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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Does America Need Secret Police?; Interview With 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick
Aired April 14, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome. I'm Paula Zahn.
It is Wednesday, April 14, 2004.
ZAHN (voice-over): Does America need secret police? How else do we find terrorists hiding among us?
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: We don't want to look down or have historians in the future look back at us and say, OK, you won the war on terrorism, but you sacrificed your civil liberties.
ZAHN: We're going to review a day of disturbing day of questions and answer at the 9/11 hearings.
GEORGE TENET, CIA DIRECTOR: It will take us another five years to have the kind of clandestine service our country needs.
ZAHN: And why is a member of Congress calling for this 9/11 Commissioner to quit? I'll talk to the woman at the center of this controversy, Jamie Gorelick.
They went to work in Iraq because the money was good.
STACY CLARK, HALLIBURTON DRIVER: The guy come out of the woods and he threw a grenade underneath the trailer. It explodes.
ZAHN: Two civilian contractors tell me about changing their minds and coming home. One of them almost lost his life.
ZAHN: Also ahead, what would John Kerry do differently in Iraq? Plus I'll ask GE's Jack Welch if any CEO or president of the United States should ever admit making a mistake.
First, the headlines you need to know right now.
Italy's foreign minister confirm confirms that one of four Italian hostages in Iraq has been killed. The Al-Jazeera TV network says it received but will not broadcast a videotape of that killing.
President Bush says Israel's plan to pull back from Gaza and part of the West Bank is historic and courageous. The president met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today.
"In Focus" tonight, sharp questions from the 9/11 Commission, the directors of the FBI and CIA defend their failure to protect against the 9/11 attacks. A staff report from the commission was especially critical of CIA Director George Tenet.
Our coverage begins tonight with national security correspondent David Ensor.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George Tenet was put on the defensive by a staff report from the commission, charging that the director of central intelligence -- quote -- "did not develop a management strategy for the war against terrorism before 9/11."
TENET: When the staff statement says the DCI had no strategic plan to manage the war on terrorism, that's flat wrong.
ENSOR: One commissioner pointed to the phrase in the now famous PDB, presidential daily brief, of August 6, 2001, that says -- quote -- "we have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting saying that bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft."
JOHN LEHMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: All the king's horses and all the king's men in CIA could not corroborate what turned out to be true and told the president of the United States almost a month before the attack that they couldn't corroborate these reports. That's an institutional failure. And I'm here to tell you, there are going to be very real changes made.
ENSOR: In fact, President Bush said just Tuesday night that he is open for suggestions from the 9/11 Commission. The commission is considering whether to propose giving Tenet's successor more real power, hiring and budget power over the other intelligence agencies besides the CIA. That power is currently held by the secretary of defense.
TENET: All I want to focus on is, don't throw the baby out with the bath water. I've done it one way. It ain't the perfect way. And within the structure that I lived with, and the power and persuasion and cajoling is absolutely important, because, at the end of the day, you still have to lead. You can all the authority you want. It may not matter.
ENSOR: Another change the commission is considering would break up the FBI, creating a new separate domestic intelligence agency.
Director Mueller is strongly opposed.
MUELLER: I do believe that creating a separate agency to collect intelligence in the United States would be a grave mistake. Splitting the law enforcement and the intelligence functions would leave both agencies fighting the war on terrorism with one hand tied behind their backs.
ENSOR: The commission's leaders say they do expect to recommend changes in the intelligence community structure. They're hoping to talk privately with senior officials to try to get some of the kinds of innovative ideas that might not come out in a public hearing -- Paula.
ZAHN: Does there seem to be any consensus at this point among commission members about which of those ideas could ultimately fly?
ENSOR: Well, I'm gathering from quite a few of them that they do favor a stronger DCI, a stronger intelligence czar, if you will.
The idea of an MI5, of breaking away a domestic intelligence agency, that was something some of them favored earlier on. They seem to be moving against it now, though, Paula.
ZAHN: David Ensor, thanks so much for the update.
And today the Republican chairman of House Judiciary Committee called on 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick to resign. James Sensenbrenner says Gorelick, as deputy attorney during the Clinton years, supported a policy that prohibited the sharing of information with FBI investigators. Yesterday, Attorney General John Ashcroft blamed that policy for creating a wall that separated investigators from the 9/11 terrorists.
Commissioner Gorelick joins us now to talk about that and today's testimony before the commission.
