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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

What Is The State Of Iraq? Are the Democrats Wrong In Continuing To Pursue The Shoddy Intelligence? What Should We Do With Liberia? Interview With Ambassador Paul Bremer/Analysis of Post-War Iraq

Aired July 23, 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: Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, the man in charge of rebuilding post-war Iraq. Saddam Hussein's two sons were killed yesterday. Will this help the United States keep peace in Iraq and maybe catch Saddam himself? We'll ask Ambassador Bremer. And then: Still no weapons of mass destruction found yet, and the debate over Iraq rages on with Senators John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Bob Graham, former chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee and now a Democratic presidential hopeful,
"New York Times" bioterrorism reporter Judith Miller, and Representatives Chris Shays, chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, and Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Welcome to another special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We begin with Ambassador Paul Bremer, the presidential envoy to Iraq, civilian administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority. He's one of the world's foremost experts, by the way, on crisis management, terrorism and homeland security. It's always great to welcome him to this program. He was with the president today when the announcement was made in the Rose Garden.

What's the importance of the death of these two sons?

AMB. L. PAUL BREMER, CIVILIAN ADMIN. COALITION PROV. AUTH.: Well, Larry, it's very important. These guys were, obviously, the closest associates of Saddam Hussein. They were intimately involved in the crimes and torture of his administration. And the fact that we got him and killed them is really very good news for the Iraqis, as you saw with the celebratory gunfire in Baghdad last night.

KING: Do we have to show them they were really them? In other words, do we have to release photos? What has to be shown to prove to the people that it was who they say it was?

BREMER: Well, I think that we do need to consider doing something like that. I think we'll find in the next couple of days that we'll take some steps in response to requests from Iraqis to prove that we've got these guys dead. I think that's useful, and we will certainly try to do everything to satisfy that need.

KING: Did you know this operation was taking place? I know you were in the United States when it happened, right?

BREMER: I did not know. I was here. And I'm delighted with the outcome.

KING: What's your overall assessment of how things are going there, from your viewpoint?

BREMER: Well, you know, Larry, they're going a lot better than sometimes you'd be led to believe if you weren't in Baghdad. We've made a lot of progress, even just on the security question. I've been in Baghdad now a couple of months. When I arrived there in early May, Baghdad was a city on fire. There were no vehicles anywhere there except for military vehicles, and there were no shops open. There was no economic activity. I actually slept the first couple of weeks with earplugs in my ears because the sound of the gunfire was so loud at night.

These things have all been changed dramatically now. There's a lot of activity on the streets. The stores are open. It's just a very different place.

KING: But the story, I guess, of a killing a day -- that's the headline, isn't it.

BREMER: Well, it is a headline. And of course, every one of these losses is a deep tragedy for the people whose -- who -- the families of the people who get killed. But it's important to remember that we're making really steady progress against these security threats. It is a very narrow threat, a narrow group of people in a very small part of the country where the attacks are taking place. Most of Iraq is quiet. The north is quiet. The Shia heartland south of Baghdad, all the way to the Kuwaiti border is quiet. This is not a country in chaos. We have some problems, and we're dealing with them. But it's really remarkably better than it was two months ago.

KING: What, Mr. Ambassador, about this whole situation since your arrival has surprised you?

BREMER: You know, the thing that has surprised me the most is the incredible damage that Saddam Hussein's 35 years did to the economy there. It's really almost impossible to exaggerate how much damage he did. He did not invest in infrastructure. That's why we have so much trouble getting power to all the people. He didn't invest in water treatment or in sewage. He did not really invest in any kind of infrastructure throughout the economy, and it really gives us a huge, long-term job to put it back together.

KING: The country had enormous income from its oil production. Where did that go?

BREMER: Well, a third of it went year after year, year in and year out, to military expenditures, huge amounts of ammunition, arms. A number -- a very large -- billions of dollars went to wasteful projects like the palaces that we see in every single city. And of course, billions of dollars was just outright stolen by Saddam and his family and squirreled away in bank accounts around the world.

KING: Over the weekend, you said you thought he was still alive in and in country. Based on? BREMER: Well, first of all, it's based on being the only safe assumption. I think there's not much question he's alive. We've seen a number of tapes issued since...

KING: Yes.

