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PAULA ZAHN NOW

Interview With Carmen bin Laden; Interview With Barbara Walters

Aired July 19, 2004 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Carmen bin Laden.

CARMEN BIN LADEN, SISTER-IN-LAW OF OSAMA BIN LADEN: When I say my name, people seem surprised, astonished, shocked.

ZAHN: On her infamous family name, the shock of 9/11, her former brother-in-law and why she fled Saudi Arabia.

BIN LADEN: I really believe that they have robbed of us our freedom.

ZAHN: Tonight, my interview with the outspoken Carmen bin Laden.

And Bobby Fischer's brilliant mind, cold War hero turned international fugitive.

BOBBY FISCHER, FUGITIVE: So this is my reply to their order not to defend my title here. That's my answer.

ZAHN: After 12 years on the run, is it finally checkmate for one of the greatest chess players ever?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Good evening and welcome. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

Our feature stories are still ahead tonight, but we begin with Martha Stewart. On Friday, she received the minimum sentence for lying to federal investigators, five months in prison, five months of home detention, two years of probation. Stewart is now free pending an appeal and has hired a high-powered lawyer to handle that.

But she does have some thinking to do, to do the prison time or go through with the appeal and potentially face a longer sentence if she is retried and loses again.

We may get an idea of her plans tonight when she appears on "LARRY KING LIVE" in less than an hour taking questions from viewers. On Friday, Stewart went from the verge of tears in the courtroom to defiance on the courthouse steps to cool confidence in an interview, even comparing herself to other good people who have gone to prison, like Nelson Mandela. Stewart's words are where we start tonight in our interview with Barbara Walters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA STEWART, CONVICTED FELON: I'm not the person that you have seen in the newspapers, read about day in and day out. I'm just not that person.

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: Who is that person? Who are you?

STEWART: That person is a figment of many, many, many imaginations, much of it. I'm not saying every single piece of that, but much of it is -- the venom directed toward me has been pretty horrific.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And joining us now, "20/20" anchor Barbara Walters.

Always good to see you.

WALTERS: I would like to say, first of all, this is the first time that I have been on with you. And I've always felt that I was your fairy godmother.

ZAHN: I hope that continues for many years to come.

WALTERS: And I hope it does, too. So I'm happy to see you.

ZAHN: Welcome.

Let's talk a little bit about Martha Stewart making it abundantly clear that people have a lot of misconceptions about who she is. What does she think is the biggest misconception people have?

WALTERS: Well, she has had really terrible press.

No matter what she says, even when she's served with the jail sentence, the headlines in the paper showing her in fake striped prison suits and what she describes as terrible venom against her. And she said, look, I've worked all my life. She said, I am one of the little people. I've worked my whole life. I wasn't born rich.

ZAHN: Why does she think she's picked on? Because there are a lot of people who are critical of her what they perceive as arrogance during the trial. They hated the $6,000 handbag, which I know she told you she bought many, many years before for much less money.

WALTERS: You can say that she should have been more sensitive to that. The $6,000 handbag, whatever it cost her $6,000 or $3,000 or whatever, she bought 12 years ago. The fur ascot that she wore when she walked out of the day she was convicted, it was fake fur. I read someplace they said, and she had a pedicure. What did they expect her to do? Should she come on with dirty feet? It's sort of, whatever.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: But you wouldn't have worn a fake fur collar. I know enough about you that would have been sensitive of perception.

WALTERS: Yes, I might have been.

She wrote the judge, whom she never had a chance to talk to. She wrote to the judge the day before the sentencing to say, look, I'm a person who likes to talk. Let me tell you a little bit about my life. Let me tell you a little bit about my own struggles. I'm not sitting here to be an advocate for Martha Stewart. I'm trying to tell you what she said.

Even the Nelson Mandela quote...

ZAHN: Why don't we play that on the air right now and you can tell me what you think she really meant here.

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS: Right.

ZAHN: Let's listen together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTERS: When we did an interview, you said you were afraid of jail. Now you've said you're not afraid.

STEWART: Well, I've thought about it a lot, Barbara. And resolution, getting rid of this bad, bad nightmare is, to me, more important now, after 2 1/2 years of a very Kafkaesque situation, because if it is looming ahead of me, I'm going to have to face it and take it and do it and get it over with. And there are many other people that have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela, 27 years in prison.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Is that a martyrdom complex?