JAMIE GORELICK, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: Hi.
ZAHN: All right, obviously, Mr. Sensenbrenner believes there is a conflict of interest here. Here is what he said in a written statement: "I believe the commission's work and independence will be fatally damaged by the continued participation of Ms. Gorelick as a commissioner."
What is your reaction. Should you resign?
GORELICK: Well, I think the reaction is the reaction of the chairman and the vice chairman of my commission speaking for all 10 of us that that is really not appropriate.
I am recused from any decisions that -- from reviewing any decisions I made, as every other commissioner is recused from their decisions that they made while in government positions and otherwise. And we have procedures for this. And I think most people who will look at the record don't think there is any basis for what the attorney general said or what Mr. Sensenbrenner is saying.
(CROSSTALK) GORELICK: So, Paula, I'm going to put my head down and keep doing the work of the commission. And I'm going to ask hard questions and try to make a good report for the American people.
ZAHN: But are you essentially telling us tonight this is all about politics, then?
GORELICK: I'm not going to characterize it. You'll have to make your own judgment on that.
ZAHN: Well, what do you assign it to? What do you think it's motivated by?
GORELICK: I'm just not going to do that. I mean, I literally -- we want to work with all members of Congress to try to get our recommendations, when we come to them, adopted, because we think this is a critically important matter and we're trying really hard to keep politics out of this. So I'm just not going there.
ZAHN: Let's move on then to the testimony of George Tenet today.
The commission released a staff memo that said that he had no management strategy to battle terrorism before the September 11 attacks. Here was his response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE TENET, CIA DIRECTOR: When the staff statement says the DCI had no strategic plan to manage the war on terrorism, that's flat wrong. And by no stretch of the imagination am I going to tell you that I've solved all the problems of the community in terms of integrating it and lashing it up, but we have made an enormous amount of progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Are you confident that George Tenet has a strategic plan today and that progress has been made?
GORELICK: George Tenet has been one of our most substantial and thoughtful witnesses. He has appeared before us in private, now twice in public. We will give him every opportunity to challenge the premises that are in the staff statements. We have not said that they are perfect in every way. And so we welcome his thoughts.
ZAHN: But do you think we're better off today than we were pre- September 11? Do you think that much progress has been made?
GORELICK: We're clearly better off than we were before September 11. If all we have done is increase the urgency of the many agents out there and their connectivity and given them the resources they need -- we have had as an entire body politic a complete change of heart with respect to how we treat our intelligence community and our law enforcement assets.
So, yes, we are clearly better off. But none of our witnesses, none of them, not Tenet, not Mueller, not any of them, would say we are done fixing what was broken.
ZAHN: And that leads me to my next question, when the FBI director testified to the fact -- quote -- "I think we can -- are fixing what has been wrong with the agency." And in spite of that testimony you continue to hear the finger-pointing between the CIA and the FBI. How troubling is that to the commission? And what does it mean?
GORELICK: We're seeing finger-pointing every which way, not just between the FBI and the CIA, but between the White House and the Justice Department, between the Defense Department and the intelligence community, I mean, literally every which way.
We're going try to sort this through and come out with very clear fact findings that will be a premise for understanding what policy changes we may need to make in the future.
ZAHN: Well, you certainly have plenty work ahead. We wish you luck, Commissioner Jamie Gorelick. Thank you.
GORELICK: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: Time to get a different perspective now from a man who once ran the CIA. James Woolsey was the director for the CIA for two years under President Clinton. One year ago, he called the war on terrorism the fourth world war. He joins us now from Washington.
Always good to see you, sir. Will.
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Good to be with you.
ZAHN: I want to start off tonight with an admission that the CIA director made earlier today before the commission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TENET: It will take us another five years to have the kind of clandestine service our country needs. There is a creative, innovative strategy to get us there that requires sustained commitment, leadership and funding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Why should this take five years?
WOOLSEY: Well, I hope it can be done sooner than that. But George has a real point in that -- and he talked about it in the testimony, that in the early and mid-'90s, there were a lot of cuts in not just the CIA, but the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office that runs the satellites.
I had to fight against those myself in 1993 to early 1995. And although the House of Representatives was willing to help and the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, under Senator DeConcini kept cutting the money for Arabic speakers, for Farsi language instruction, for supercomputers for the NSA, for satellites. It was really very, very difficult to get the resources that we needed.
