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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
War in the Middle East
Aired August 11, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The draft resolution has been adopted unanimously.
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LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, just an hour ago, the United Nations voted to stop the Mid East war but will Israel and Hezbollah listen? Will it stop the killing of innocent lives?
Then, our other huge story, who are the suspects who allegedly planned to kill thousands of people by blowing up as many as ten planes headed from Britain to America? The world was lucky they were stopped in London but are people hidden in the United States making the same sort of plans?
We'll get all the latest next on LARRY KING LIVE.
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KING: It goes without saying that we have an outstanding band of reporters all over the world covering all the major stories going on. Three of them will be with us in the first two segments tonight.
They are in Washington John King, CNN's Chief National Correspondent; in Beirut, Jim Clancy, the anchor of CNN's Your World Today; and in northern Israel, John Roberts, CNN's Senior National Correspondent.
We'll start with John King. Kofi Annan said today he's happy about what happened today. It should have happened sooner. What happened today, John?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A fascinating debate, Larry, the Security Council voting unanimously to approve this plan that would bring a cessation of hostilities.
Now, the hope is that the government in Lebanon will approve it on Saturday, the Israeli government on Sunday and that the fighting will stop perhaps as early as Monday or Tuesday.
Kofi Annan wants those two governments to approve this plan, assuming they approve this plan, they've given indications they will, then Kofi Annan will try to schedule the actual cessation of hostilities. So, it looks like there's reason to be hopeful tonight that the fighting will end within days but even as you have this unanimous vote, Larry, listening to the hearing all the governments still airing continued grievances and neither Lebanon nor Israel happy with everything in this resolution. So, this is detente. It is not peace even if they stop the fighting, quite a bit of work to be done.
KING: What, John, was the chief argument against?
J. KING: Well, the chief -- well you could come at it many different ways. Many are saying why wasn't this done 30 days ago? Why didn't you have an immediate cessation of hostilities and then deal with all the political issues about the return of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers, about perhaps down the road the return of some Hezbollah prisoners in Israel, negotiations over disputed land, disarming Hezbollah?
Larry, you've been at this longer than I. This is the Middle East, one step forward, two steps back seems to be the rule of the day. So, everyone has a different perspective. That is why there is no one "What's the big hold up? What's the big hang up?"
These negotiations were torturous. They took more than a week but now they think they have a plan in place to at least stop the fighting but the parties don't trust each other. They don't like each other. And, look at the bigger neighborhoods, Syria, Iran, the war in Iraq. There are many, many issues to be dealt with once the shooting stops.
KING: Let's say, John, everybody signs on. Now it's Monday. How do they make Hezbollah go along?
J. KING: Well that is the $64 million question. Hezbollah's ministers in the Lebanese government have given every indication they will accept this plan. The question is will they accept all of this plan?
This plan calls on the government of Lebanon to eventually enforce existing U.N. resolutions that say disarm Hezbollah and any other militias in the country. Many think Hezbollah would not do that.
The Lebanese Army, the Lebanese government, didn't have the courage, the will if you will, to do that before this conflict and Hezbollah is even more popular now, especially on the Arab street around the world.
So, that is one of the big questions, which is why the tough work here is likely to fall to the United Nations. You'll have a, some say robust, some are questioning the strength of this international force that will go in, as many as 15,000 troops. There's an arms embargo that says Syria and Iran or anyone else can't send weapons back into rearm Hezbollah.
And eventually down the line, they won't deal with this right away, Larry, it's too dicey, but a month or two down the road the question will come will Hezbollah give up its arms and become a political movement, not a terrorist organization? That is the defining long term challenge here and skepticism abounds.
KING: John Roberts in northern Israel, before Israel signs it does it continue bombardments?
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely, Larry, they're making no apologies for not only continuing the ground war but expanding it as well. Foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev quoted in the Haaretz newspaper tonight as saying "The longer this campaign goes on the cleaner a south Lebanon they're going to turn over to the Lebanese Army."
Even as the United Nations, the United States, and France were preparing to put this resolution on the table, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his minister of defense, Amir Peretz, he said "Go ahead expand the campaign."
We had been sitting with a battalion of tanks in an area along the Israeli-Lebanon border. They're gone now, Larry, and the only place they could have gone is across the border, so making no apologies for expanding this ground campaign trying to take out as much of Hezbollah's infrastructure as they can in the next 48 to 72 hours, however long it takes for Kofi Annan to convince the two sides to make the guns go silent.
