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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interviews With Colin Powell, Bob Woodward

Aired July 10, 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: Tonight, Secretary of State Colin Powell in South Africa with the president's historic trip, to answer the questions everyone's asking. Are United States troops going to Liberia? Why is it so important for the president to be in Africa now? And why hasn't Saddam Hussein been found yet? We'll get into it all with Secretary of State Colin Powell, and then legendary journalist Bob Woodward, all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening and welcome to a very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Later, Bob Woodward will join us.

We begin in Pretoria, South Africa, with Secretary of State Colin Powell. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, for giving us this time. Why Africa, why now?

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Because Africa is an important country -- or rather an important continent with many important countries, and because the president from the very beginning of the administration wanted to make sure that Africa enjoyed a priority.

And, he's followed through on the instructions that he gave to me and Dr. Rice and all of the members of the foreign affairs team to make sure that we had programs that supported African ambitions, the desire of the African people to lead better lives.

So, we have expanded the African Growth and Opportunity Act. We have done the Millennium Challenge Account which is going to make a major difference here in Africa by providing more money for aid.

We have invested enormously. The president has made a major investment in the campaign against HIV/AIDS with his global fund, the support for the global fund, as well as the new emergency fund that he has created.

So, Africa is a continent of great importance to us and it has problems that we want to help African nations solve and he particularly wants to help those nations who have made a commitment to democracy, a commitment to the free enterprise system.

KING: Is this a new emphasis or has it been the George Bush you always knew?

POWELL: It's the George Bush that I met during the campaign season. It was the George Bush that I talked about issues with during the transition and from the very beginning he made it clear that Africa and other parts of the world that are undeveloped and in need of American assistance would receive that assistance and his visit here is for the purpose of demonstrating his commitment.

KING: How bad in relation to -- how bad is the AIDS crisis?

POWELL: The HIV/AIDS crisis is bad. It's a pandemic. It's a weapon of mass destruction. Millions and millions of people are at risk and it's not just a human issue. It's a political issue. It's the destruction of societies, the destructions of countries, the destruction of hope for a better life.

It's something we all must come together to fight and I think the United States has been in the forefront of leading this effort and we will continue to do so.

The president has a passion for this issue and he has been demonstrating this passion throughout this week in his visit to Senegal and to South Africa and to Botswana and will do it tomorrow when we go to Uganda, then on to Nigeria.

KING: Is the money that he talked about, is that committed? Is that a done deal?

POWELL: Well, we're working with the Congress to get the funding and we hope that the Congress will support the president's request. We already had a large number of bilateral programs, so we were spending billions and billions of dollars already.

But, the president recognized that the need was so great that we really had to ratchet up our level of spending and that's why he asked the American people to share our wealth, share the benefits that we enjoy in our country with others around the world who are in need and especially those who are suffering from the pandemic of HIV/AIDS.

And, I'm confident and hopeful that the Congress will provide the funding. I know that the American people support this issue and I hope that Congress has no hesitation about giving full funding to this program.

KING: Concerning Liberia, Mr. Secretary, yesterday, the president said that the United States will be involved in Liberia. Can you elaborate on that?

POWELL: Yes. We're working with ECOWAS and we're working with the United Nations. I've talked to Kofi Annan almost every day in the past week and ECOWAS is taking the lead. These are the African nations that are willing to put troops on the ground to assist in the departure of President Taylor.

Nigeria has offered him a place to go. Nigeria has offered troops. Other nations have offered troops, but they will need some assistance in getting to Monrovia and in supporting themselves once in Monrovia, and the United States will have a role to play.

We will participate in that effort and we are sending a team from the Pentagon to Accra in Ghana this weekend to discuss with ECOWAS their needs and to see whether or not a U.S. presence is also required. So, the president has indicated a willingness to support and to participate in this effort.

KING: Do you envision American troops going there?

POWELL: It's a possibility. We're looking at all of the options but we want to examine this very, very carefully. We believe that ECOWAS and the United Nations have to be in the lead and the United Nations has to put in place the political process that will bring in a new government.