And out of the intelligence community, we got a little bit of help occasionally from the White House. We got a lot from Vice President Gore, who really tried to help us. But it was tough. And when things deteriorate badly over a number of years like that, and you don't have as George put it the plumbing in place because there have been such deep cuts, you have a lot of rebuilding to do.
And terrorism, spying on terrorist groups is a very different thing than spying on the Soviet Union.
WOOLSEY: You don't meet terrorists at embassy receptions.
ZAHN: But if it's going to take five years to have the kind of clandestine service he believes our country needs, what does it say about our vulnerability to potential future terrorist attacks?
WOOLSEY: Well, that's half of the problem, spying overseas, or some major share of it. But another part of it is domestic intelligence here and that will be, unless there is a new agency set up, under the FBI.
A lot of the failures before 9/11 were failures to penetrate groups in the United States and in West Germany. And those were places the CIA really doesn't spy. We might have had an easier time if they had been organizing themselves in Russia.
ZAHN: The finger-pointing continued today between the CIA and FBI. As a man who once ran the CIA, how much criticism do these agencies deserve for failing to piece together all these dots that were never connected?
WOOLSEY: They deserve some, because sometimes it is just the difference in the culture and the people playing their cards close to their vest.
But a lot of the problems that they had -- and both Bob Mueller and George Tenet pointed this out -- were institutional and they were set up by law or by regulation. For example, before the USA Patriot Act was passed in -- after 9/11, it was actually illegal for the FBI to give material about terrorism that it obtained pursuant to grand jury subpoena to the CIA or indeed anybody other than a prosecutor.
They had a lot of material in the FBI that they had got in New York around the time of the first World Trade Center bombing in '93. They could not give it to us because it was against the law. And Congress kept it that way because they wanted to keep the FBI and the CIA completely apart from one another. So, you know, that's not an FBI agent playing his cards too close to his vest. He was following the law. ZAHN: Finally, tonight, sir, if you were able to implement one major change at the CIA today and you had the money to do it, what would it be?
WOOLSEY: I would work very hard to get Arabic speakers, Farsi speakers, people with an understanding of the culture and background, particularly of Iran, Syria, the Arab world, in place as human -- as case officers, able to run agents in the Middle East and effectively operate there.
That should have been done long ago. Congress stopped us from doing it in the early '90s. George has been working on it, I know. But we need a lot more people like that.
ZAHN: We always appreciate your insights. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, thank you.
WOOLSEY: Good to be with you.
ZAHN: Well, there is not much good news today for the families of many U.S. troops in Iraq. The Pentagon is now going to keep a lot of those soldiers from coming home on schedule.
With us from now Washington is senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- good evening, Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Paula.
The Pentagon had been hoped at this point to be reducing its overall troop level in Iraq. Instead, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld today has signed off on a request to keep as many as 20,000 troops in place. In fact, about 20,000 is the number. According to Pentagon sources, those 20,000 U.S. troops will be extended on their combat tour for about three months.
The key elements of that are most of the 1st Armored Division, which is based in Germany, and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Polk, Louisiana. In addition, some National Guard units will also be extended in their tours into the summer. The big question now for the Pentagon is what to do in the long term. This buys them some short-term time for the next couple of months, but now they have to decide which units would have to replace them if they decide they need to maintain this higher troop level of 135,000 troops now in Iraq, as opposed to the 115,000 they were planning on.
They say they'll make the decisions in the next couple of weeks -- Paula.
ZAHN: Jamie McIntyre, thanks for the update. And when we come back, we will actually hear from some American service members who thought they were going home but now have to stay in Iraq.
And the man who trained the new Iraqi police force on what it will take to tame Iraq's seething cities.
And two American contractors narrowly survive an ambush in Iraq. They will tell their harrowing story.
ZAHN: The situation on the ground in Iraq is becoming increasingly volatile. U.S. officials there had hoped that American- trained Iraqi troops would be able to play a dominant role in keeping Iraq safe. That hasn't happened yet. So what can be done to increase stability and security?
Joining us from Washington is Bernard Kerik. He was a senior policy adviser to the presidential envoy in Iraq and spent several months rebuilding its police force. He was also New York's police commissioner at the time of the 9/11 attacks.
Welcome. Always good to see you, sir.
BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Thank you.