But here's the catch, Larry, is that they've been at this for 30 days now and those Hezbollah Katyusha rockets continue to rain down, more than 120 of them today, 170 the other day, 200 the other day. It just doesn't seem to be having much of an impact. So, some people are wondering, you know, will this extra 48 to 72 hours really do anything to reduce the threat from Hezbollah in northern Israel?
KING: Jim Clancy is in Beirut. What are they saying in Lebanon?
JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: Well it's awfully early in the morning here but we've already gotten an indication that Saturday when this comes up before the cabinet it will likely be approved, don't know yet how or what the Hezbollah ministers will do, how they will vote, what they will have to say.
At the same time all Lebanese are exhausted. They want to see an end to this as soon as possible. Many of them are looking forward to the day when the Lebanese Army goes down there. They're breathing a sign of relief that under the terms of this cease-fire and they've heard too that it's going to be accepted by Israel, that Israeli troops are going to pull back across the border because they knew that if Israeli troops remained inside Lebanon this was a no go. Hezbollah would remain in place.
They now have an opportunity to move forward. The forces of democracy here that really only came to the fore, Larry, after the death of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri have a better opportunity now to take charge of the country to ensure not only the security of their neighbors but also Lebanon's own security.
KING: And, do they feel Hezbollah will go along?
CLANCY: There's a sense here, Larry that Hezbollah has to go along. They have to go along because the price that has been paid here is just so high. And, if you remember, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah his claim to fame has always been that he drove the Israelis out of Lebanon.
Before this deal he can only claim that he's the one that brought them back. Now this deal has Israeli forces moving out. There's a lot of political pressure on him.
Many of the other groups inside Lebanon feel that $2.5 billion of infrastructure damage, a tourism industry that lies in ruins, it's going to take this country literally several years to recover from what's been done by one simple captive kidnap act across the border in Lebanon. And no one thinks Hassan Nasrallah or anyone else knew that this was coming.
KING: John King, Prime Minister Olmert of Israel spoke for the first time today with President Bush. That first came out on this program when we asked Condoleezza Rice about it. She said that they had not spoken. Do you know what was said?
J. KING: Our understanding is that Prime Minister Olmert placed that call, initiated that phone call and he was calling to thank President Bush for essentially defending Israel's security is how the Israeli government has put it in the negotiations before the Security Council.
And we are told that President Bush in that conversation made clear that in his view, and you heard Secretary Rice say this in the closing minutes of the debate in New York that Hezbollah is to blame here for any bloodshed and that Syria and Iran share the blame as well for being the chief sponsors of Hezbollah.
So, many are questioning, Larry, why did it take a month? Why didn't the president of the United States pick up the phone early in this crisis and call? Most people around the world, the criticism is that the president had given Israel a green light and didn't want to be in the uncomfortable position of talking to Prime Minister Olmert during all the bloodshed. The president's answer to that question is Secretary Rice was handling the diplomacy. He was involved just in the end game.
KING: We'll be right back. John King, John Roberts, and Jim Clancy remain with us.
And later we'll be talking about terror and the new terror threat. Don't go away.
KING: John Roberts in northern Israel, do we know how that peace force is going to be deployed, how it will interact with the Lebanese Army? ROBERTS: Well that's unclear at this point, Larry. You know don't forget that UNIFIL, United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, has been there since 1978. It's been a toothless, not even a tiger, it's really been a toothless kitty cat, clawless one as well and that has really raised skepticism here in Israel as to what an expanded UNIFIL force could do.
They're planning on expanding it under the terms of the resolution to 15,000 soldiers across southern Lebanon, which is supposed to work hand-in-glove with the Lebanese Army to provide security.
But here's the catch. The authorization for that expanded force is under what's called chapter six of the U.N. charter which means that it does not have the authority to intervene if one side or the other abrogates the terms and agreement of the cease-fire.
Under chapter seven, which is what the United States and Israel first wanted, it would have the authority to take action if Hezbollah broke the cease-fire or if Israel took the cease-fire.
So still a lot of concern here in Israel as to exactly how that force is going to work. In the experience that they've had with the United Nations on this so far has not been good which is why they wanted that multinational force perhaps under the auspices of NATO in southern Lebanon as opposed to the United Nations -- Larry.
KING: Jim Clancy in Beirut, does the Siniora government survive?
CLANCY: The Siniora government absolutely survives and we'll get a lot of credit for this. And don't forget UNIFIL is just a name. As John pointed out it has in the past been very effective but I think we're going to see French leadership come in here. They know the job that has to be done. This is going to be an operation that sees the Lebanese Army take control of that border area, something that everybody wanted from six years ago.
But it was a very different circumstance then. That was a period in time when Syria has much, much, much more influence over Lebanon. They did not want anyone but Hezbollah down there because Hezbollah is the lever they used to pressure Israel.
