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Iranian Hostage Crisis; Lou Dobbs Goes to Washington

Aired March 28, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the world on edge over a new Iranian hostage crisis. Iran airs video of 15 British sailors it captured last week, one of them a woman.
Was she forced into a stunning confession?

What could those hostages be going through?

Could a rescue attempt escalate this high stakes standoff into something even worse?

We'll ask the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Plus an American who was held hostage in Iran for 444 days. A former POW in Iraq who knows what it's like to be the only woman held captive with a bunch of men.

And reporters in London and the Middle East.

And then CNN's own Lou Dobbs going to Washington -- telling Congress why they're giving millions of American workers a raw deal.

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

Trouble in the waters of the Middle East.

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is Aneesh Raman, CNN's Middle East correspondent. He was reporting from Teheran just last week.

In London, Robin Oakley, CNN's European political editor.

Somewhere in the Middle East, Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent.

And in Sacramento, California, our old friend, Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state during the Clinton administration, prior to that, U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

First, let's go to Aneesh for the latest.

What's the story up to the minute -- Aneesh.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, the main source of information today has been the Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, who was here in Riyadh for an Arab League summit. Early this morning, I spoke to him. He said the release of Faye Turney, the sole woman among the 15 British marines and soldiers that were seized by Iran last week would happen "very soon." He had suggested it would happen, perhaps, today, if not tomorrow.

Now, that was then seemingly corroborated by the video we saw released. In it, Faye Turney is quite prominently displayed. A statement of hers is aired, also, a letter that she wrote to her family admitting to mistakenly entering Iranian waters.

But later tonight, the same foreign minister said no, her release is no imminent. He said a decision on what to do with Faye Turney would come soon.

He also said Iran had, later tonight, agreed to allow British officials in Teheran access to the British military personnel. No time frame was given.

And he said that for this process to move forward, Britain must admit that it crossed into Iranian waters, something the British government has vehemently denied.

KING: Yes.

RAMAN: Now, also on the video itself, as of late this evening, it has yet to be aired within the Islamic Republic. It's being broadcast on a state run channel seen predominantly outside of Iran. So that suggests Iran wanted to appease international concerns over the condition of these British military personnel, but is dealing with a political reality at home where hard-liners are calling for them to be put on trial and charged with espionage -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Aneesh.

That woman hostage was on tape today, supplied by Iran.

Let's watch.


FAYE TURNEY, CAPTURED BRITISH SAILOR: My name is Leading Seaman Faye Turney. I come from England. I've served on Foxtrot 99 and I've been in the navy nine years. I live in England at present.

I was arrested on Friday, the 23rd of March. And, obviously, we trespassed into their waters. They were very friendly, very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we had been arrested. There was no aggression, no hurt, no harm. They were very, very compassionate.


KING: Robin Oakley in London, what are they saying there about that?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, they're pretty furious about that, Larry.

Margaret Beckett, the U.K. foreign secretary, has said it was completely unacceptable for film of the captives to have been shown on television in this way by the Iranian authorities.

They had been given assurances, the British believed, in their private exchanges with Iranian diplomats, that there would not be this kind of exhibition going on on television.

Remember, back in 2004, when there was a similar episode, when eight marines were taken, accused of trespassing into Iranian waters, on that occasion they were paraded on television blind-folded and they were certainly subject to -- a number of them have said since -- to psychological torture, being lined up in ditches, people pointing rifles at them.

At least the British authorities are satisfied that there's better treatment going on on this occasion and some of the language from the Iranian ambassador in London, talking about his understanding of the families' concerns and so on, has been softer and more encouraging.

But there is still great anger in the British authorities at the showing of this film -- Larry.

KING: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright -- we'll get Christiane's thoughts in a moment -- yesterday, I believe you called this situation "dangerous."

Would you expound on that?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think it's very dangerous because, as your report pointed out, we have a lot of forces in the Gulf itself. There are exercises going on with two carrier groups. And I'm very concerned about some kind of accident happening.

The Iranians also have intermittent exercises.

And with this much power in the region and out on the water, I think that there could be an escalation. And, you know, Larry, it's very easy to escalate and much harder to deescalate. And so I hope that people are strong and have patience. And we don't need another war.

KING: What, Madam Secretary, is the United States' involvement, if any?

ALBRIGHT: I think it's hard to tell. I think that we obviously want to be supportive of the British because they've been so supportive of us. We have -- I think our government has over and over again made clear about how badly behaved the Iranians are about all kinds of issues.

But I am sure that we are in very close contact with the British.

