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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Bob Woodward
Aired June 4, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: White House access on CIA director on George Tenet's resignation. Bob Woodward who first reported Tenet's quote that the case for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was a slam dunk. Bob Woodward for the hour with your phone calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: One programming note. As you know Bill Clinton's book, "My Life" will be coming out shortly. He'll make his first live primetime appearance with your phone calls on this program Thursday night, June 24. Bill Clinton, Thursday night, June 24. It's great to welcome Bob Woodward back, the reporter and editor of the "Washington Post," the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, "New York Times" No. 1 bestselling author, the latest "Plan of Attack" has been a runaway bestseller, also available on audiotape. There you see its front cover. Were you surprised at the Tenet resignation?
BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: Yes, I was, kind of. I think there was a feeling that Bush wanted to keep the team, the war cabinet all together. No one was going to be fired or thrown over the side, and he didn't want any resignations. I think what happened is that Tenet looked at the next five or six months before the election, and there wasn't much in it for him.
He's been criticized severely. There were new reports coming out, there looms the very real possibility of another terrorist attack abroad or even in this country, and then there would be all those questions of what exactly did you know, when did you know it, how did you connect the dots, and what might be missed, and I think -- I talked to some people who talked to Tenet, and Tenet told them specifically said, look, I'm resigning for my young boy, who's a senior in high school, for his wife, Stephanie (ph), and for himself. I think he knew the game was over for him, and why not leave now rather than go through six months of more problems and agony.
KING: You know him well. Do you believe it was his decision alone?
WOODWARD: I think it was probably his family's decision. I also think that -- I know when I interviewed the president about the Iraq war for this book and talked specifically about Tenet, specifically about Tenet's -- the presentation to the president when the president was skeptical about the evidence of weapons of mass destruction, and then Tenet memorably said, "no, don't worry. It's a slam dunk case." And then the president challenged him again and said, "are you sure?" And Tenet repeated the slam dunk, used that word and said, "just don't be concerned." And I asked the president about that, and he said that was very important. At that moment, you could see that the president was throwing a little bit off on Tenet, and maybe quite a bit, saying look, my intelligence guy said I can take it to the bank.
KING: Do you think, therefore, the president is happy or unhappy about this?
WOODWARD: I think on a personal level, he's unhappy. I mean, they had quite a strong relationship. I think it gives a sense, well, we're moving on, and he probably realizes that that's politically beneficial to him, the president does, but I'm not sure there's much benefit in it now all of this is being rehashed.
KING: He was the only Clinton holdover. Why? Why did they keep him?
KING: Well, I think it has to do with the chemistry. They're both kind of locker room fellows and they assess people. They assessed each other and informed this friendship and bond, and one of the things George Bush did as president when he came in before 9/11 is insist that the CIA director give him that morning intelligence briefing and Tenet does it and has done it almost every day. I mean, imagine spending 20 minutes, a half an hour with the same person every morning on the most serious business you're dealing with. You get to know each other.
KING: He didn't see Clinton as much. Is that correct?
WOODWARD: That's right. Clinton liked to read paper and Tenet was not on the, you know, the daily circuit with Clinton.
KING: He's the second longest head of the CIA in history, second to Allen Dulles. How will he be assessed?
WOODWARD: You know, it's hard to get a full read on it. I was thinking about that and it's sort of like Charles Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities." It was the best of times and the worst of times, both. Tenet really deserves an immense amount of credit for revitalizing the CIA and that's real, and I've spent some time looking at the details of that and it's quite remarkable.
He, when he came in in '97, realized that the case officers, the CIA, people who work undercover abroad, there were virtually non in training, and he energized that program in a very dramatic way, and now ten times as many people are being trained. These are the people who go abroad and recruit others to spy on their governments, to spy on terrorists groups, and this is the heart of the intelligence of the human intelligence capability of the CIA.