WALTERS: Not at all.

ZAHN: What does she mean?

WALTERS: I don't know. You have to kind of understand her and maybe spend a little time.

She was not comparing herself. Nelson Mandela and I, look what we've gone through. What she was saying was, people have had so much harder times. Look at Nelson Mandela. He had to spend 27 years. What is my five months compared to that? It's nothing. I think it just came out the wrong way or people took it the wrong way.

ZAHN: And yet, would you concede there was a little bit of an air of victimhood in this interview you did with her? I mean, there was no accountability for what she ultimately was being sent to prison for. WALTERS: But, Paula, she does not feel that the trial was fair or that she says this was a personal matter that was blown out of proportion.

ZAHN: She broke the law.

WALTERS: Well, she was convicted of breaking the law.

You have to understand how she feels. She says, this was a personal matter. I didn't cost anybody any money. I didn't steal from anybody. You know, as I said, don't put me in the position of being her lawyer, but if she felt a little bit like a victim, look what this woman has gone through for 2 1/2 years. She has gone through hell. So if she feels a little sad or ashamed, and she said, this is the most shameful day of my life.

ZAHN: I know she also told you that she thinks one of the reasons she's been attacked is that she is this powerful, successful businesswoman. Do you think things might have turned out differently if she had been perceived by the public and the jury pool as someone who deserved to have their empathy?

WALTERS: Yes.

And she did not take the stand. And, you know, she doesn't want to publicly whine and complain. So then people said, well, she's not really sympathetic. Now, should she show it? Maybe. Maybe it would have been better if she did. That's not who she is. And maybe if she had been that kind of person, she wouldn't have accomplished the amazing things that she did. She says she's a teacher and that's how she thinks of herself.

ZAHN: Let's talk about who you are, a woman...

WALTERS: Who I am?

ZAHN: ... who has devoted every waking hour to this business, who is finally going to slow down just a little in September.

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS: No, no, no, I have not devoted every waking hour.

(CROSSTALK)

ZAHN: More than most.

WALTERS: Well, you're just -- you're getting there.

ZAHN: I'm getting there.

So what happens comes September? You leave "20/20."

(CROSSTALK)

WALTERS: Martha Stewart said at the end of our interview, by the way, my business is my life.

I love my business, but it's not my life. I have friends. I have my daughter. You know me quite well. I have a whole world. I'm leaving "20/20" at the end of September. It will be my last month doing "20/20" as an anchor. I will do specials. I will be able to finally pick and choose what I want to do. I will be out of the week- in, day-in, day-out get, the next get. You, my baby, you're going to still be doing it.

ZAHN: I'll still be fighting you for that get. I don't know what you're talking about.

(LAUGHTER)

WALTERS: No. I can give it up. I'll do the most fascinating 10 people. I'll do Academy Award night. I'll do, I hope, big interviews. From time to time, I'll go on "20/20." But it won't be week in, week out. I can travel. I can spend more time with my daughter. I can have more life.

ZAHN: Well, we wish you the best of luck with the next chapter of your life. And we'll still be tripping over you, I know, for the big get.

WALTERS: And I'm still very proud of you.

ZAHN: Thank you. Thank you for dropping by tonight, Barbara Walters.

Now, if you want to hear the questions that have yet to be asked of Martha Stewart, stick around later tonight for "LARRY KING LIVE." Stewart will take your calls starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, her first and only live interview since her sentencing.

Coming up next, she married into an elite Saudi Arabian family with a now infamous name. Carmen bin Laden speaks out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Do you feel that you're a marked target because you carry the bin Laden name?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: And, later, is there a link between al Qaeda, Iran, and the 9/11 attacks?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Carmen bin Laden may have fled from her in-laws nearly 20 years ago, but she has not been able to escape them. The family still haunts her to this day.

Now she is telling her own story through a new book called "Inside the Kingdom."

Nearly three years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, she still lives with the fear and the stigma of being a bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): These are the words of Carmen bin Laden: "September 11, 2001 was one of the most tragic dates of our lifetimes. It took and shattered the lives of thousands of innocent people. It robbed the Western world of its sense of freedom and security. For me, it was a nightmare of grief and horror, one that will imprison me and my three daughters for the rest of our lives."

BIN LADEN: There is no escape for my daughter from their name and their backgrounds. The only escape we could have is to explain to the world that, in spite of being and carrying the name of bin Laden, they have fought and paid an emotional price to gain their freedom.

