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Interview With John Walsh; Interview With John Ashcroft

Aired September 11, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight John Walsh of "American's Most Wanted" two years after 9/11. Are we any closer to catching the terrorist. He is good at tracking down evil doers the government enlisted him on the war on terror. John Walsh for the hour with your phone calls, plus a segment with Attorney General John Ashcroft, With his take on just how safe America is today. They're next on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: A couple of notes. John Walsh is, of course, the host of "America's Most Wanted," America fights back. It kicks off the 17th season this Saturday night. He's host of syndicated talk program "The John Walsh Show." And we are going to play topsy turvy because tomorrow morning, I'll be a guest on that show. And of course his young son Adam was kidnapped and murder in the summer of 1981. "The John Walsh Show" is in the second season. By the way throughout tonight's show, we'll be looking at some of the coverage and of John Walsh's coverage of the horrible events of September 11.

Where were you two years ago today?

JOHN WALSH, HOST, "THE JOHN WALSH SHOW": I was in Indiana doing "America's Most Wanted" profiling a horrible kidnapping of an Indiana college girl. We got the call from the FBI that the top first tower had been hit.

KING: The FBI called you?

WALSH: Always lets us know right away what's going on. And we got on a bus, on a tour bus and drove 13 hours nonstop from Indiana to ground zero and I believe I was the only network guy allowed at ground zero with a camera crew and I did a two hour special from there. When I got there, it was still burning and I'll never forget walking four blocks away and seeing the big foot of the concrete dust, then seeing the emergency vehicles that were melted. And then, getting the ground zero and seeing all these hero cops and firemen who refused to leave that were exhausting laying on the sidewalk there. And triage dogs that had gone into the wreckage without their handlers burnt, pieces of people. The triage tents being set up. Iron workers writing the blood type and social security numbers on their arm in case the fell through the wreckage. All waiting to go in there hoping to find somebody alive. I've been at the Oklahoma Bombing. I thought that was terrible, but when I got to ground zero, it was a nightmare.

KING: Do you remember your first thoughts when you heard about it?

WALSH: I said, you know, this is something people had been saying would happen here. Ironically I had been profiling Osama bin Laden since 1993. Since he had tried to take down the world trade towers in '93 and six people had been killed. And people used to call up the hotline, saying what are you doing this terrorist for? Stay after child molesters. Stay after serial killers.

I gone over to Europe and I done a show with Interpol. And the head of Interpol at that time, way back in 1996 said, you know, we have thousands of terrorist bombings in the Middle East, in Italy, and England and all over the world. You're so naive, you Americans. It is coming to you. You think because you're protected by Canada and Mexico and two oceans it won't happen. And I look back and when I saw the towers go down and I thought they predicted it. Other people in the world. We didn't think it would happen to us, and now it happened.

KING: Nobody forecast the scenario of American planes to take it down?

WALSH: No. Absolutely. I think everybody believed that bin laden would do what he did in '39, to use truck bombs just like McVeigh did in Oklahoma and do that type of scenario. The planes turned out to be brilliant because there's nothing else that could have taken down the towers.

KING: Do you like idea of calling it patriot day?

WALSH: I think it's a great idea, because I saw firsthand, not only what was going on at ground zero, the heroes that were there. The whole event raised the patriotic sense of America. Woke us up but think about the Pentagon. Think about those guys on that plane that drove those terrorists into the ground in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, that commandeered the plane so it couldn't hit the White House and so it couldn't hit Congress. Weren't they patriots? Absolutely, they were the ultimate patriot.

KING: Good word. What do you think the impact of all this has been on the public at large?

WALSH: It woke us up. It took out of the coma. I don't think anybody knew what al Qaeda was. Certainly nobody knew what Hezbollah, Hamas was. We didn't even really care that much about the Middle East. Now we had marine bar racks blew up in Beirut. You know, 241 Marines. We had the Khobar Tower bombing in Saudi Arabia. We had all these different isolated incidents of Americans or American soldiers killed in other parts of the world and we never thought it would come here. You know what we lost our nativity on 9/11.

KING: Innocence is gone.