He focused on it. He devoted resources to it, and it has made a difference. Now he has said publicly, it's going to take five years to finish that business. I think that's true. Now, of course, there's the downside, and I don't think it's fair to criticize -- I mean, you can criticize Tenet, but I don't think you can blame him for 9/11. I think when all of the details of this are known, and examined, people are going to realize that you can't stop all terrorist attacks, and that was a mighty sophisticated one. I think you can criticize him and people have and people will in the coming months, particularly the Congress, on the judgment on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that was a serious, serious mistake that the CIA made.
KING: In your book, "Bush at War," he gets a lot of credit for effectiveness in Afghanistan.
WOODWARD: Yes, exactly, and right after 9/11, when the president decided we're going to destroy bin Laden's sanctuary in Afghanistan it was not really the U.S. military, it was the covert capability that Tenet had built through the revitalization process in the CIA, through the connections in Afghanistan to the tribes there where literally CIA officers went in with bags of money and provided assistance to the various tribes in the northern alliance, particularly and that's the group that overthrew the Taliban. So he -- I mean even Tenet's biggest critics give him credit for that.
KING: Do you think he was hurt by Powell's criticism of the information that he, Powell, received, before he went before the U.N.?
WOODWARD: Yes, I think so, and, you know, Powell was beside himself about it, because Powell's famous U.N. presentation, if you recall, seemed very convincing at the time. Powell clearly believed it. Tenet believed it, and as best we can tell now, it was all wrong, and all of that stuff was from the CIA.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll be including phone calls for Bob Woodward. The book "Plan of Attack" still a major major bestseller, also on audiotape. We're discussing the resignation of George Tenet. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE TENET, DIRECTOR, CIA: This is the most difficult decision I've ever had to make. And while Washington and the media will put many different faces on the decision, it was a personal decision and it had only one basis in fact. The well being of my wonderful family. Nothing more, and nothing less.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He, ah, told me he was resigning for personal reasons. I told him I'm sorry he's leaving. He's done a superb job on behalf of the American people. I accepted his letter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Bob Woodward, will the 9/11 commission report be tough on Tenet?
WOODWARD: Yes. The members of the commission have already said that. Some of them apparently have concluded that the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented if all the intelligence had been shared and everything was working properly. Again, you know, I think there are many grounds for criticism here, but the idea that you could have prevented it, the volume of intelligence that was coming in, and the skill, the diabolical skill these 19 terrorists and whoever sponsored and helped them plan this in al Qaeda, and we know who some of those people are now, they did a very, very good job of isolating themselves, and it's one of those things, if you've ever seen a puzzle where it looks simple and you can't get it, and then they tell you the answer and you say, oh, it's obvious.
Well, it's obvious when you know the answer. I'm not sure in the environment before 9/11 you ever could have taken those little pieces out of the tens of thousands of intelligence data points and got to a point where you had enough information to actually stop these attacks. Now maybe they're going to make a convincing case of it. As somebody who tries to investigate things and figure out things, I'm not sure that, quite frankly, that's fair.
KING: John McLaughlin is now acting director. What can you tell us about him, and do you think he'll stay in that post through the election?
WOODWARD: It looks like he will stay in that position. He's an analyst. Somebody who would look -- who looks and talks like a brilliant chemistry professor and very well respected in the CIA, somebody who is cautious by nature. Somebody wrote that he was a clone of George tenet. I don't think that's quite right. I think that, you know, certainly Tenet picked him, has a lot of faith in him, but a lot of people are going to look and say, you know, John McLaughlin is the one who made that presentation four months -- three months before the Iraq war started, made the Oval Office presentation to the president about weapons of mass destruction.
And the president was not impressed and in fact, when I asked the president about it, he said that McLaughlin's presentation would not stand the test of time and that's when Tenet said, "don't worry, it's a slam dunk." So people are going to associate McLaughlin with the Tenet era, but you know, I think he'll do fine. I think he's probably not going to stay there past the election.
WOODWARD: If Bush is reelected, would Giuliani be a logical contender for this?