ZAHN: So last night the president himself admitted that some of the Iraqi troops had not performed as expected. We're well aware of a situation where some of those troops refused to quell some of the violence in Fallujah. When will it be that these troops can stand on their own?
KERIK: Well, I think, Paula, it really depends on leadership.
And the U.S. military is in a position right now where they have to ensure that the people that they put in position in the leadership positions for the Iraqi civil defense forces, for the Iraqi police and the Iraqi military, they are the right people, the people that the Iraqis will follow. It is no different than the New York City Police Department, the U.S. military. People will follow leaders.
They have to make sure they have the right ones in place. There are many good ones out there. And there are some bad. And we have to get rid of the bad and put in the good and move forward.
ZAHN: When you helped train the troops, what kind of resistance was expected?
KERIK: Well, I think we expected some of what we're seeing now, not a lot, but we expected some.
You have people out there that were loyal to Saddam, loyal to his regime. You have people out there that are intimidated, afraid. Every day that the Iraqis get to watch television today and hear the politicians in this country talking about pulling out, there is this constant fear in Iraq by the Iraqis that they're going to wake up tomorrow and we'll be gone. And then where are they? Who are they left with?
So I think that is something they're looking at and something that has a major -- plays a major factor in whether they're going to be involved, whether they're going to push, whether they're going to get out there, put their lives on the line. But, Paula, you also have to remember, hundreds -- hundreds, maybe 500, 600, 700 Iraqis have lost their lives in this fight already.
KERIK: I would say far more than we have lost. So they're out there. They're fighting. But there is an element out there that you know, has backed off and we have to get them inspired to move forward.
ZAHN: But, in the meantime, when you don't have this leadership that you want controlling these Iraqi forces, how do you confront the issue of some of these Iraqi troops themselves saying, we didn't get into this to shoot at fellow Iraqis?
KERIK: Well, I think, once again, it is all about leadership. I think the military has to pick out the people, the right people, put them in place and explain -- you know, it is also an educational process.
The Iraqis, they have never dealt with freedom before. They've never -- they've never had the right to stand up and say, we're not going to do anything. We have to make sure that we're educating the Iraqis, explaining to them, telling them, educating them on what we're doing there, why. And I think that will be a part of the inspirational process to get them to fight for their own country. They have to understand one day we're leaving. They're going to have to be there on their own.
ZAHN: How much does this most recent violence make your stomach churn?
KERIK: It is upsetting, but it is understandable.
I said three months ago, four, five months ago, when I returned from Iraq, it going to get worse before it gets better. As we move toward that June 30 date, which we have to have -- there has to be a designated time that we transition over sovereignty to the Iraqis -- as we get closer to that date, we're going to see this resistance flare.
It is disgusting. It makes me angry. But I also understand it. There are people out there that do not want this to work. They're going to be fought. They're going to be captured. They're going to be killed. Iraq will be a free Iraq, but it is going to come at a cost.
ZAHN: Bernard Kerik, thank you very much for your perspective tonight.
KERIK: Thank you.
ZAHN: And last night, in his news conference, President Bush said -- quote -- "We must not waiver when it comes to Iraq." And the U.S. commitment to stay the course seems solid. But there are other nations with troops and citizens in Iraq.
And as Rome bureau chief Alessio Vinci reports, the political leaders there are having to walk a tightrope, especially now that one Italian hostage has been murdered.
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Polls in Britain, Italy and Spain show the population overwhelmingly against U.S.-led military action in Iraq and the evening news bulletins do little to challenge the perception.
LUCIO CARACCIOLO, EDITOR, "LIMES": In democracies, either you change the government or you change your opinion. And it seems that people didn't change their opinion. On the contrary, they are now much more critical than before. And this is beginning to be a problem for the government here.
VINCI: Spain's government was ousted in elections held just days after a massive terror attack in Madrid. The winning Socialist promised to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq by June 30, the only coalition member to announce a pullout so far.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The reasonable thing now is to redirect the military occupation to an international effort run by the United Nations, to make things normal in Iraq.
VINCI: Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, who a year ago expressed some concern about military action in Iraq, but offered unconditional political support to U.S. President George W. Bush, continues to say Italy's 3,000 troops will remain in Iraq as long as necessary.
But in Italy, too, there is talk of the need for a greater international involvement.
"We will work so that the United Nations and Europe together," he says, "in order to assure that a legitimized government in Iraq will be able to take over."