WALSH: Innocence is gone, but it woke us up. It was a huge wake up call.

KING: Your show tips on terrorism, right? You look for terrorist right.

WALSH: We always, you know, we started in 1993. But with 9/11 with the FBI and the NYPD saying, look, we're not letting the other media down at ground zero. Go down there, do the show, and then the president asking no other television program or network to come to the White House and profile the world's 22 most terrorists. What a honor it was, but what a sad duty it was to try to, you know, say, OK, these guys have wrecked havoc, lived here, lived amongst us. We ignored. Now have got to hunt them down like the dogs they are.

KING: Logically, you can never end it, can you? Somewhere there's a terrorist born today, sadly.

WALSH: Absolutely. But I debate the argument, yes, always terrorist groups like there will always pedophiles, there will always serial killers.

KING: Bad people.

WALSH: There will be bad people. But when you kill the icon, when they kill bin Laden and the will or find him. When they find Saddam Hussein. Just like when Hitler committing suicide, Germany went from a fascist country that killed 9 million Jewish people because of their religion to the country of her Mercedes Benz. When Mussolini was hung in that square in Italy, all of a sudden fascist Italy became the land of George Armani and great foods. So, I say kill the icon. Yes, you have got to continue the battle, but, you know, it does work. You have to hunt these people down.

KING: A recent CNN/"USA TODAY"/Gallop poll says 54 percent of those surveyed think an act of terrorism is likely soon.

WALSH: Well, you certainly -- I mean...

KING: Is that a logical fear?

WALSH: It certainly is a logical fear. And I don't believe in paranoia but any means. But certainly parts of the world cheered in the streets. And I was over there in the Persian Gulf after 9/11 and saw firsthand lots of people hate American. There are lots of people that hate our freedom of religions, our way of life. They're jealous of our economic success, and they cheered this horrible event. They thought it was a, you know, something in an epiphany, something that was incredible for their cause, their religious fanaticism.

So the next time they can pull something off like that, it gives them a chance to cheer again, to raise funds, to keep their issue or their crazy psychotic behavior going. So, I say that they're going to do something pretty soon, because that's how they raise money. Look at the success with the Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Keep funding us. Send us money. You Saudi extremists, you Pakistani radical, whoever gives them money and lots of people do. We need another event. I say -- but I will say one thing, it's going to be tougher than ever because every American now knows that these people infiltrated this country and lived in this country amongst us.

KING: We'll be back with more of John Walsh. We'll be including your phone calls. John Ashcroft later. Don't go away.


WALSH: As soon as the planes hit the towers, I headed for ground zero.

How are you doing ma'am? How's it going?

Been here all night?

What I saw there will stay with me all my life. The horrors, and the heroes.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to share this for you. My wife's sister was on the 89th floor of the south tower. And she has not -- she has not been recovered, as we speak. So, I take it, this is very personal for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been working down here all morning. Just -- since yesterday. And...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both my brother's down there. He's dead.

WALSH: Both of your brothers are down there? Oh boy. Haven't found them, though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. They're gone.

WALSH: They're gone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It came down on them.


KING: We're back with John Walsh. You deal with police and law enforcement all the time. How are they doing?

WALSH: They're doing great. I mean, they lost, you know, a lot of their brothers. Those hero firemen, 340-some firemen, 40 Port Authority cops. I mean, the New York City Fire Department took an incredible hit that day. I mean, I went and covered fire houses...

KING: By the way, let me mention. What you're seeing now is the live scene by the bridge, that's the twin towers of light that went up tonight. You remember it a couple of years ago when they had it up. It's up tonight, that blue light in the sky commemorating 9/11/2001. I'm sorry, John. Some scene.

WALSH: It's OK. I'm saying, it's beautiful. I wish those twins beams were up all the time.

KING: All the time, yeah.

WALSH: I really think, because there's a huge hole there. And anybody that ever came to New York as much as you and I do, we always flew over the towers.

KING: Sure.

WALSH: When you come into La Guardia -- and it's a big hole there now. It would be a great representative.

