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Military Continues Search for Missing Soldiers in Iraq; Charlie Rose's Brush with Death

Aired June 19, 2006 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: First we're atop the story of the missing boys in Iraq. Here in New York is Ron Young Jr., former POW. He and another U.S. Army chief warrant officer were captured on March 23rd, 2003, after their helicopter was downed during a firefight. He and the other POWs were recovered April 13th from a town south of Tikrit. In El Paso, Texas is Shoshanna Johnson, former POW in Iraq. She and other members of the 507th maintenance company were ambushed, taken prisoner March 23rd, 2003, same day as Ron, of course. She was among the U.S. soldiers rescued on April 13th, 22 days in captivity.
In Washington Peter Bergen, CNN terrorism analyst, best-selling author of "Holy War inc." and "The Osama bin Laden I know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader." In Baghdad is Arwa Damon, the CNN correspondent who's been on top this story since the get-go. And in Madras, Oregon is Dan Simon, CNN correspondent. Madras is the hometown of PFC Thomas Tucker, one of the two U.S. soldiers missing in Iraq. Arwa, what's the latest?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, the latest came out from the U.S. military in a taped press statement by Major General William Caldwell. Earlier today he was emphasizing that the U.S. military was never going to stop looking for its servicemen until their status was determined definitively. He said that the U.S. military was using all means at its disposal to find these two soldiers. And by that he said that there was a massive search operation under way, some 8,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops are conducting a search in the area. They are also using divers, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, planes, pretty much everything that they have to find these two troops. So far they have no specific information on their whereabouts or so we are hearing. However, they also said that these search operations themselves have led to further combat. So far seven U.S. soldiers have been wounded since the search began on Friday. Three suspected insurgents were killed and another 34 were detained. Larry?

KING: Peter, an al Qaeda linked group, the mujahadin Shura (ph) council, claims it's holding the two missing servicemen. The claim posted on an Islamic Internet site. What do you make of that?

PETER BERGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm a little bit skeptical, Larry, because I think if they really had these people in custody, these two American soldiers, they would have posted videotapes or photos, they would have shown their IDs. This is a group, al Qaeda in Iraq, that's been very skillful about using the Internet. Often they do attacks and they'll post videotapes of those attacks immediately, within hours of doing the attacks. So it's puzzling if indeed that they have captured these two soldiers that they wouldn't have actually produced some proof.

KING: All right. Ron, you were captured by these folks. It's been three years since you've been there. Do you think the situation has changed much, that they may be in more danger than you were?

RONALD YOUNG, JR., FORMER POW: I mean, it's hard to say that they would be in more danger than I was. I think that it would be a little bit different circumstance than what happened with me. When we went into captivity, we had a reasonable amount of assurance that there was a possibility that we could come out of it alive, and in this situation, I mean, after the tapes that you've seen of beheadings and things like that --

KING: That's what I meant.

YOUNG: Yeah. It's a much more scary situation I'm sure for them personally than it probably was for me. I mean, weighing just that one extra fact.

KING: When you were captured were you optimistic?

YOUNG: Somewhat optimistic. But I was also realistic. I told myself that I probably wasn't going to come out of it alive just because, you know, from day to day if you say you're going to be next week or, you know, from day to day if they say, you're going to be rescued next week or the next day and it doesn't come, that kind of depresses you. So I tried to be realistic with myself.

KING: Shoshana, what about you? Were you certain you'd be rescued?

SHOSHANNA JOHNSON, FORMER POW: Yes, I was. Obviously, I was more optimistic than Ron. I was a little irritated that it took so long, quite frankly. I had the utmost confidence in my fellow soldiers to keep on looking for me and to find me.

KING: Do you think these boys might be in more trouble than you were?

JOHNSON: Definitely, the situation has changed. At the time of our capture, there was some semblance of order going on. Now it just seems like chaos. They're randomly killing people. There is no rhyme or reason to it.

KING: Dan Simon, you're in Madras, Oregon, the hometown of PFC Thomas Tucker, one of the two soldiers missing. Have you spoken to any of the family?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, at this point the family is not talking, but of course we've talked to some friends in the area, and of course around here everyone knows him as Tommy. They say, you know, he's a very likable person, somebody who always wore a Nike baseball cap. Not a physically imposing young man, not a brawny muscular person, but somebody they say who has incredible mental strength and if there's somebody who can survive this ordeal according to the people I've talked to, they say it's Tom. Larry? KING: Would you say, Dan, that they're very worried?

SIMON: Of course, they're very worried. And Larry, you know, just within the past few minutes we saw something quite striking. The house where the family lives about 100 yards behind me, friends have been gathering all day, and just within the past few minutes they put up several American flags. And yes, indeed, they're very worried, Larry.