In Britain, Prime Minister Blair knows public opinion is not behind him. But in an op-ed editorial on Sunday, he explained why he thinks abandoning Iraq now would be a mistake. "Were we to fail, which we will not, it is more than the power of America that would be defeated. The hope of freedom and religious tolerance in Iraq would be snuffed out. Dictators would rejoice. Fanatics and terrorists would be triumphant."
And while there is no talk of calling British troops home, the opposition says the government should seize the opportunity of the June 30 handover to call in the U.N.
(on camera): So it appears that European leaders who originally supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq will continue to do so, even while calling for a greater United Nations role there. But these leaders are also politicians with a commitment to voters and in the end it will be the voters who will have the final say.
Alessio Vinci, CNN, Rome.
ZAHN: When we come back, some American soldiers are telling their families that their homecoming is on hold.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I called them one day and I was like, hey, I don't think I'm going make it home. Things are looking crazy here in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Members of the service react to the decision to extend their tour of duty in Iraq.
And what solution does Senator John Kerry have for Iraq? I'll ask one of his advisers.
ZAHN: The need to keep troops in Iraq that were supposed to be rotated home caused problems for the soldiers, their families and the generals that command them. But it has shown just how resilient and resourceful those Americans are.
Baghdad bureau chief Jane Arraf reports on an Army unit that has proved it can turn on a dime.
JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): The 1st Armored Division was supposed to be going home from Baghdad. Instead it is headed south, this time to Kut, where militia loyal to a radical Shia leader seized control last week. The quick reaction force along with tanks, helicopters and fighter planes was deployed just hours after Muqtada al-Sadr's militia took Kut.
The U.S. retook the city. Military officials say it is the biggest and quickest turnaround of forces they can recall. They turned this desert camp near Kut, home to about 1000 Ukrainian soldiers, into a U.S. Army base five times the size.
BRIG. GEN. MARK HERTLING, U.S. ARMY: This is about 250 kilometers from where our base of operations is. So this is an expeditionary army that turned on a dime, changed mission from one thing to another and went right back into a fight. It is pretty miraculous.
ARRAF: The division was so close to going home, helicopters had been cleaned and put in shrink wrap at the port. Soldiers had shipped home their things and handed in their ammunition. Staff Sergeant Felipe Lial from Kennedy Texas, has been in Kuwait and Iraq for 18 months. He told his family he'll be here at least three months more.
STAFF SGT. FELIPE LIAL, U.S. ARMY: I called them one day and I was like, hey, I don't think I'm going to make it home. Things are looking crazy here in Iraq. And they're like, yes, we see it on the news.
ARRAF: If it's hard on the soldiers, it is even harder on the families. They're giving up vacations, wedding plans and promises to be home in the spring. Staff Sergeant Jorge Valez wearing the new uniform he planned to greet his family in, can't bring himself to tell his eight-year-old son.
STAFF SGT. JORGE VALEZ, U.S. ARMY: It is going to break his heart, it's going to break my heart. So I might as well let his mom take care of that.
ARRAF: After a year in the field, these soldiers are pretty resilient.
(on camera): It is only early April and it is already 90 degrees here. Not only are these troops going to have to stay another three to four months, they're going to have to stay until the beginning of another Iraqi summer.
(voice-over): For some of the younger troops like this specialist from Indiana, the new mission is a welcome change of pace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't really care for the whole, you know, sitting around guarding stuff. I like to go and do what we're trying to do, kick in doors and shoot at people.
ARRAF: Despite the grumbling, they are now fighting a clear enemy. And this is what they signed up for.
Jane Arraf, CNN, Kut, Iraq.
ZAHN: A rash of attacks on American civilians driving convoys leads to second thoughts about whether going to Iraq is worth it. We are going to hear from two workers who are now home.
Senator John Kerry, says the president is on the wrong track in Iraq. But what does he recommend?
And tomorrow, commission member Richard Ben-Veniste on this weeks ground breaking 9/11 (UNINTELLIGIBLE) testimony.
ZAHN: Welcome back. Here are some of the headlines you need to know at this hour. In Iraq, one Italian hostage is dead. He was apparently killed by his captors while the scene was videotaped. The tape was delivered to the Al Jazeera network with a note that said other hostages would be killed unless Italy agreed to remove its troops from Iraq.
