZ: Well, he enlisted for four years and this was going to be his last couple of months that he was going be in there. And as far as I know, he was OK with it, but he was -- he was looking forward to coming home and making his career.
KING: How did you find out about his being captured, Joel?
J. HERNANDEZ: Well, Sunday morning we heard the news and we just heard about the 12 soldiers, American soldiers that were captured and they were all from Ft. Bliss, Texas, in El Paso. And we didn't want to think the worst of it, but we kind of had an idea of -- that my brother was one of them.
And then later on that night, that day, representatives from the Army came by to our house to verify that my brother was part of them. He was among the soldiers that were captured by the Iraqis.
KING: How are your parents holding up?
J. HERNANDEZ: Well, we're holding up pretty strong, not thinking the worst of it. But we're just taking it as it comes and we're just praying to God that he comes home safe among all the other soldiers, all those heroes that are out there fighting for this country.
KING: Thank you, Joel. And thanks to your parents, too, Maria and Jose.
J. HERNANDEZ: Thank you.
KING: We wish you Godspeed.
One more person to talk to and she's with us by phone from Pennsauken, New Jersey. She's Jane Riley, mother of Army Sergeant James Riley. And we have a quick shot of James Riley. Let's show that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name?
JAMES RILEY, CAPTURED SOLDIER: Sergeant James Riley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Jane, how did you learn about your son?
JANE RILEY, MOTHER OF JAMES RILEY: A friend of mine rang me up and said they had seen something on AOL. And they thought it was him. And then two hours later, Major Banks appeared at our door to confirm it.
KING: And is the military keeping in close touch with you?
JANE RILEY: The military is sitting right here.
KING: They are?
JANE RILEY: Yes.
KING: They're with you right now?
JANE RILEY: Yes, Major Banks is here now.
KING: Can you put him on the phone?
JANE RILEY: Yes. Do you want to speak to him?
KING: Yes, I want to ask him something. Sure.
JANE RILEY: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello?
KING: Hey, Major.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, hello.
KING: I'm interested in the role the Army plays when someone is taken? What do you do? You visit the homes regularly?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes, sir, exactly. We visit the home and we just make sure that the family is aware of what is going on. And exactly -- this is basically coming from the secretary of the Army and we just come and just work on behalf of the family. And I'm assigned to Sergeant James, James Riley.
KING: How is Jane doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, sir, because I can't comment on that. My main concern is the family. I wouldn't know nothing that is going on with him personally.
KING: OK, how is his mother doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, his mother is in high spirits. We're definitely here talking and basically giving her day to day update on James.
KING: Well, you do noble work and I thank you. Let me say good- bye to Jane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. Thank you for calling.
KING: So the Army does send men out.
JANE RILEY: Hello.
KING: Jane, that is comforting, is it not, to have someone there? JANE RILEY: Yes. It's nice to have a liaison back with the government so that we can try and get answers. We have as yet to see a film of what has occurred.
KING: What did you think of the pictures being shown?
JANE RILEY: I haven't seen them.
KING: You haven't?
JANE RILEY: No, sir.
KING: Well, Jane, we wish you Godspeed and the best of luck and hope you see your son very soon.
JANE RILEY: Yes, thank you very much.
KING: That's Army Sergeant James Riley and we thank the major for getting on with us, as well.
We're going to take a break now. Heidi Collins will get us up to date with the latest news, we'll have a message or two and then be back with Colonel Rhonda Cornum, Scott O'Grady, Colonel David Hackworth and later Congresswoman Jane Harman and Congressman Christopher Shays.
You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. Joining us now in Washington is Colonel Rhonda Cornum, United States Army. She was a flight surgeon during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, was on a mission to aid a downed U.S. pilot when the Black Hawk she was in was shot down by the Iraqis. She was captured and held as a POW for eight days. Wrote a book about it called "She Went to War."
