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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Fallout From Release of August 6, 2001 PDB
Aired April 12, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They attacked our convoy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight the fate of that American civilian is still unknown three days after he was kidnapped in Iraq. His abductors said they'd kill him if United States troops weren't out of Fallujah by yesterday. His name is Thomas Hamill and his hometown of Macon, Mississippi, a family friend, Mayor Dorothy Baker-Hines is standing by.
And then the fallout from Saturday's release of the president's daily brief of August 6, 2001 with Judith Miller, Pulitzer Prize winning "New York Times" correspondent, Michael Isikoff, senior investigative correspondent for "Newsweek," Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the select intelligence committee and Senator Dianne Feinstein, ranking member of the terrorism sub-committee.
And then two women who have lost loved ones on 9/11, Debra Burlingame, she says she's basically satisfied with Condoleezza Rice's testimony, and Kristen Breitweiser, disappointed in that testimony. All of that is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: A couple of quick notes. You know about the Bush press conference tomorrow night at 8:30 Eastern. This program will follow that press conference and beyond for a full hour following. Even if we get on at 9:30, we'll be on until 10:30. And among the guests will be the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 commission.
We welcome our panel but before we talk with them, let's go to Macon, Mississippi, Mayor Dorothy Baker-Hines is standing by. 43- year-old Thomas Hamill was snatched Friday by gunmen. A videotape first broadcast Saturday. His captors said they would kill him if we didn't pull out of the city of Fallujah by Sunday. That deadline came. Have you gotten any headlines about Thomas Hamill?
MAYOR DOROTHY BAKER-HINES, MACON, MISSISSIPPI: No, sir, we haven't heard a thing.
KING: Tell me about him. First of all, why was he working in Iraq?
BAKER-HINES: Well, Larry, he had gone to Iraq for a job that was going to be a very well paying job, because he had had a bad time with farming and had to sell his farm, and his wife had had some health problems and they really had gotten themselves in bad debt. He was looking for something to try to help his family to get back on their feet, and he had seen an ad in a paper about this job. So he applied, and he went.
KING: His wife is recovering from open heart surgery. They have two children, a son and a daughter. How well do you know them, mayor?
BAKER-HINES: Well, I've known the family for about 15 years. I've lived here myself for around 31 years, and I met Kelly back when I was working at the Chamber of Commerce, when her little girl was in a pageant we had. We built a relationship, and I met the other people in her family, and got to know her real well, and then she started working at the -- as a dispatcher at 911, we always said she was the backbone of that organization.
She's been a trooper for our firemen, our policemen, and has helped me with many things. We've been together in different organizations in volunteer work, and I guess you could say her husband was just always working hard and trying to provide for the family. He's a quiet man, where Kelly was always kind of out in the front, but he supported his family.
KING: How is the city doing? They had a prayer vigil on Sunday, town building lights were kept on, American flags are up along Main Street.
BAKER-HINES: Yes, sir, that's correct. On Sunday night at 7:00, we all met from our respective churches and we had around ten pastors that all led us in prayers, and it was a very emotional and very heartwarming night to see all of the people on the courthouse lawn. We had everyone there. Several hundred people came out, even though the weather is cool for this time of year, and it was very, very warm and by the time we left, we were all full of hope and joy. I called Kelly when I got home. That's his wife, and I told her about all the people that were here, and it really lifted her spirits, and that's all they've ever asked from us, is just to pray for Tommy and that's what we've been doing.
KING: Have you been in touch with anyone connected with the government?
BAKER-HINES: No, sir, I have not.
KING: Thank you, Mayor. We will keep posted and we wish you everything the best and all of the people in Macon.
BAKER-HINES: Well, thank you for having us, Larry. Just keep telling everyone to keep praying.
KING: We sure will. Mayor Dorothy Baker-Hines, the mayor of Macon, Mississippi, the hometown of Mr. Hamill. Again, we have no word as to what happened with the deadline, et cetera. Judith Miller, is this going to get worse?
JUDITH MILLER, "NEW YORK TIMES": You know, Larry, I think it's very difficult to say. We have really contradictory evidence. In some parts of Iraq, things seem to be stable. The coalition forces have taken back several important cities. They've taken control of them. There's still a very difficult situation in Fallujah, but the most important issue is what happens to the Shia, whether the Shiites decide that they want a real Iraq, a unified Iraq, whether or not this spirals downward into civil war or whether or not they hold together, and we don't know that yet.