BREMER: ... since April that have been found to be his voice. I think it's safe to assume he's in the country, as we assumed his sons were in the country. We'll get him. Sooner or later, we'll get him.

KING: Who's he talking to? What do you think the purpose of the tapes are?

BREMER: Purpose of the tapes were to rally these small group of bitter-enders, old Ba'athists, killers from the Fedayeen Saddam, to rally them around to continue their program of assassination and attack on the coalition and on the Iraqi people. He has no popular support in Iraq. And indeed, we saw from the happiness that the Iraqis felt when his sons were killed that, on the contrary, people do not want him back.

KING: Frankly, on a personal note, would you rather see him alive and face a trial and face all the -- let the accusations be heard of the things he did?

BREMER: I -- you can make an argument either way. I think we will just have to deal with him when we -- when we find him. My assumption is that, like his sons, he will fight back, and it may not be that easy to take him alive. It'll just be a matter of what the tactical military commander on the ground decides.

KING: What's your assessment of the WMD situation?

BREMER: Well, you know, I think -- we've got a new guy there, David Kay, who used to be an inspector under the U.N., in charge of the program now. I meet him regularly. He's doing a wonderful job of reorienting the -- reorienting the look (ph), and I think I am confident, as he is, that he will find evidence of chemical and biological programs.

KING: You're positive he will?

BREMER: I'm confident. "Positive" goes farther than "confident." I'm confident he will find it.

KING: Do you have any reaction to the -- the furor over the president's statements in the State of the Union message?

BREMER: You know, as it is, Larry, I've got quite a lot on my hands out in Baghdad, so I try to avoid wading into the Washington squalls. I got plenty to do on my own.

KING: Now, what is your specific role? Lay out the job for me that you're responsible for.

BREMER: Well, under international law, the United States and Britain became occupying powers. It's an ugly word. I don't like it anymore than any Americans do. But with that comes a lot of responsibility. We are effectively the sovereign power in Iraq. So my job, as coalition administrator, is effectively to run Iraq until we get a sovereign Iraqi government there. And that means making all the major decisions about how Iraq reconstitutes itself now politically, economically and so forth.

KING: And that's no easy pickin's, is it?

BREMER: No. Nobody every promised it was going to be a bed of roses. I will say it's hard work. It's exciting work. It's very rewarding because I get to see progress almost every day in our -- in our program of reconstruction, and that is -- that's very rewarding.

KING: Isn't it very hard to create a democracy where none has existed?

BREMER: Yes, it is. And you know, there's no Iraqi alive, really, who has an active memory of what a democracy should be like. So we have a real program here of self-education on the part of the Iraqis, figuring out what it means to be free and to be democratic.

KING: Yes, and that's going to take a while, isn't it?

BREMER: It will. It'll be pretty rough-and-ready for a while, until they learn habits. But we've had wonderful examples of democracy. There's something like 150 new newspapers since liberation. There are radio stations all over the place. Iraqis are free to demonstrate, and they've demonstrated against me a fair number of times since I've been there. This is something they couldn't do before.

KING: How do you react to that?

BREMER: Oh, I take it as part of the -- part of the ebullience that comes with being free after 35 years. I'm -- I'm -- I got pretty thick skin.

KING: We're going to spend some more moments with Ambassador Bremer, and then panels of senators and congresspeople will be joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back with Ambassador Paul Bremer right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Ambassador Paul Bremer, the presidential envoy to Iraq. He was with President Bush today in the Rose Garden, civilian administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority. He's one of the world's foremost experts on crisis management, terrorism and homeland security.

What about the -- what's our responsibility in all of this? I mean, how do you view the United States' responsibility to Iraq and its people?

BREMER: I think we have, by liberating them, acquired a very important responsibility, Larry, to see this through. We won the war in an extraordinary way. We now have to consolidate the peace and the democracy. And I think -- you know, my impression is when Americans undertake a noble cause like this, we see it through. We're not quitters. And I'm very confident we will see this through.

KING: How about help from other countries?

BREMER: We need it, and we have it. We have 19 other countries already on the ground with troops there. We have more than two dozen countries which have made contributions already financially to the reconstruction, and we would welcome more in both categories.

KING: Should we expect more killings?