In Dallas, a very familiar face, Scott O'Grady, former U.S. Air Force pilot shot over Bosnia June 2, 1995, while helping enforce the NATO no-fly zone, invaded the enemy for six days until rescued by a Marine Corps team.
And in New York, our regular Colonel David Hackworth, U.S. Army retired, the highly decorated veteran, award winning military correspondent, syndicated columnist. He writes "Defending America" and best-selling author of "Steal My Soldiers' Hearts."
Again, CNN decided not air video of the captured U.S. soldiers until the network was certain the families of the POWs had been contacted. One of those held captive is Army Specialist Shoshanna Johnson. Her family says she's a single mother with a two-year-old daughter, a five-year veteran. Her family says she's a chef in the army and loves to cook. Here is some of the tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name?
SHOSHANNA JOHNSON, POW: Shanna.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shanna?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are -- do you come from?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Looks a little fearful, doesn't she? Colonel Cornum, I guess you can relate to what she's going through?
RHONDA CORNUM, COL., U.S. ARMY, 1991 GULF WAR POW: Yes, sir. She's -- she and all of them are pretty worried, but they're well trained and they'll take care of each other.
KING: As a woman, were you treated differently?
CORNUM: I don't really think so. You know, everybody was abused in one way or another. And we all got out so...
KING: What was it like the moment you were taken? Give -- take us back to those feelings, the moment you suddenly don't have control of your movement?
CORNUM: Well, for me, it was a question of either I'm going to die in this wreck or I'm going to be a prisoner because we crashed right into an enemy camp. So the first thing I saw really was five guys with guns at my head.
KING: Were you scared?
CORNUM: I was really grateful I was alive. I was certainly a little -- I was scared, but I -- I had faith. I had faith then from the moment I got picked up, until the moment I got let out that they're going come get me. My whole job is to stay alive until they come get me.
KING: And what was the faith based on?
CORNUM: The faith was based on everything I had heard from the administration and the senior military leadership that really and truly just reiterated that, the whole time before we actually started the air war, before we started the ground war, that we were not going to leave anybody behind.
KING: How did the Iraqis treat you?
CORNUM: Well, the original -- you know, the people who grab you right first, you know, they're pretty brutal. First of all, you've probably been shooting at them. They did a mock execution, you know, the gun at the back of your head kind of thing. But once I got into the system, once I got to Basra and then was trucked up to Baghdad, I got medical attention when I got to Baghdad and was treated relatively humanely.
KING: Do you think these people there now are going to be -- come out okay?
CORNUM: Well, I certainly hope so.
KING: When it intensifies…
CORNUM: I think they're well trained.
KING: When they're battling in Baghdad, which didn't happen, of course, in your war?
CORNUM: It did not, but I think just like in our war, the people that have them know that it will be much worse for them if they mistreat them. So I really think that their faith and their training will get them through.
KING: Scott O'Grady, you remain with us, Colonel, because we're going to keep all three of you on together. Scott O'Grady, you were never actually captured, were you?
SCOTT O'GRADY, FMR. USAF PILOT MIA IN BOSNIA 8 DAYS IN 1995: No, I actually evaded the enemy forces for six days. Knowing what kind of treatment POWs usually receive was a great motivator for me not to get caught. I just was very fortunate to be in a situation where I was able to evade the enemy. A lot of times you're not, as a downed pilot or a downed airman, able to avoid capture. But again, you maintain faith in God, you maintain faith in your government, and knowing that you have the support of the American people that will make sure that you're returned home will be a successful return.
KING: What was it like to eject?
O'GRADY: Well, I tell you, Larry, the ejection wasn't as bad as the explosion when the missile hit my airplane. But it's where -- you know, I had no other choice. The airplane wasn't flying. I was being burned. I had to get out of the aircraft. So ejecting out of the airplane was a relief. I thought at that moment I was going to die.
KING: When you eject, which way do you go and where does the airplane go? You come out of where, the bottom?
O'GRADY: Well, I actually was in a part of the aircraft that had already broken off. The airplane exploded and broke up into a couple of pieces. The nose section had sheered off. It was on fire. And so, I ejected the canopy to parts and then the seat goes out the ejection rails.