WOODWARD: There's a certain logic to it. Quite possibly. You know, I'm not sure if Giuliani counts to ten, he would say yes. If you go back -- I've known all of the CIA directors going back to Richard Helms 30 years ago, and if you look, it is a killer job. It is a job that eats people up. To a certain extent, everyone who has had it has had at least parts of their reputation diminished because they had that job in difficult times when you have to make difficult calls. Even George Bush senior who had the job, it was only for a year. It was kind of a caretaker time, and the criticism of him was that he was kind of on the one hand, and on the other hand, and would not make strong stands.
KING: If John Kerry is elected, would Bob Kerrey be an obvious choice?
WOODWARD: I don't know. I mean, Bob Kerrey is a very independent person, and you definitely need somebody in the CIA who may be independent but is going to be part of a team and Bob Kerry is not known for being a team player. He's somebody who marches to his own drummer and on his own row in his own direction.
KING: What kind of individual would you look for? Would it be someone who would have had to have been in law enforcement? Is there a prerequisite for CIA director?
WOODWARD: No, there's not. I mean, military people have had it. All kinds of people. There have been political appointments. Bill Casey was Reagan's CIA director and certainly one of the most controversial figures. I've heard George Tenet asked people -- because he didn't know Casey -- ask people and grill people about Casey. "What was Casey like?" "What did he do?" And Casey was one of these people who cast a giant shadow in the CIA, and then you know, went off the tracks in Irancontra.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with more. In a little while we'll take your phone calls for Bob Woodward of the "Washington Post." The book, "Plan of Attack," a major bestseller, available on audiotape as well. By the way, Tuesday night, the whole cast of CBS's "60 Minutes." We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TENET: I've had the chance to be part of a massive transformation of our intelligence capabilities. That revolution may not make headlines but it will continue to benefit our country for years to come. American intelligence has, after the drought of the post Cold War years, begun to receive the investments in people and dollars and attention that we need to meet the security challenges of a new century and a new world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, (D-MA) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I called for George Tenet to resign several months ago. That is not a new call for me. I did call for that. I think there's been a lack of accountability at the CIA. I regret it. I know him personally. But that's the nature of responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Bob Woodward. Mr. Chalabi, who appears in your book said this of Tenet, "he continued attempting to make a coup d'etats against Saddam in the face of all possible evidence that this would be successful. His policies caused the deaths of hundreds of Iraqis in a futile effort. He provided erroneous information about weapons of mass destruction to President Bush, which caused the government much embarrassment at the U.N and his own country." You have a comment?
WOODWARD: Break that into two parts. There were early covert actions where lots of people lost their lives and the CIA and Tenet were involved in those. I think they were high risk efforts that didn't pay off. It turned out Chalabi himself was involved in at least one of those.
That's the nature of covert action. It is very, very dangerous, and risky, and that's why Tenet and the CIA concluded before -- really a year and a half before the Iraq war started, that they, in the CIA, could not overthrow Saddam, that all they could do in the intelligence business, is support some sort of military invasion. And that is the order that President Bush gave the CIA. And that is all the planning and work that the agency did covertly in the runnup to war.
Now, Chalabi's criticism on the weapons of mass destruction, I think that's right. At least based on what we know, that it was a giant mistake. What interests me is how was this mistake made? And part of it was, and I tried to outline this, that after 9/11 when everyone realized, well, maybe we didn't take threats seriously enough, that there wasn't dire enough warning, people in the CIA and the intelligence business, and Tenet to a certain extent, adopted what I would call a kind of warning at any cost mentality. Somebody's a threat or it looks like something might happen, not that it will intentionally overstate it, but that we will present the worst case scenario, because we had seen that happen on 9/11. It was clear that Saddam was sot some sort of threat.
They misread the intelligence. I think the momentum, I think specifically the efforts of Vice President Cheney, when Cheney went public before the CIA issued a report on weapons of mass destruction, and Cheney said categorically, there's no doubt Saddam has weapons of mass destruction.
Well in the perfect world, Tenet should have gone to the White House and Bush and to Cheney and said, now wait a minute, that's our job. We haven't made a ruling on that. We have not made a determination and judgment.