But the New York City Fire Department was decimated because the average fire house, you know, these engine and ladder companies, they have 11 guys. And what the American public doesn't realize, that some fire houses lost six, seven guys, so there would only be four or five firefighters manning the whole fire house, going out. The average New York City fire house responds to 10 fires a day.

So here you've got guys that were working at ground zero. Then they would get off that shift and go work all night at the fire house, and vice versa. They never stopped. For months, they never stopped. And they went out on the engines, and the ladder and the hook and ladders with half their company.

But you know what was the strangest thing? I went to the fire house and I said, why do you have all this gear and boots and jackets and stuff? And they said, we always ride with something that belonged to our deceased brothers, because they're still riding with us. They're still riding with us.

KING: You're used to catching people. Why can't we catch Osama bin Laden...

WALSH: Because he's cunning...

KING: ... Saddam Hussein?

WALSH: Well, bin Laden is his own kind of animal, and he lives in the part of the world that hates us. The $25 million reward doesn't mean anything to those fundamental extremists, and he has plenty of his own money.

You know, I went over there. You can walk across the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan 100 times in one day and nobody is going to stop you. It's not like the borders here. And he has got lots of countries like Sudan and remember Somalia when he went there and trained those warlords that took the Black Hawks down and stuff. He has got lots of buddies that would hide him, and he's going to be a tough nut to crack.

Saddam, I think they're going to catch before him, because he's just a stupid bully and he's probably still in northern Iraq or in Syria, and they're going to get him.

KING: Does it disturb you what's going on in Iraq? WALSH: I think it's great that he had the guts to go in there, that we went in there and under all the right reasons, no matter what anybody says. When a guy gets away with torturing and -- I have seen some of the videos that would -- are unfit for the public to watch, of him and his sons watching people drilled with huge drill bits through people's legs, torturing them, putting men into chippers. We seem to forget that this guy killed hundreds of thousands of his own people, and was truly a threat, and he deserved to be taken down.

KING: Does no one knows more grief than someone who loses a child. So, those people who still grieve tonight, does grieving ever end?

WALSH: Well, you'll always be, you know, lots of people, whether their son was 28 years old and he was a trader in the towers or he was a cop or a stock broker or whatever he was, that'll always be your child.

I spent a weekend at Dollywood with Dolly Parton for "The John Walsh Show" and there were kids there that we brought down whose dads died in the towers, and it was the first time in two years that they'd really had any fun at Dollywood, because they're still grieving. There will always be a relative of someone who was murdered -- and I want to say it again. That was a mass homicide that day. That was murder that was committed there at the trade towers. So those people will be like me. I'll always be the father of a murdered child. I will never ever, ever, ever get over it. Ever.

KING: And it will be in the first photograph of your obit? Right?

WALSH: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: And every time you hear...

WALSH: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) belong to, and those people belong to that club.

KING: Do you fear air travel?

WALSH: No. I got right on planes. You know, as soon as I finished that trade -- right there at the trade towers, as soon as I finished that special, I went out to La Guardia and got on a plane. It was the eeriest thing. There was nobody in the airport. There were airline pilots and there were stewardesses and myself, and the people working out there. And I said, damn it, I'm going to get on these planes. We need to send a message that we're not terrified, that we're not afraid, that we need to get back. We need it for the economy. We need to show them that we have the guts. So for a couple of weeks, I was flying around almost by myself. It was kind of eerie.

KING: Any danger, John, that as time passes this numbs us?

WALSH: Oh, I don't think so. With what's going on in the Middle East, what's going on in the rest of the world, and these constant threats, and these stupid, you know, this Al Jazeera, which I believe is absolutely a media partner of the Arab extremists.

KING: But we're better off having them, aren't we? Or rather see nothing?

WALSH: I'm not so sure, because I know that they absolutely timed that video yesterday to terrify Americans and say this is Osama bin Laden. I personally think that it's old video of bin Laden. I believe that al-Zawahiri, his lieutenant, who is the brains of this whole al Qaeda operation, who I've been profiling for years, he's a doctor from Egypt who takes care of bin Laden's kidney disease, I say, yeah. I guess it's good that we sort of hear from Al Jazeera, but they're nothing like mainstream media.