ZAHN (on camera): Is it a curse to carry your name?

BIN LADEN: There is no way out of it, because some friend of mine have asked me why we don't change it. But we are aware that, even if you change your name, we cannot escape it.

ZAHN: Do you feel that you're a marked target because you carry the bin Laden name?

BIN LADEN: When I say my name, people seem surprised, astonished, shocked.

ZAHN: Have they ever said anything ugly?

BIN LADEN: Yes. My eldest daughter had received threatening phone call, but it's life.

ZAHN: Do you feel safe?

BIN LADEN: I want to feel safe, you know? Because if I see it and I worry about what could happen, then I would not be able to live and I would not be able to let my daughter live.

ZAHN (voice-over): She goes on to write: "Something in me snapped. This was no freak accident. This had to be a deliberately plotted attack. Then waves of horror crashed over me as I realized that somewhere at the bottom of this lay the shadow of my brother-in- law, Osama bin Laden.

(on camera): When you knew him, did you think he ever would have been capable of pulling off this kind of brutal attack?

BIN LADEN: No.

In Saudi Arabia, when I knew him, I knew that he was very religious. He had managed to make a name for himself as a very good Muslim who would fight against the infidels. I knew he was very religious, but I never thought that this would lead to attack the Western society.

ZAHN: So you had respect for him as a religious person, but you never thought he would become a fanatic?

BIN LADEN: In my eyes, at the time, he was still a fanatic, at the time, because, you know, he didn't want his children to listen to music and -- but that was not very unusual in Saudi Arabia. There were a lot of the society who were really very, very religious.

And, you know, in Saudi Arabia, my experience is that you are never, never too religious. In their eyes, the more religious they are, there is no such term as fanatic Muslim. You are a good Muslim or you are not.

ZAHN (voice-over): Carmen bin Laden was born in Switzerland to a Swiss father and an Iranian mother. Despite traveling over the years to Iran, Carmen was raised in the West and always insisted she'd never marry a Middle Easterner.

But, in 1973, she met Yeslam bin Laden. Like many Saudis, he came to Geneva for the summer. He was there with some of his brothers, all with wild Afros and platform shoes. Carmen and Yeslam dated and move to Southern California for college. By 1974, they were engaged and off to Jeddah for their wedding. It was then that Carmen got her first glimpse of Saudi culture.

She had to wear a head scarf and was not allowed to speak to men in public. But it wasn't until the fall of 1976, when they moved to Saudi Arabia, that the Western life that Carmen knew so well was gone. The difference was clear the very first time she met her brother-in- law, Osama.

BIN LADEN: I didn't wear a veil. And he couldn't see his sister-in-unveiled. He turned his back and he start walking away because Osama would not sit in a room with me and talk with me.

ZAHN (on camera): There was a point when you were living in Saudi Arabia where you really believed that some of Osama bin Laden's behavior bordered on fanaticism. What did you see that bothered you?

BIN LADEN: One time, we were in Taif. And he had his son and I had my youngest daughter and they were children. And he refused that his child take the bottle on the ground because, that it was against their religion. He was not even in the room. None of the women there dared to disobey him.

That was the day that I realized that the word of a man in that society is so strong, that, even if he's nuts, present, physically present in the room, he will not be disobeyed.

ZAHN: And meanwhile, this child was miserable and wanted to be fed.

BIN LADEN: Yes. Yes.

ZAHN: Was there ever a point in family discussions where people would concede that he had gone too far with all of this?

BIN LADEN: Nobody said that Osama was going too far. They did admire him for what he was doing for Islam.

ZAHN: And you believe to this day in Saudi Arabia there is still a great reservoir of respect for him?

BIN LADEN: I cannot believe that it would be otherwise. I am sure that Osama has a lot of people who still admire him.

ZAHN: In spite of the enormous death count in the United States?

BIN LADEN: Some people, they don't even admit that Osama did that terrible act.

ZAHN: They blame someone else?

BIN LADEN: Yes.

ZAHN: And why do you think they do that?

BIN LADEN: I think they are convinced that, you know, in their -- in their belief, that it's not Osama.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: When we come back, Carmen bin Laden tells why she believes the ties between Osama bin Laden and Saudi Arabia's rulers remain unbroken.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Welcome back.