BREMER: Yes. I think it is an unfortunate fact that we are faced with a small band of renegades who are professional killers and who will continue to try to attack us to effectively roll back the tide of history. But history is flowing in the direction of freedom in Iraq. They won't succeed. We will have bumps in the road as we go ahead. We should be frank about that. We'll have some good days and some bad days. But there's no direction about -- no question about the outcome. We're moving ahead, and we're going to succeed.

KING: You had no experience in an operation like this. Who's run an occupation? You have to go back to what, 1945 or '46 in Germany or Japan, right?

BREMER: Well, I certainly had no experience. That's true. And I was pretty young in '45 and '46, so I don't have much of a memory of it.

KING: So what frustrates you the most?

BREMER: Well, I think what's frustrating now is how hard it is to get quick action on fixing the economy. I'll give you a good example, which is electric power. We have only 4,000 megawatts of electric power available in the entire country. That's the same amount there was before the war. But we need 6,000 megawatts. So no matter how well we do -- and we do intend to restore to pre-war levels in the next 60 days. But even when we do that, we're going to be about a third short of what's needed. That's very frustrating. It's not easy to produce 2,000 megawatts of power quickly. You can't. And look, you have the Iraqi people understandably frustrated because they want more power and they want to be able to have their -- have the power quickly.

It's frustrating. We'll work on it, and we'll move forward and we'll get them back to pre-war levels here in the next 60 days.

KING: On Tuesday, Kofi Annan said that it's very important that a full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty take place. How goes it with the new governing council?

BREMER: Well, the new governing council is making good strides. They had representatives at that session you mentioned yesterday. They had a delegation. They've got real responsibilities. They've got to appoint a cabinet. They've got to help do a budget for next year. The path towards sovereignty is really in their hands because they have to write a constitution. And once they do that and we hold elections, there will be a sovereign Iraqi government, and the coalition's authority will no longer be sovereign.

KING: How long is that going to take, you think?

BREMER: I really don't know, Larry. It's in their hands. I -- in my optimistic mood, I like to think that we could have elections some time next year, and I certainly hope we can keep moving along that path. I think it's important to the Iraqi people to see a reasonable timetable ahead of them, and I certainly will be pushing along. I'd like to go as quickly as they can.

KING: There still is an American presence in Germany. How long a presence in Iraq?

BREMER: Well, that's very hard to say. I'm focused on the part that I'm immediately responsible for, which is the coalition authority. And I think, realistically, if we can get elections in the next 12 to 18 months, then the coalition authority will fade away. But as has been the case in Germany and Japan, other places, I think we'll probably need to have some security presence for some period after that, but that really lies down the road. It lies in the discussion that'll take place when we get a sovereign Iraqi government. And they'll reach their own conclusions about their security needs.

KING: Any fear of interference from Iran, which would probably like to upset things?

BREMER: Yes, we've seen interference by Iran. It's not responsible. We believe that Iraq's neighbors should leave Iraq alone while it's going through this difficult transition period. And I must say, Larry, most Iraqis agree. Most Iraqis have a good sense of nation, and they do not like the prospect of neighbors, particularly in the case of Iran, interfering in their affairs.

KING: What, in your opinion, is the role of the U.N. now?

BREMER: Well, the U.N. has played a vital role and can continue to play a vital role. I've worked very closely with the secretary general's special representative. I've met with the secretary general in Amman a couple of weeks ago. There are more than a dozen U.N. specialized agencies very active on the ground in Iraq. And I see an ongoing process here with the U.N. in the months ahead.

KING: How long do you see yourself doing this?

BREMER: I wish I knew the answer. I know my wife wants to know the answer. I'll do it until the job is done, and so that's another reason to think I'm not going to be dragging my feet.

KING: You've been a lifetime in the diplomatic corps. You were also in the private sector. Do you miss that at all? BREMER: Well, I'll tell you, Larry, I was in the public -- public service, as you point out, for 23 years. There is an enormous reward for public service. I commend it to any American. I think it's a reward that obviously is not very -- very remunerative from a monetary point of view. The private sector I enjoyed. I had training in business school, so I enjoyed running a business. I like them both, and this is a phase of my life where I'm back in public service.

KING: One other thing. It's one of your expertise. How secure are we now?