KING: Arwa, how much credence has the military given to the statement by those who say they have them captured?

DAMON: Not much so far. I mean, like we just heard, they have not provided any further evidence to their claims so far. The U.S. military will obviously look into this claim, will investigate it, but they're not really saying this is the case, this is not the case just yet. They're actually waiting to see further evidence at this point.

KING: Do you think there's a chance, Ron, that they're in the hands of insurgents?

YOUNG: I think there's a very good chance. It seems like everything that we've seen up until now just points to that. Maybe not this particular group, but just the way it went down and then finding the blood and the vehicle abandoned pretty much. You hope that they're still alive, of course, and that they'll make it out of this alive.

KING: Who were you held by?

YOUNG: I was held by actually the Iraqi soldiers. At first there were some local farmer type guys and we ended up getting turned over to the soldiers. That meant that there was actually a government that was in charge of what happened to us which makes it less dangerous for us personally.

KING: Shoshanna, how were you treated?

JOHNSON: Surprisingly humanely. It wasn't perfect. Everything wasn't kind and, you know, sweet or anything like that, but during captivity, the worst things come to mind. You hear all kinds of different stories before you deploy and that's the first thing that popped into your head. But I was very grateful that I received the opposite of that and I'm hopeful that those young men will receive the same kind of care. I remember that there was an Australian gentleman that was in captivity for like 11 months and he end up rescued without major harm done to him, and I'm hoping that's going to be the case with these two young men.

KING: Peter Bergen, you've studied these people, you know this situation as well as anyone. Does a lot depend on who has them?

BERGEN: I think so, because you know, there's been an epidemic of kidnappings and hostage takings in Iraq over the -- you know, in the past years. Most of them are financial crimes, basically kidnapping people for money, and of course that's a much better situation to be in than to be kidnapped for political reasons. Whoever has got these, clearly insurgents of some stripe in Iraq have taken these two American soldiers and I think they're not probably -- I'm speculating here, but I think it's reasonable to assume that they will not be in this for money, but they'll be in this to make some sort of political statement and that's a much tougher thing to deal with.

KING: We'll be right back with more of this panel on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Charlie Rose's first media appearance as a guest to discuss his heart surgery, afterwards. Don't go away.


MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, COALITION FORCES IN IRAQ: We are using all available assets, coalition and Iraqi, to find our soldiers and will not stop looking until we find them.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Obviously, their safe return is something that everyone will work for and their safe return is something that everyone will pray for.



KING: We're looking at the school where Tommy Tucker went. Tommy Tucker one of the two missing servicemen in Iraq. Ron Young Jr., you said that the Marines who rescued you knew an awful lot about you.

YOUNG: They did. It was really surprising to me when they rescued us. Of course, they took us and they started telling us facts about ourselves and our families and some other things about our unit and some pretty intricate details that I was really surprised that they knew, which gave credence to the fact that this was definitely a high-priority mission throughout the military because I mean, these guys had no reason to know that much information about us unless it was.

KING: So would you guess, Shoshanna, the same is true now about these two?

JOHNSON: Definitely, definitely. Also, with the media outlets that they have access to now, they're picking up even more information than also the briefings. They're getting to see the families at home and it brings it more to heart. They're going to look a little harder once they see the wizened mothers at home that are waiting for their children to come back.

KING: Arwa, what if anything is the new government in Iraq saying about this?

DAMON: Well, obviously they're condemning what happened. They're obviously very concerned. And the Iraqi security forces themselves are involved in this search effort that's going on just south of Baghdad. But you know, the search is really being led by the U.S. military. However, the Iraqi government is going to be encouraging Iraqi civilians to be coming forward if they have any information. Everyone is just hoping for the best.

KING: Now, most abductions in Iraq, while increasingly common, are not of servicemen, right, Peter? So what do you make of this?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, I think that it is problematic because clearly the people who took these two American soldiers will want to use them to make a political statement. I think that's almost guaranteed. And the problem with that is that the U.S. government doesn't negotiate with kidnappers, doesn't pay money under the table, and will -- so that's one avenue that's not possible. A lot of kidnappings in Iraq are solved with money, as they are in many other parts of the world in Mexico, Colombia, where there's also a lot of kidnappings. So I just think this is a much more intractable potential situation than the typical kidnapping we've had in Iraq over the last several years.

KING: Dan Simon, has the tucker family been in touch, to your knowledge, with the government?

SIMON: Well, the Oregon National Guard is keeping them apprised of all the developments. Of course, Private First Class Tucker is a member of the 101st airborne, but the Oregon National Guard is sort of the liaison between the Army and the family. So they're keeping them basically apprised of all the various updates, Larry.