We, of course, do not have relations with the Iranians.

KING: Christiane, what's -- what do you make of this?

Why now?

Why are they doing this?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think now is -- really, at the moment, the troubling thing, I think, is that nobody really knows who exactly is in charge of this capture, the seizure of these marines and ultimately who is in charge of how and the procedure to either release them, put them on trial or whatever various different factions have been saying in Iran over the last five or so days.

So who is in charge and what precisely is their intention?

I think that's a big, big question. I think Aneesh's report was suggesting that first there was one comment from the foreign minister that the female marine would be released imminently and that was the big news, certainly, out of the Middle East and in London yesterday.

And now to say that perhaps that might not happen so imminently suggests maybe that the Foreign Ministry isn't as in charge as it would like to be in something -- in a case such as this.

Why now?

I think as Secretary Albright has pointed out, there are very high tensions. This is a government of a fundamentalist president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is much more confrontational, much more bellicose, has chosen not to be sort of diplomatic and quiet about the ongoing problems between Iran and the West, including the nuclear issue, but, rather, to take a very -- at least rhetorically -- confrontational approach over the last many months.

The issue of several Iranians having been captured in Iraq, the whole pressure -- Saturday, the extended sanctions from the United Nations against Iran. And all of this sort of combines into a very, very heated state of affairs.

And certainly when I was in Iran a couple of months ago, speaking to very senior officials who I reported said that there should be some rapprochement between Iran and the United States, nonetheless pointed out that they could, in fact, be this cycle of events that could accidentally spin out of control. And one really hopes that this is not one of those.

KING: Christiane Amanpour and Madeleine Albright remain.

We'll be joined by General Don Shepperd of the, formerly, the United States Air Force, our military analyst.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OAKLEY: Fifteen British sailors and marines, one of them a woman, were captured Friday by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. Teheran alleges they had trespassed into Iranian waters as they patrolled the Persian Gulf on anti-smuggling duties.

On Sunday, the affair took a new turn, with Tony Blair using a meeting of E.U. leaders in Berlin to warn Iran's leadership they must swiftly release the captives.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: They should not be under any doubt at all about how seriously we regard this act, which was unjustified and wrong.



KING: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright remains.

So does Christiane Amanpour.

Joining us now from Tucson is General Don Shepperd, the United States Air Force, CNN military analyst.

General, Iran claims the British sailors were in Iranian waters. British maintains it's not so. British Vice Admiral Charles Style says that global positioning systems on the vessels proves the ship was clearly 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraq, not inside Iran.

Does it?


We have to take the British at their words because we don't have the data monitoring the ships, where they were.

But the British know where they were. They say that they were 1.7 miles in. The target vessel that they intercepted was 1.7 miles inside Iraqi waters and their boats had intercepted it, therefore were.

The Cornwall, which was the frigate that was supporting the boats on the British side, was about five to six miles away, and he clearly was in Iraqi waters.

KING: General, how high up -- this is for Madeleine Albright, too, but first for you, general -- how high up do you think the order came for this detainee taking?

SHEPPERD: Yes, we're all guessing, but I think there is a couple of possibilities.

First of all, it could be an orchestrated event designed to do exactly what they're doing -- put pressure no the Western world. It also could be that the IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, did this on their own, and then the government had to back them up.

I think we're all guessing about what the reason for this is.

I find it difficult to believe that it was an orchestrated event because the Iranian president was coming to the United Nations to try to make -- to try to make statements and keep further restrictions being put on the Iranians. So I find it difficult to believe that they really wanted this.

It could be a local action that now begins to spin out of control, and that's the danger that Secretary Albright talked about before.

KING: All right, Secretary, how high up do you think this went?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it is very confusing. And I -- my own feeling is that it's this Revolutionary Guard that did it.

But I am very worried about this spinning out of control. I think it is very, very important for there to be patience and I think one of the reasons that the British don't want to have these pictures on television is because they want to be able to keep quiet, long-term pressure on.

The longer this takes, the harder it is, obviously. And I think it would be quite useful to suggest that some third party actually look at the GPS numbers and be able to figure out a way to de-escalate this before it runs into greater and greater problems.

But as Christiane said, I do think we are all confused about what is going on inside the Iranian government.

KING: Christiane, you've been around these waters a long time, no pun intended.

Do you think this might be much ado over little?

AMANPOUR: No. I think it is obviously a very serious incident. And the problem is that, coming as it does, at this precise time, it's even more dramatic and serious than perhaps the incident in 2004, when eight marines were taken.