Why did they release it yesterday? They probably had this tape for months. They did it to terrorize the hell out of Americans.

But you know what, we're not afraid anymore. We're aware now. We're aware. We know that they're out there. We just caught the Lackawanna six. I mean, this is something I thought should be a big news story, but here in Lackawanna, New York, a little suburb of Buffalo, six guys start an al Qaeda terrorist cell. Several of those guys grew up in Lackawanna. One was the prom king at the Lackawanna high school. One was a soccer coach. But while they were growing up in the United States -- and two of them were naturalized citizens that we welcomed into our country -- while they were attending the mosque there in Lackawanna, New York, they were being poisoned and they went -- their minds were being poisoned, and they went over to Afghanistan and were videotaped at an al Qaeda terrorism camp, and they were planning to do the next 9/11. One of them's at large. But do you know who turned them in? An anonymous Arab-American sent a letter to the FBI, called "America's Most Wanted." That's how the Lackawanna six went down.

KING: You're going to profile the one missing on Saturday?

WALSH: Yes, Jabar al-Bana (ph), this guy is a dangerous guy. The FBI is saying, look, he's still out there. He was planning the next 9/11. We have got to catch this guy.

KING: John Walsh is our guest. As we go to break, a look back at out visit to ground zero here in New York. We were with then fire commissioner Thomas Von Essen, and he gave us a tour of the somber ground zero team. Watch.


THOMAS VON ESSEN, FIRE COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY: This was the north tower. That was the south tower. As you know, the south tower was hit first, or hit second but came down first. The north tower is where we were, in the early stages, in the lobby. And when they realized that they had so much fire, they were pushing more and more people upstairs into it to try to get the fire out.

KING: How do you know that there isn't some materials in there that might explode? VON ESSEN: Well, I think it would have by now. You know, it's been so hot, it's a really hot fire. The steel has been hot for three weeks now.

As we get to ground level, as this goes by, they have got to figure out a way to support all these different levels below ground. So they worry about them. They were all structurally damaged.

See, we had hoped that maybe, maybe in these kind of -- in those kind of spots we'd find somebody, you know? But as time goes by, the guys that have been -- the guys go drown, they crawl around into all these things, they're looking, they're trying to find, doing the best they can, but it's just, you know, you see the weight of the steel and the debris and the amount of heat that was down there. We don't believe we're going to find anybody anymore.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We held on to one another and we started crawling over debris. Feeling along the wall and as we were going, more people were grabbing on. We formed like a human chain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got down to the bottom of the stairwell and it just looked like took snow and packed the building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody left until they were just too exhausted to leave.


KING: We'll take some calls at the bottom of the hour and we'll talk about "America's Most Wanted" in this segment. Later, the attorney general.

What is this identity theft thing?

WALSH: Well, you know, identity theft has become the largest growing crime in the United States according to the FBI. I brought stats with me. There were 7 million victims in the USA in 2002. So far...

KING: Who had their identities taken?

WALSH: Who had their identities taken. Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, lots of well-known people. 33 million Americans lost some type of identity through identity theft in 1990.

Now, al Qaeda in Spain stole identities, this is out of "Consumer Reports" to conduct terrorist activities to terrorism involved in identity theft and they could fund it with that. $4.2 billion per year lost to identity theft. It's the fastest growing crime.

KING: What will we do about it?

WALSH: There's this product called Street Smart which is a terrific product and we have it on "America's Most Wanted." There's an 800 number you can get a hold of it.

KING: You mentioned it on the show?

WALSH: We do. For $59 a year, they send you your credit report and immediately if somebody -- what they do when they steal your identity, is it's not about your credit card loss, it's the creeps that take out a loan, who get a car in your name, transfer your pension. They wipe people's lives out. This street smart operation will call you within a day and say, did you take out a car loan in Pennsylvania? Did you try to buy a house somewhere? Did you transfer...

KING: So watch "America's Most Wanted."

WALSH: State of the art.

KING: Tell me about this Nashville case.