They want to open up talks on the Golan Heights again. They have been using Lebanon as the staging ground for these kinds of pressure tactics that they can use not only against Israel but the United States and the international community to try to push that.
This is a different circumstance but the Lebanese government still has a huge problem on its hands, Larry. It's got to get its army up to snuff, able to stand on its own down there and work together with the peacekeepers to ensure that things go well.
Will there be battles with Hezbollah? This is a political settlement. That is its strength. When will Hezbollah disarm? That could come years down the road. That's a matter of national reconciliation talks. KING: John King, we like to think of winners and losers, is there a winner here?
J. KING: The citizens of Lebanon and the citizens of northern Israel if the bombing and the shelling stops, Larry. A million people in bomb shelters in Israel according to the government, tens of thousands and more moved out of their homes in Lebanon and they are the biggest winners there obviously.
I think the biggest challenge in the days ahead is to see if the international community keeps it commitment to rebuild Lebanon. Many are saying they will do that. It will cost millions and millions and millions of dollars.
Beyond that, Larry, again I'm going to say this again the rule when it comes to the Middle East is if you have a coin toss be pessimistic. There's a sense of optimism the shooting will stop tonight but there are so many problems in this region and many say if you get a calm you have to quickly get Israel and Lebanon back at the table, which will be very hard because of the tensions.
What about Syria and Israel? What about the Palestinians and Israel? This onion we could peel this onion for this show and many, many more and most people are pessimistic that the governments are willing, including the United States are willing to put the urgency, the time, and the money into it right now especially when everywhere you look in the neighborhood there are troubles. I've mentioned some but there's still Iraq. There's Iran. We could go on and on and on.
KING: What about Iran, John Roberts, what's their part in all of this now?
ROBERTS: Well the speculation was in the very early going that Iran told Hezbollah to get involved in the kidnap business again to take the pressure off of Iran at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, in Russia recently to take pressure off of Iran on the nuclear front. Iran was also seen as wanting to flex its muscles in the region.
There's no question, Larry that now that Saddam Hussein is gone in that region of the world Iran wants to be the dominant power, which is also why it wants to have nuclear weapons. It sees Pakistan to its east with nuclear weapons. It sees Israel to its west with nuclear weapons. It believes it is the major power in the central part of that region. It should have nuclear weapons as well.
So, after this is all dealt with here in the Middle East whichever way it was resolved, it becomes resolved, then the United Nations Security Council has to tackle the next issue and that's Iran's nuclear weapons and, of course, that's going to be a difficult one to crack as well.
KING: And, Jim Clancy, who is the loser?
CLANCY: Well I think the loser in all of this has been Lebanon. You can say tonight that they're a winner because the fighting stops but when you look at the devastation across this country there's no other description for it. They are the losers.
When you look at the civilian casualties that they have suffered, Lebanon has been the losers. When you look at the spirit that has been lost, Larry this country had just rebuilt. This was supposed to be their summer when they reclaimed the spotlight here as the vacation land for the Middle East.
They were expecting millions of tourists. None of that happened because of this war. So much has been lost. Some Lebanese went away. I talked with them and they said, "I'm going away and I'm not coming back because I am giving up hope." That's a huge loss for a country.
KING: John Roberts and Jim Clancy, thanks. John King remains with us as we turn our attentions to terror and Great Britain, along with Deborah Feyerick and Anderson Cooper following these words.
KING: Now let's turn our attention to terrorism in our midst. Remaining with us in Washington is John King, CNN's Chief National Correspondent. In London is Anderson Cooper, anchor of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. And CNN Correspondent Deborah Feyerick also is in London.
Anderson, what's the latest on the investigation?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The investigation is continuing at pace. It is intensifying. They're trying to just follow up on all the leads they have. As you know, Larry, one person of the 24 was released. They haven't said why. But they are looking for any more people who may be involved in this, either here in Great Britain or in Pakistan.
There were a number of arrests, of course, in Pakistan already. We're learning more details today. It was really those arrests in Pakistan which propelled authorities to move on the operation here in Great Britain. The concern was that after a number of people were arrested in Pakistan that plotters here might either get wind that this thing was sort of falling apart or may try to move, more rapidly move up the date.
We don't know exactly the date of when this operation was supposed to take place. One official said it wasn't a question of these people, you know, being pulled off planes but they do feel the attack was imminent and the state of emergency, the state of readiness remains high here in Great Britain.
Travelers, some relief at airports as flights have now sort of gotten back to normal but there were still a number of delays, a number of cancellations.