And I was ejected out at five miles above the earth at equivalent around 500 miles per hour. So when I was finally underneath the parachute, that was a great relief. But then seeing enemy territory below me with no friendlies was a big concern of mine. Now I had to be in a survival mode and try to evade capture.
KING: And one of the things driving you to evade capture was fear of what they do to people they capture?
O'GRADY: Well, the three main -- that was a main motivator. We're highly trained. We know what needs to be done in these situations. But you need to have a will to survive. That's the key element. And my will to survive came from three places. My faith in God, the love of my family, I wanted to return to them greatly, and then also knowing that I had the support of the American people. That's why it's so important for Americans today, when we're in armed conflict, to unite together to support our Americans that are out there serving our country, men and women that are sacrificing a lot serving their nation to protect our freedoms.
KING: Colonel Hackworth, you were never captured, thank the heavens. How well are people trained in the military for capture?
DAVID HACKWORTH, COL., U.S. ARMY (RET.): Aviation folks really get excellent training, as does special forces. And then the regular military, a lesser amount. I think that units that are logistical units need to really sharpen up their hard training and get like it used to be where everybody basically is a rifleman.
The fight we're engaged in now, Larry, is a fight between Mike Tyson and Woody Allen. And there are going to be reverses. And one of the major problems, tactical problems that General Tommy Franks is faced with is enemy to his rear, partisans, guerrillas, the same things we faced in Vietnam, cutting the supply lines. The same thing that Stalin used against the German army and whipped the Sixth German Army with by chopping up the supply lines. So that has to be addressed.
But bottom line in the next 24 hours, you can expect the battle to be joined to the south of Baghdad. You will see SHOCK AND AWE like you will not believe. You will see complete brigades and perhaps divisions...
HACKWORTH: ..of Republican Guards being blown up into in destruction that you will have never seen before.
KING: And Hack, will you fear then for those POWs when this happens?
HACKWORTH: No. This will be on the outer perimeter. The prisoners, hopefully, will be inside of the city. This will be the defenders who will be taking on the 3rd Mac Division and the Marines as they approach to the outskirts of the city. And then it is going to be, again, again within the next 24 hours, such firepower.
KING: No, I mean, do you think the Iraqis might harm them just because of the siege?
HACKWORTH: I think your other two guests are better judges of that...
KING: OK, let me ask...
HACKWORTH: It seems to me if you get your picture on the tube, that's a great insurance policy.
KING: Do you worry, Rhonda, about their safety once the siege begins?
CORNUM: Well, obviously, I always worry about their safety. And certainly, I don't know where anybody is even. But I really believe that -- that they will -- that the Iraqis, regardless of how thug-like their leadership might be, would not harm them for -- because it was certainly not in their best interest. We are certainly not doing anything unkind even or inhumane to their so far 3,000. It would not be in their best interest to hurt ours.
KING: Scott, what do you think?
O'GRADY: Well, obviously, I think I have to agree with Senator McCain. Historically, treatment that prisoners receive is most harsh during first 24 hours. And after that, I'm just going to hope that the Iraqis will treat them humanely. I think historically, though, we have to also recognize that there are very few countries that hold to the Geneva Convention outside of the United States of America and maybe Great Britain.
KING: By the way, the Pentagon has confirmed today that two Apache helicopter pilots whose chopper went down in Iraq have also been taken prisoner. Their families have been notified. Video shot by Iraqi TV of the two pilots, Ronald Young of Georgia and David Williams of Florida was first aired today on Abu Dhabi TV. The two appeared to be in good condition.
Colonel Cornum, do you agree that the first two days are the toughest?
CORNUM: Oh, there's no question about that. I think in every war that's been shown. And these people and their families will pull together and they'll make it through.
KING: What do you think of Iraqi -- of the Iraqi folk putting them on television?