WALSH: Oh, I'm telling you. This guy, Genero Dorontes is on the top of my personal most wanted list.

KING: He's got to be bad.

WALSH: He is so horrible that he beat the alleged to have beaten and tortured and burned this 4-year-old boy to death. He was -- he's married to this woman. It's her child. He beat and tortured this boy. She asked her sister to borrow money to take him to the hospital. The sister came out from her job looked in the back of the van and saw little Luis on his all fours. Couldn't even speak.

She was so upset, she called authorities. A couple days later, they found this boy's body in a field. He had been tortured for six over eight months. Burned all over his body and beat to death.

These are the cowards that I hate. Who could do this to a 4- year-old boy? You have two little boys. Who could do this? This coward son of a bitch is on my list. We're going to get him on Saturday night.

KING: Now what about the case -- there's an unknown killer of a federal prosecutor Thomas Wells (ph) in Seattle?

WALSH: This case is two years old. Thomas Wells (ph) was shot in the kitchen of his own house.

KING: In Seattle?

WALSH: In Seattle. He's a well-known federal prosecutor. He took a big stand on gun control. He was a gun control advocate. Not talking about abolishing the right of Americans to own guns but he had an organization called Cease Fire and he was assassinated in his home. I think we have to send a message, you can't get away with this. KING: You have any suspects?

WALSH: No. Just keep doing the case. You know me, I'll keep doing the case until I get something out of it.

KING: What about the missing 11-year-old Heaven Ross (ph) in Northport, Alabama?

WALSH: You know how I feel about these cases. She's been missing since August 19. Walked to the bus stop just like all the kids that a year ago that we talked about every time I come on here. That's my high priority.

She never made it to the bus. We don't have a suspect. We don't have a clue. But I don't give up. After nine months, we have Elizabeth Smart back.

KING: How do you remember all these stories? I mention a name and you know who, where, what?

WALSH: I don't know all the stories. I don't know all the stories but certain stories touch me. Certain stories break my heart. Certain stories they say this is a coward. Certain stories, the cops will come to me. We turn down 100 cases a week on "America's Most Wanted." They'll come to me and say I'm at a dead end, I don't have the resources. I need your help.

KING: Are most lost children not found?

WALSH: No, most of them are not. Strange abducted kids, I haven't had great luck -- we got Elizabeth Smart back. We've gotten back about 32...

KING: Many are alive though and probably be raised by the people...

WALSH: No, not really.


WALSH: The stranger abductions, the justice department says that most kids that are kidnapped are dead within the first 4 hours like Adam was. So time is of the essence, but the good news is since we got the amber alert passed this year and President Bush signed it in the Rose Garden, the justice department released the press release two days ago said in an one-year time span, 100 children have been recovered alive because the amber alert uses the media immediately.

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll take some phone calls for John Walsh and then talk to the attorney general and get John's thoughts what John Ashcroft had to say. We taped that interview yesterday afternoon.

Tomorrow night, Sharon Stone is a special guest. Saturday night, Sir Paul McCartney. We'll be back with John Walsh and the "John Walsh Show." Don't go away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, this is -- we don't know if he's still alive, hopefully. His name is Milton Bustello (ph). And he worked for Comp and Fitzgerald (ph). Also, this was his hat. I'm carrying with him and I carry his picture next to my heart. So hopefully it will bring us closer to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His is Brian Marvahan (ph). He was on the second building on the 98th floor and the last time we heard from him was at 9:00 saying that the first building had got hit. And we haven't heard from him yet.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could literally hear the 4 by 4 of each floor collapsing. At that point, you just, you know, started praying. You're prepared to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We experience everything up to the moment that we were going to die. And we just happened not to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I made the right, they made the left. You know, a matter of seconds, never see them again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole world came crashing down on us.


KING: We're back with John Walsh.

We go to Marengo, Illinois. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Mr. Walsh?

WALSH: Yes, sir.

CALLER: Do you think 9/11 would have ever happened if the U.S. had never establish a military presence in the Mideast?