But, authorities are still searching the properties of a number of the people involved in this. They're doing everything, looking for forensic evidence. They've even, you know, confiscated vacuum cleaners in the hopes that maybe something inside the dust bins of these vacuum cleaners maybe there will be some sort of explosive evidence or some sort of forensic evidence. But they're still trying to gather the pieces. They have a 28- day window under British law before they have to move ahead and press charges against these people, so they can hold them now for the next 28 days while they gather evidence. But after that they're going to have to come to a conclusion of exactly who is involved and who will be charged -- Larry.
KING: Deborah Feyerick, what's the mood of the public? Is there shock? How is Britain? Usually they're very stoic, how have they reacted?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They still are very stoic unless, of course, they have to catch a plane. It's right in the middle of the summer holidays and so nobody wants to wait around at the airport.
But I do want to add a couple of details to what Anderson said because we did just get a U.S. government security memo which adds a couple of details to this whole plot, specifically the reason British intelligence, MI5, moved in is because they intercepted and decoded this message within the last 72 hours that basically said, "Do your attacks now."
Also, we are told, we are learning from this security memo there was information that said two men who had been under surveillance simply disappeared. They sort of dropped out of sight and that is always a concern to intelligence officials because once they lose these guys they can't find them and it could be because they're going dark. They're going underground in preparation for this kind of attack.
So, those are two reasons why British intelligence authorities decided to move in now. And by combing through cell phone records and telephone records and bank accounts they were able to connect this web of 24 people, though as Anderson did mention they did release one of the suspects or one of the people who got caught up in this anti- terror operation but they didn't say or give any reason as to why -- Larry.
KING: John King, give us an update on the plot investigation from a United States standpoint.
J. KING: Well they feel pretty good here, Larry. We did hear from government officials today that two phone calls were made into the United States from suspects in this case but government officials saying they have no evidence at all that they were planning to do anything in this country that they had sympathizers or fellow plot planners in this country.
So, they say as of now they have no evidence at all that there's any follow-up attacks planned that anyone in this country is planning any attacks related to this but the world also comes from the government they're worried about sympathizers. They're worried now about copycat attacks or that somebody who shares their cause might try to do something. But from a -- in terms of an intelligence perspective this was a British operation, intelligence officials say. In terms of a security operation here in the United States they are saying these new restrictions that air travelers are facing on what you can bring on a plane, no liquids, no gels, no essentially personal beauty products or toiletry products, things like that.
They're saying those will be temporary at least several more weeks. That's going to cause quite a debate, Larry. Many think they need to be permanent until you get more sophisticated screening devices in airports.
KING: And, Anderson is this being regarded as a big win for Tony Blair?
COOPER: Well certainly it is. I mean British authorities are receiving a lot of credit for the investigation thus far, less though for Tony Blair who is on vacation and more for Secretary Reid and some of the other officials who were actually seeing it in front of the cameras.
They're receiving high marks, high praise for how they are handling this thus far, some criticism though of Tony Blair for being on vacation and for not coming back in the wake of all of this.
KING: And, Deborah, just one quick thing on the airports. Are they close to normal?
FEYERICK: They're getting there. They're grinding back slowly but they are getting there. The biggest dilemma, of course, is for anybody who is carrying anything onboard. They've got to leave it. You can't have any hand luggage, just a clear plastic bag that has your documents, your passport, your wallet, things like that. But otherwise you've got to pack everything.
KING: We thank Anderson Cooper, Deborah Feyerick, and John King.
We'll take a break. We'll come back with Christiane Amanpour and Peter Bergen, our CNN terrorism expert and discuss why is this happening in the United Kingdom? Lots more to go, don't go away.
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MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: This plot has the hallmarks of an al Qaeda type plot and it is certainly reminiscent of what was the early 1990s plan to blow up a dozen airliners in the Pacific, which was directed by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was of course a senior leader of al Qaeda.
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KING: In this segment we'll focus on why the United Kingdom? In London is Christiane Amanpour, CNN's Chief International Correspondent. And, in New York is Peter Bergen, CNN's terrorism analyst, best-selling author of "The Osama bin Laden I know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader" and "Holy War, Inc."
We'll start with Christiane, why is Britain such a fertile ground for terror schemes?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well is it? I mean it seems to have been in the last year with 7/7 and with what's happened and what's been thwarted now. But it's all over really the world and it's all over Europe. It's all over places with large and apparently disaffected Muslim communities and all over parts of the Islamic world.
The real question is what turns a moderately aggrieved person into an extremist who is willing to go out and die and kill? And there are many, many things that analysts and experts who we've talked to point to, people who have been -- feel that they have real grievances or imagined grievances.