KING: Michael Isikoff, by the way, we'll get to the briefing and discussion of that, of course, which is the main topic tonight but since we started with this, let's stay on this at least for the first comments by panel members. Michael, is it going to get worse?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, "NEWSWEEK": I don't know. I'm not there. I'm watching the news reports, as you are. It certainly looks pretty grim in some places, but, it's very hard. I think it's even hard for people there to get a good assessment on what the situation is, much less somebody over here.
KING: Senator Roberts, what do you make of hostage taking, taking Russians, Chinese, Japanese, Americans?
SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: I'm not really surprised by anything that the terrorists do. They have learned, and they've learned very quickly that they can affect elections, and certain events, and there's not much that they won't do in regards to trying to affect chaos and certainly try to affect their goals. It's just a different value system.
I would think that, or I would agree with the previous comment that, in many areas of Iraq, we are seeing some improvement with power, with electricity, clean water, schools, young women going to school. Certainly a better situation, but there are many other areas that have very strong security problems, and these are professional people. They're not fighting and then leaving or setting aside explosives and leaving. They're fighting and staying. Now, they lost big time in Fallujah, but the important thing is, we've had a lull. We have people of the provisional government who are trying to back channel information to the clerics to say, look, let's don't spiral down to a civil war. That's not in your best interest. Release the hostages and let's see if we can go from there.
KING: With the benefit of hindsight, Senator Feinstein, nice to have you here in your home state.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Great to be here.
KING: Should we have expected this?
FEINSTEIN: Oh, I think so. I think we made a lot of mistakes. You know, it's now laughable to think we were going to be greeted as liberators. I think we didn't show a great understanding of the culture. We certainly didn't have enough troops and don't have enough troops there. There was no follow-on force to really move in and take over the country. I think the results, at best, are mixed, at worst, deteriorating.
There is no plan that I know of to turn over the government. To whom do you turn it over, and who will be acceptable to all of the various elements of Iraqi society? I think it's an extraordinarily difficult time, and the one thing that I'm surprised at is the fixed nature of this White House in not putting more people in, although they have held over the rotation, of not moving for quickly to remedy the absence of a follow-on force with much more Americans, the contracting out of so many of the services, the inability to protect the contractors so that they have to get their own private security.
KING: Do you fear the worse for Mr. Hamill?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I think this. I think this is clearly at odds with the Muslim religion. I think it clearly sends a signal to all the rest of the world, to Japanese, to Chinese, to Russians, to all the rest of our allies anywhere, that what's happening now is terrible, and dastardly. Some of the Shia clerics have begun to speak out, issuing fatwahs, deploring what's happening. Maybe this can have an effect. If they keep this up, I think the hostage taking alone has the ability to really turn a world that was mad at us against them.
KING: Let me take a break. When we come back we'll get into the discussion of that now famous briefing, which will be, of course, a major topic of the conversation at the press conference tomorrow night. As we go to break, here's some shots of Mr. Hamill taken by Australian TV. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What's happened?
THOMAS HAMILL, U.S. CIVILIAN HOSTAGE IN IRAQ: They attacked our convoy. That's all I'm going to say.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. Do you want to give us your name?
HAMILL: Hamill, Thomas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Judith Miller, concerning briefing, paper in the press conference, is it true if Clinton was still president, given all the same situations, the Republicans would be knocking this and the Democrats would be trying to defend them.
Is this political?
MILLER: Well, I think that's what the American people are now in the process of deciding. In whether or not this is persuasive or whether or not this is the questions that have been raised are partisan. And I think that, in a way, what I can say is that, had President Clinton been president and received the famous PBD, Larry, the presidential daily brief, which now every American -- and acronym American knows, is that you can be certain there would have been an activist response to that kind of a memo.
KING: Like locking the cockpits on all airplanes?
MILLER: There are things that take a long time to do, but there certainly would have been a meeting. And what's interesting to me is that it's taken the White House so long. In fact, we still don't know what, if anything, any one thing the president did as a result of that August 6 briefing. He seems suggests he didn't do anything but we still don't know.