And, we will wait to see what our assessment team finds out during their deliberations over the weekend and then, I expect the president to make a decision in the not too distant future about the support we'll be providing and what level of participation is required.

KING: But there's no question the United States has to be in some way involved?

POWELL: The president's made it clear that we are prepared to participate but exactly what that participation will involve is what we're looking at right now, Larry.

KING: And what about the call for the change in government in Zimbabwe, why?

POWELL: Well, what we have said with respect to Zimbabwe is that President Mugabe has practiced very flawed economic policies and put in place flawed economic policies and we have a flawed political system where the opposition isn't allowed to participate fully in the political process of the country.

It's a country that used to be an exporter of food. It's a country that is in very great distress right now and so we believe that President Mugabe should openly discuss these issues with the opposition, let them participate, and find a political solution to this crisis so that Zimbabwe does not become a destabilizing element throughout the region.

And, that's the same position that President Mbeki has taken with President Bush yesterday at their press conference, as you saw, Larry, and we will continue to speak out very sharply and clearly about this issue.

KING: Do you frankly expect him to go?

POWELL: I can't say that now. We will have to see what happens. There are a number of nations that are working on this issue. President Mbeki is working on it. We're working on it. The United Nations is working on it.

We also have a humanitarian problem in Zimbabwe. They are in desperate need of food, and we're trying to do everything we can with respect to alleviating the conditions of famine that exist in the country as well.

But, I can't tell you right now how it will be resolved politically, but there is a desperate need for the government to speak openly and honestly and have open negotiations with the opposition.

KING: Are you satisfied personally and as secretary of state with the president's speech about slavery?

POWELL: I think he gave a very powerful statement in Senegal on Goree Island. I think he recognized what history was represented at that terrible site. He has spoken every day since about looking at that last doorway going out to where the ships would load the slaves.

But, he also spoke about the triumph of the human spirit, how these people could come to the United States, be sent into slavery, families broken up, and yet what was not destroyed was the human spirit, the desire to do something with one's life.

And, how in our country, in the United States of America, we had slavery and we had to fight a great war to end slavery and even after that war, it took another 100 years before we could see the equality that we enjoy in our society now.

The president also recognizes that we have much more to do in our society to remove the last vestiges of that horrible past. So, I think he gave a powerful statement that talked about the past and also talks about the future.

KING: Some in the United States felt he should have apologized. Should he have?

POWELL: No, I don't think there was a necessity for the United States to apologize. The United States, when we came into being as a nation, slavery was there.

It took us a while to recognize that we could not live our Constitution truly unless we eliminated slavery, and hundreds of thousands of young men fought a civil war to end slavery and then it took us a long time to get rid of the vestiges of slavery and we're still working on it to this very day.

And so, the very fact that we have come this far and we're working so hard, that shows what we think about slavery. That shows I think what America has done to put this issue into the past and look to the future.

But, I don't know that it was necessary for the president of the United States to come here and apologize for the sins of those who were responsible for slavery so many hundreds of years ago.

KING: We'll be back with some more moments with the Secretary of State Colin Powell. He's in Pretoria, South Africa, accompanying the president on this historic tour.

Then, we'll meet Bob Woodward.

Right back with Colin Powell, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Secretary of State Colin Powell in Africa with the president of the United States.

What is your thinking and thoughts on this furor over the president's admitted misstatement about the uranium purchases in Africa by Iraq in the State of the Union address?

POWELL: Frankly, Larry, I think too much is being made out of this single statement in the State of the Union address. The fact of the matter is that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, continued to develop weapons of mass destruction throughout the '90s during the period of time when U.N. resolution after U.N. resolution told him that it had to stop and he had to come clean and he ignored all of those resolutions.

So, the point that in 1998 when the inspectors were learning even more, he created a set of conditions that forced the inspectors out, requiring President Clinton to go and bomb these facilities that were believed at that time by the previous administration to be facilities designed to produce even more weapons of mass destruction.

The international community believed, as a community, that he had such weapons and I'm quite confident that as we go forward with the investigations and the searches that are under way in Iraq now, more evidence will be found to show to the world that he was guilty as charged of possessing these weapons.