In the process, you go through the chronology on this, the CIA wanted to put out a tough, clear report. The people making the reports on weapons of mass destruction were fearful of putting out what they called pablem, something that would be, well, he might have it he might not have it, and turns out they went too far and made that mistake, which is a giant one and a serious one. We went to war on that basis.
KING: On the same day that Tenet resigned, the FBI proposed creation of a separate intelligence division inside the bureau. What do your sources telling you whether that's a likelihood?
WOODWARD: I don't know enough about that. If you look at other people who have studied this, you know, there are going to be a lot of suggestions for fixing this and repairing it. There's such a tendency, as you know, in Washington, well, let's rearrange the boxes. Let's put someone else in charge. Let's give it a new name.
I think a lot of the really serious and important work, it's quite obvious, is done at the low and mid level. Whether you're working in this branch of the FBI or the CIA or they call the threat center a new name or whether they have a Homeland Security office doesn't make a whole lot of difference. It's the people who are doing the work and putting these dots and pieces together. And I hope there isn't this view of, well, we'll give it a new name, and that will fix everything, because new names don't do that.
KING: You find it a little ironic that Tenet has outlasted by bin Laden?
WOODWARD: Well, you know, it is amazing and astonishing that bin Laden has not been caught. But you know, apparently he's still out there. I don't know whether he's controlling much, but he certainly is a symbol of his movement.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. When we come back, we'll take your phone calls for Bob Woodward, reporter and editor of the "The Washington Post." Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. No. 1 "New York Times" best selling author of the newest "Plan of Attack." We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE TENET, FRM. DIR CIA: A record is not without flaws. The world of intelligence is uniquely a human endeavor and, as in all human endeavors, we all understand the need to always do better. We're not perfect, but one of our best kept secrets is that we are very, very, very good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TENET: First thing I would say to the commission is that the care and nurturing of these capabilities is absolutely essential. It will take us another five years to have the kind of clandestine service our country needs. There's a creative, innovative strategy that requires sustained commitment, leadership and funding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was George Tenet appearing before the 9/11 commission. Our special guest, always great to have him, is Bob Woodward. Let's go to some calls. Massanutten, Virginia, hello.
CALLER: How are you, Larry. KING: Fine. What's the question.
CALLER: Hi Mr Woodward. Thank you for taking questions. Mine say general one for Mr. Woodward. You obviously have had personal contact with the president and obviously he's a college graduate, but I don't think I've ever listened to anyone in such a high office who seems so inarticulate. He's got to be smarter than he comes across. Could you comment on that?
WOODWARD: Well, people who think that he's not smart, I think, are wrong. But at the same time, he is not naturally articulate. He's not like Bill Clinton. Remember, we listened to Clinton as president for eight years and Clinton talks in paragraphs, if not multiple paragraphs with an immense coherence often.
Bush has a tendency to start a sentence and then -- it took me a long time to figure this out -- and then he will stop it kind of abruptly, and then restart it just in a slightly different direction, and if you listen to it, it's got a herky jerky quality to it that does not sound articulate and you know, certainly a lot of people would say is not articulate.
I found in asking him hundreds of questions in fairness to him, I knew exactly what he meant and what he was saying, and so the meaning is clear, but it is a fair point, that there is not that natural flow of one sentence to the next as with Clinton.
KING: Westchester, New York, for Bob Woodward, hello.
CALLER: Good evening Mr. King, Mr. Woodward. Today on CNBC, Mr. Ludlow asked the vice president about the connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. The vice president said that he thought Mr. Tenet had testified before Congress a longstanding relationship of the exchange of materials and expertise and bomb making. But then he went on to conclude that after Afghanistan and the Taliban was beaten back that Zarqawi went to northern Iraq, and there he oversaw a poison factory. And then he said and you see, we have the shell that shows the poison. I want to know if today, whether the intelligence shows whether that poison factory truly existed or not.
WOODWARD: OK. It's a very good question, and what happens in the terrorist world, there are connections. People meet. People share resources, capabilities, communications channels.