BREMER: I think we are substantially more secure than we were before September 11. I've been impressed by the efforts the president has pushed forward, and of course, by Tom Ridge, who's a good friend, in the homeland security area. But we need to be realistic. We are faced with a terrorist threat that -- as the president said in his speech to the country right after September 11, this is a threat that is going to be with us for a long time, for many years. We're going to have to be very patient and very relentless. And it's the same in Iraq. It's going to take a long time.

KING: When do you go back?

BREMER: I'm going back after the weekend.

KING: Thank you so much, Paul.

BREMER: Nice to be with you.

KING: Appreciate it. Ambassador Paul Bremer, the presidential envoy to Iraq, the civilian administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority. We thank him very much for spending this time with us.

Two prominent members of the United States Senate join us next right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE from our studios in Washington, Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. In that capacity, he recently led a Senate delegation to Iraq. He's a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, a military veteran, former secretary of the Navy. And Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, former chairman of Select Committee on Intelligence, member of the National Security Caucus and a candidate for his party's nomination for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.

Senator Warner, overall, what did you make of the remarks of Ambassador Bremer?

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: Oh, Larry, I think you very skillfully brought out the progress that he and a wonderful team of individuals are making. We're fortunate, as a country, to have men like Bremer step up and leave his family on short notice and take over those responsibilities. As you said, I visited with him two weeks ago when I was in Baghdad. Progress is being made. And I loved his phrase -- and I was with him on Saturday, just after he got off the plane here -- democracy, the long road of democracy is on its way in that country. And that's what our president and other coalition partners have set out to do, let the Iraqi people be free, establish their own nation and become a very viable nation in that part of the region. And that nation, as a democracy, will send a very strong signal to all those nations, and the first word is, Don't harbor terrorists.

KING: Senator Graham, are you as optimistic?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), FORMER CHAIRMAN, SELECT INTEL. CMTE.: Well, first, I think Ambassador Bremer is an exceptionally able person, and all Americans wish him well in an extremely difficult assignment. And I share my friend John's statement about the thoroughness and skill with which you brought out his statement of position.

Let me tell you what my concern is. I have spent a fair amount of time in the last few weeks in places like New Hampshire and Iowa. In the last few days, for the first time, I started hearing people say, We've got to get out of Iraq. I think the principal thing that is causing that feeling is this constant number of Americans being killed in Iraq. Also, there was a shock when they saw that the cost of the occupation was going to go up to approximately a billion dollars a week and where the duration of our stay is not being expressed in weeks or months, but now in years.

So I think Ambassador Bremer has a number of important tasks, one of which is to convince the American people that things are going well enough to justify our continued occupation.

KING: Senator Warner, do you think the killing of the two sons might have swayed some of those doubts?

WARNER: You know, all along, it's been a sound premise that so long as Saddam Hussein is still alive -- and it appears that he is -- and indeed, those two sons, you felt, as I did when I was in Baghdad and other -- two other cities, his presence instilled fear in the people. And that translated into those people not sharing more intelligence with our military and others and hampering the effort to locate the weapons of mass destruction, which I'm confident are there and, certainly, the programs in support.

And now, with the two sons gone, it sends a couple of signals. First and foremost, those brave troops that pulled this off -- that morale had to be very high to take the risks they did. And indeed, several were wounded. Secondly, it sent a message to those still in hiding, You better get out of those holes and show your face and surrender or you could meet the same fate. And I think it'll begin to release the information to our forces to where the others are and to stop the killings that every one of us in this nation and, indeed, worldwide with the coalition feel the grief of the families.

KING: Senator Graham, are you concerned about the morale of the troops, and you think it might pick up in view of those events? GRAHAM: I am concerned. John has just been there, so he can comment more firsthand about the status of the morale. But what I'm hearing from my colleagues is that these soldiers are tired. They're under a lot of stress. They've fought a war. Many of them have been in the region for up to a year. I think it's very important that we internationalize this occupation. We need to have some people from Europe and from the Middle East who can give some relief to our soldiers. We need more troops in order to secure the region, and we then need an additional increment of non-American troops so we can begin to bring some of our men and women home.

KING: Senator Warner, Donald Rumsfeld is going to release the photos of the dead boys. Good idea?

WARNER: You know something that I don't know. I was with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs just an hour or so ago, and we discussed that point. If you know that to be a fact, then...

KING: I'm told that he now says the United States will release photos of the corpses of the two Husseins.