It's foreign policy that is really the main issue for these people, people who -- Muslims who have been basically looking at events such at Chechnya, Bosnia, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, the war in Iraq, et cetera, et cetera, the latest war between Israel and Hezbollah.
And these are the kinds of things that experts say can turn ordinary people or people with ordinary grievances some of them into those who will do something as extreme and irrational it seems as go and commit suicide and blow other people up.
It's about who they hang out with, what they talk about, where they do it, gyms, clubs. People who we're told get onto the Internet and are incredibly active on the Internet. And in those kinds of sort of chat rooms. People who look at the kinds of videos that are played over and over again in that corner of Islamic grievance. For instance, we're told, that big and dramatic event when that young boy was killed at the beginning of the intifadah. Do you remember Mohammed al-Durra?
AMANPOUR: That is still circulating. And things like that pushing people over the edge.
KING: Now for Peter Bergen in New York. We have a question -- an e-mail from Renee in Bradenton, Florida, Peter. Question. "Does anyone know if al Qaeda is recruiting in Britain's public school systems? It seems like, based on the ages of these terrorists, they are very young people."
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I don't think al Qaeda is recruiting in the British public school system. And the problem is never really -- al Qaeda doesn't really recruit people. People flock to the al Qaeda standard. And we've seen with the London attack in July of 2005, that two of the Brits involved actually sought out al Qaeda. And we I think are seeing with this London attack that at least a couple of the people involved in this have allegedly tried to meet with an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan, or did so. So I don't think it's al Qaeda recruiting. The problem is that, as Christiane elucidated, you've got a number of people who are just rather attracted by this message. And so they will seek out al Qaeda themselves.
KING: Christiane, do Muslims in Britain tend to define themselves by their religion?
AMANPOUR: Yes, they do. But you know, we always have to say it, and we always do, because the majority of them live here in a peaceful and law-abiding way. But we spoke, for instance, to the head of one of the largest Muslim organizations here, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, who is a moderate, who leads a fairly moderate organization. And he says that we cannot underestimate the impact that foreign policy is having on some of these, as I say, that small portion, who are, you know, so affected and so ticked by some of these foreign policy things.
And he makes a distinct sort of important point. He says in the West, our leaders, let's say President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, are constantly telling people that it's our freedoms and our way of life that is what's alienating and causing these people to want to come and kill us. He says, this Muslim community leader, that it's actually not democracies, but policies that are throwing these people over the edge. And whether it's an extremist or a moderate, some of these policies are a source of grievance.
But again, the question is, not the whole Muslim community but those few who are the deadly ones, who just are tipped over the edge and are vulnerable to being these kinds of extremists, and who, as Peter had said, flock to the al Qaeda ideology. And look, any expert that you talk to has said over and over again that the recent events, let's say Iraq, these things become the latest recruiting tools.
KING: What preemptive acts, Peter, do the British take to prevent homegrown terrorism?
BERGEN: Well, you know, after the July 7th, 2005 attack, the British did take a number of steps which I think were a little too late. One is they deported some of the -- one of the most incendiary clerics. They also imprisoned one, called Abu Hamza. They've tried to deport a very radical cleric called Abu Qutada, who was actually Abu Musab Zarqawi's spiritual adviser, you may remember, the now dead leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. And so they clamped down on these radical clerics. But I think the damage may already have been done.
And there are some systemic problems. I mean, you've got young British Muslim men who have a 22 percent unemployment rate. This is not something you can just fix overnight. And you've got a generation of people who are -- who are I think quite militant. A poll by the "Guardian" newspaper, for instance, in 2004 found that 13 percent of Muslims would countenance another -- British Muslims would countenance another al Qaeda-style attack on the United States.
And that's a very different picture than we have in the United States, where we have done a pretty good job of integrating our Muslim immigrants. You know, there is an American dream. It hasn't always worked, but it works in this case. There isn't really a British dream. There certainly isn't an E.U. dream. And as Christiane indicated, of course it's not just a British problem. This is a problem we're seeing all over Europe.
KING: We'll take a break, come back, and talk about terrorism in the United States right after this.
KING: Peter Bergen remains with us in New York. Also joining us in New York is Harvey Kushner, terrorism and security expert who has served as an adviser to the FBI and the FAA. He's author of "Holy War on the Home Front: The Secret Islamic Terror Network in the United States." He's chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice at LIU. And in Boston, Ron Suskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of the "New York Times" best-seller "The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11."
This time in this segment we're going to talk about the United States. Harvey Kushner, American-born terrorists, are they around?