But the issue is, as Tenet told the president, the question on the connection between al Qaeda or bin Laden and Iraq and Saddam Hussein is, is there what in the CIA they call authority, direction and control. Is there evidence that in this case, that Saddam or his people were actually dictating operations? And as best I can tell, there is not that conclusive evidence.
You know, you and I are linked, because we talked tonight and you asked this question, and if one of us goes out and does something crazy because we talked doesn't mean we had authority and direction or control over the other. So you have to be very careful in distinguishing these ties, connections and links. And as best I can tell, there is not data, and the president has said publicly that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. He has made that pretty clear and said that publicly.
KING: Daytona Beach, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Hello. Mr. Woodward, President Bush seems to be distancing himself from George Tenet and Chalabi, the ones who gave him the intelligence he needed to make his case for war. Is it possible that Vice President Cheney with all his Halliburton baggage, could also become expendable and possibly be replaced with a more moderate running mate like Colin Powell?
WOODWARD: You know, anything's possible. I think it's unlikely that Cheney will be replaced. You know, one of the interesting things here is, you said that the president seems to be distancing himself from George Tenet. He said Tenet has done a superb job. At the same time, one of the things I found in reporting this book and have have in the book and Tenet would testify to this, I believe, that the president told Tenet on the issue of weapons of mass destruction, the literal quote was, "don't let anybody stretch to make our case." And he told this that to Tenet a number of times.
So the president was saying look let's make sure we're clear and that we're not trying to fudge the information here. In that act, as it has turned out, that we have not found weapons of mass destruction, the president made it pretty clear that his order to Tenet was, make absolutely sure in this case, and of course, they weren't. Well, that aren't now.
KING: Wasn't Cheney even more forceful than Tenet about WMDs in Iraq and being greeted with open arms?
WOODWARD: Yes, sweets and flowers that we would be greeted as liberators. Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, concluded that Cheney had a fever about Iraq, and that it became unhealthy in the months, in the run-up to the war, and the vice president was focused on it.
Cheney was absolutely convinced that negotiations, weapons inspectors, the U.N. would not work, and that would not solve the Saddam Hussein problem. He was convinced it needed to be solved. The only way to do it was to go invade, and the president made it clear to me that Cheney was a consistent, persistent advocate for this course of action.
KING: Golden Valley, Minnesota, for Bob Woodward. Hello.
CALLER: Hello. Thank you for taking my call.
CALLER: Enjoy your books, Mr. Woodward.
WOODWARD: Thank you.
CALLER: As a 75-year-old woman, I joined a protest group in 2003 for the first time, and I feel that we were, the protesters, were accused of being unpatriotic. Do you think that possibly President Bush, in an inarticulate way, might find a way to say that he apologizes for the way they treated us who protested this war, which is a terrible thing? Thank you.
WOODWARD: You know, that's a fair question. One of the things I did ask the president, and this was six months ago, I said, do you have any doubt about the course of the war? Now, this is nine months after the invasion. We had not found weapons of mass destruction. The insurgency was taking place, not quite at the level that it had taken place recently, but the situation in Iraq was not positive, to say the least. And the president insisted that he had no doubt.
I asked him about Tony Blair, the British prime minister, who took the position publicly, Blair did, saying, I can understand why someone would disagree with me, and the president did not adopt that stance. You know, maybe it's a question that should be asked in the future.
I think one of the worst things that can happen in this country is, when somebody takes a principled position one way or the other that people start slinging the unpatriotic label on people who disagree with them and you know, I think if you went out and protested, all the more power to you.
KING: It's the worst kind of demagoguery. Johnstown, Pennsylvania, hello.
CALLER: Mr. Woodward, thank goodness for freedom of the press. The 16 words in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union message regarding the uranium claim from Africa, was Mr. Tenet or the CIA asked to verify this statement, to your knowledge?
WOODWARD: It was in -- I believe it was in the January, 2002, was it not? I think it was well before the war, because we went through the whole summer debating that issue. What happened is George Tenet actually got that claim out of an earlier speech, and you know, really effectively got it out, and then it migrated back into the State of the Union. And he has said publicly that he did not review that speech, and should have, and actually apologized in public for that, took responsibility. It turns out there were some people in the White House who should have also raised concerns about that statement, which now we know is not valid.