And so, to single out this one statement having to do with an intelligence picture that wasn't entirely clear with respect to what he might have been trying to do with respect to acquiring uranium in Africa, I think is quite an overstatement and quite an overreaction to this one line. The president wasn't in any way trying to mislead.

It was information that got into the speech. Whether it should or should not have been in the speech is something we can certainly discuss and debate, but it wasn't a deliberate attempt on the part of the president to either mislead or exaggerate. That's just ridiculous.

KING: OK. The current situation in Iraq, what do you make of it, the daily? Somebody seems killed every day, what's your assessment?

POWELL: Well, the Iraqi people have been liberated. Ambassador Bremer and his team are doing a remarkable job in restoring the infrastructure to the country, an infrastructure that was destroyed by Saddam Hussein in 30 years of misrule.

Yes, there are still dangerous areas in the country. I regret that we are still losing troops and young men and women are being wounded, but they're being wounded by people who don't want to see the Iraqi people free, by people who still cling to this terrible past, Ba'ath Party members and Fedayeen and others who resent the fact that the international community, led by the United States, is there to try to create a better life for the Iraqi people.

And, I'm quite confident in the ability of our military forces and other nations that will be joining the coalition and the other coalition members who are there now to put down this level of violence, these folks who still don't understand that it is a new day for Iraq.

But, they will be put down. Security will be achieved and then we can get on with the business of rebuilding a country and helping that country put in place a representative form of government.

I'm confident that Ambassador Bremer knows how to go about this. He's doing a great job. In the very near future, he will be announcing political leaders, people, Iraqis who will start to exercise authority under Ambassador Bremer, people to begin working on a constitution, and over time the Iraqi people will have their country given back to them and it will be in far better shape than we found it.

KING: A few other areas -- by the way, should we have expected this?

POWELL: I don't think what we are seeing is totally unexpected. You never can anticipate everything that's going to happen in a post conflict environment.

But, we knew that once the regime was taken down there would be 25 million people roughly who we would have the responsibility for and that the existing structure would have been badly damaged or destroyed, the Ba'ath Party leadership, the military, the police forces.

So, we knew we were in for a challenging time and a difficult time and we're going to be able to deal with it. The president said we are committed. We know the challenge ahead of us is great but we are up to that challenge.

KING: The front page of today's "USA Today" has the headline "Allies Balk at Sending Troops." Do you discount that?

POWELL: Well, we are working with a number of allies who have made commitments. The Poles have already started to send in their advance party teams and we're working with a number of nations around the world.

Secretary Rumsfeld and his team are in touch with these nations, determining what their needs are, where to integrate them. We're dividing up sectors. So, I think a number of nations are planning to come forward and I can't give you the exact number of nations or how many troops are going to be committed.

The guts of the work will still have to be done by the United States, Great Britain, and the original members of the coalition, but I am quite sure that we'll have a number of other nations joining us on the field because they understand the importance of the mission and they too are committed to a future Iraq that no longer has weapons of mass destruction and who is living in peace with its neighbors.

KING: The last time we were together you told me how difficult, as you saw it, the Mideast situation was and how difficult it will be to get those people together. Are you a little more confident now?

POWELL: I'm a little more confident, and I'm a little more optimistic. I'm pleased that we finally were able to present the road map to the parties and both parties have done quite a bit already moving down the path laid out on the road map.

But, there's a lot of work ahead of us. I'm pleased that we've sent the transfer of Gaza back to the Palestinians, Bethlehem as well. I hope other cities will follow in due course.

Israel, for its part, has taken down some of the unauthorized outposts, released some prisoners. I hope more prisoner releases will be forthcoming. So, we have to take this a day at a time, a step at a time, but I'm impressed that both sides realize that they couldn't keep doing what they were doing, what was happening with the constant terror and violence and response to terror and violence.

That cycle that went on and on had to be broken and President Bush with his strong leadership at the Sharm El Sheikh summit and the Aqaba summit showed them a way forward and they have taken that way forward.

KING: Two other quick things. Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, must they be caught?