KING: So they feel that they're aware of everything that occurs?

BERGEN: According to the friends I've spoken to, there is regular contact between the Oregon National Guard and the family. Now, in terms of what the army is telling the National Guard, we're not so sure about that, Larry. But one thing I would like to talk about are the parents. And according to the folks I've talked to, these are really solid working-class folks. The father works in a lumber mill. The mother works in the high school cafeteria. And that's where Private First Class Tucker gets his values. This is somebody who was cognizant about his role in the world. He worked in construction after high school, but then wanted to make a contribution to his country. So he decided to enlist in the Army, Larry.

KING: Peter Bergen, would you guess that the less we get of news the better or not?

BERGEN: You can make an argument either way. I mean, when a group of al Qaeda sort of affiliated folks in Afghanistan conducted operations against a group of U.S. special forces, very quickly they put on the Internet the idea of one of the people that they'd killed as a sort of effort to demonstrate that this was a real operation. So unfortunately, I think if there was real information showing the pictures and the photographs of these two American servicemen, I mean, I don't think that could be good news, particularly if they are in the hands of al Qaeda in Iraq or one of the more radical groups.

KING: Peter, who is the mujahedin Shura council?

BERGEN: Well, it's a loosely -- I think it was al Qaeda in Iraq's attempt to kind of put an Iraqi face on the fact that so many of the people doing the suicide operations in Iraq are foreign fighters. Abu Musab al Zarqawi of course was a Jordanian until he was killed recently. And so the mujahadin Shura council is sort of an attempt by the foreign fighters in Iraq to put a more Iraqi face on it and is a group of something like half a dozen people, of which al Qaeda in Iraq is one of the groups that is part of this loose coalition.

KING: Back with more right after these words. And then Charlie Rose. Don't go away.


GABRIELA GARCIA, COUSIN OF KRISTIAN MENCHACA: I hope they find them. I hope they continue looking. I hope they do not forget about him and that other boy.

JULIO CESAR VASQUEZ, COUSIN OF PFC KRISTIAN MENCHACA: We all love him and hope to see him again soon. I don't know. I don't know if I ever will.



JO GUINEY, FRIEND OF TUCKER FAMILY: We as a community, I'm sure, are going to pull together for the Tucker family. We'll have them in our thoughts and prayers and just hope that the best comes out of this incident.


KING: Arwa, is there any talk there that this might be a response to the killing of al Zarqawi?

DAMON: Well, Larry, that's really tough to tell at this point, whether or not it's related. But you know, one thing that I think is possible, especially for the insurgents, the insurgents really took quite a blow when Zarqawi was killed, especially when it comes to their credibility amongst the Iraqi people. And if these two soldiers do end up in the hands of al Qaeda in Iraq, they're definitely going to view that as a huge positive step for their PR campaign, for al Qaeda in Iraq's PR campaign, to be able to say that after the death of Zarqawi they captured two U.S. soldiers. But I do need to add that one thing here and having been embedded countless times over the last three years, U.S. soldiers and Marines and the troops here basically say that for them, a lot of them the mission in Iraq is all about making sure that their guys who are standing next to them get home alive. So one thing's for sure is that they're not going to stop looking no matter who has them.

KING: Do they do anything, Ron, in training for something like this?

YOUNG: Yes sir, we have SERR training, survival, evasion, resistance, repatriation. They basically take us and they drop us in the woods. They give us some classes. They drop us in the woods and hunt us. We don't have food for a couple of days. They hunt us and find us. And they speak a different language when they find and they take you to places and do things where they interrogate you.

KING: Was it helpful?

YOUNG: Absolutely. It's very helpful especially in a situation like this, because your emotions are running wild when something like this happens to you. It's hard to control yourself. So to have something like that to fall back on just makes a lot of difference, especially in your mental state.

KING: Shoshanna, tell us about your rescue.

JOHNSON: One of the greatest moments of my life besides the birth of my daughter. Those Marines did an outstanding job. They handled the mission unbelievably, without firing a shot. And I just continue to thank the Lord for them. And I know that when the time comes, they'll bring these two gentlemen home also.

KING: No one was killed?

JOHNSON: No. No one was killed during our rescue.

KING: Dan, have military personnel come to visit Madras, Oregon? Have you seen officials of the Army at your -- at the parents' home?

SIMON: I really haven't, Larry, other than a few folks from the Oregon National Guard. It's been pretty quiet. The family, the way they found out about this, they were actually on a bit of a vacation over the weekend. They were on a camping trip and then came home I believe on Saturday. And that's when they were told about this. So one can only imagine what's going through their mind at this moment, Larry.