WALSH: I think it would have happened whether we had a military presence there or not. And certainly, there's a lot of people that would like to blame the fact that we had military installations in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. I think that they have this psychotic religious fervor that, just like the -- a lot of Arabics extremists and terrorists believe that they're going to absolutely annihilate Israel and drive and kill every Jew out of Israel. They're always going to be jealous of us and they're jealous of our way of life.

KING: Charleston, West Virginia, for John Walsh, hello.



CALLER: My question is to John. Do you ever think that we will find bin Laden and do you think that maybe bin Laden and Saddam Hussein may be working together. And God bless you, John.

WALSH: Well, thank you very much and I don't think for a minute that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden work together. They're two egomaniacs with two totally different agendas. They're just sociopaths, psychopaths that -- you know, they're egos wouldn't permit them to work together. They have -- they just -- they love to hurt people and they got to run their own ship.

I think that Saddam Hussein will be caught first. I really do. I said that earlier. I think we will track down Osama bin Laden. It is becoming a global community. We have assets and resources and allies everywhere and we have technology that we didn't have two years ago, Larry. I mean, what we used in Iraq we never ever dreamed of when were doing the Gulf War.

KING: Are you shocked that we didn't find weapons of mass destruction?

WALSH: No, I'm not, because the guy was smart and I still think the jury is still out. But he's certainly -- he wouldn't let any inspectors in for years and he had plenty of time to get rid of them and he plenty of time to put them in mobile places.

And if you've ever been there, these are countries -- huge countries that are covered by deserts. We don't have the resources. We could take every American, 250 million Americans and put them side by side and we'd never be able to cover that country and search that country. It's not feasible.

KING: Montgomery, Alabama, hello.

CALLER: Hi, John. Got a good question. Who should be responsibly for punishing bin Laden and Saddam?

WALSH: Well, I think the free world should and I think that -- you know, I'm really disappointed that more allies didn't come forward, people that live in a free society. I'll never get over the French not joining up. I mean, the Australians were right there from the beginning. The English, the Irish, the Welsh, the Scotch.

You know, if you want to conduct a free society, you have to step up to the plate. You have to pay the price. And, you know, I really believe that, you know, the world's becoming a smaller place and we have to realize that these are people that have to be stopped.

KING: Are you concerned that the aftermath was not well planned? WALSH: That I think that that is the real -- that's the real legitimate criticism. The -- not going in. Not doing the right thing, the legitimate criticism is, what did we do afterward. To believe they were going to throw down their weapons and say, it's wonderful that you're here because this guy used to torture us and kill anybody that mentioned his name the wrong way.

I think we --again, we were naive and we aren't good at policing. I mean, this is-- this is a lawless country that was run by terror and secret police for years. You're not going to turn it into a democracy overnight and expect citizens to behave by our standards. It's a difficult task.

KING: Renwick -- Renwick, Iowa, hello.

CALLER: Hello. John?

WALSH: Yes, sir?

CALLER: Can you give us any real or new insight why the reward for bin Laden is to date unsuccessful?

WALSH: Well, I don't -- really, $25 million makes -- means a lot to an American, but over there...

KING: Somebody must need it.

WALSH: ...$100 is a lot of money. I believe that they really concede that we will pay it. They....

KING: We paid it for the -- Hussein's kids.

WALSH: Absolutely. Did we ever. And I think that there should have been more publicity about that and we also did pay it for bin Laden's money man that was caught in Pakistan. We paid -- I talked to Ashcroft about that. They paid that money right away and relocated that man to another country. But until people realize we will pay that money for Osama bin Laden, he's got plenty of money to spread around and pay people off over there himself.

KING: As we go to break and then we come back, we'll talk with John Ashcroft. Some emotional and inspiring words from some of the people who talked to us about loved ones they lost. Watch.


LISA BEAMER, TODD BEAMER'S WIFE: He did what Todd would normally do and he took some action and what he did was told the operator that he and some other people on the flight were deciding the jump on the hijacker with the bomb strapped around his waist. And, the last thing the operator heard Todd say at 10:00 a.m., 15 minutes into the call was, Are you ready? Let's roll.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HOWARD LUTNICK, FIRM LOST MORE THAN 700 EMPLOYEES: You see, they call me and they say, how come you can't pay my salary? Why can't you pay my husband's salary? Other companies pay their salary. Why can't you? But you see, I lost -- I lost everybody in the company.