More now of my conversation with Carmen bin Laden. She is the author of "Inside the Kingdom." It is a rare glimpse into one of the world's most infamous families, the bin Ladens of Saudi Arabia.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): Saudi Arabia is a devout country of opulence, wealth, and privilege. No one seems to embody that life and those beliefs more than the bin Laden family. As the founders of the country's largest construction company, they are worth billions.

But, in Saudi Arabia, the name bin Laden has come to mean more than money. It means influence, power, and prestige, especially given the bin Ladens decades-long relationship with the Saudi royal family.

BIN LADEN: They had always been tight together, the bin Laden and the royal family.

(CROSSTALK)

BIN LADEN: Since the time of their father.

ZAHN (on camera): Why the close ties, business connections?

BIN LADEN: I think emotional and business connection. ZAHN: And when you say emotional, what do you mean?

BIN LADEN: It's like a tradition. They are very, very close to each other.

ZAHN (voice-over): It was into this family that Swiss-born and Western-raised Carmen bin Laden was absorbed when she married Yeslam bin Laden, one of Osama's older brothers.

(on camera): You write in a painful exchange that you bore your husband's three daughters. He wanted sons, didn't he?

BIN LADEN: I think he wanted sons. And I think in the society, you know, nobody came openly to me and said, what a pity, you have a daughter. They would say, I hope next time you will have a boy. And they really meant it that they were, well, never mind. You have a daughter. We hope next time, it will be a boy.

ZAHN: Which you believe is a reflection of how Saudi Arabian society views women.

BIN LADEN: I was worried that they wouldn't be able to be what they could be. They would not be allowed to express themselves. They would have to be really submissive. And that worried me.

I couldn't be a Saudi mother and bring them up in the Saudi way. My youngest daughter once came to me and said she was so scared. And she said, mom, you don't pray, then you are going to go to hell. And I realized she had been told at school that people who would not pray and follow the rule of Islam would go to hell.

ZAHN (voice-over): And the political backdrop in Saudi Arabia, Carmen says, did not help. The 1970s had been a time of relative freedom and ease after the oil rush flooded the country with money.

But in 1979, many of the freedoms Carmen and others had experienced crumbled when the shah of Iran was ousted. "The Saudi royal family," she writes, "panicked and sought to placate the religious fundamentalists." She describes the religious police breaking into homes to confiscate stereos. And she says her husband changed as well. The marriage broke up. Carmen fled to Switzerland with her daughters.

While she got custody of her girls, her divorce battle has dragged on in Swiss courts for a decade. Today, she has little contact with the bin Laden family, but has stayed in touch with many friends in Saudi Arabia, contacts that she says give her unique insight into the country's current relationship with Osama bin Laden.

(on camera): Not only do you believe he still has support in Saudi society today. You believe there is some complicity with the Saudi royal family.

BIN LADEN: I believe that some of the -- in the Saudi royal family, Osama has some supporter.

ZAHN: What evidence do you have of that?

BIN LADEN: I don't have evidence. I haven't spoken with them. Knowing that society, I knew they admired him. For me, it's difficult to believe it would be otherwise.

ZAHN: Your husband and other members of the bin Laden clan have publicly denounced Osama. Yet, you boldly say in your book -- quote -- "I cannot believe that the bin Ladens have cut off Osama completely. This would be unthinkable. Among the bin Ladens, no matter what a brother does, he remains a brother." So are they lying?

BIN LADEN: I can't believe that they have rejected the brother on the ground that he's too religious.

ZAHN: Even after 9/11?

BIN LADEN: I mean, none of the brother had admitted that Osama who has done that terrible act. They have condemned the terrorist act in general, but they have never condemned their own brother.

ZAHN: Do you believe they support him financially?

BIN LADEN: I don't have any proof, but, for me, it's very difficult to believe that they have let their brother in need. I cannot believe that they cut completely the emotional tie with him and they would let him be in difficult position.

ZAHN: What has been their reaction from anybody you know in Saudi Arabia to this book?

BIN LADEN: I know that they are not pleased. I always felt that I had to explain to my daughter how I saw that society and why I thought it was important for me to fight to keep them with me. And I always felt that one day, I will explain to my daughters why I made some decision on their behalf that changed their life.

And, unfortunately, 9/11 happened and this is my way to explain to the Western world that those girls, despite carrying the name of bin Laden, doesn't share the same value.