KING: Peter Bergen, do you frankly expect more of this?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, obviously this is a tremendous propaganda coup for the insurgent group that's done this, and to the extent they can do it, they're going to continue doing it. But I mean, actually, it's surprising, you know, we haven't really seen a lot of this -- this is actually rather exceptional, I think. So you know, it may well speak to the kinds of tactics the U.S. military has in Iraq, but these kinds of things don't happen that often. But given the large number of American troops and given the fact that this is certainly something that the insurgents want to do, it's somewhat surprising to me that this happens very rarely.

KING: Arwa, does this help or hurt morale?

DAMON: That's really hard to tell, Larry. But I mean, from my experience with the troops, they're most definitely aware of it. They're probably most definitely affected by it. But one thing that I have noticed time and time again when I was out on these embeds with the soldiers -- or the Marines, no matter where it was in Iraq is that no matter what is going on, when they're out there in the streets they really are focusing on the mission. They don't have time to contemplate what else is happening because any mistake here can cost an individual their life or can cost the lives of innocent civilians and they're all very aware of this when they're out in the streets. Their main focus when they're out there is the mission, you know, what they've said before, when they do have time to think about things. It's not even necessarily when they're back at the bases here in Iraq, but it's when they go back home really.

KING: What are you doing with your life now, Ron?

YOUNG: Well, right now I'm finishing school. My brother and I started a business, waste, construction waste. And that's really about it.

KING: Going to school to where, University of Georgia?

YOUNG: University of Georgia. Yes, sir. Go dogs.

KING: Did you go to China?

YOUNG: Yes, sir. I went over there, did a little bit of studying, studying the market system in China, especially under a dictatorship and of course their rule of law, or kind of lack of law in some ways.

KING: Are you going back to the National Guard?

YOUNG: Yes, sir. I'm probably going to be in by next month. I have my board here later on this month.

KING: Why?

YOUNG: I just enjoy it. It's something about being out there with the soldiers, I felt like ever since I got out that there's been a piece of my life missing. And it's the guys that I was serving with and just the camaraderie and everything, it's just hard to give up.

KING: They could call you back, though, couldn't they?

YOUNG: Well, let's do it.

KING: Shoshanna, what are you doing?

JOHNSON: Actually going to school. I've been working on a book and raising a six-year-old that, you know, can be trying.

KING: I don't imagine you're going back in.

JOHNSON: No. I've been given a medical discharge. I mean, there's still the possibility they could call me up tomorrow, but I doubt that would happen.

KING: Dan, would you say the people there in Madras are optimistic? I don't want to put words in your mouth. Would you say that?

SIMON: Well, I think they're just hopeful, Larry. You know, this is a small town. And we've already seen, you know different signs of people coming together. There's one woman here whose son is also serving in Iraq, and she's asking for everybody in the community to put yellow ribbons around their trees, and she's asking people to put up American flags like the family -- like what they're doing behind me. So in terms of them being optimistic, I think so, but it's more or less hope, Larry.

KING: Thank you all very much. Ron Young jr., Shoshanna Johnson, Peter Bergen, Arwa Damon and Dan Simon.

Charlie Rose is back, thank the good heavens. And he'll tell us about that experience right after this.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE live and welcome to this program, an old friend and a former sit-in host. Charlie Rose, the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist, the host of the "Charlie Rose Show" on PBS, who underwent heart surgery for mitral valve replacement in Paris at the end of March. This is his first live appearance. He's back hosting his show, first live appearance to discuss it. He had underwent heart surgery previously when?


KING: Did that cause you to be frightened along the way to 2006?

ROSE: No, it didn't. I mean, about a month before I went to India and then to Turkey -- I mean and then to Syria, they said, you know, they could hear a heart murmur from my mitral valves. They were going to have to take a look at this. And then once I got to Damascus, I had shortness of breath. And because the other thing had gone so well, I wasn't really worried.

KING: You really weren't worried?

ROSE: No. You know, when they wheel you down for the operation and they're going to open up your chest, you say a little prayer, a couple. You know, but you have confidence in your doctors.

KING: In the interests of fairness in reporting, we have the same New York cardiologist, Dr. David Blumenthal (ph).

ROSE: A great man.

KING: Great man. And Dr. Wayne Icen (ph), who did the surgery earlier, did my surgery as well. So we share a lot. Do you think about it all the time when you?

ROSE: I'm aware of it, yes.

KING: Any little pain you think of it?

ROSE: Exactly.

KING: Give me the circumstances. What happened? Where were ?