KING: Senator Roberts How would you respond?
ROBERTS: I'm not sure I can respond to that. What worries me about this is I don't think the PDB changed many minds. People think it's partisan and people like myself who think it is part of hopefully a conclusionary effort by the commission that will give a good report to the Congress and to the administration, get to lessons learned, and get to answering some of the real systemic problems that we have found in the Senate Intelligence Committee in regard to the intelligence community. I have the PDB right here, I think everybody else does as well. It says, basically, somebody, somewhere, someone, sometime, was going to do something bad, but in terms of who, what, where and how isn't there, and it has a very historical prospective. And it comes up and tells the president that the FBI and the CIA are already looking into this, IE, 70 different investigations.
I think when we hear from the former FBI director and the attorney general as of this Tuesday and Wednesday, that's going to be a very interesting session. I hope it isn't partisan, Larry, Because We've got virtually everybody, 11 different investigations, all looking in the rearview mirror, all taking 20/20 hindsight, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which I chair, and I think we have a very good report, and by the way, Dianne is an outstanding member of that committee.
But it's all in the rear view mirror with instant 20/20 hindsight. We've got to look forward and make conclusions and make recommendations. Now, you know, the people that want to say it's partisan, they're going to say it's partisan and the people that don't think, it's about an even steven situation.
KING: Before Dianne responds Michael, doesn't the memo mention things like aircraft and possible taking of airplanes, doesn't it mention that?
Wouldn't sealing off the cockpits be logical at that point, telling the FAA?
ISIKOFF: Well, certainly there are a lot of steps in hindsight that would have been far better to have been taken. Actually, what struck me about the memo when you actually read it is how insubstantial and humdrum it is. If, in fact, this was generated because the president asked for a briefing about al Qaeda capabilities in the United States and what was known about al Qaeda, there was so much more information and so much more compelling information that could have been given to him by the intelligence community about that subject than is provided in that memo.
In fact, I was struck by how it refers to these vague reports, uncorroborated reports from foreign intelligence services. Just that has year, earlier that year from February to May, you had in New York a trial of al Qaeda operatives involved in the embassy bombings of 1998, in which there was some truly eye-popping testimony about al Qaeda operatives in the United States, one a member of the U.S. Military, about al Qaeda efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, to buy uranium on the open market. All of that would have grabbed the president's attention and grabbed policy makers' attention a lot more than anything in that memo.
I think one question that ought to come out of it, why was this very, very cursory memo produced in response to such a big question that the president had asked?
KING: Would you agree, Dianne, if Clinton were president, you'd be defending him, same situation?
FEINSTEIN: I may or may not. I don't know. Let me tell you what's unusual about this, it's not just the memo. This memo comes out daily. It's a different things every day. We get Senator Roberts and the rest of the Intelligence Committee and I what's called a senior executive intelligence brief. And a series of about five different agency briefs, all of which have squibbs somewhat like this. What it is, they're dangerous signals, and this particular brief came out at a time when the chatter had been enormously high, during the previous month and the month before that, where the anxiety was as high as I have ever seen it on the Hill.
KING: Not in the country.
FEINSTEIN: No, on the Hill, among those of us that had licensed to George Tenet before the Intelligence Committee, that had had our own private briefs. We were really concerned and fearful that something was going to happen. What I wish the president had done is go back to Washington, convene the major heads of the agencies, and say, look, I want to see these 70 FBI investigative reports. I want to know what the patterns of activity actually were. I want to know where the cells are, and you, FBI, what you're doing about them. I think that didn't happen.
KING: Does that make sense to you, Judith?
MILLER: It makes sense to me. I was talking to Dick Clarke's deputy on counter terrorism in the Bush White House and Clinton White House before that. He said it was really a question of style. The Bush White House's style was kind of reactive, and Clinton, when it came to terrorism, was very, very proactive in style, Larry, if not in substance. And I think one of the forward-looking questions that should be asked is, when it comes to terrorism, doesn't our country really have to be perpetually proactive from now on?
In order to look forward, have you to look back.