WARNER: Well, what Don Rumsfeld has in mind -- and I share the thoughts of Bob on many things, but I don't want Bob's comments tonight to indicate that this president, these troops or anybody's going to cut and run. We are there to stay and fulfill this mission. We're not going to see a repeat of Somalia or Beirut or when we went in to rescue in Teheran. We are going to stick this one out, and let everybody be sure of that. We regret the losses, but these troops, I think, are of high morale.

Now, back to the release of the photos. I hope -- and I'm sure -- that Rumsfeld was guided by one thing: What is best to protect our troops from further losses? Is it to release the photos? And I judge he's come to that conclusion by your statement. He's doing it in the best interests to stop the killings of our troops and the coalition troops and to bring about as quickly as possible a security so the Iraqi people can take over.

KING: We're going to get a break and come right back with more of Senators John Warner and Bob Graham. And then we'll be meeting Judith Miller of "The New York Times" and Congressman Chris Shays and Congresswoman Jane Harman.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday in the city of Mosul, the careers of two of the regime's chief henchman came to an end. Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for torture, maiming and murder of countless Iraqis. Now, more than ever, all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: By the way the Secretary of State of the State of California has announced that there are enough ballot signitures to have an election questioning whether or not to recall the governor Gray Davis.

Our guests are Senators John Warner and Bob Graham. We're touching bases on a lot of thing. There is going to be a report tomorrow, Senator Graham on the commission studying 9/11, anything you heard about what we might hear?

GRAHAM: Well I think there will be a lot of new information in this report, Larry, and it will be organized with a beginning, middle, and an end, so people who will read the 800+ page document will get a sense of what transpired both before September 11, some of the lessons that have been learned, and then recommendations to avoid, or at least reduce the chances, of a repetition.

The question that started much of these inquiries was the question, could September 11 have been avoided. Different people may read this report and come to a variety of conclusions. In my own position I think the answer is yes, that there were enough gaps, turf protections, and lack of the standard of professionalism that we would expect of intelligence agencies. If those had been eliminated, plus some luck, it would have required some assistance from that vein as well, we could have found out about the plotters and disrupted the plot before they struck us.

KING: What do you make of that Sen. Warner?

WARNER: Well, Bob and I discussed it here a few minutes ago. I actually brought a copy of it with me tonight, Larry. But it was handed in our intelligence committee, of which I'm a member, this evening and here it is. We were asked to not comment on it until 2 o'clock tomorrow so I follow the rigid rules of our committee and I'll not say anything until 2 o'clock tomorrow.

I just hope that the American public feels that the system of Democracy is working in this country and that the congress has functions to do and oversight and I hope they judge us to have been a responsible and fair and balanced report.

KING: Senator Graham any Democrats who are critical of the president and possible misinformation concerning nuclear weaponry for Iraq. Bill Clinton, on this program last night, said he thought the White House did the right thing in saying they probably shouldn't have said it, but that we ought to move on.

GRAHAM: I agree with that. You can only deal with the future, you can't rewrite the past. There are some important lessons in the past, such as, in the report that we will release tomorrow, and in the evidence leading up to the war in Iraq, but fundamentally the challenges, of the kind of challenges, that the ambassador talked about earlier in the program, in both in Iraq and maintaining the support of Americans here for a continued U.S. occupation in Iraq.

KING: Couple of other things. Senator Warner what's going to happen in Liberia?

WARNER: I'd like to talk about that. I brought that Clinton quote in and that was a great program last night on Bob Dole. But the president said, you know, every body makes mistakes when they are president. And that says a lot, and I think we're going to put this one behind us very quickly, because the CIA director has admitted that he made an error in judgment as did the White House staff. So let's get on. We have to back this president. He's a war time president. We are taking hits all over the world today in the cause of Democracy and freedom.

Liberia, I studied that very closely and I am concerned about that situation. From a humanitarian standpoint it is very serious, we've seen it already, hundreds and hundreds of innocent people killed, but the question is whether or not it's in our vital security interest. Can we put our troops in there with a plan by which they can achieve a goal which has to be set forth? Then what's the exit plan? Much of that, as I've studied, is dependent upon on an organization called Ecowas (ph) which is a group of some 15 African states who are committing to put in place a force now. Then, that's to be followed by United Nations force later on in the fall, October, November.

There are a lot of if's in this thing and, although our president, quite properly, is studying this thing very carefully, he has not made a decision. And I hope the congress can look at it very carefully before any finally decision is made.