CORNUM: Well, I think that's important. Certainly, they've done it before as in the Persian Gulf one. And it was equally abhorrent then. Certainly, once again, nothing we would ever do.
KING: The other side would be Scott O'Grady, the families know they're safe, though, right?
O'GRADY: Well, yes. I mean, having them shown on TV, there's a benefit. We know that they're alive. We can identify them. I know that in Vietnam, there was a lot of prisoners that we didn't even know they were being held. They were labeled as missing in action. So at least we or now can make the Iraqi government accountable for their safety of these prisoners.
KING: Yes. Let's take a call. Canton, Michigan, hello.
CALLER: My question to you, Scott. My question to you is what is the operation you experienced when you were down in Bosnia?
O'GRADY: I believe the question is what did I experience when I was down in Bosnia?
O'GRADY: Well, when I was there, I was evading the enemy. I had enemy forces walking by me just a few feet away a couple of times. Also Serbian helicopters, enemy helicopters searching for me. I hid for six days in three different locations. And I evaded over the course of two different nights. And thank God I was able to make communication and I was finally rescued by the Marines. So I trained...
KING: I think she was asking about a religious experience you had?
O'GRADY: Well, basically, I keep faith in God. I'm a Christian. And it was very strong for me to be able to find strength in that relationship. I was very much at peace during that time.
KING: To Casper, Wyoming, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. My question is that with these new precision decided guided weapons that work so well, in particular, the bunker buster bombs, is there any concern that we could actually end up destroying the evidence we're looking for in terms of the weapons of mass destruction?
HACKWORTH: I don't think they would be on the target list. We have a pretty fair idea. We've got a list of where we think they are. And you just don't want to be blowing these things up because you can poison the whole atmosphere. That's what happened during Desert Storm. And we ended up with 163 Gulf War veterans down because of kind of self-inflicted wounds at that time because our engineers or our Air Force blew up Iraqi munitions, not knowing that it had chemical weapons. So we won't be recklessly throwing around our weaponry.
KING: Colonel Cornum, what's your read on how this war is going?
CORNUM: Well, I have to say I think it's going extremely well. Certainly, you know, it's not -- no war is going to go with no injuries and no casualties and no prisoners. But if you look at how fast they've moved, and what they've done, I think it's going well. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy, but I certainly wouldn't be discouraged.
KING: Scott O'Grady, what's your read?
O'GRADY: I agree completely. War is not an exact science. There's going to be setbacks and casualties, but as far as what we've done so far, it's been incredible how we've proceeded. I'm very proud of our men and women in uniform. And I support them highly. And I just can't be more proud of them.
KING: Colonel, you're predicting this onslaught. It's going happen when?
HACKWORTH: I think in the next 24 hours, you're going to be seeing the real "shock and awe," something we've never seen before in terms of devastation. Larry, I almost feel sorry for those Republican Guards, sons of bitches, but I don't. And if I were a Republican Guard soldier, I'd be getting my shovel out and digging a hole to China.
KING: Try to be a little direct in the future.
Troy, New York, hello.
CALLER: Hi, how are you doing, Larry?
CALLER: I had a question for Scott or anybody else on the panel, actually.
KING: Sure, go ahead.
CALLER: We obviously never negotiate with terrorists as a rule of thumb. Obviously, Saddam is a terrorist in my book for the way he paraded these POWs on television. How exactly would the government negotiate getting these POWs out? And do you think Saddam might have went after these certain POWs to use as a bargaining tool eventually in this war as we move in on Baghdad?
O'GRADY: Well, I'm sure that he'll try to use things as -- maybe the POWs as a bargaining tool. As far as negotiating, we don't negotiate with this regime. I'm not going to be able to talk to you about, you know, foreign policies. I don't state foreign policy. But what we'll do is we'll try to rescue these POWs if we're able to with military force. Or we'll secure their release when -- by toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein, which is a dictator who has brutally killed his own people. And the treatment that he's showing our POWs just is true to his character.