ROSE: Well, I was in -- I went to Damascus to do an interview with President Assad. And a couple days before I felt a shortness of breath. Didn't think much about it. Couldn't sleep, did the interview. The adrenaline and all of that. Decided I'd go take a look at Damascus, and further shortness of breath.

So I called our friend, David Blumenthal (ph) and he said go see a doctor, now. And so I went to see a cardiologist in Syria who was terrific. He gave me an EKG, gave me an echo cardiogram, took my blood pressure and he said something's wrong with your mitral valve and you need to get it looked at.

Gave me -- wanted me to go to a hospital then. Talked to David Blumenthal (ph). He said we should get you back to Paris. And that was the most harrowing plane ride I have ever had.

KING: Because it was a bad flight or...

ROSE: ... Because I had shortness of breath.

KING: Was it worse being up?

ROSE: Yes. I mean, it just was the anxiety. You're on a plane, you know you're going to be there four and a half hours, and you're beginning to worry about breathing and you know that you don't want the plane to have to turn back because of you.

And I said to the stewardess, listen, I need to kind of walk up and down the aisle. And she said fine. And my executive producer and my senior producer were with me. And Yvette Vega, the executive producer, went over to talk to the flight attendant, said you know, he's had shortness of breath.

So all of a sudden there was an announcement saying is there a doctor on the plane? And it was for me. The first time it had ever been for me.

KING: That's scary, though.

ROSE: And he came and sat next to me and he began to reduce the anxiety. He had a stethoscope. We landed in Paris.

KING: Was he Syrian?

ROSE: He was. And he was on his way to New Jersey.

KING: So you land in Paris.

ROSE: And I'm in constant contact with David Blumenthal (ph). And David said to me -- who had been my physician all along and sort of was my primary caregiver. And he said to me, I don't know any cardiologists in Paris. I have a friend in Paris, Bernard-Henri Levy, who's a writer.

And he sent a cardiologist on Friday night at 7:30, we went to see him, and they did all the same tests. And this cardiologist said you've got to get into the hospital. I had scheduled for Saturday night a wonderful interview with Robert Parker, the great wine expert, and we were going to have the best dinner I'd ever had, the best wine I'd ever had.

And they said no, you're not going to do that, you're going to the hospital tomorrow. So at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday I checked into the hospital.

KING: Do they speak English?

ROSE: Some did and some didn't. But their English was better than my French.

KING: They didn't trust Syria?

ROSE: No, I don't want to say that. But they just wanted me to go because they knew they'd have closer contact with. It wasn't even a question of trust, but we knew that we'd find people.

And I have an apartment in Paris and I spend a fair amount of time in Paris. I had friends there. And as it worked out, this cardiologist knew one of the great surgeons in the world, a guy named Elaine Carpantier (ph). He was a great mitral valve surgeon. He was out of the country but came back on Monday. I met with him and he said I'm going to operate on Wednesday.

KING: Now, what did the surgery entail?

ROSE: Oh, boy. First of all, the expectation of going in. Your surgery was, what three four hours?

KING: Mm-hmm.

ROSE: You were in the hospital maybe 10 days?

KING: Eight.

ROSE: The aortic valve surgery in 2002 lasted three, four hours. I was out of the hospital in six days. Two weeks later I was flying out to Sun Valley. I was doing a show a month later.

So I expected something routine. It wasn't routine at all because they had some difficulties. First they tried to repair the mitral valve. Then there was a question of finding the right mitral valve, the pig valve that would replace it. I was in surgery for 12 hours. I didn't know anything about it. I'm sitting there, you know.

But my friends like Yvette and others were worried to death because he came out at the end of 12 hours and said to them, not that he's going to die, but I can't promise you he's going to be OK.

KING: Because the valve is -- no valve, you die, right?

ROSE: Exactly.

KING: The valve is the key to sending the blood.

ROSE: It sends the blood forward from in this case the atrium to the left ventricle. KING: You were born with the malady?

ROSE: Yes. A lot of people have mitral valve prolapse, a lot of people have some variation of that. Especially a lot of women. Some people kind of outgrow it. A lot of people have it tended to later in life.

KING: You got the pig valve.

ROSE: I do.

KING: Why? Because there is a mechanical.

ROSE: There is a mechanical. Because mechanical valve you have to take coumadin. And secondly, you have to be more careful because you're likely to bleed easier. And I have an active sports life and I like to do a lot of things that I didn't want to restrict.

KING: But isn't there a downside to the pig valve?

ROSE: Well, you have to replace it after 10, 15, 20 years. The aortic valve I think will last longer than the pig valve.

KING: What difference in lifestyle now?

ROSE: None.

KING: You can play tennis. You can...

ROSE: ... Play tennis, play golf. I swim. I was on a boat over the weekend. I can do all the things that I did do. The only thing is it does have -- I was in the hospital not for a week but for 31 days.