POWELL: I don't know if they will be caught or not. I would like to see both of them caught but the important thing with respect to Saddam Hussein is that he's no longer in power. There may be remnants of his organization around but they'll be dealt with in due course and he will never be back in power.

With respect to Osama bin Laden, he is still out there we believe. We can't be sure. We don't know whether he's dead or alive. If he's dead, we'd like to see his body to prove it. If he's alive, we will eventually hunt him down and find him.

As long as they're out there, they can cause trouble and we're prepared to deal with that trouble and we will not end the search until we have found out what happened to them, whether they are dead or alive.

KING: And, one other thing on Africa, what has impacted the president the most in your opinion?

POWELL: I think he was moved especially at Goree Island to have the conditions of capturing people explained to him and to see the places where they were actually put and how they were treated just as cargoes, as commodities to be sold. I think he was deeply moved by that.

I think he was also moved by his time in Senegal and South Africa, and today Botswana, to see countries that are committed to democracy, committed to reform, committed to attacking the problem of HIV/AIDS, committed to a better relationship with the United States.

He was moved. He was moved by the people that he has met, the leaders that he has seen, and so I think the president will come away from this trip with a much deeper understanding of the needs of Africa and even greater commitment to doing everything we can to satisfy those needs.

KING: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It's always good seeing you, safe trip home.

POWELL: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Colin Powell, the United States secretary of state.

Pulitzer Prize winning managing editor of "The Washington Post," Bob Woodward, is next. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now welcome Bob Woodward, the assistant managing editor of "the Washington Post", Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. His number 1 "New York Times" best seller "Bush at War" is now out -- just out in trade paperback. We've got one of the first copies right here. They did a nice job. You did an addition to it too

BOB WOODWARD, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, right.

KING: Brought us up to date on Iraq, right.

WOODWARD: That we had this war and then all the major questions are still unanswered.

KING: Lots of things to answer, but first you assessment of the Colin Powell comments.

WOODWARD: He totally backs Bush. And obviously, Powell and Condi Rice had an impact on Bush for Bush to go to Africa and give that remarkable speech about slavery. I mean, it was a denunciation of slavery. That it was against the American constitution, against the American Declaration of Independence. That it was anti-biblical. That it was unjust. That it was hypocritical. It was certainly the strongest -- it was Bush at his -- the moral high road of saying, this is just such a mistake. If you watched it, the body language and the face and he gets into his speeches physically, believes that.

KING: Do you think Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell have a lot to do with him going to Africa?

WOODWARD: Yes, certainly -- certainly.

KING: And his emphasis on Africa?

WOODWARD: Yes.

KING: Is that a new emphasis? WOODWARD: It's new for America. I mean, if you talked to the people who follow Africa, they say that Bush is doing and has proposed more to help Africa than Bill Clinton.

KING: This is a political plus?

WOODWARD: I don't know. You know, the more you get into Bush, he's very political. He's a political animal. But something like this, when I talked to him about these things he kept saying, I will seize the opportunity to achieve large purposes. and he keeps going for that, I want to fix things. I want to make them right. I think that's a driving force. Now are there political benefit benefits? And as Karl Rove sitting on his shoulder saying, this is good politics? I'm sure that's part of the story.

KING: The comments about -- that he has made concerning Iraq, where he sort of like -- well, Powell let's go to work -- Powell said first. Powell said it was a minor issue, this thing about uranium and Africa. Do you think it's a minor issue?

WOODWARD: It's got to be explained. But one of the things that's most difficult to understand is what is the basis of an intelligence report? And the CIA and the intelligence community do these things called National Intelligence Estimates. And they are big documents where they take all source intelligence, they put it together, they sit in a room, actually, and debate, do we believe this? Is this credible? Is this supported here?

They do them on things when we're not sure. You don't need a National Intelligence Estimate, for instance, on whether the Soviet Union is collapsed. We know it collapsed. But they would do National Intelligence Estimates on things like, well, what is the threat that Iraq poses? Weapons of mass destruction? And so it clearly says it's an estimate. They make judgments. I've seen some of these things. And there will be a liaison intelligence service report, say from the Jordanians, saying we have a source who says the following. There will be a satellite picture. They're little pieces, little fragments. And it's inevitable one's going to be wrong.