Remember, back then, it was the reformist government of President Khatami, and things were resolved much, much more rapidly. Of course, the images on television there were more brutal because then the marines were shown on television with blindfolds and apparently it subsequently turned out that, you know, they had undergone some psychological pressure and perhaps psychological coercion.

Here, the image was deliberately, it seemed, one of much, much more conviviality. They were just taken almost nonchalantly eating in that video that was shown.

You also had the woman -- the female marine -- talking. Some have suggested that by getting her to -- to "admit" that they were in Iranian waters, perhaps that's one way of -- of resolving this situation.

The last that we heard about how this was going to play out, the Iranians were saying they were going to assess whether the marines had strayed into their water, which they claimed they did, intentionally or unintentionally. Maybe that was a formula for them resolving this.


KING: Yes.

AMANPOUR: ... it's very difficult to fathom exactly what precise next step is going to happen.

KING: General Shepperd will be returning with us later.

Madeline Albright has to leave.

One more question, Madeleine.

What's your worst case scenario?

ALBRIGHT: Well, the worst case scenario is that there is actually some accident where an American ship is somehow involved with some kind of an Iranian problem, because then I think it does escalate. And therefore that is what concerns me about this large force in the region.

I have wondered generally about why we had to send in two carrier groups into the Gulf, especially at this time. I know we have to show that Iraq has not weakened us. But I think my worst scenario is that this spins out of control as the result of an accident.

KING: Madeline, always good seeing you.

Thanks so much for joining us.

ALBRIGHT: I'm glad you're in good shape, Larry.

KING: Thanks.

Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state.

Lots more to go.

Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both the United States and Iran say they are not spoiling for a fight. But it doesn't look that way. Two U.S. aircraft carriers are now conducting exercises off the Iranian coast, with more than 100 war planes and a dozen escort ships running anti- submarine, surface fighting and mine clearing drills.

The Pentagon certainly wants Iran's attention. ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: They are watching what the United States and our coalition partners are doing and will draw their own conclusions about the reliability of our word and the strength of our commitments.



KING: Joining us now in New York, Anderson Cooper, the anchor of CNN's "ANDERSON COOPER 360," who interviewed the Iranian president last year.

And in Cairo, Scott MacLeod, "Time" magazine's Mideast bureau chief, who also interviewed him.

Christiane Amanpour remains.

Before we ask Anderson his thoughts on this incident, let's watch a portion of his interview.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": The report that I read in August said Iran has not addressed the long outstanding verification issues or provided the necessary transparency to remove uncertainties associated with some of its activities. And Mohamed ElBaradei was quoted as saying that he can't give you a clean bill of health yet.

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Perhaps the report that you had and saw is incomplete. The IAEA has indicated that it has found no evidence that would show that Iran is developing nuclear energy for other purposes that are other than peaceful.


KING: Anderson Cooper, do you think he was involved in this incident?

COOPER: You know, there's -- there's no way to know at this point. You know, a lot of people put a lot of attention on Ahmadinejad. He's not the main power in Iran. I mean there are mullahs there who are very powerful. This is a guy who has commanded the world's attention but in what -- in many ways, he's sort of more famous around the world than -- and more well known and more powerful around the world than he is in Iran itself.

We often, when we talk about the nuclear issue, we also often talk about what Ahmadinejad is saying about it. But he's not really sort of the full powerful behind the throne. There are others involved who can make decisions and at this point, no one really knows for sure how high up this goes.

KING: Scott MacLeod, "Time" magazine Mideast bureau chief, who also interviewed him in Teheran last December.

Do you think it might reach his desk?

SCOTT MACLEOD, "TIME" MIDDLE EAST BUREAU CHIEF, INTERVIEWED IRANIAN PRESIDENT IN DECEMBER: Well, formally speaking, Ahmadinejad is not the commander of the armed forces. That's the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

I think that right now what we know is that the Revolutionary Guard Navy is apparently the military force that -- that interdicted these British soldiers and they are very much run by the radical elements in Iran, of which Ahmadinejad is part. So he would definitely be on board with this.

But I doubt that he made the decision to actually capture these British soldiers.

KING: Christiane, why do you think they did it?

AMANPOUR: Well, again, you know, it's really hard to say, because it flies in the face of logic. Particularly, it happened just a few hours before the president, Ahmadinejad, was due to come to the United Nations.

If you remember, last Saturday, he was all set to come to the United Nations to speak before the Security Council ahead of a vote on extending the sanctions that are on now, Iran, because of the nuclear program. And it was a last minute sort of problem with the timeliness of the whole batch of visas that the Iranians say prevented him from coming on that Saturday.