KING: Now, that's...

ROSE: ... Yes.

KING: Exactly.

ROSE: I was sedated for like seven or eight days, if not longer.

KING: And you know there were lots of worries here. Because there are all sorts of -- whenever someone famous goes in. But when you're in that long, reports of what's wrong with Charlie Rose, why don't we hear from Charlie Rose, where is Charlie Rose? You realize that?

ROSE: I know. I was touched by it. Because the expressions of support and concern were -- you never imagine, as you well know, that somehow if you do what you or I do and you touch people's lives and you are their friend. And so you hear from famous people and you hear from people who somehow you become part of their lives, and it makes you feel very, very lucky.

KING: What was the flight home like? ROSE: It was easy. A friend of mine, a doctor was on board. Yvette flew over. A great friend of mine who had wanted to come over said to me, when you're ready, I'll send my plane. And the plane came over. And it was uneventful. And then that night I went to the hospital. I spent the night in the hospital so they could all check me out.

KING: We have an e-mail question for Charlie Rose from our Web site from Michael in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia. Has this trauma changed your life forever? If so, how?

ROSE: Well, it's probably changed it. It makes me understand. It gives you a sense of mortality for people to say we didn't know whether you would make it or not. So there is that. And you begin to think about what you want your life to stand for. And you also begin to think about is there balance in my life? Do I pay too much attention to one thing or the other? I'm lucky, as you are. I have work that I love. I have people that love me and that I love. And that whole process...

KING: ... Very important.

ROSE: Exactly. You know. You had a great thing you once said, and I'll always remember this. You said that it used to be when you would go in the house if there was a call from CNN or a call from your wife, you'd call CNN first. But now you'd call your wife first.

KING: Yep. Charlie Rose is our guest. As we go to break, here's Bill Clinton on heart problems.


KING: You talked to us the night before the first surgery. Was it what you thought it would be?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, pretty much. I think, you know, by the time I got to the point of doing the surgery, I realized that probably the greatest danger had passed. I was very close to having a serious heart attack. I had big-time blockage. And I felt very grateful to be going under the surgery without serious damage to my heart so that I thought I could make a recovery. But still it was kind of a mystical, interesting experience.




KING: What about the second surgery, about which we know little.

CLINTON: They just took an X-ray and they said the good news is you don't have bone cancer. The bad news is half your lungs closed because you've got 6, 8 ounce glasses of fluid between your ribcage and your lung. KING: Did that scare you?

CLINTON: Well, it bothered me that I didn't know. I mean, I guess I did know something wasn't right. But it bothered me. And then they explained how it happened and they explained the surgical procedure and they said in al probability a rather thick rind would form to keep the liquid in place and they'd have to peel it off.


KING: You want to comment on that?

CHARLIE ROSE, PBS HOST: Well, I had the same thing. I mean, that's really what causes the shortness of breath. Fluid was backing up from regurgitation and pressuring my lungs and causing the kind of shortness of breath that I had.

KING: They said you were on a respirator 12 hours?

ROSE: Twelve days.

KING: Twelve days.

ROSE: Twelve days.

KING: You nearly bought it.

ROSE: I did.

KING: You're never the same after heart surgery. I mean, you keep working, you keep...

ROSE: ... you do. But you just think about the idea that life is precious.

KING: Damn right, it ain't forever. Let's take a call. By the way, I'll be on Charlie's show tomorrow night. Let's take a call for Charlie. Houston, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Hello?


CALLER: I have a call, a question for Mr. Rose.

KING: Yes. Go ahead.

CALLER: I understand he had an aortic valve replaced in 2002.

KING: Correct.

CALLER: And I had also the same thing. So the question that I have is how long between the aortic valve replacement and the bypass surgery? How long?

ROSE: Well, July 2002 and March 2006. Four years. KING: Almost four years. It's good to see you healthy. It's good to see you back.

ROSE: I feel great. I mean, people say you look better than you did before surgery because you go through this. And while I had a life-threatening illness, I also got a lot of rest.

KING: And you lose weight.

ROSE: Then the first thing they do is try to fatten you up when you come back from surgery.

KING: You used to be a correspondent for 60 minutes too.

ROSE: Yes.

KING: That's gone. Rather apparently, Dan goes tomorrow. What do you make of that?

ROSE: Well, I don't know any of the particulars. His contract is gone. I think they're making a change, obviously. Katie comes in. And I think Dan probably will have terrific opportunities to do things. You know, Ted moved on to the Discovery Channel. And he's, I'm sure, happy over there.

KING: A little sad, though.