HARVEY KUSHNER, TERRORISM EXPERT: You bet there are, Larry. They've been here for many years, setting up shop. Probably ever since Hezbollah was created, you had terrorists of the Middle Eastern extraction here in the United States.
The concern is that what happens over there in Iraq or in Iran or in the Middle East is eventually going to play out here. But we have our own home grown -- and I have a problem with that term, home grown, as if home grown means some type of variety of individual has developed which shouldn't be developed. Hey, people come here, they're even born here from parentage from the Middle East, from the Islamic extraction, and they have political baggage. And that political baggage stays with them. It stays within their insular community. And it develops, it festers, and oftentimes it leads into a terrorist activity.
You had a segment before, where Christiane was talking about it as if if there was some sort of even legitimate grievances that these individuals have. Well, terrorist behavior, Larry, there's no legitimate grievance for terrorist behavior, is there?
KING: Ron Suskind, do you agree?
RON SUSKIND, AUTHOR: I agree that there are probably cells in the United States. You go inside of the CIA, into the innermost circles, they say there are probably cells in the United States. Actually, something quite harrowing, the CIA has alerted the FBI as to bad guys coming to America, and the FBI has lost them. The FBI says in response it's harder to follow someone in America than you might think.
In any event, there are folks in America, al Qaeda operatives, that the FBI has lost. I think someone in Congress, someone ought to be asking some questions about that. But that's the reality. It's a big country. It's hard to follow people here. And the fact is, we have not seen this come home to roost, but my sense, along with Harvey -- I agree with Harvey -- we probably will.
KING: Peter Bergen, would you agree that there's no excuse for being a terrorist, none?
BERGEN: No. I mean, killing innocent civilians, there is obviously no excuse. And of course and in fact the Koran itself is very explicit about the protections afforded civilians. So when people like bin Laden are asked directly the question how can you justify this, he resorts to very un-Islamic language, saying things like American taxpayers pay for American foreign policy and therefore they're complicit.
So even bin Laden can't justify this from a religious point of view. But I want to raise a note of skepticism about Professor Kushner and Ron Suskind's statements. I'm not really convinced that there are significant members of al Qaeda in the United States or American sleeper cells. If that were the case, why haven't they attacked in the United States since 9/11? There have been a lot of opportunities. You would have expected them to do so. The American election, you know, the war in Iraq. And we've really heard nothing from them.
We've had a number of cases which I think are exceptions that proved the rule. There is a very interesting case in Torrance, California, a group of largely African-Americans who got radicalized in prison, planning to attack synagogues and U.S. military bases. And also a case in Toledo, Ohio of people training allegedly to go and fight in Iraq. But these are exceptions that prove the rule. Unlike the case in Britain or in Spain or in other European countries where you have really a big terrorism cases in the post-9/11 era. We just haven't seen that here. And I think that's because the American- Muslim community has more or less completely rejected the al Qaeda ideological virus.
KING: Harvey, I'm sorry we have such limited time. You said you think the revelation of this plane terror plot could be a tipping point, a tipping point for what?
KUSHNER: Well, a tipping point, Larry, in the sense that it ratchets our attention of what can be. And I disagree strongly with Peter. I think there are cells here. Peter's thinking out of the box like an American, that things happen in rapid succession. Let me remind Peter that in '93 they had the first takedown of the World Trade Center. It wasn't until 2001 until they got it right. And certainly look at Bojinka and what happened now. Sometimes --
BERGEN: But people in the 9/11 plot, Professor Kushner, arrived from outside the United States. They weren't American cells. They weren't sleeper cells.
KUSHNER: Excuse me. There are probably sleeper cells here. You know it. Just because we --
BERGEN: You're asking me to prove a negative.
KUSHNER: Look, Peter -- KING: One at a time. I don't know what that sound is, but it looks like somebody's cell phone. All right. We're running out of time. But Ron Suskind, what do you make of the disagreement between our two friends here?
SUSKIND: Well I think the problem of proving the negative has been a problem for this entire war on terror. The fact is that just from my investigation the intelligence shows bad guys have come to America and we've lost them. That means there are people in this country. You know, the fact that there's not been an attack by al Qaeda or its imitators in the past five years, well, we're seeing some of that now with the analysis of this particular attack. You know, the sense that people in the government have is that al Qaeda would wait for a major event. Probably the major event was the thing that was thwarted. The question now is what will happen now that it has been thwarted? And if there are cells in America, we might be seeing them in the coming near term.