In Madison, Wisconsin, police say they're going to charge college student Audrey Seiler with faking her own abduction. Seiler said she had been kidnapped by a, quote, "bad man" with a knife and a gun. She faces two misdemeanor counts of obstructing officers. Meanwhile, Martha Stewart's lawyers are scrambling to try and keep her out of jail. They have filed a motion with a judge, saying that one juror lied when questioned before the trial. They say that means she should get a new trial.
And in Idaho, a Saudi graduate student is on trial for allegedly helping terrorists recruit followers and raise money over the Internet. The trial is considered a key test to the Patriot Act, which made it illegal to give expert advice or assistance to terrorists.
So how much money would convince you to go to work in Iraq? Well, in some cases, the pay is great. So too, though, is the danger. Truck drivers Stephen Heering and Stacy Clark returned home from Iraq on Monday, thanking God to be alive. Last week, their convoy was ambushed, and Heering's truck was blown up by a grenade. The former Halliburton employees join me from Houston to share their experiences in Iraq.
Describe to us that terrible day last week when your trailer and your cab are engulfed in flames.
STEPHEN HEERING, FORMER HALLIBURTON EMPLOYEE: I heard the explosion. As soon as I looked in my rearview mirror, I thought it was somebody else that got hit. The second one came in, and that's when I saw the explosion at the -- between the cab and my truck. And next thing -- it just was a second later -- the whole cab just filled up with flames. The truck was burning, and I just jumped out of the truck and took off running.
ZAHN: And is it true as you jumped out, what you were focused on is what you believe to have been the voice of your son saying, Daddy, come home?
HEERING: I came out of the smoke and there was gunfire going off, other explosions. And then my -- you know, I just -- everything got silent, and I heard my son say, Come home. And I just took off running as fast as I could and caught up -- another truck stopped and picked me up, and I jumped in and we got out of there.
ZAHN: Stacy, now, you were stuck right behind Stephen's truck, watching all of this play out. Did you think he had any chance at all of surviving?
STACY CLARK, FORMER HALLIBURTON EMPLOYEE: When it hit his trailer, you know, all I seen was flames. And then when a second one hit, the cab, I seen it engulfed flames. And I just -- I just knew he was dead. I didn't think he was alive at all. And as I passed through the flames and the smoke, when I finally got clear, I seen him running. And I radioed back to the next driver and told him to pick him up, you know? And I thought he was dead, though. I didn't know what I was going to tell his wife or his family.
ZAHN: So chilling to watch that from the close distance that you watched it from. Stephen, part of the reason why you went to Iraq and Stacy went to Iraq is you could make a lot more money over there than you could at home. You were well aware of the risks. How nerve- wracking was it even leading up to this point where you almost lost your life?
HEERING: You know, we were just minimum-wage people when we were back home, and this was a chance -- we both have 16-year-old kids, a couple of years fixing to go to college. This is a lot of money. You know, we had, you know, big plans, you know, to send our kids to good schools when they get out of high school.
ZAHN: So Stacy, in the end, it was worth the risk?
CLARK: I look back on it now, no, ma'am. The chance you take over there is just unreal, you know?
ZAHN: And Stephen...
CLARK: After what I seen, there's no way I'd go back to it.
ZAHN: And Steve, what do you say to those men who have chosen to take this risk, basically, for the same reason you did, to make some money for their families, and those that remain in Iraq tonight?
HEERING: Just to really, before you go, to sit down and really think about is the money really worth losing your life for, because once you're gone, nobody else is going to take care of your family. It's just -- you know, it's all about money. It just sucks you in, you know, for an average person. And that's what a lot of them, you know, are over there, just trying to better their lives and make some money and get away from a paycheck-to-paycheck job.
ZAHN: Well, I know it's not easy for either one of you to relive what you went through last week. Stacy Clark and Stephen Heering, welcome home, and thank you for sharing your story with us tonight.
HEERING: Thank you.
CLARK: Thank you for letting us on your show.
Coming up, John Kerry blasts the White House on Iraq. I'll ask a Kerry adviser for details about what his candidate would do over there.
And is the president's June 30 deadline to turn control over to the Iraqis realistic? Former GE head Jack Welch offers some advice from one executive to the chief executive.
And tomorrow, the surprising side of Jacqueline Kennedy and how a former first lady's life can teach all of us something about living.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why doesn't the president just come out and say, I want the U.N. to be a full partner and the resolution that we pass will turn authority over to them? (END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Once again today, Senator John Kerry harshly criticizing President Bush's Iraq policy. However, the presumed Democratic nominee isn't saying a whole lot about what he would do differently.