ROSE: It is very sad. Dan Rather was as good a reporter, broadcast reporter, as there has been in the last 25 years. He did extraordinary reporting, in every venue.

KING: We have another e-mail question from our web site. From Susan in El Verta, California. What do you think of Katie Couric joining the staff of 60 minutes, in addition to her duties?

ROSE: And Anderson Cooper here will be too. I just saw him in the hall. I think it's great for CBS. I thought Schriever, first of all, did a great job. He was one of the people who sat in for me while I was away. And he did a great job.

KING: Super.

ROSE: Absolutely. And brought some stability in a moment of change there. Katie has obviously an enormous following, and people will be tuning in to see. CBS, I think, is now thinking with enthusiasm about the future of CBS news. And it needs that. It needs a kind of morale booster. And she may be able to do that.

KING: Hello Jay, Georgia. Hello.

CALLER: Thank you, Larry. Charlie, who was your favorite interview and who would you like to interview that you haven't interview that you'd love to interview?

ROSE: Well, I knew someone would ask that. And I'm never good at that. Clearly, the favorite interview probably is, I'll give you three or four. One is Bruce Springsteen. Two is a guy named Eric Candell, who's a Nobel Laureate scientist here, written a wonderful new book about memory. I loved an interview I did with Mikhail Gorbachev once, even though I had a translator.

KING: That's always hard.

ROSE: It's hard though. You and I both would like to interview him in English and just talk about what he went through. So there's Lee Qon Yu from Singapore was a great interview. I just had John Updike on this week.

KING: His new book "Terrorist."

ROSE: Exactly, "Terrorist." In which he gets inside the mind of an 18-year-old.

KING: Who do you want to do?

ROSE: Well, I'd like to do Bush right now, more than anything. I would like to sit down and talk with Bush and Cheney. Just what they're going through and how they see it. Because this is the critical issue of our time, what's going to happen in Iraq.

KING: Why do you prefer PBS?

ROSE: Well, I like the idea...

KING: ... Because you got syndicated when you were in Washington.

ROSE: I like PBS a lot because it gives me an opportunity to sit there every night uninterrupted and have an hour conversation. On my show tonight is Al Gore for an hour, Uninterrupted.

KING: No commercials.

ROSE: No commercials. No breaks at all. You're going to be on for an hour tomorrow night. It's fun. What I miss is what you have, which is the phone calls, being live. We tape the show at 6:00, 7:00 in the afternoon. We do that because of availability of guests. And we do it because the studio billed it.

KING: And Charlie can go to dinner.

ROSE: And I can go to dinner.

KING: London, Kentucky. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Hello, Charlie.

KING: Hello.

CALLER: I was just wondering about your depression. Did you or Larry, either one, have a lot of depression after your surgery? I just had mine in March. Four bypasses.

KING: I had some.

ROSE: I had none. And I say that not to sound like that I'm better off.

KING: I had the weeds.

ROSE: I didn't. I didn't have it the first time. And everybody told me to expect it. I said finally to Isom, your surgeon and mine, when is this depression coming? He said if you haven't had it by now you're not going to have it. It is a frequent occurrence for people who are on a heart-lung machine. And I was on one for a long time. But it just didn't happen to me.

KING: They don't know why, right?

ROSE: No. They don't.

KING: Now, is there any...

ROSE: ... They may know it, they didn't, I don't know.

KING: Do you have to take a lot of medication?

ROSE: No, I'm taking just a couple things. Still taking Aspirin. And Demarodion. And that's it, nothing else. Well, Lipitor. I take Lipitor simply because of, you know.

KING: And any diet restrictions?

ROSE: I've always been thin like you have. And I take, I eat fish and chicken and vegetables. I don't eat a lot of fatty foods.

KING: Finally, do you enjoy being Mr. Manhattan? Whenever I read about New York, Charlie Rose makes the scene.

ROSE: No, I think that's overblown, first of all.

KING: You're in every column.

ROSE: No. First of all, I love this city. I do not go out to that many parties, mainly because, in the past I've been working. One of the things that I'm going to do that I look forward to, this past weekend I had friends over for dinner. I have in my life never given a dinner party. And I just had some, in my life have never given a dinner party. I have a house in the country. I had people come over. And it was the most fun. You know, just relaxing, talking.

The thing that I want to do more and I said this when people ask about profound changes, it is to say, you know, they say nobody on their death bed says I wish I spent more time at the office. And I never, I've spent too much time working, and the opportunity, or the commitment I have now is to read more and to spend more time with friends.

KING: Good health to you, Charlie. See you tomorrow.

ROSE: Pleasure. By the way congratulations on the Gracie Award.

KING: Thank You. Got it tonight, it's nice.