ZAHN: How bitter are you with Osama bin Laden for carrying out this attack?

BIN LADEN: I am very bitter because -- not only because I carry his name. I am bitter as a Westerner because I really believe that they have robbed us of our freedom. We are living in some fear that what will be the next attack?

ZAHN: So, in your heart of hearts, it wouldn't surprise you if Osama bin Laden is linked to yet another catastrophic attack on Americans, whether it's here or abroad?

BIN LADEN: I hope I am wrong. I hope I am wrong, but I think this terror attack will continue, unfortunately.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: Since 9/11, Carmen bin Laden and her daughters have rarely visited the U.S. When they do, they inform the U.S. Embassy in advance. That way, they won't create a panic when immigration reads the names on their passports.

Coming up next, he is one of the harshest critics of the administration's case for war in Iraq. Now his criticism of the president is under attack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back.

Did Iraq try to get uranium from Africa? Former Ambassador Joe Wilson had said the claim, which appeared in the president's 2003 State of the Union address, was bogus.

But, now, part of a recent report by the Senate Intelligence Committee is now attacking Wilson's credibility. By doing so, it is once again stirring up a controversy concerning Wilson, his wife and the Bush administration.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN (voice-over): They were 16 words heard around the world.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

ZAHN: With this short sentence in his January 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush linked Saddam Hussein to weapons of mass destruction.

Four months after the invasion, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, the man the Bush administration sent to Africa to investigate the uranium claim, said he never found a nuclear connection.

Then, just over a week after Wilson made his claim public in "The New York Times," there was a stunning revelation about Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. Conservative columnist Robert Novak blew her cover as a CIA operative.

Wilson claimed it was a deliberate White House leak, payback because he undermined the case for war.

JOE WILSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: If it was just out of spite or for revenge, it is really truly despicable.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July, I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has set high standard, the highest of standards for people in his administration. He's made it very clear to people in his administration that he expects them to adhere to the highest standards of conduct.

If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.

ZAHN: Still, someone gave Novak the information about Plame and the CIA, a possible felony with a 10-year prison sentence.

The Justice Department opened an investigation, and the president vowed total cooperation.

Almost a year after U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and a grand jury began looking at the case, the president and vice president have been interviewed, suggesting the investigation may be coming to a close.

Yet, a year after the initial accusations, Wilson's credibility is under attack. Three Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee that recently issued a report on terrorism say some of Wilson's public statements about what he learned on his African trip were not only incorrect but had no basis in fact.

It is a statement Wilson vehemently disputes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: Ambassador Wilson has written a book about all of this. It is called "The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed my Wife's CIA Identity, A Diplomat's Memoir."

Former Ambassador Joe Wilson joins me now from Washington.

Welcome back, sir. It's good to have you with us.

WILSON: Hi, Paula.

ZAHN: I want you to respond to that very specific allegation in the addendum to the Senate report, which basically says that your public comments not only are incorrect, but have no basis in fact.

WILSON: Well, I'm not exactly sure what public comments they're referring to. If they're referring to leaks or sources, unidentified government sources in articles that appeared before my article in "The New York Times" appeared, those are either misquotes or misattributions if they're attributed to me.

I would point out that my article appeared on July 6, 2003, in which said categorically, mine was but a small role in the effort to determine whether Saddam was attempting to purchase uranium yellow cake from Niger.

And that investigation was undertaken at the request of the government, at the request of the government because of a report, based upon documents purporting to be a memorandum of agreement. ZAHN: All right. Let me ask you this. To clear up some of the confusion here tonight, did Iraq make an attempt to buy uranium from Niger?

WILSON: As I pointed out in my article in July 2003, it was highly unlikely that that particular allegation, which were based on these documents that later turned out to be forgeries, was correct, that it did happen. It's highly unlikely that it happened.

ZAHN: All right. Let's go back to some of the other criticism you're hearing surrounding this very narrow part of the argument.

Today in "The New York Times," William Safire, the columnist, said that, instead of refuting President Bush's reasons for going to war, that your findings actually bolstered the link between Niger and Iraq.

WILSON: Well, that's interesting, because they didn't. And in fact, there is, in the body of the report, there are a whole host of citations of the efforts of the CIA not to have the president of the United States become a witness of fact in this -- in this matter.