KING: In a couple of minutes, by the way, we'll be talking with two congressmen about where they think it's going from that standpoint in dealing with Saddam Hussein at the end of this. Plus, where we go after all of this.
Colonel Cornum, what do you make of what Colonel Hackworth's predicting in this siege coming?
CORNUM: Sir, I have absolutely no idea what the United States military is planning. And so I'll just watch TV like other people will.
KING: Scott O'Grady, are you expectedly awaiting this?
O'GRADY: Well, we will be successful. Just a matter of time. And I'm just -- I cannot say how well the military has performed to this point. They're doing an excellent job. I'm very proud of our military.
KING: Let me get in one more quick call.
CALLER: Yes, this is for Colonel Cornum. I was wondering once you were moved to Baghdad, what a typical day was like? Were you interrogated every day or what was going…
KING: Yes, what did you do all day?
CORNUM: Well, in my case, I had two broken arms and a broken leg. And so my three days in Baghdad consisted of getting there, getting operated on by an Iraqi physician who was very good, and then being released to the prison where the rest of the prisoners were held.
KING: They did take care of you, though?
CORNUM: Once I got Baghdad, they took care of me and they took care of the other injured prisoners of war.
KING: Hack, you're saying all of this is going to start within 24 hours?
HACKWORTH: Well, I think the big show will start. The big hooker in this whole problem is that the Turks didn't let the 4th Division in. As a result, we don't have a fist driving down from the north. We just have the two fists coming up from the south. The Marines on the right and the 3rd Mac on the left.
HACKWORTH: And there's a lot of adjustments that are going to have to be made. But have no doubt, we will win this sucker. But it may be delayed a little bit until the 4th Division gets in, which will take a few days.
KING: Thank you all very, very much, as always.
And when we come back, we'll wind things up with Congressman Chris Shays and Congresswoman Jane Harman and get their look at this fifth day. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Joining us now in Washington, two frequent guests, Congressman Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut. He's chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and a member of the select committee on Homeland Security. And Congresswoman Jane Harman, Democrat of California, ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Also a member of the select committee on Homeland Security.
Congressman Shays, the president's going to ask tomorrow for $75 billion. Going to give it to him?
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT, CHMN., NATL. SECURITY SUBCMTE.: Oh, we're going give it to him, but we're going to obviously know where it's going. But we'll spend whatever it takes to win this war. And we're going to be patient. And we're not going fall victim to our own propaganda. This is an evil entrenched ruler in Iraq, but the Iraqi people are good people.
KING: Congresswoman, you going give it to him?
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA, RKNG. MEM. SEL. INTELL. CMTE.: Well, the $75 billion includes $3.5 billion more for first responders to protect our hometowns. I'm very excited about that. It's something I have been asking for months. It also includes a lot of money for reconstruction. Those are very good features. Obviously, we have to pay for the war, but I thought it was really cynical that we were asked to vote last week on big tax cuts and a budget framework that included no money for the war. That was the wrong way to do it. And I think the administration is going to have to back down on some of those tax cuts.
SHAYS: Can I jump in here? I don't think it was cynical. We were voting on the 2004 budget. And this is a 2003 expenditure. But I mean, we obviously need to debate this issue. And we'll have a good debate but cynical is…
KING: Al right, let me touch on some other bases. Congresswoman Harman, the public resolve. Do you expect it to stay high?
HARMAN: Oh, you bet. It's a time for courage, Larry. I watched the earlier parts of your show. And as a mother of four kids who are all about the same age as the POWs, and those who were getting killed, my heart breaks for those families. But those who are fighting this war are resolved to fight for the interests of America. And those who are watching this war have to support them.
And let me make one other point because I haven't heard this anywhere. As a member of the Vietnam generation, we better remember to welcome them home when they come back. As divisive this war may be to some, it is critically important that we understand how impressive these young and well trained people are, and how important it is that when they get back, which will be soon, because we are going to have a military victory there, that we want them back in our society. And we make them know how proud we are of them.