ROSE: Very nice.

KING: Charlie Rose, one of my favorite people. We'll be back with another of my favorite people, Anderson Cooper. Don't go away.



ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: Because you're there for the birth, which I wasn't for my first two kids, you're just suddenly terrified that they're not going to take a first breath. That was my whole focus. I wanted to hear her crying. At the last minute, I became the mother that was sure everything was going to go wrong. And she's healthy and it was amazing.


KING: That's Angelina Jolie. Of course she's on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" tomorrow night. Anderson is the "New York Times" best- selling author.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: That sounds weird to say.

KING: What?

COOPER: Yes. I've never, you've never called me that before.

KING: You are.

COOPER: Thank you.

KING: Angelina, who guested on this show once, is a terrific guest. Didn't you find that?

COOPER: I did. I read the transcript of her interview here.

KING: Very responsive. Very responsive.


KING: How did you get it?

COOPER: They came to us. I think they'd seen we'd done a lot of work in Africa. I'm very passionate about Africa and spent a lot of my life there, and they gave us a call. It was just one of those things.

KING: Were you surprised?

COOPER: I was surprised as just about anybody. But I was amazed talking to her how just credible and smart and down to earth and committed she is. I mean this is a person who has gone to like 20 countries, working as a goodwill ambassador for the UNHCR.

KING: She really is into that.

COOPER: Oh, yes. It's not just, you hear about these celebrities that go like when the cameras are there. She's donated, she says she donates about a third of her income to refugees and other causes around the world.

KING: Where did you do it?

COOPER: At a hotel, the Hermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills.

KING: This will air tomorrow night?

COOPER: Tomorrow night. We're doing a two hours special.

KING: By two hours special you mean what?

COOPER: Two hours. It's World Refugee Day tomorrow. And the bulk of the interview, what's getting a lot of attention from the interview is her talking about her family, which she does and talking about delivering her baby in Namibia, but really what we talked about a lot is her work overseas and various countries she's been in and countries that I've been in as well. So we sort of are taking people on a journey not only to her life but also into the lives of refugees around the world. You know, Christiane Amanpour in Sudan for us, Jeff Koinange in Congo.

KING: Wrapped around a two-hour.

COOPER: Right. We're really taking people to these places and kind of, sort of, in a very visceral, real way showing them what Angelina has seen and is talking about.

KING: Was Brad Pitt there?

COOPER: As far as I know, he wasn't. I think they had another room where Shiloh was. But I didn't see the baby either.

KING: you didn't see the baby?

COOPER: No. It was four days after they got back from Namibia, and she came in alone to the room and I almost didn't recognize her at first because she was so sort of unassuming. And yet just so real and down to earth. I was really, really impressed by her.

KING: Some of the children are adopted, right?

COOPER: Right. She has an adopted girl from either Ethiopia and an adopted boy from Cambodia.

KING: Let's watch another clip. This will air tomorrow night on a two-hour special of "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Anderson Cooper and Angelina Jolie. Watch.


COOPER: Since the late '90s more than 3 million people have died, a thousand, they say, die a day from war-related conditions, malnutrition and things like that.

JOLIE: And there's also the rapes in countries and from Rwanda.

COOPER: The rapes, right.

JOLIE: That shocked me. I didn't realize how that was still, I mean, that's the thing you realize, and I think why people are worried about Darfur now. It's one area of Africa falls apart and how it just destabilizes a region. Then you can see from Rwanda, it's still affecting Congo.

COOPER: Right. It's also so often women and children who are the ones bearing the brunt of all of this. In the Congo it's women being raped, tens of thousands of women. I read that you saw children who had been, you know, macheted. What is that like to see that? To see that being done to kids?

JOLIE: How could you possibly explain that?


KING: What surprised you the most?

COOPER: Just how she has created this family. And her family is really this extension of her passion for the world. I mean, she's a global citizen in sort of the best sense of the world, and she's really built this family around that passion. You know, the problem with AIDS in Africa. And she adopted an AIDS orphan.

Her child Zahara's mother died of AIDS in Ethiopia. And Maddox, she rescued from Cambodia. And she says he would probably have ended up, you know, begging in the streets. I find that her passion is just incredible, I think.

KING: You'll return tomorrow night?


KING: And we'll do a little more preview.

COOPER: That would be great. Thanks.

KING: Go to your studio. Anderson Cooper, and we'll be right back to close it out.


KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, from here in New York. We'll be here again tomorrow night and then Wednesday and Thursday night we'll broadcast from Washington and then back in L.A. on Friday with Regis. If I have to tell you who that is, you have a problem. Anderson Cooper, the host of "AC 360," Mr. Cooper is next.


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