KING: How are you going to pay....

LUTNICK: I can't pay their salaries. They think we're doing something wrong. I can't pay the salaries. We don't have any money to pay their salaries.



TED OLSON, SOLICITOR GENERAL: I left the home a little before 6:00, as I said. And Barbara left not long thereafter to catch the plane. And it was my birthday. And when I got -- when I finally went to bed was after 1:00. on -- now it was September 12. It was a note that Barbara had written to me on the pillow saying, I love you. When you read this, I will be thinking of you. I will be back Friday.



KING: We're back. The twin blue lights sparking up the night, reminding us of 9/11 two years ago. And both our guests, John Walsh and I agree, maybe these things ought to be permanent. And we're also showing you Ground Zero as it is right now, tonight, the night of 9/11, 2003.

I spoke with Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday. I started out by asking him about the new study by Columbia University that says that Americans, particularly New Yorkers, less confident today about their own security.


JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The terrorist threat isn't over. Around the world, terrorists are striking and their carnage, their destruction, is devastating.

However, I think we should be grateful that in the United States we haven't had a significant terrorist attack in the last two years, and I think that's in large measure because of things that the president has cited. You know, the fact that almost 2/3 of al Qaeda's top leadership has been arrested or some have been killed, some are detained around the world. 3,000 individuals have been arrested, detained, around the world. More have met a different fate.

We continue to work hard to disrupt terrorism in the United States and we're far better prepared than we used to be, but we can't take things for granted. We are a free society, an open society, and we know the terrorists would rather strike here than anywhere. They still refer to us as the Great Satan, so... KING: Why, General Ashcroft, do you have to go around the country defending an act, the Patriot Act, that is already a law?

ASHCROFT: Well, I think it's important for people to understand how this Patriot Act strengthens our hand against terror while it respects the rights and liberties of the American people, and there are just a couple of primary components of the act.

One is, it took the wall down that used to exist between the intelligence community and the law enforcement community. We need to be able to get all the information into the hands of all the people who defend against terror, and having these separate arenas where some of the facts were known to some and other facts were known to others, that was bad, and we've improved our circumstance dramatically by doing that.

Secondly, we've taken a number of authorities, things that are used in the criminal law against, say, drug dealers and organized criminals. Those things are now available for use against terrorists, things like the so-called roving wiretap, where you can follow the different phones that a criminal or terrorist uses instead of having to get a new court order for every phone that they switch to.

And those kinds of powers and authorities have helped us, and the people deserve an opportunity to know about that.

KING: Why do you have to know what's a book someone rents or buys? Why would that be anybody's business, what anybody reads in a bookstore?

ASHCROFT: Well, we don't investigate what books people are renting or buying in any special way.

Now, historically, in criminal cases, there have been times when people have left clues in libraries or have -- you know, the Zodiac Killer, in New York, part of that case was solved when law enforcement officials made a connection between people who were -- the crimes that were committed and the certain kind of poetry, as a matter of fact. So they used those links.

Normally, we don't monitor libraries, and if we ever make an inquiry about any kind of record or business record, under the Patriot Act and under the authority that we now have, it has the judicial supervision, so that a federal judge would look carefully and simply not allow it if it were not a part of a case that merited the involvement of the authorities.

KING: So despite the criticism you hear, you have no concerns that civil liberties are being affected?

ASHCROFT: You know, under the Patriot Act, not only is every case is a case that is overseen by a federal judge whose job it is to make sure that the law is followed and that liberties are respected, so you have that case-specific supervision by the judicial branch -- the Patriot Act requires that a comprehensive report be given to the Congress on a twice a year basis. So the Congress looks at these things very carefully, and there hasn't been any evidence of abuse according to the most recent statements I've seen out of the Congress. There -- and of course, I don't believe we've had any abuse here. All of these cases are individually reviewed by the federal courts, federal judges.

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