On October 2, 2002, the deputy director of central intelligence said to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that one thing where I think the British stretched a little bit beyond where we would stretch is on the points about where Iraq seeking uranium from various African locations.

On October 6, the director of central intelligence called the deputy national security advisor and said that he did not want the president to be a fact witness on this issue, because his analysts had told him the reporting was weak.

And then on the same day, the CIA director or the CIA sent a second fax to the White House which said, among other things, "We have told Congress that the Africa story is overblown and this is one of two issues which we differ with the British."

I think it's as clear as a bell from everything that's in the report that the conclusion that somehow this bolstered the case is inaccurate.

ZAHN: Is it as clear as a bell? You've got the head of the RNC out there, Mr. Gillespie, calling you and out and outright liar.

WILSON: Well, I think this is part of a concerted smear campaign, a partisan smear campaign. And what it's doing is it confuses people about the facts of this matter. And it also sets up, as some reporters have suggested, a possible defense along the lines that it was OK to betray the national security by exposing my wife's identity and her employment in order to discredit my bona fides.

But the important thing is the day after my article appeared, which was several months after it became known that these documents were forgeries, the day after my article appeared, the White House said, the 16 words did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address.

ZAHN: A final word -- a final question for you, Mr. Ambassador. At the time that your wife's cover was blown, was she actively involved in a CIA investigation involving weapons of mass destruction?

WILSON: Well, I guess the question you really are asking is was she responsible possess for my going out to Niger?

ZAHN: No, that's actually not the question I'm asking. Are you able to tell us what she was involved in at the time that her cover was blown?

WILSON: No, of course not. Of course not. At that time, she was an undercover employee, at the time that her cover was blown by Bob Novak.

But what I can tell you is that on July 22, which was several months before I ever answered any questions about my wife, other than in the hypothetical, some enterprising reporters called the CIA and this is what the CIA said about her.

The CIA officer said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment. "They -- parentheses, the officers who did ask Wilson to check the story -- were aware of who she was married to, which was not surprising. There were people elsewhere in government who were trying to make her look like she was the one who was cooking this up for some reason. I can't figure out what it could be. We paid Wilson's airfare, but to go to Niger is not exactly a benefit. Most people you have to pay big bucks to go there," the senior intelligence official said.

Since then, David Ensor has gotten exactly the same statement out of the CIA, as has another reporter from "The Los Angeles Times."

ZAHN: Ambassador Wilson, we have to leave it there. Thank you for joining us tonight.

We do need to button this off by reminding people that this bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report states that his wife had, indeed, proposed his name for the Niger mission. We leave it up to you to wade through all of these facts.

Still ahead, a missing link between al Qaeda and Iran. What the 9/11 commission found, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: The 9/11 commission is expected to release its final report this week. And it may provide more ammunition in the presidential race.

According to an exclusive report posted Friday on Time.com, which also appears in this week's edition of "TIME" Magazine, the commission concludes that as many as 10 9/11 hijackers actually passed through Iran before October of 2000 and February of 2001. Well, today President Bush said Iran is harboring al Qaeda members and the U.S. is investigating whether Iran had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This has been an issue that I have been concerned about ever since I've been the president. As to direct connections with September the 11th, we're digging into the facts to determine if there was one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Joining us now, "TIME" columnist and regular contributor, Joe Klein, who broke the story for "TIME" this week.

Always good to see you. Welcome to the show.

JOE KLEIN, COLUMNIST, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Hi, Paula.

ZAHN: So what does this mean?

KLEIN: What does it mean? It means that -- well, as you saw with Joe Wilson just before, for the last two years, the Bush administration has been shaking the trees, trying to find a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda and Iraq and its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, you know, there was Iran right next door, which has a nuclear program and apparently has had some contact, serious contacts, with al Qaeda.

Now that in itself isn't significant, because my guess is that most of the countries in that region have contacts with al Qaeda. Just to keep track of them, just to keep the lines of communication open, which is precisely what Iraq was doing.

In this case, however, Iranian officials told the border guards not to stamp the passports of various al Qaeda members coming in and out of Iran. It doesn't mean that Iran knew that 9/11 was going to happen. In fact, the terrorists themselves probably didn't know what they were being trained for at that point.

But it is significant that Iran, an unlikely collaborator with al Qaeda, because Iran is a Shiite nation, and al Qaeda is a radical Sunni organization, had some sort of, you know, some sort of regular contact.