KING: But what makes the State of the Union? That's got to go through -- doesn't that go through a lot of checkpoints?

WOODWARD: Yes, yes, it does. And that's a serious mistake. They've backed off on it in the White House. But Bush needs to explain it. He needs to come forward and say hey, look, people accept in their human relations and in their presidents somebody who says, you know, I messed up on this, and this is how it happened. They need to do that.

KING: Were you surprised that Powell, kind of, dismissed it?

WOODWARD: Well, you know, I'm really on sound ground, here, when I say it's one little piece of thousands of pieces that get sifted when they put something like this together. And you know, I'm sure on occasion, on your show you've said something that turned out to be wrong. You've had bad information. I know in my work, it's happened. And you regret it and you step forward and say, I goofed.

KING: You don't see anything deliberate.

WOODWARD: Not at this point. Not at all. And at the same time, as Richard Nixon said, the cover-up is always worse than the offense. And if they try to not explain it, if they try to say, Oh, you know, we don't have to deal with this, or dismiss it, it's not going to work. They're going to have to come forward and say, Look, this came -- this person -- my understanding is there was some debate about it, and it may have been in one other speech earlier and got deleted and then got put in this one, so...

KING: You say this is a very, very political president. Is Liberia a political decision?

WOODWARD: You know, any of these decisions, yes.

KING: Any decision.

WOODWARD: Yes. That's right.

KING: But basically, will politics play a part in whether troops go there?

WOODWARD: I don't know, but we sure are getting overextended. If you list the countries where we have troops -- can we go around and try to fix everything with troops? You know, there are 100 troops here and 1,000 troops there and 10,000 there, and we have 150,000 in Iraq. I served in the military many decades ago, and there's something called troop morale. And you don't like going out to the desert when you think you're going to go there for two months or three months, and they say, Oh, by the way, we have bad news, and bad news, you're staying, and we don't know when you're leaving.

KING: We'll be right back with Bob Woodward, the assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post." Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today we gather in respect and friendship, mindful of past wrongs and dedicated to the advance of human liberty. At this place, liberty and life were stolen and sold. Human beings were delivered and sorted and weighed and branded with the marks of commercial enterprises and loaded as cargo on a voyage without return. One of the largest migrations of history was also one of the greatest crimes of history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Bob Woodward. Again, "Bush at War" is now out in trade paperwork. His next book will be about the war in Iraq, which, obviously, is an ongoing book. And you can't have that completed yet.

WOODWARD: Not close. Not close. Maybe it will come out in two or three years.

KING: When?

WOODWARD: Well, when we know some of the answers to these pressing and unanswered questions.

KING: Back to the Powell interview again. How committed is this president on the AIDS thing?

WOODWARD: I mean, obviously, a lot -- $15 billion proposal. There's one...

KING: I don't think it came up in the campaign.

WOODWARD: No, it certainly didn't. It came up in the State of the Union address.

KING: First time.

WOODWARD: And I think it was kind of ignored for a while. That's a lot of money. That's a big commitment.

There is an intelligence report that I have heard about where somebody looked at Africa and history and calculated that there is more human misery per capita in Africa than any time, any place, in the history, in the known history of the world.

KING: Right now.

WOODWARD: Right now. A lot of that connects to AIDS. A lot of it connects to the starvation and the other problems they have there. And if you look at it, you can't walk away from it. And clearly, it's to Bush's credit that he has proposed something. Now, the interesting question -- and you asked Powell about this -- well, is that committed? Well, no. The Congress hasn't voted it yet. Well, that's a large amount of money, but it's not an amount of money that the president, if he really expends some political capital, can't get.

KING: Wouldn't you think they would approve it? Politically, as well.

WOODWARD: We'll see. I mean, we're still in the budget realities of -- a lot of money is being spent, and the deficit's going up.

KING: Mr. Powell responded to post-war Iraq as, these things were not unexpected, these things happen after a war. What do you make of our pre-war intelligence vis-a-vis post-war Iraq?