KING: Senator Graham is time growing short?

GRAHAM: Yes, with the violence that is going in in Liberia, we don't have very much time to make a decision if we're going to be able to effect the outcome. I think that the beginnings of our decision in Iraq -- in Liberia, begin in Iraq because we've got to decide how much pressure, how many deployment we can ask of our military. And I think it underscores the importance of internationaling the occupation in Iraq so that we can get an adequate number of troops on the ground and begin to give some relief to our soldiers who are there.

KING: And gentleman, we only have a minute left. Senator Warner, we ever going to find WMDs?

WARNER: Oh yes, I have confidence in that. The programs we know -- after all, 3 presidents looked at this and decided he had weapons of mass destruction. We found them, after we went in in '91. President Clinton bombed in December of '98, I remember going to the Pentagon and visiting with my old colleague Bill Cohen, then Secretary of Defense and working through that decision.

So there's been a continuity of decisions, not only here in the United States, but worldwide he has weapons of mass destruction.

KING: Senator Graham?

GRAHAM: Well I certainly hope that we find weapons of mass destruction, because the consequences of failing to unearth them will be a serious erosion of U.S. credibility around the world, and a further strain on the relationship between Americans and their government.

KING: Thank you both again. We'll be calling on you again. Senator's John Warner and Bob Graham. When we come back, Congressman Christopher Shays, Representative Jane Harmon, and Judith Miller, the Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent of "The New York Times". Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now welcome Judith Miller, the Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent with "The New York Times," wrote the best seller, germs, biological warfare, and America's secret war.

Representative Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut, chairman of the government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations.

And Representative Jane Harman, Democrat of California, ranking Democrat of the permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She went to Iraq earlier this month. So did Congressman Shays.

Judith miller, what did you make of the general comments of ambassador Bremer?

JUDITH MILLER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I thought he was very upbeat. He is, as usual, extremely articulate. And I suppose that the Bush administration is hoping that his predictions can come true, that he can, in fact, make the changes that he intends to make within the next two to four months because, obviously, a great deal depends on it.

KING: What do you think is the significance, Congressman Shays, of Bremer coming back to the United States?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R-CN), CHMN. NAT. SEC. SUB-CMTE.: Well, he wants to make sure that we in Congress know what he's doing. He really impressed members yesterday. He impressed people when he was in Jordan when I was there. He's a straight shooter, no spin. And we have a much better idea of what his challenges are, and we need to know those challenges.

KING: What impressed you the most in Iraq, Congresswoman Harmon?

REP. JANE HARMAN (D-CA), DEM. SEL. INTEL. CMTE.: How tough it is, Larry. It's 120 degrees. Security's an issue everywhere. The palaces are horrible with plastic chandeliers and plumbing that doesn't work. We've got very brave kids there and a big hill to climb. I would say also positive things about Jerry Bremer, with whom I served in '99 and 2000 in a commission on terrorism.

But he's going to run out of money next February, and we're putting all the money left in the treasury, which ain't a whole lot, into Iraq, at a billion dollars a week. And the patience is going to run out with this effort. And I really need to hear some -- something from the administration about internationalizing the reconstruction efforts so that others can share in the costs and share in the burdens. Otherwise, I think we may have a catastrophe.

KING: Judith, how long do you think this is going to take?

MILLER: Well, it depends on how you define "it", Larry. I think one of the most positive developments that we have seen was the installation of the Iraqi National Council. This group of Iraqis who truly are reflective of the country, appointed by Jerry Bremer. I think the training of the security force is obviously very important -- and both in terms of what it represents to Iraqis, but also diminishing American vulnerability. The longer term agenda of building a democracy in the Middle East, I wonder whether or not the United States actually has the staying power for that. And how long an engagement the administration envisions because they have not been clear about that.

KING: Chris Shays?

SHAYS: This president has sustained power, whether he's in office to next year or five years total, he's determined to make sure that this is not a failure. Failure can't be an option for us. And so, obviously, we do need more money. When we had our hearings last Friday on the rebuilding effort, the NGOs, the non-government agencies, Save the Children, World Vision, CARE, they were saying to us that we need to get the U.N. in on a more significant way. Not treat them as another NGOs, but as someone to help the other NGOs organize their relief effort.