KING: Let me get a break. When we come back, two ladies who both felt the pains of 9/11, Debra Burlingame, who lost her brother, Kristen Breitweiser, who lost a husband. They disagree on blame in that memo and we'll talk to them about that. And then back to the panel and your phone calls. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the fundamental question is, you know, what was -- was there any actionable intelligence, and by that I mean, was there anything that the agency could tell me that would then cause me to have to do something to make a decision to protect America. There was nothing in there that said, you know, there's an imminent attack. There was nothing in there, this report to me that said, "oh, by the way, we've got intelligence that says something is about to happen in America." That wasn't what this report said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Two victims of 9/11. In New York, Debra Burlingame. Deborah's brother, Charles, was captain of flight 77, that's the flight that left Dulles and crashed into the Pentagon.
And in Washington, Kristen Breitweiser. Her husband, Ron, was killed in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. She's a member of the Family Steering Commission for the 9/11 independent commission.
Debra, what are your thoughts on what this commission has found so far?
DEBRA BURLINGAME, BROTHER WAS CAPTAIN OF PLANE THAT HIT PENTAGON: Before I answer that, Larry, I'd like to say on behalf of my family to the troops, our members -- men and women of armed services, the family of Captain Chic Burlingame is 100 percent behind you and we are very grateful for the courageous sacrifices you are making to make this world a safer place. Our prayers are with you every day, wherever you are.
That said, I'm waiting for the final report from this commission. They have heard from many, many witnesses, hours and hours of testimony. The real work of this commission isn't in public in front of cameras. It's behind closed doors, where they are looking at hundreds of thousands of documents and analyzing materials going back many years, and my hopes are they're going to come up with substantive findings and real recommendations that we can take to make this country safer.
KING: So you're making no prejudgment.
BURLINGAME: No. I'm not making any prejudgment now, but I hope that we can avoid the road down -- the partisan road we traveled down last week. I think that was a debacle, and embarrassing. KING: Kristen, what's your view of Ms. Rice and the testimony and what you've heard so far?
KRISTEN BREITWEISER, HUSBAND KILLED ON 9/11: So far, I would have hoped that Ms. Rice last week was a little bit more reflective upon her own role as national security adviser to the president. I would have hoped that she would have given the commission something to work with. My understanding from President Clinton's interview was that he did show a scintilla of self-doubt, which is very helpful for the commission, because after all, they need to make recommendations. But in order for them to make recommendations, they have to have an idea of where the failures occurred.
I would have also hoped that we would have learned a little bit more. Certainly there were plenty of precursors, warnings and threats that were present in the summer of 2001, that the dots were not connected, and we need to find out why the public was not better informed, why we had the FBI at the World Trade Center two weeks before 9/11 and they left the Thursday prior to 9/11, why we had an FBI informant living with two individuals that were on a watch list that the CIA had known were in a meeting in Malaysia, a meeting about terrorist activities, namely the Cole bombing. And another question that needs to be answered is how is it possible -- Mike Isikoff earlier was discussing the New York City hearings on the embassy bombings. One of the things that came out of that was Project Bojinka, which was a plot to blow up planes over the Pacific, or in the alternative, fly a plane into the CIA headquarters. The information that they got that information from was Murad (ph). He happened to train at the very same flight school as Moussaoui, who was in our custody in August, and who apparently there was not enough probably cause to issue a FISA warrant.
KING: Debra, do you believe somebody goofed?
BURLINGAME: Oh, most definitely somebody goofed. The question is, does it serve us to scapegoat people now? Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. And I think we're going to get some interesting information. I'm hoping we can get some interesting information from Louie Freeh tomorrow. Because I think Condoleezza Rice was very forthright and correct when she said that it was reporting problems in our intelligence agencies, our law enforcement agencies, and antiquated, actually 1947 National Securities Act that we're operating under, which prevented us -- which created legal barriers from these agencies reporting and sharing information. Legal barriers that couldn't have been overcome until we had the 3,000 dead loved ones.
KING: So, who is your anger directed at, Debra?
BURLINGAME: My anger is directed at the 19 men who boarded those airplanes and killed our loved ones, and their sponsors, who are either now dead, incarcerated, or on the run.
Yes, the government made mistakes, but I think that it doesn't serve anyone for me to want to serve up someone's head on a platter, when they were operating in -- under circumstances that didn't anticipate what happened. KING: Kristen, we have less than a minute. Kristen, who are you angry at?