WOODWARD: Well, an occupation is the most difficult thing any country can undertake, and it's...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... happened in Germany in World War II...

WOODWARD: Sure.

KING: ... and Japan. Were there troops killed by angry factions?

WOODWARD: You know, that's a -- I mean, not on the...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODWARD: No, I don't think so. And what that means is the war is still ongoing. And it -- I mean, if you compare it to Vietnam -- and the people in the administration hate a comparison to Vietnam -- but Vietnam, some day it was 6 people killed, sometimes 20, sometimes 100 or more. But it was the drip- drip quality of it. Every day, every couple of days, every week.

KING: It wasn't Americans, was it?

WOODWARD: Oh, yes. In Vietnam? Sure. American soldiers...

KING: Oh, you mean early on.

WOODWARD: Yes, early on.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... post-war.

WOODWARD: No, no. I mean, post-war, we got out.

DONAHUE: Right.

WOODWARD: There were no Americans to be killed.

KING: Right.

WOODWARD: But during the war itself. And it created hydraulic pressure in the political system to say, Hey, wait a minute, what's going on? In this media environment, in the focus on Iraq, it's going to be a campaign issue. If one or two Americans, soldiers, are being killed in Iraq every day or every other day, there's going to be a point where people are going to say, Hey, wait a minute, why did we do this? Was this a necessary war? And it's going to bring back all of those issues of intelligence-wise, what did we know and when did we know it before the war, not just in terms of expectations and the aftermath, but was Saddam Hussein this kind of immediate threat, where he posed a clear and present danger that we had to start a war?

KING: In a TV interview Sunday, the former U.S. envoy, Joseph Wilson, who was sent to Africa to investigate allegations about Iraq's nuclear weapons program, accused the Bush administration of manipulating the findings, spinning intelligence.

WOODWARD: Well, what his complaint is that the CIA sent him to find out if these reports in Niger were true. And he had been the ambassador there, and he had a lot of contacts. And he came back and said they're not true. They deny them. It's unclear -- I think that information definitely got to the White House. Did it get up the line where somebody said, No, that's what's got to be explained? But because something doesn't get to the boss doesn't mean necessarily that they're manipulating something. But it might.

And there's -- something like this, there's an audit trail. You can find out what report came in, who saw it, who passed it up the line, who knew what. There are Bush speeches, for instance, in many cases 20 or 30 drafts of the speech. Things fly in, things fly out. When? Who did it? Who decided? That's got to be explained.

KING: In your early workings on the Iraq book, what thus far -- and it's embryonic -- has surprised you?

WOODWARD: Well, that's a great question. And the first surprise is, when do you start the book?

(LAUGHTER)

WOODWARD: When do you start that movie? Do you go back to the Iran-Iraq war to understand what Saddam Hussein was up to, when he attacked...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODWARD: Well, we supported both sides. That was the way we often did things in the '80s. Do you start it with the Gulf war? Do you start it with Bush, this Bush, becoming president? Do you start it with his dad becoming president? And so forth, because there is a texture and a history to all of this that it's critical to understand. And I am trying to write a somewhat definitive history of how we got there and how these decisions were made.

KING: I think you have to go back.

WOODWARD: Yes. Sure you do. But not to the point that you have 100 pages of history. You have to tell that back story in the narrative.

KING: Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post." Again, "Bush at War" is now out in trade paperwork. And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Bob Woodward.

Hans Blix had loads of critics. Why didn't you find anything? You were there all this time? And now we've had many more inspectors -- thousands, right? -- and we can't find anything. Did he get a bum rap? And what's gone wrong?

WOODWARD: Well, Hans Blix, the head U.N. inspector before the war, kind of played both sides. He said, Well, we haven't found anything yet. We're not sure, but there are lots of questions, lots of documents that have not been provided...

KING: A lot of people rapped him.