Former assistant secretary of state James Rubin is advising Senator Kerry on foreign policy, joins me tonight from Washington. Welcome, Jamie.
JAMES RUBIN, KERRY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Nice to be with you, Paula.
ZAHN: Let's start off with what the president had to say about a potential U.N. role in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Other nations and international institutions are stepping up to their responsibilities in building a free and secure Iraq. We're working closely with the United Nations envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, and with Iraqis to determine the exact form of the government that will receive sovereignty on June 30.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: All right, candidate Kerry also calling for more U.N. involvement in Iraq, asking for more countries to contribute troops on the ground in Iraq. How is his approach that different from the president's right now?
RUBIN: Well, I think there are several ways, Paula. First of all, I think Senator Kerry is far more realistic about the situation in Iraq. The president last night continually gives the impression that things are going well, that we're meeting our targets and our deadlines. It's a year now since he declared more or less mission accomplished, and the security situation has deteriorated. So the second thing after realism is we need more forces. We need forces to deal with this deteriorating security situation.
ZAHN: All right, but didn't the president say last...
RUBIN: And thirdly...
ZAHN: ... night he would offer all the troops the generals wanted on the ground?
RUBIN: Well, you asked me to tell you what Senator Kerry would propose, and that would be the second point. The third point would be to propose that NATO take over the military operation, led by an American commander. And the way to attract NATO countries to allow that to happen is to begin to share responsibility for the political side of this operation. After the Iraqi interim government is announced, at some point in the next couple of months, it's still not going to have full political power, so we need some institution, some entity to work with the Iraqis to exercise political control. And if we share responsibility for that, instead of hoarding it for ourselves, then we can share the burden, we can attract other countries to deploy forces, and we can share the risk instead of just having Americans bear those risks.
ZAHN: So you're saying you think it's realistic to expect the U.N. and NATO allies to take on that kind of diplomatic burden and potentially the military burden there.
RUBIN: Well, it's going to be hard, and it's much, much harder today than it would have been shortly after the invasion. When we were successful, we should have opened our arms at that point, and many countries would have come with us. It's harder now. But I think that if we are prepared to share political control through the U.N. resolution Senator Kerry was talking about, to show that it's not just America making all decisions, it's not a "Made in America" stamp, but people like Lakhdar Brahimi will play a role and others will play a role there, and the European allies, our key allies, and members of the Security Council will be involved in decision making -- if they don't share decision-making responsibility, we're never going to be able to attract them to share the risk and share the burden that we're bearing largely ourselves right now.
ZAHN: Senator Kerry also calling on the administration to support any U.N.-brokered plan in Iraq that would have the support of Iraqi leaders. But even you would have to concede, finding that consensus even today has been all but impossible. What would have to change for that to work?
ZAHN: Well, Lakhdar Brahimi just laid out today some of his ideas for that. And it's going to be a difficult exercise. And again, here's an example. Brahimi can speak to all the players there, the U.N. envoy. The key Shi'ite player, the leader of the largest majority, Ayatollah Sistani, won't even talk to Paul Bremer, the American proconsul. So Brahimi should have been there a lot earlier and involved a lot more heavily up to now. But he's there now, and I think he will probably cobble together a plan that is widely accepted.
But then, who is going to work with that interim government? That government won't have full power. It's an interim government. The election won't take place until next year. And that's where you want the international community to come together to share responsibility, to play a role, because if they do that, then we can realistically expect them to share the burden financially, through additional troops, and thus share the risk. And that's what's been sadly missing from President Bush's approach for longer than a year now.
ZAHN: Let's go back to a point you made earlier, the president making clear he would provide more troops on the ground, if needed. We reported at the top of this show the Pentagon now conforming -- confirming it will extend the -- at least the term of duty, combat tours, of some 20,000 soldiers. How would Senator Kerry address, as president, the increasing pressure on our military resources, troops spread very thin from Afghanistan to Iraq?
RUBIN: Well, there's no question that the whole Iraqi enterprise, because we did so much of it ourselves, because we didn't get the international community to work with us, because 90 percent of the forces are American there, given -- and we have other responsibilities in Afghanistan and around the world -- our strength of our forces is severely stretched. And he has proposed an increase of 40,000 in the standing army so that we with he can deal with these problems.