BREITWEISER: You know, I'd have to say I'm not angry. I think I have a curiosity as to why this nation was so vulnerable to 19 hijackers. We spend $30 billion on defense and intelligence, and the bottom line is, our nation was brought to its knees by 19 hijackers and 3,000 people were killed. Two and a half years later, we still don't know why, we still don't have all the answers. And I just wish that everyone would work together in a nonpartisan way to fix these problems, because we are no safer today than we were on 9/11.
KING: Thank you, Debra Burlingame and Kristen Breitweiser. Debra lost her brother, Kristen lost her husband, and we all lost a great deal.
As we go to break -- when we come back, we'll take phone calls for the panel. Here is some of Dr. Rice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I believe the title was "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States." Now, the...
BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.
RICE: The PDB -- No, Mr. Ben-Veniste...
BEN-VENISTE: I will get into the...
RICE: I would like to finish my point here.
BEN-VENISTE: I didn't know there was a point.
RICE: Given that -- you asked me whether or not it warned of attacks.
BEN-VENISTE: I asked you what the title was.
RICE: You said, did it not warn of attacks? It did not warn of attacks inside the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: John McCain will be with us Thursday, we'll be following the press conference tomorrow night with the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 commission.
Let's reintroduce the panel and go to phone calls. In New York is Judith Miller, Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent for the "New York Times," writes about national security issues and co-authored the "New York Times" bestseller "Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War" now in paperback.
In Washington, Michael Isikoff, one of the best in the game, the senior investigative correspondent for "Newsweek," coauthor of the current "Newsweek" article titled "The 9/11 Commission: Justice's Blind Spot."
In Kansas City is Senator Pat Roberts. The Senate is on vacation this week lest you think he not be working. Senator Roberts is chairman of the select committee on intelligence, member of the armed services committee, Republican of Kansas.
And Senator Dianne Feinstein is the ranking minority member of the judiciary sub-committee on terrorism, technology and homeland security, a member of the select committee on intelligence, Democrat of California. We go to calls. Queens, New York, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thank you for taking my call. My question would be, I probably know the answer but I won't take too much of your time. With the press conference coming up tomorrow, I would like to know -- we probably already know -- is this president digging himself more in a hole, taking into consideration about 73 troops that have been killed in the month of April? This beautiful man, who has been kidnapped, and the 9/11 commission.
KING: Why is he doing, do you think, Michael, this press conference at this time, where obviously they expect hostile questioning?
ISIKOFF: Well, I think he has to. He's sort of been off in Texas for the past week or so, while things have been getting much grimmer in Iraq, and while the controversy over the 9/11 commission has been building with a lot of damning new evidence, and questions that he needs to answer. I think his political advisers clearly realize that he's got to step up to the plate and try to address some of this before things spiral out of control.
KING: Senator Roberts, are you concerned about that conference tomorrow night?
ROBERTS: No, I'm not. I think the president will handle it. I think there's been an increase in violence in Iraq. I think there are a lot of questions about the PDB. I think there are a lot of questions about the 9/11 commission. In May, when we finally issue our report on the intelligence, on the pre-war intelligence going into Iraq, that's going to be big news. Doubtlessly, he'll have a press conference at that particular time. I think that's what he should and I think he'll do what he does best, and that's simply shoot straight to the best of his ability.
KING: Senator Feinstein, what do you think?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I, to some extent, agree with Senator Roberts. I think our report, the intelligence committee's report that Senator Roberts and Senator Rockefeller are leading us on is going to come up with some very interesting findings about our intelligence, which, hopefully, is going to lead us to move to make some substantial changes in how we gather intelligence in this world.
KING: Do you expect tomorrow night to be contentious?
FEINSTEIN: I think this, the president has to say something to the nation which is reassuring, which indicates that something we don't know about today is going to take place, that the administration is going to do to better secure the situation in Iraq.
KING: Promise that? Are you saying promise that?
FEINSTEIN: No, that they're going to take some additional step. I think it's important that there be some news in this as well.
KING: Judith, do you agree?