WOODWARD: ... and lots of difficulties. Yes. That's right. They did. And now we have overrun and occupied the country, and we haven't found anything. I think that is a giant problem because that was the main reason for going to war that was articulated. Now, there are other reasons. And analytically, you can look at it and say, Look at the history of Saddam Hussein, as we were talking about. He invaded Iran. He invaded Kuwait. He clearly had weapons of mass destruction in the '90s, a bad actor. No one is going to say, Gee, we wish he was back. Or at least no one in this country, I suspect, or only Iraqi agents would think, Gee, let's get him back in power. So it's a good thing.

But the question was, When do you do it? How do you do it? And there was obviously pressure to do it sooner. And we went to war at a time where history may look back on it and say, Gee, was this absolutely necessary? If you find -- if in the end, as lots of people claim, they find all kinds of weapons of mass destruction, barrels of anthrax or some sort of other biological weapons or chemical weapons or the ingredients of chemical weapons hidden away, then people are going to say, Oh, OK. Now I understand. But to find zero is perplexing.

And I think -- there was an editorial in "The Washington Post" which I thought made a lot of sense, said it's more of a mystery than a scandal, at this point. And I think it's a deep mystery.

KING: Must Saddam be caught?

WOODWARD: As Powell said, you know, I'm sure it would be great. And I'm sure a lot of those -- I'm sure if -- what is the reward, $25 million?

KING: That's a lot.

WOODWARD: I'm sure if Bush and Cheney went out and held fund- raisers -- Let's up the ante -- you could get it to many hundreds of millions of dollars. I think people -- Saddam on the loose as a dark symbol, making tapes -- making tapes that -- you know, it's the shadow again. The shadow is here, then he's there.

KING: Who knows what...

WOODWARD: Who knows where he lurks? It's psychologically devastating to the war effort, and I'm sure to people who supported him, great encouragement. Now, if he's captured or dead, you know, the cause probably dies.

KING: And bin Laden?

WOODWARD: Same. You know, here -- somebody was joking the other day that bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are going to have a radio talk show.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODWARD: Out of -- you know, here they are?

KING: Nothing...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODWARD: Why? What's going on? And I think one of the things you have to ask as an investigator trying to get to the bottom of this is, how in the hell can two people like that evade the biggest manhunt, dual manhunts, in history, with the technological capability that we have, the willingness to buy spies and agents? It's baffling. And it's suggestive, in a dark way, that there are -- is an underground of supply, of money, communications, support to both of these characters that we don't understand.

KING: Will it -- they be a political issue?

WOODWARD: Sure.

KING: In the campaign?

WOODWARD: Sure, and they should be. And you know, why? Again, does -- could anybody have done it? Could one of the Democrats, if they'd been president, or elected president -- can one of them run on a platform of, I promise we'll find Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden? No.

KING: Does Bob Woodward know the real story of PFC Jessica Lynch?

WOODWARD: No. No. And...

KING: What do you make of that?

WOODWARD: ... there are lots of things about that, and my paper has done some very good reporting on that. I think they got some reports that were wrong initially, or at least not substantiated. And they did follow-on stories and explained. And there are all kinds of rumors. And I have heard things that I cannot verify. I've heard things that I would not repeat or print. And we'll just have to see.

KING: Are we ever going to find it out?

WOODWARD: You know, the...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODWARD: As Ben Bradlee -- yes. Ben Bradlee, the former editor of "The Post," always says the truth emerges. And it does. And it may be 10 or 15 years from now or it may be tomorrow.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Bob Woodward. Lin Wood, the attorney for the Ramseys, is our special guest tomorrow night. Back with Mr. Woodward after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Bob Woodward.

You spent a lot of time with George Bush. "Bush at War" contains a lot of interview, a lot of portion of the interview with him. He recently said "Bring 'em on" in a taunt to Iraqi militants. Is that wise? Is that Wild West?

WOODWARD: That's Bush. You know, kind of...

KING: Dead or alive?

WOODWARD: It's -- dead or alive. We're not getting out of this fight. We're staying, and we're not afraid of what you will do. Now, I think somebody looking at that who had their son or a spouse killed in Iraq would say, Hey, wait a minute, that taunting approach is not necessary. But that's Bush's way, and Bush's way, as we know, is not always articulate. It's visceral. And he says all the time and when I talk to him also, I'm not a textbook player, I'm an instinct guy, and my instinct -- and that instinct often is just lay it out there. Does it have any resonance inside Iraq, where people supporting Saddam Hussein or not liking Americans or -- I don't know. How does that translate into Arabic?