KING: And you, Congresswoman Harman, do you think the money is going to come through -- by the way, where is it coming from?

HARMAN: I don't know what tree it's going to grow on, Larry. We have an almost $500 billion annual deficit now. $2 trillion additional debt and the states are going bankrupt. Just think about our state of California with a 38 billion dollar annual deficit. We are laying off police and fire services. We need to understand that Iraq was a threat, and I agree that it was and I did support the resolution. Iran is a huge and emerging threat. North Korea is an even bigger threat. And we are basically defunding our homeland security effort. We're laying off police and fire services in our hometown. So if you ask Americans what's on their mind, it's a lot of other things other than Iraq, and I do worry about staying power.

KING: Judith, you're an expert on weapons of mass destruction. I know you've written many articles on it. One was very controversial, and I'm not going to discuss that tonight, that's for another program.

However, do they have them, will we find them?

MILLER: I think at this point, Larry, one must be agnostic. I am struck by the fact that the administration itself is speaking more and more about chemical and biological programs as opposed to weapons. David Kaye (ph), who is now in charge of the effort over in Iraq, says that he is personally convinced that the United States will be able to make a case that shows that Iraq had advanced programs and perhaps some weapons. But the issue is does Iraq have the weapons that would pose the clear and present danger that was implicit in the administration's remarks before we went to war? I think that's the question some of the Democratic critics have been asking and that the administration has been rather slow to answer.

KING: And how do you respond to it -- Chris.

SHAYS: That's an easy response. We knew he had weapons before the first Gulf War. After the Gulf War, he started to destroy his weapons. But when we started to destroy his program, that's when he kicked us out in '98. That's what he feared the most. He could always rebuild the weapons, but if we spoke to the men and women who make the weapons, then his program gets destroyed. Hans Blix, knew he still had these weapons. He never certified that he destroyed them. So the bottom line is we had every reason to assume he has them, and we'll find them.

KING: Jane.

HARMAN: I think we'll find the programs too. I think David Kaye is capable. I met with him a week ago. However, a number of the predictions made by our intelligence committee were wrong. Our troops were not hit with chemical weapons when they crossed the bedroom from Kuwait. Missiles with chemical and biological weapons were not lobbed over at Israel, and we haven't found any stockpiles, and we may never find them. I think we had a Soviet model in mind. It's clearly not the model the Iraqis use. They built denial and deception into their program. I worry, Larry, that the chemical and biological weapons are there and that they still could be used against our troops in the ground in Iraq. And that's very, very dangerous.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and include some phone as well. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Very informational program tonight. I want to get to some calls. Do you think, Judith Miller, the arms conflict, we should go back in?

MILLER: Well, I think, Larry, that as I reported on Sunday in the paper, that although the mobile exploitation teams that I covered in the field were highly motivated and really disciplined and a terrific group of guys -- they were just the best -- what you really need in Iraq and haven't had, despite the recommendations of all the experts, are some former international inspectors. And they were never present in the first round of the weapons hunt. Really, this weapons hunt didn't have a lot of priority, and a lot of the recommendations that were given to the administration were ignored. Now we need those people, and they're beginning to come in.

KING: Chris, a good idea?

SHAYS: Absolutely. I mean, we were kicked out when we started talking to the men and women who make these weapons, and we're not talking to those men and women. They're the ones who are going to help us understand the program and maybe find the actual weapons.

KING: Nicklesville, Virginia -- I'm sorry, Jane. Go ahead.

HARMON: I actually think the effort we're fielding is the right effort. We now have David Kaye, who is a former weapons inspectors, highly experienced, with a good strategic sense about how to do this differently. He's not reading 7 1/2 miles of documents first. He's talking to middle level scientists who know where these programs are and how they were compartmentized. And he's got the defense department working for him. I think this is a new direction and probably will get the job done.

KING: Nicklesville, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. My question is for the panel. Why do you think the Democrat presidential nominees who voted for the war in Iraq and now see Governor Dean surging in the polls, especially in California and New Hampshire, with his anti-war rhetoric, are now starting to criticize President Bush for the things they voted for when they knew they had the biological weapons? Thank you.

KING: Jane?