KING: Washington, D.C., hello.
CALLER: Thank you. Mr. Woodward, my husband and I are great admirers are Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. We find him to be very effective, and very reasonable and very solid. In other words, very presidential. We'd like to know your opinion about him as a possible vice presidential candidate on the ticket with Senator Kerry and we'd also like to know if you have any opinion about why his name has not been mentioned as a possible running mate for Senator Kerry. Thank you.
WOODWARD: Senator Biden ran for president and was thinking of running this time. You know, I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment about one candidate or another. I think as a general principle, Senator Kerry is going to have to pick somebody who is fully qualified to be president. We've talked on this show about that. As far as I'm concerned, that should be the one and only qualification, somebody who can be president, who can step in, because often that becomes necessary, somebody who has a lot of experience, a lot of credibility and has been around the track.
KING: Well, Biden fits that bill, doesn't he?
WOODWARD: He does. He's had an immense amount of experience.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with more calls for Bob Woodward, author of "Plan of Attack." Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TENET: Let me be clear. Analysts differed on several important aspects of these programs and those debates were spelled out in the estimate. They never said there was an imminent threat. Rather, they painted an objective assessment for our policy makers of a brutal dictator who was continuing his efforts to deceive and build programs that might constantly surprise us and threaten our interests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I'm going to miss him. He's a personal friend and he's a very close professional colleague. I've got a lot of respect for him, enormous respect for him as a public servant, and I'm going to miss him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was Donald Rumsfeld talking about George Tenet. Bob, you wanted to correct something? Then we'll take the next call.
WOODWARD: Yes, the caller was right. The yellow cake was raised in the 2003 State of the Union and I corrected him. I thought it was 2002 and I'm wrong. The caller was right. It was 2003.
KING: A first.
WOODWARD: No, not a first. A...
KING: Woodward is never wrong.
KING: Hillsboro, North Carolina, hello.
CALLER: Hello. I'd like to ask if you have any insight about President Bush's contacting a private attorney regarding the Ambassador Wilson's wife situation?
KING: Yes, he said he would -- did he say he would?
WOODWARD: He said he has. It wasn't clear what that meant. I don't know what it means. It certainly is interesting. The White House counsel, the government lawyers would tell the president if there's any investigation where he might have to testify or there might be some even somewhat remote connection to him, they cannot provide private legal advice. They are government lawyers and so it would be quite natural for him to check with the private lawyers, you know.
When Clinton was president, he had half of Washington on the payroll, the private attorneys, it seemed, and so that's quite natural, but it's interesting and something to be pursued in that inquiry. Are they going to ask the president to go before the grand jury or make a statement or something like that? It's conceivable in the interest of thoroughness that they might do that.
KING: By the way, we mentioned it earlier. President Clinton will be a guest on this program. His first live primetime interview when the book is published. It will air Thursday night, June 24. He will be live and we'll take your phone calls.
And we go to San Diego for Bob Woodward, author of "Plan of Attack." Hello.
CALLER: Hi. I was wondering. This is -- with the new methods the country is using to fight terrorist attacks, like the Patriot Act and a list of people who aren't OK to fly, which do you think is worse, loss of freedom or the terrorist attacks themselves? It seems that terrorist threats are taking away our freedom just by making the threats.
WOODWARD: A lot of people would agree with you. Obviously, it's a balancing act, and clearly, the country is willing to sacrifice some reasonable freedoms if it's going to really, truly help in the war on terrorism, but there's a lot we don't know about exactly how people have used the Patriot Act, how they've gotten into phones or e-mails or exactly what they're doing, and I suspect that's material information that's going to come out, you know, in the coming years or even decades.
KING: La Crosse, Wisconsin, hello.
CALLER: Yes. I was wondering why, on September 11, President Bush Sr. would have been in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and then during the recent commission hearings, the attorney general, John Ashcroft, said he was in Milwaukee on 9/11 and I wondered if you knew why, and thank you.
KING: I think he was flying to Milwaukee.