MILLER: Well, I think that we've already begun to see, Larry, a much more proactive president. He said now that he is willing to consider reforms in the intelligence process. I think the White House now understands, given the latest polls, that it must do something to stop the erosion of confidence in his leadership.
KING: Randolph, New Jersey.
CALLER: Wasn't it enough of a red flag when in 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed in the basement, nothing was ever done about that? Edie Landers (ph) calling from Randolph, New Jersey?
KING: Michael Isikoff, she got a point?
ISIKOFF: Well, there were a lot of red flags out there, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1995 plot by the Egyptian blind sheik to blow up New York City landmarks. One could go on and on and list them. This was part of the point I was making earlier about how much more information there was there on the public record, and available that could have gotten the president's attention.
I think one problem here, and I should mention this is, you know to some degree, the president may have been hindered by his own administration's penchant for secrecy. We pointed out in this week's "Newsweek" that that PDB, "bin Laden determined to strike in the United States," which was about information in FBI investigations and activities in the United States, was never shared with the Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was the cabinet secretary, who had responsibility to see something was done about them. Why not?
Because President Bush, shortly before he took office, put a new restrictive policy on this distribution of PDBs, so that they went to much fewer people. He didn't believe they should be so widely distributed throughout the government and the attorney general of the United States didn't make the cut. So to some degree, there was intelligence going to the president about activities inside the United States that wasn't going to the cabinet officer who was responsible for doing something about it. KING: But none of this may have prevented 9/11, right?
FEINSTEIN: I don't think anything would have prevented 9/11.
KING: That was going to happen?
FEINSTEIN: I think there are -- as Michael said, there are a lot of clues. There are still clues out there. You can read in a public press about there reportedly having been a second wave of attacks that were planned against the West Coast. I followed this up. You've read in the public press that there are three operatives that may be still at large. Somebody ought to be following up on that in the administration. It ought to be the attorney general at the direct order of the president.
KING: Dylan (ph), South Carolina, hello.
CALLER: I was just wanting to know, you asked earlier if the tables were turned would the Democrats be defending the 9/11.
KING: Would they be defending Clinton and would the Republicans be attacking him, the same situation? What's your question?
CALLER: Is there any evidence leading us to believe that the Democrats who are taking the same action as the Bush administration has taken?
KING: We don't know.
FEINSTEIN: It's very hard to tell. It's very hard to tell what -- I think Judith...
KING: All things being equal, we know that the political side, we know that the right wing would be attacking and the left wing would be protecting. That's a fact of life.
FEINSTEIN: Yes, but we have to look. Judith mentioned an interesting point I hadn't thought about and that was style. Clinton's style was very proactive. Anybody could add their two cents. This was not a removed administration. There was an ability to provide input. In this administration, and maybe it's because they feel they have so many people who have been seasoned by other administrations, that they have kind of pulled themselves apart, and they don't reach out. They don't listen. They don't bring in additional information or people.
KING: Senator Roberts, how would you respond to that?
ROBERTS: Well, in the first place, I'd like to respond to the lady that called in about the '93 bombings in regards to the World Trade Center. When I was chairman of the Emerging Threats Subcommittee, and I am once again, I made a speech back in '99 that basically quoted Osama bin Laden. And his plans, and the fact that if the terrorists had access to the grid of the World Trade Center, and they did not he, thank god, 6,000 people would not have come out suffering from smoke inhalation. They wouldn't have come out. We tried to get $6 million, actually I think we got about $2 million to $4 million in the DOD budget for the Department of Defense to work with the New York Port Authority in regards to consequence management in case anything like this happened again.
That money wasn't spent. I don't know how more direct you could get. It isn't that the dog didn't bark. It's just we had systemic problems with the intelligence community being split. The FBI was a crime enforcement agency, not a counter terrorism agency, which it is today. The CIA obviously in terms of their foreign missions, we took down a lot of stove pipes. We have a much better lash (ph) up today. Let me say one thing about being proactive, this president, after 9/11, turned the anti-terrorism policy on its head, and went after two state-sponsored terrorist states one, Afghanistan, one Pakistan, and in Iraq, that's three. We've had Libya turn around. We've had North Korea now talking with the Chinese. We took down the A.Q. con network and have not yet had another 9/11. Many of the recommendations that were made in the House and Senate investigation over two years ago, which both Dianne and I took part in have already been done on an executive basis.