ZAHN: So could you make the argument, as some of our viewers have, all day long in e-mails, that the U.S. attacked the wrong country here, post-9/11?

KLEIN: Well, that's -- that's a little bit much. I mean, you know, you can make the argument that maybe we shouldn't have attacked either of these countries. You can make the argument that we're fighting a virus here. Al Qaeda is a virus, and you don't attack a virus with a sledgehammer. You try and -- you try and come up with some sort of vaccine.

And most of the people in the intelligence community who I talk to say that that vaccine is a lot of covert operatives, a lot of special forces and a lot of really precise sort of criminal police work.

ZAHN: One of the things you explore in this exclusive report that broke on Friday is when these contacts really started in earnest between Iran and al Qaeda. And you trace it back to the USS Cole was attacked. What have you learned?

KLEIN: Right. One of the people that we've detained, the man who organized the USS Cole attack for al Qaeda, says that Iranian officials contacted him, asking him to go to Osama bin Laden and say, "We want to support you."

And apparently Osama bin Laden said no, because he didn't want to alienate his Saudi Arabian supporters.

Now, if you want to look for contacts between al Qaeda and a certain country, you have to look at Saudi Arabia, as Miss bin Ladin said earlier in this program. And you also have to look at Pakistan, which was harboring and training the Taliban.

So, I mean, the fact that we have spent so much energy focused on Iraq over the last three years when all these other things were going on is just the beginning of knowledge of what we've gotten ourselves into.

ZAHN: Just the beginning? The president even admitted today they're starting to -- he didn't say "start," but they are digging in on this issue. Where does it leave the United States?

KLEIN: Well, I think that what everybody I talked to says is that the war in Iraq has created far more terrorists than we saw before.

And what the people in the intelligence community are hearing now is a level of chatter, a level of communications among the terrorists that is as high as it was in the months before September 11. And worse, it's the same quality of communications that they were hearing back in those days, but really you didn't know what to make of it in those days.

Now they're hearing a lot of apocalyptic stuff, we're going to heaven soon sort of stuff. They're really afraid that there's going to be another attack on this country by al Qaeda or some associated terrorist group.

ZAHN: I hate to end this interview on that discomforting note. But...

KLEIN: It's a terrible note. ZAHN: It is a terrible note. Not the kind of thing you want to go to bed thinking about at night.

KLEIN: No. But I think this is what we're going to be facing, you know, for the foreseeable future.

ZAHN: Unfortunately, I think you're right. Thanks, Joe Klein.

Coming up next, the search for Bobby Fischer is finally over.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Thirty years ago in the middle of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union completed -- competed, that is, relentlessly in every field: the military space, sports and even chess. America's brightest chess star was Bobby Fischer.

Now with the Cold War long over, Fischer is back in the news once again. He is under arrest in Japan, facing immigration charges and wanted right back here in the United States.

Here is national correspondent Bruce Morton.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was a nice- looking boy and a blazing chess prodigy. U.S. junior champ at 13, national champ at 14, world champ at 29, beating Russian Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1972.

This old film doesn't show the weirdness, though. "No cameras; too much noise; I'm leaving; a bigger room; a smaller room." Well, he won. Then dropped out when he wouldn't defend his title and lived in flophouses.

Surfaced for another match with Spassky in Yugoslavia in 1992, 20 years after the first one, defying academic restrictions that the first President Bush imposed on Yugoslavia because of the war in Bosnia.

JAY STEPHENS, U.S. ATTORNEY: Today, a federal grand jury here in Washington charged Robert James "Bobby" Fischer with a criminal violation of the United States imposed sanctions on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

MORTON: He won, never went back to the U.S. He was a raging anti-Semite. His mother was Jewish but Fischer called Jews, quote, "filthy, lying bastard people," unquote.

Had his own enemies list: both presidents Bush, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, all, quote, "Jews, secret Jews or CIA rats who worked for the Jews."

He hated America. After 9/11, told a Filipino radio interviewer, quote, "This is all wonderful news. I applaud the act. The U.S. And Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years. Now it's coming back to the U.S. 'F' the U.S. I want to see the U.S. wiped out," unquote.

Will the U.S. bring him back? Officials haven't said. He was, for a short while, a shining star, but he has wandered for years now in the darkness, the twisted labyrinths of his own mind.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZAHN: That was national correspondent Bruce Morton.