But the reason why our army is stretched right now is because the president didn't make the international involvement in Iraq the way he should have. He didn't exhaust diplomacy. He didn't have an international coalition. We shouldn't be bearing 90 percent of the burden for what has been an effort to force Iraq to comply with an international responsibility at the United Nations. That was a product of failed diplomacy. Senator Kerry recognizes we have additional burdens in the war on terror, and he has proposed increasing our forces.
ZAHN: All right, Jamie Rubin, thank you very much. Appreciate your joining us tonight.
RUBIN: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: Coming up: One of the biggest controversies involving Iraq, of course, is the June 30 deadline for the U.S. to hand over sovereignty. Just ahead, I will talk deadlines and pressure with GE's former chairman, Jack Welch.
ZAHN: The president has made it clear he stands by his June 30 deadline to hand control of Iraq over to an Iraqi government. Yesterday "The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece on changing deadlines in business and politics. It caught my eye because it's written by one of the most successful chief executives in American business.
Former GE chairman and CEO Jack Welch joins me now. Good to see you, sir. Welcome.
JACK WELCH, FORMER CHAIRMAN & CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC CO.: How are you, Paula?
ZAHN: I'm fine, thanks. So the president making it, as we said, abundantly clear he doesn't plan to change that June 30 deadline. And yet in your piece, you say, in general, changing a deadline isn't such a negative thing.
WELCH: No, I don't think it is. I wasn't speaking with the knowledge of his position, I was just talking about CEOs in general and leaders in general, saying it was much more difficult in politics to change a deadline. But in business, you do it -- when circumstances change, you react to it.
ZAHN: Aren't you conceding, though, that you can't get the job done?
WELCH: Yes. And that's true. And that is what happens, but you articulate the reasons why very clearly to the audience. And you repeat it over and over again so they understand the rationale for why you're changing. And you have to say it over and over again.
ZAHN: Is that what the president should be doing? You make it clear at the end of your piece that circumstances have changed, and yet -- you were very careful not to offer the president advice. But isn't that what you're saying, that maybe the American public would affect -- or would accept the fact that things have changed in Iraq, and maybe the deadline needs to be postponed?
WELCH: Well, I think the deadline in itself was probably a compromise. As people were clamoring for something more finite, they came upon this date. I think circumstances have, in fact, changed, and it needs a re-look. But what I said in "The Journal" was I don't know all the facts. But I would say if the facts have changed sufficiently, I think the American people would rally around the president, if he explained them thoroughly and in detail.
ZAHN: So why won't you tell me tonight what you want the president to do?
WELCH: I don't know enough. And when I was CEO and owned a decision, having made it myself, I had enough facts to make a call.
ZAHN: You also make the point in this piece that when it comes to a CEO, he might be or she might be dealing with a plastic, and a president is dealing with life and death.
ZAHN: Is there any application of that here, from crossing over from the corporate world to the political world?
WELCH: Well, I think, without question. I mean, his decision, or a president's decision is far more momentous, but some of the same principles apply. If the facts change, you've got to go sell the reasons why they have changed and why you have moved in a different direction or changed time. And if you're honest and straightforward, as this president is, and articulate it over and over again enough, the public will accept you.
ZAHN: Finally tonight, the president had some trouble answering a question last night about any mistakes that he thinks he might have made during his presidency. Is that such a bad thing, for a leader to admit he might have made a mistake or two?
WELCH: Well, I don't think that you make mistakes in this case. I'm not saying he's making mistakes. I think, Paula, an answer would be that, in hindsight, things are different than we thought, at times. And would I have done some things differently? Perhaps. But I used my best judgment and my highest integrity at the time I knew how to do them. And when I did them, I did them with full honesty and full candor, and now things have either changed, or if they haven't changed, you wouldn't change, but they've changed. And therefore, I see things somewhat differently. I mean, I did that a number of times. ZAHN: And that's why people...
WELCH: But I had much smaller stakes, I'd like to add.
ZAHN: Well, certainly. That's why people enjoy working with you over the years. Jack Welch, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us tonight.
WELCH: Thanks a lot, Paula.
ZAHN: And we'll be right back.
ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here this evening. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Tomorrow night, 9/11 commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste joins us to talk about the extraordinary 9/11 hearings and the coming report on the September 11 terror attacks. Plus, we'll also have a campaign update for you.
"LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Again, thanks for dropping by this evening. Have a great night.
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