I hope someone writes about that. I know I'm going to make speeches about it on the floor of the Senate, some good things have happened. We don't need any more gotcha hearings. Politics is not beanbag, but it's not lobbying hand grenades in the global midst of the war on terrorism.
KING: Let me get a break senator. We'll be back with more calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I'm satisfied I never saw any intelligence that indicated there was going to be an attack on America, at a time, place and an attack. Of course we know America was hated by Osama bin Laden. I mean, that was obvious. The question was, you know, who was going to attack us, when and where, and with what?
KING: We're back. Asheville, North Carolina, hello.
CALLER: The White House said the August 6, DPD was an historic briefing. Why didn't the title simply read "Ongoing Information Regarding bin Laden," instead of "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States."
Didn't the title alone imply an urgent warning?
ISIKOFF: Yes, I think the title was probably the grabbiest things about that PDB and some have suggested it was no accident that it was posed that way. I think, look, the questions about follow-up, what was done after that, are going to be, you know, some of the most critical questions that arise out of the commission's report. I think the hearings tomorrow are going to be really compelling, because they're going to switch to what was actually going on in the weeds and the intelligence community and the law enforcement and FBI and in the Justice Department at the very time this PDB was being issued. And as I mentioned before, John Ashcroft, not being -- that PDB not being shared with the attorney general. Of course, the information came from the FBI.
What was the FBI doing?
What were these 70 full field investigations?
There are a lot of questions there that I think are going to be, going to lead to some serious finger pointing tomorrow.
KING: Richmond, Virginia, hello.
CALLER: I have a question for Senator Feinstein. You mentioned you received a lot of briefings in reference to pre-intelligence 9/11.
Why is it you did not go to the media then and speak your mind, which you never seem to have a problem doing in other matters?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I did. As a matter of fact, I said on CNN on July 1st on "LATE EDITION" that was a Sunday afternoon that I had been told it's likely that there would be an attack on this country within three months. I don't have the access. There's a difference between the executive and the legislative branch. I have proposed legislation to redo, to create a director of national intelligence, to make some changes in the structure of intelligence. That's been there for quite a time. We are posed an Office of Homeland Security before 9/11, sent it up to the White House, asked the vice president's office to take a look at it and give Senator Kyle and I some feedback at it -- about it. So we've been trying.
Most of what we learned -- as a matter of fact, all of what we learned in an intelligence briefing is classified. You can't talk about it. If it comes up in a newspaper even, you can't talk about it. So the notion we can use publicly, and I think our chairman, Pat Roberts, will tell you, we function under some archaic rules. The information that we can use publicly is really the information that we get, separate and apart from what we hear in intelligence.
KING: Is that right, Senator Roberts.
FEINSTEIN: That's very difficult.
ROBERTS: Well, we have some guide rules. I don't know if I'd call them archaic. They may be somewhat impossible. In Washington, a leak is not a leak until somebody gets wet and everybody is wandering around with water right about up to here. That's probably why the president decided not to have the PDB's to virtually every other department. If defense of Senator Feinstein, and she doesn't need me to defend her, but I'm her chairman. I don't know of anybody who is more conscientious in reading those senior executive intelligence reports. She is a real flyspecker in terms of that. She is the or one of the major authors of what's called a DNI, a director of national intelligence, somebody in charge of the 15 different agencies we now have in the intelligence community. She does excellent work on the committee.
I think we are probably the most nonpartisan committee in the Congress. We had a rough start when we started our inquiry but I think we're off to a better opportunity now. And again, I think if I could just say this Larry, and I apologize for this, but we're going to be very proactive. We are done with our report. We're done with our conclusions. We're trying to get it redacted. It's over 300 pages long. We've added over 200 add-ons and we're not trying to play gotcha. Every one of the conclusions reach for a reform or initiative to address the systemic problems in intelligence and help the intelligence community do a better job.
KING: We'll be back with more calls in our remaining moments right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: The threat reporting that we received in the spring and summer of 2001 was not specific as to time nor place nor manner of attack. Almost all of the reports focused on al Qaeda activities outside the United States, especially in the Middle East, and in North Africa. In fact, the information that was specific enough to be actionable referred to terrorist operations overseas. Most often, though, the threat reporting was frustratingly vague.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Clayton, Missouri, hello.