As for Bobby Fischer is reacting, a supporter of his in Japan has posted a statement on a web site. In part, it reads, "Bobby Fischer does not wish to return to the Jew-controlled USA where he faces a kangaroo court and 10 years in federal prison and a likely early demise or worse on trumped political charges. Nor does he wish to remain in a hostile, brutal and corrupt U.S.-controlled Japan. He urgently requests at immediate offer of political asylum from a friendly third country."

So what will Bobby Fischer's next move be? Joining us now, two people on the inside of the international chess world. In Reno, Nevada, Larry Evans, a chess grand master and friend of Bobby Fischer. In Boynton Beach, Florida, Don Schultz, who was with Fischer at the 1972 championship. He is the author of "Fischer, Kasparov and the Others."

Good to see both of you. Welcome.

So Larry, help people understand why Bobby Fischer hates Jews so much and why he hates this country where he was born?

LARRY EVANS, FRIEND OF BOBBY FISCHER: Well, nobody knows why he hates Jews, because both his father and mother are Jewish, it turns out.

He feels very bitter about the fact that he doesn't feel that this country gave him enough recognition to help him win the Cold War.

And he resents having been told that he couldn't play chess in Yugoslavia. He simply sold the services to the highest bidder. He committed no crime and he doesn't see that he did anything wrong by playing Spassky again.

ZAHN: Do you agree with him?

EFVANS: Basically, I don't like anything that he has to say, but I agree that he has a right to -- as a free American, to go where he pleases in peacetime to play chess.

ZAHN: Don, you knew him for many, many years. And I have to tell you, it makes a lot of us uncomfortable, particularly when you heard what he said about 9/11, declaring the slaughter of innocent Americans as wonderful news.

DON SCHULTZ, AUTHOR, "FISCHER, KASPAROV AND THE OTHERS": I couldn't listen to that tape. I heard the first part and it -- it was so terrible, I had to turn it off. It was awful. And -- but I do think -- I do think the U.S. government is making a mistake on -- in trying to bring him back at this point. They should let sleeping dogs lie.

I think it will come back to haunt them. If they bring him back to the U.S. and try to prosecute him, Bobby has so many fans that will excuse anything he does, his anti-Semitism. The Jewish chess players love him. It seems to rub off him.

He toppled the communist chess system single-handedly, and he's uncompromising. If they bring him back, I predict it will go on for some time, and there will be lots of problems and they'll wish they never brought him back. I think the best thing the government can do is to let this just quietly go away and hope he goes to a third country.

ZAHN: Larry, I see you nodding in agreement. Yet, what he has said has been so outrageous to the soul of any American. You really believe there's that reservoir of support out there for him?

EVANS: There are many mixed emotions in the chess community. But he's not being tried for what he said. He can say what he wants. You know? Any loony notions. He's being tried for violating or defying an executive order, which I think is a pretty weak case.

ZAHN: You just said any loony notions. Do you believe he is unbalanced?

EVANS: Yes.

ZAHN: That he's nuts?

EVANS: Well, delusional. I would like to see the third country that takes him be Iran. He would be very comfortable there, probably.

ZAHN: Don, I see you smiling with Iran back in the news again today.

SCHULTZ: I think the Iranians might not be so comfortable.

ZAHN: In closing tonight, Don, what was it about this man that had you captivated? I know you said you couldn't listen to that tape. A lot of what he said makes a lot of our stomachs churn, but there's still something about him that was a magnet.

SCHULTZ: It was -- It was magic. He -- he just knew what was going on. When he was playing Spasski in Reykjavik, just the little things.

Like he made an agreement that the hotel would have a cook on duty 24 hours a day, and he never used that for the first month of the match. The very day they sent that cook home, he was calling up at 1 in the morning and wanting food. And he didn't know the cook went home.

It's just this magical mystique that surrounds him. ZAHN: A certain method to his madness, some people say. Larry Evans, Don Schultz, thank you for sharing some of your stories with us tonight. We appreciate it.

EVANS: Well, thank you.

ZAHN: Our pleasure.

We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here this evening. Tomorrow, Sean Combs, P. Diddy. Politics and getting the young to vote. That's tomorrow.

But "LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Martha Stewart is his exclusive guest for the hour. She will be taking your calls. We'll join Larry, and we hope you'll be right back here tomorrow night.

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


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