KING: Has anything to this minute surprised you about the war, Congressman Shays?
SHAYS: I don't think -- yes. I would have to say the concern of unarmed Americans, who are captured and some of them killed. I'm surprised that it would be so blatant. I'm surprised that you would have soldiers who would wave the white flag and then try to shoot our own people. I know why it's there, but I was surprised by that.
KING: Congresswoman Harman, what do you make about the tension now with Russia over the selling -- Russian firms selling Iraqi war equipment?
HARMAN: Well, I'm highly upset about that, Larry. I gather the president talked to Mr. Putin today...
KING: Putin today, yes.
HARMAN: ...and asked him to stop. And he denies that he is violating the Iraq sanctions regime. I think he is violating it. And I think he has been violating the law with respect to technology transfer to Iran also. And those are very bad developments. I'm sad that we haven't been able to work better with Russia in the last six months. I think if we had been able to do that, perhaps we could have cornered France at the U.N.
But my point now is that Russia, if it wants to be a partner with the West, and I believe it does, has to stop transferring dangerous technology to Iraq, Iran and any other country that threatens the interests of the civilized world.
KING: Let's get in a call for the Congress folks.
Steubenville, Ohio, hello.
CALLER: Hello. My heart and prayers go out to the POWs that are alive, but I want to know what will happen to the bodies that they showed on TV of our American soldiers?
KING: Do you know, Congressman Shays?
SHAYS: You know, ultimately, we get those bodies back. But I guess that's one reason why I think there's going to be extraordinary resolve.
One thing I want to say, and I don't know quite how to say it, but we can't be held hostage by the prisoners they have of ours. We have to win this war. And we have to demand that Saddam Hussein honors the protection of any prisoners as we are going to treat Iraqi prisoners well. But we do need to win the war and then we need to bring home the POWs after we win the war. And unfortunately, bring home any bodies that they have as well.
KING: Well, both of you serve on the Select Committee on Homeland Security.
How, Congresswoman Harman, secure are we? HARMAN: Well, we're much more secure than 9/11, but there's a long way to go. The crucial thing to do right now is to get this money, there should be about $7 billion, as soon as we pass the supplemental in the pipeline out to first responders. They need gear, protective gear. We're still not quite protected against chemical and biological hazards. They need training. They need to backfill the empty positions left because the National Guard has been mobilized. And they need interoperable communications. Every community in America needs more help. They're part of the war theater.
And the good news is the Senate just voted unanimously late last week, 97 to zip to support more money for these first responders. And I'm very pleased to see that the White House today has agreed that this money's necessary.
KING: Anything you would add, Congressman Shays?
SHAYS: No. She said it well. I -- the bottom line though is we're not going to be able to get it to every first responder. We need to know which communities need it most. Obviously, cities like New York and Boston and Washington, D.C. And then we have to filter out to some of the smaller communities.
KING: One more call, quickly.
Fort Jackson, hello.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: I'm Melissa from Fort Jackson. I'm just posing the question. President Bush just asked Congress for $80 billion more dollars?
KING: Seventy-five billion dollars.
CALLER: Seventy-five billion dollars, OK. You have...
KING: We're almost out of time. What's the question?
CALLER: I'm just wondering why they're not paying these soldiers a little bit more money?
KING: Why not, Jane?
HARMAN: I think quality of life for our soldiers is an urgent issue. The problem is that we're running $300 billion a year deficits, not counting the cost of this war. It's time to change the way we budget. We need a war time budget that funds this war and homeland security and reprioritize as other things.
KING: We'll be…
HARMAN: And I would put the health of the troops right in there.
KING: We'll be calling on both of you often. Thank you so much...
HARMAN: Thank you, Larry.
KING: ...Congressman Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut, Congresswoman Jane Harman, Democrat of California.
Heidi Collins will follow with news headlines, then Aaron Brown picks it up right around the corner. And we'll be back with another edition of LARRY KING LIVE tomorrow night. And we leave you with images of war.
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