KING: What do your sources tell you about the 9/11 investigation, the Kean commission?

WOODWARD: This is an attempt to find out not only what failures, if any, there were before 9/11 -- why didn't we know, could we have stopped it, have we learned the lessons -- but what was the nature of the response? I think that's a very broad investigation. I think it's going to be very hard. As I understand it, they may not be able to interview Bush. And you know, here it is, a presidential...

(CROSSTALK)

WOODWARD: ... commission. What did he think about this? What was his response? The transcript of my interview takes Bush through, you know, What did you think? Why did you do it? I asked him 300 questions, and they were very -- you know, at this moment, Why? Where did that come from? What did you think of Cheney? What did you think of Powell? And so forth. I would hope they would get more information.

KING: Do you know how we're doing in the war on terror? Are we winning?

WOODWARD: Well, it's a great question also. And there's been no attack in this country since 9/11, and it is amazing. And if you had the top officials laid out on sodium pentathol, the truth serum, and you said, What is the thing that you don't understand? And they'd say that. Why -- we know there are all these al Qaeda people. They have the capability. Certainly, we have disrupted them, the war in Afghanistan. Chasing and destroying that sanctuary for bin Laden was very, very significant. But it is strange.

And I have posited, which no one agrees with, that there's somebody who told them to wait, that there is some communication system and there is some reason why they are waiting. And...

KING: Waiting to do something bad.

WOODWARD: Waiting to do something, multiple attacks or something. When something doesn't happen and all kinds of people have the capability...

KING: Is it possible things, as the head of the FBI told us on Tuesday night, things have been prevented?

WOODWARD: Oh, sure. Oh, there's no question. Much has been prevented. The funding, communication has been cut off and...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I mean a planned attack that was stopped...

WOODWARD: Yes.

KING: ... that we don't know about?

WOODWARD: Yes. I think many of them, mostly abroad. The question is -- you know, it just takes one person. And there are supposedly -- and there's a lot of evidence to support this. There are thousands of committed people out there who want to harm America. Well, one bomber someplace, some mall or, you know, in some city in America, killing lots of people would be a gigantic event. For some reason, that has not happened. And I wonder if somebody said wait for a reason which we don't even perceive.

KING: In your new book, which someone jocularly said could be called "Bush Still at War"...

WOODWARD: Bush -- "More Bush at War."

KING: "More Bush at War," "Bush at War II" -- what if -- this is all hypothetics -- Bush were to lose the election? What would this do to the book?

(LAUGHTER)

WOODWARD: Oh, well, the book will come out before the election. That's for sure. It seems to me that how he did and what he did is one of the critical issues in the election.

KING: And it will affect the election.

WOODWARD: You know, I don't -- it's not written for that purpose.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODWARD: But it just seems to me -- I know a lot now and, hopefully, I'll know more in the coming months. And it would be contrary to what I try to do to not publish it before the election so people can make an evaluation. People have read that book on the response to 9/11. A lot of people say it shows Bush strong and bold and decisive. Others have read it and pointed out the moments where he's uncertain, when he's impulsive.

I don't -- as we've talked about many times -- see it through a political lens. I try to figure out what happened. People are entitled to that information. And in a sense, it's a scorecard.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) down, right?

WOODWARD: Yes, and it's a scorecard...

KING: Right down (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

WOODWARD: ... of presidential decision making, and that -- how he does on that answers the question, I think, who he is.

KING: Thanks, Robert.

WOODWARD: Thank you.

KING: Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post," Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. "Bush at War" now out in trade paperback, another one coming on the war with Iraq.

We'll tell you about tomorrow night right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night, Lin Wood, the prominent attorney from Atlanta, has a whole new bunch of information on the JonBenet Ramsey killing. You'll want to watch that tomorrow night. Right now, "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown is next. Good night.

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