KING: I've got to get a break. We'll talk about al Qaeda next. We'll have all of these gentlemen back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Monica el Arud (ph), a devout Muslim who had emigrated from Morocco as a child, was living in Belgium when she first saw Osama bin Laden on television. His image mesmerized her and her husband, Abda Satr Dagman (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was watching. There was a fascination, a love. It was very clear, and I felt the same. Osama had a beauty in his face. It is a stunning face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That clip is from CNN's powerful new documentary "In The Footsteps of Osama bin Laden." It answers lots of questions. The must-watch program debuts Wednesday, August 23rd at 9:00 Eastern. It's hosted by Christiane Amanpour. It's a two-hour special with insights from Peter Bergen. Our program that night will precede it at 8:00 p.m. Peter Bergen and Christiane Amanpour are with us in this segment. So is John King. Al Qaeda's the subject. We were touching on it at the end of the last one. So we'll start with Peter Bergen. You told us last night that this plane terror plot was al Qaeda. Any developments that change your mind or enhance it?
BERGEN: Well, I think Kelli Arena's reporting on CNN today enhances that view fairly significantly. We now have reporting that CNN has of people going to al Qaeda training camps, meeting with al Qaeda operatives, money transfers coming from Pakistan to Britain to some of the alleged plotters. So, I mean, it's already, we're only 24 hours into it. We've already got quite a lot of information pointing in that direction. I would expect two weeks from now we'll have even more.
KING: And what, John King, does the United States do about it?
J. KING: Well, without a doubt, Larry, they think this is al Qaeda. What do they do about it? They recheck here in the United States. One of the things they're doing about it, it's quite interesting is they're being a bit more quiet today here in the United States. They were criticized, U.S. intelligence officials were criticized by their British counterparts overnight because the Brits thought the U.S. people were leaking too much information about this investigation. Usually they're yelling at us for the leaks. But you have two agencies having a bit of a debate among themselves. But what are they doing here?
You just had an interesting debate in your last segment. Peter Bergen and the other two gentlemen disagreeing about the scope of domestic terrorism. The government tends to agree with Peter. They think there's some Hezbollah people in this country, maybe some al Qaeda sympathizers, but they agree with Peter, probably not any big al Qaeda sleeper cells in the United States. But they're not sure. That's why you have this surveillance program on the telephones and things like that. The government doesn't trust itself because it has made mistakes in the past. So it will continue to look. And after this plot, trust me, they're looking even more.
KING: And what does your research show, Christiane? Would you bet that al Qaeda's here?
AMANPOUR: Oh, you know, that's just too hard a thing to bet on. I mean, I think that Peter and John King have laid it out pretty well. I think also, to go back to some of these causes, it's not a question of justifying it. It's a question of understanding that some of these people have, quote, real or imagined, and that's important to understand. Real or imagined grievances.
KING: That's a certain fact, right, Peter?
BERGEN: Well, I mean --
KING: They feel it as a grievance. Real or imagined, to them the perception is truth.
BERGEN: Well, yes. And I mean, if you had bin Laden on this program and you asked him, Larry, why is he doing what he's doing, he would tell you the list of grievances were basically about American foreign policies in the Middle East. That's what he told us when we interviewed him in '97. He's been very kind of, he's been very consistent about this. And if you ask his followers what their grievances are, you would again find that it's largely about American foreign policy in the Middle East and also about authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. And so these are the grievances. I think it would be too easy just to pretend that they are all imagined.
I mean these are real in a lot of cases. So I mean, if you think about the Egyptian regime, it's a regime that's tortured a lot of people, it's not a free society. Same thing with the Saudis. So, you know, I think it would be too easy just to say these are all imagined grievances, there is some reality here also. KING: Thank you all very much. Running through time tonight. And sorry about time limitations.
When we come back, an important aspect of all this: How the bomb went off or might go off. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Flying is safe. It is safe precisely because of the measures we're taking here and are being taken elsewhere in the world. And the commitment of people at TSA is to keep it safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back, and with us here in Los Angeles is Harry Humphries, president of Global Studies Group, Inc., one of the world's leading security service providers, a former Navy seal. He provides training for various law enforcement agencies, also as a consultant for Jerry Bruckheimer in his very exciting films. And we're going to talk tonight about explosives and bad guys, without teaching them how to do -- how to blow up a bomb, Harry. What is this you've brought?
HARRY HUMPHRIES, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL STUDIES GROUP: First of all, I want to make sure that the audience knows that we're not here to talk about ingredients. I think that that's been done entirely too much these past few days. Let's talk more about the types of techniques that could be utilized by the bad guy to get an explosive or highly reactive product on the plane.
One, you've got to get through the check station. You've got to get through what is apparently a very simple and very safe product. Thus, the concept of a binary weapon. A binary weapon is nothing more than a composition of very, very safe products.