CALLER: Why are there no members of the victim's families on the 9/11 commission, but instead, only Republican and Democratic politicians? Thank you.
KING: Former. Do you understand that?
FEINSTEIN: Well, the way it was set up, it was set up to have as bipartisan a committee as you could have, actually an equal number of representations...
KING: Without any current elected officials.
FEINSTEIN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Without any current elected officials, that's correct.
KING: College Station, Texas, hello. CALLER: Hello. I'd like to ask the panel, if the president wasn't curious about the warning provided in the daily press briefing, or daily briefing, what was he curious about that day? Thank you.
KING: Judith, do we know?
MILLER: I don't know what he was doing down there that day. I do know that my colleague, David Sanger, who covers the White House, said that he was down there, and he recalls that President Bush was extremely relaxed during that vacation. He said the most relaxed he'd ever seen him. But once again, hindsight is always perfect. I think what we had here was a tremendous failure of imagination, an unwillingness to accept the fact that our country was and is and remains vulnerable to a terrorist attack.
KING: Cochise, Arizona, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I want you to let me get my two cents in, because the issue is, and I have a question, the issue is you're not listening to what we citizens know. I'm waving you a red flag, just like the Phoenix FBI Agent Williams tried to do. Down here in Cochise County, under Bisbee, since the 1800s, we have miles and miles of tunnels dug by people just like the tunnels along the Afghan border. Some of these tunnels come up under buildings in Bisbee.
Now, I've been told while the terrorists are in the United States or the border patrol is causing people to come here, you are not paying attention. In Alaprieta (ph), Oxon-Douglas (ph) and in Canenao (ph), there are Pakistanis, Palestinians and Arabs. You need to be paying attention to 50 percent of all illegals coming through Cochise County.
KING: What's the question?
CALLER: Now, OK, let me get to my question, if I may. This is not about gotcha. It's about identifying our mistakes, it's about identifying how presidents think. Presidents -- now...
KING: Are you making a statement? Ma'am, I'm running out of time. What's your question?
CALLER: I'm trying be quick if you wouldn't interrupt.
KING: But you got to make a question.
CALLER: OK, all right. Clarke's book said it was delayed by the Bush administration. He said the president had -- Clinton had several daily meetings. Why is Bush comfortable, when we know that they are determined, when they know they hate us, why are they not paying attention? What does it matter if a hijacker is going to take a plane, whether he's going to run it into a building? All those peoples' lives are at risk. Why isn't he asking questions and getting on the ball? Thank you.
KING: Not enough questions asked. We only have about a minute left, Dianne. FEINSTEIN: Enough questions are never asked, Larry. This is really hard. You know, about the tunnels. A lot of the tunnels are built for moving narcotics under the border, a lot of them are built for smuggling immigrants. She's got a very good point. There are real problems on our borders. They are not secure, and we have a lot of work to do there.
KING: Senator Roberts? Are -- were not enough questions being asked?
ROBERTS: There have been a ton of questions asked. There are 11 investigations and inquiries ongoing right now. I hope there's somebody at Langley actually running the war against, you know, global terrorism. This president asked for this report. He got the report. He may have been relaxed when he was, you know, down at the ranch in terms of, you know, Crawford, Texas, but he got the report. You know, basically, in terms of Dick Clarke, and that was only brought out...
KING: We're running out of time.
ROBERTS: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) congressional investigation, he didn't mention anything about Bush at that particular time. It was all about the authority that was granted to the intelligence community as to whether they could act or not.
KING: We're out of time. Senator, I thank you very much. I thank our complete panel for being with us. I'll back in a couple of minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night, the president will hold a press conference at 8:30. Our coverage will start at 8:00 Eastern. And when that press conference ends, we will follow it with a complete hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE, no matter what time it ends.
Aaron Brown is in -- he's in -- he's in Texas tonight, doing an interview with President Mubarak of Egypt that will air tomorrow. So sitting in is the number one sit-in guy at CNN. I don't mean that as a protester, but as an anchor. Confused with sit-ins -- Anderson Cooper will handle "NEWSNIGHT." Mr. Cooper, it's yours.
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