WOODWARD: I don't know why. Maybe there's a Milwaukee angle to this that we've all missed. No, it's a reasonable question. Sometimes the most obvious questions will lead you down a path, but I don't think there's anything mysterious or any connection there, but maybe there is and I'll check.
KING: Are you the kind of reporter that even though someone hears something that may sound like the conspiracy wackos or theorists, think about following up?
WOODWARD: Sure. Some of the craziest things turn out to be true. My former Watergate colleague, Carl Bernstein, remember, we will get all this mail from people saying that the CIA has planted transmitters in their teeth. I mean, for some reason a lot of people feel that has happened, and I remember one day he said to me, suppose one of these is true. You know, you never know, and you have to -- I would be embarrassed if anyone went through all of the tips I have, e- mails, voicemail, letters, packages, videotapes, audiotapes, CDs, now people send CDs that contain very good and important stories that I don't get to.
KING: Woodward will follow the Milwaukee Connection forthwith. And we'll be back with our remaining moments with Bob Woodward and more of your phone calls right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TENET: To be sure, there is much yet to do, but there is a strong foundation of talents and resources on which to build. This I say with exceptional pride, the Central Intelligence Agency and the American intelligence community are stronger now than they were when I became DCI seven years ago, and they will be stronger tomorrow than they are today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Macomb, Michigan for Bob Woodward, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Bob.
CALLER: What skills are needed for Mr. Tenet's position, and can a woman do the job? Thank you. Have a great weekend.
KING: Thank you, you too.
WOODWARD: Certainly a woman can do the job. And you know, the skills are a lot of skepticism, a lot of ability to kind of say -- you know, I think in that job, like lots of important jobs in government or elsewhere, you have to be a teacher, but also a learner. You need somebody who can bring some things in and teach people how to do some things and focus, and also it needs to be somebody who will listen and learn from others.
It's got to be somebody made of steel. You were playing the quote from Tenet saying that the CIA is better now than it was 7 years ago. I think that's absolutely true, and that, though there is, there are these problems, and they are immense, the Tenet era was marked by some very, very significant contributions.
And I think the thing we lose track of for people who served in the military or worked in the intelligence business, they'll know what the mid watch is, which is the watch you stand at beginning at midnight often until 4:00 a.m. or even 8:00 a.m., and there are thousands of people right now tonight who get in their automobiles or their carpools, who go out to stand the mid watch. To listen to al Qaeda telephone calls, or search through information coming in on the Internet, or assessing the human sources we have who were trying to protect the country and they do that night after night after night.
And you know, I know some of those people, and they really care, and they are really devoted. And when people go and talk about the CIA or the FBI and they say, oh, it's dysfunctional and it's broken, the problems in those institutions, like lots of news organizations have problems, but those institutions are not broken and dysfunctional.
They are doing amazing work. And the idea that we've not had a terrorist attack in this country since 9/11. over two and a half years, is utterly amazing, and in large part attributable to those people who have done that work. And Tenet was the leader of the people who did that. So there is a side where you have to give an immense amount of due credit.
KING: Thank you so much, Bob. Always great having you with us.
KING: Bob Woodward, his new book, "Plan of Attack," a runaway best seller.
Belmont Stakes tomorrow. There's going to be 120,000 people in New York, seeing if Smarty Jones can do it. Everyone is hoping he can do it. If anyone can beat him, take a long shot on Bird Stone, Nick Zito's horse. But you've got to lick Smarty Jones. Hook them together, Bird Stone and Smarty Jones, exacta, hey, maybe you get lucky.
I'll tell you about tomorrow night and the weekend right after this.
KING: April 1st, 2005. We're going to switch rolls April fool's day. He'll wear glasses and suspenders, I'll be sitting in New York with suit and a straight tie and I'll be angry at something. Yes, that will happen with my pal, Aaron "the B" Brown.
I'll be in New York. I get to actually mingle with you Aaron next week.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Ah, what could be better, huh?
KING: I'm so thrilled.
BROWN: Have a good weekend, my friend.
KING: You too, my friend.
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