So, this is nothing more than hairspray. But in this can is an alcohol propellant. This is a drink, a health drink, but it could be a glycerin, or it could be another very simple product that, when combined with the hairspray, could be a highly reactive product.
The next step is to get an initiator. The initiator, of course, could be chemical or it could be electronic. Anything that has a battery in it would be capable of initiating a highly reactive product.
KING: Like a cell phone.
HUMPHRIES: Cell phone, Blackberry in this particular case. Very simple music player. And of course, the flash mechanism on a camera could be utilized in such a fashion as to initiate an explosive...
KING: So if people were -- were to know how to do this, and access wouldn't be difficult. If you can get by the plane and get on, you could destroy a plane with these objects? HUMPHRIES: Well, you've got to understand the environment that the aircraft is under. Typically, flying somewhere around 30,000 feet, under several atmospheres of pressure. So, now the aircraft itself in a normal mode is a pressure vessel. It's inherently got a very skin thin, and it does not take a lot of explosive force or highly reactive force to penetrate that skin in a small spot. The pressure of the aircraft will do the rest of the job.
It's important to realize that even though these elements got on the aircraft, they have to be put together. And the audience out there has to realize that you folks are the only defensive mechanism that we have once that aircraft is manned with bad guys and with the products that they need to...
KING: Defensive mechanism how?
HUMPHRIES: Because your awareness is extremely important. You need to be looking at who you're flying with. You need to be aware of who has gone to the men's room or ladies' room, how long they've been in there. Imagine how long it would take to take three or four components, put them together and come back out again. Let's look at the history of -- of what is it, flight 93 that went down in Pennsylvania. That was an aware population inside of that aircraft.
KING: So all of us now become...
HUMPHRIES: We become the supporters of the sky marshals. We are in fact sky marshals ourselves. And we have got to realize that we are -- our awareness is the singlemost threat that these guys have to...
KING: We're going to have you back, because we have such limited time. But you can't get this on a plane now.
HUMPHRIES: Well, TSA of course is going through the first phase of a countermeasure. Naturally, once they analyze the elements out there and take a closer look at their abilities to detect through chemical sensing devices that most airports do have in the system now and adjust their methodology in terms of what to look for, I think that some of these restrictions will be relaxed.
KING: Mary Schiavo, former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation, now an attorney specializing in aviation-related litigation, from what you've seen, do you support what Harry says?
MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Well, I do, but I don't think that they should be relaxed. Because part of this is also giving TSA the best advantage that they have. They have great difficulty because they don't have the machinery. And part of all of these across-the-board bans are to allow them to look for other things. They announced it themselves earlier this year, when they were going to let some sharps back on, so they can look for more explosives.
I think that was probably giving us a hint that they did have some intelligence.
So no, I don't think we should let them back on, because we don't have the technology. If they switch to -- if we ban things in carry- ons, of course people will say they will put it on their bodies, and then we will need the new technology that does the body scan. So they will always be looking for the loopholes, and we can't make it easy.
KING: We have an e-mail question from Susan, Malvern, Pennsylvania. "After you've gone through security and they've taken the liquids et cetera, people can buy the same things in little stores on the way to the gate, can't they? How does it make us safer?"
SCHIAVO: Oh, it makes us safer because after 9/11, what we did do -- and this is one thing that the government did get done, kudos to the government, -- is they did require finally, long overdue, it was recommended 10 years ago, rudimentary background checks, at least in fingerprinting, of people who work in the sterile areas of airports and the foodstuffs do go through to a certain degree security. Yes, there are loopholes and that they need to be closed. And we don't have standards for food yet at airports. Good point, but that's a loophole that can be closed easily.
KING: By the way, Harry's involved in www.sealfund.org. I imagine that deals with -- we're running out of time. But next time, you come back, you can explain it more. But it deals with Seals?
HUMPHRIES: I appreciate that. It deals with helping the families of fallen Seals who have fallen in combat in the theaters of war.
KING: Thanks, Harry. Thanks, Mary.
SCHIAVO: Thank you.
KING: We'll have lots more time next time.
Before we close the show tonight, a word or two about legendary daytime talk show host Mike Douglas. Mike died of natural causes this morning in West Palm Beach, Florida. Today was his 81st birthday. He was a modestly successful singer until 1961, when he launched a self- titled talk show that ran for 21 years, about 6,000 episodes.
Mike Douglas was a media rarity: A man who liked everybody he met, and a man everyone liked when they met him. Our thoughts and our prayers tonight are with Mike's widow, Genevieve, and their family. We lost a good one today.
Another good one is standing by in London. Anderson Cooper, he'll host "AC 360" -- Anderson.
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