MILLER: Well, I can't speak for them. My position is to want to find all the facts. The truth is, as I just said, that some of our predictions were wrong. There were also clearly was a difference in the statement of some of the policy makers, the senior policy makers in the government, from what our intelligence actually said. Our intelligence had caveats and qualifiers. Their statements didn't. And some of the claims about nuclear capability and the al Qaeda connection, I think, were extremely weak, and we're learning that.

So I want to know how accurate our intelligence was in order to know whether it will be accurate in North Korea and Iran and elsewhere. Our credibility is at stake. I don't speak for the presidential candidates. I speak as a member of Congress, one of 435, and I happen to be ranking member on the intelligence committee. That's where we're going on a bipartisan basis.

KING: Lakeland, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. I'm very glad to speak with you tonight, and my question is for the panel. If the weapons are not found, the weapons of mass destruction, why would the war be considered a loss? We've killed the sons, and I think we've come a long way. Thank you.

KING: Congressman Shays, supposing they're never found?

SHAYS: Well , you know, we feel they're there. We think we need to find them, but clearly, we knew after September 11 we had to deal with Saddam Hussein. We couldn't allow this festering sore that had cost $300 billion to the Iraqi people, it was a problem, for us, being stationed in Turkey and in Saudi Arabia. We needed to end this standoff. Ultimately, I believe -- and I think most people believe, and I think that's one reason why they supported this war -- was we knew we could help bring peace to the Middle East when we could have a significant role to play between Palestinians and Israelis. And, finally, I think it's proof to the other Arab leaders that we are going to stand up to terrorism and demand that the world change a bit.

KING: Stephensville, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry, long time admirer. I have a question for the panel. Does the panel believe that we've achieved victory in Iraq at this state? And if not, what will victory in Iraq look like?

KING: Judith Miller, you want to take that? Is this a victory?

MILLER: Well, there is certainly a military victory. That cannot be disputed. The issue is whether or not Iraq can become a stable and free country and a Democratic one, as the administration says is its goal. And time will tell.

HARMON: Let me chime in on that. I think we won the war, but we have not won the peace. And if we do not win the peace, I don't think that that's a victory. I would also say, adding to what Chris just said, that the claim that there were weapons of mass destruction that could be used was the claim for the timing of the war effort. If we hadn't had this imminent threat, then I think diplomacy could have been given a longer chance to work. So my view is that the timing of the war was based on these claims, and they have to be proved. And if they are not proved, then the basis for the war is completely undercut.

KING: Jane, we have less than a minute. Might you run for governor of California now that we know there is no recall on the ballot?

HARMON: No thank you, Larry. I heard it has qualified. I don't know where this will go. I think it's very bad policy to recall a sitting government. It disenfranchises many voters in California. And I hope the governor will be able to defeat it. I think that that will be a victory for California voters.

KING: But you yourself have no plans in that regard?

HARMON: I like my job. I would prefer being chairman of the intelligence committee, but I like the job I've got. Thank you very much.

KING: Thank you all very much. Judith Miller, the Pulitzer prize winning correspondent of "The New York Times". Congressman Chris Shays, Republican of Connecticut, chairman of the government reform subcommittee on national security. And representative Jane Harman, not a candidate for governor, Democrat of California.

I'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night's show right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Sports fans, it's Wednesday so don't forget to read my column, "Sports a la King" posted every week on CNN sports illustrated on the web. The address to get right to it is www.si.com/larryking. And "Sports a la King" is interactive. Give it a read. Send me your e-mails, and we'll write you back in the weekly mail bag. Once again, the address, www.si.com/larryking.

Speaking of sports, the missing and presumed now murdered Baylor basketball player, Patrick Dennehy, is the subject of tomorrow night's show. His parents will be on. So will his girlfriend. So will a close friend of his from Baylor University. We'll also meet the lawyer for his accused and we'll have a panel as well.

The Dennehy story tomorrow night.

The "NEWSNIGHT" story is next and sitting in for Aaron Brown, one of my favorite people, the wonderful Anderson Cooper, about to have his own brand new show -- we're still looking for a name -- I like Just Cooper, Just Now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I like that. It's got a nice ring to it.

KING: Just my thought.

COOPER: I'll see if the powers at be will go for it. Larry King thanks very much.

KING: They won't.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



Continuing To Pursue The Shoddy Intelligence? What Should We Do With Liberia? Interview With Ambassador Paul Bremer/Analysis of Post-War Iraq>


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