And then, of course, this happened at the same time. So maybe it wasn't very possible for him to come anyway.

But why now, again, is very, very confusing, except for the fact that Iran has said over and over again in this ratcheting up of tensions over the nuclear program that if anything, you know, happens, if the West does impose sanctions, if even more pressure is put on, Iran will retaliate. It has said that many times. Some have speculated that it could mean, you know, maybe limiting the amount of oil through the Straits of Hormuz, etc. But most people don't think that's a real goer --

KING: Yes.

AMANPOUR: ... because Iran depends on oil. Others have suggested capture. Others have other such things. And right now Iranians are being held in Iraq by the United States.

KING: Anderson, do you have a thought as to why?

COOPER: You know, there are a lot of different possibilities. No one can say for sure. You could also argue that it's a desire to intimidate Britain, to hasten their withdrawal from -- from Iraq, try to play up divisions which already exist in England, a desire to show up the West in the region, show Iran to be a power that's not going to be bullied.

Also, possibly, a way to punish Britain. This happened just hours before Britain, you know, voted in favor of further U.N. sanctions -- or a statement by the U.N. Security Council.

So there are numerous things it could be, you know? And, again, the big unknown is how much of a premeditated decision this was by Iranian leaders and how much this was an act by this Revolutionary Guard.

KING: Scott MacLeod, what were your impressions of Ahmadinejad?

MACLEOD: Well, he's a fighter and I think that part of the explanation for what's happening is that Iran is a very proud nation and they very much have felt threatened by the events in their neighborhood the last couple of years.

Don't forget, I think one part of the explanation that we're -- we're not discussing here is the extent to which the Iranians feel threatened by the events in the region, by the American presence and the British presence, of course, in Iraq.

We have 150,000 American soldiers there. Some of these soldiers arrested five Iranian officials, some of them tied to the Revolutionary Guards, who apparently made this action in the Persian Gulf against the British soldiers.

And the Bush administration has allotted $75 million for pro- democracy activities inside of Iran. Some of that money is undoubtedly going covertly into Iran to work against the regime.

So this is a regime that is feeling somewhat threatened and I believe that the main reason for this action -- I don't think it was an accident. I think it's a message to say back off, don't pressure us on our nuclear program, don't arrest our officials in Iraq, don't try to undermine our regime.

I don't think that the Iranians are looking for a war here. I think that they actually want to resolve this now. I think the videotape that was released is -- is very different from the kind of body language that the Iranians have had in previous hostage situations.

I think they want to resolve this, but I think they want to have a shot across the bow, as it were, to -- to let the Americans and the British, who, after all, are in a partnership in the coalition in Iraq, that if they're going to stay around the region, that they're going to have to take Iran's legitimate interests and also its power aspirations into account.

KING: Thanks, Anderson Cooper, Scott MacLeod.

Christiane Amanpour remains.

Up next, a man who knows firsthand what those British captives are going through. He was held by Iranian hostage takers for 444 days, next.


TURNER: I was arrested on Friday, the 23rd of March and obviously we trespassed into their waters.

BLAIR: There was no justification whatever, therefore, for their detention. It was completely unacceptable, wrong and illegal.



KING: Welcome back. Joining us from El Paso, Texas, an old friend, Shoshana Johnson, a former POW in Iraq looking great, Army's 507th Maintenance Company, they were captured and held captive 22 days in 2003. She's now a very popular speaker on the speaking circuit.

Barry Rosen in New York, a survivor of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, one of 52 Americans held captive for 444 days. At the time that he was taken, he was serving as the U.S. embassy's press attache.

Shoshana -- and Christiane Amanpour remains with us as well in the Middle East.

Shoshana, what do you gather it's like for these people? What's it like to be held against your will?

SHOSHANA JOHNSON, HELD 22 DAYS AS PRISONER OF WAR IN IRAQ IN 2003: It's surreal. You can't imagine -- as an American, you really can't imagine what it's like to have your freedom taken away.

They do look pretty well. They seem to be eating pretty well. I find it encouraging that they actually required the female to cover her head as part of their tradition. So I think she'll be fine.

KING: Do you buy what she had to say?

JOHNSON: No, not at all. There's no doubt in my mind that she was coerced into giving the statement. How she was coerced is what I would really like to know.

KING: And Barry Rosen, what's your read on all of this?

BARRY ROSEN, HELD HOSTAGE 444 DAYS IN IRAN 1979-81: Well, you know, I think there's a little bit of naivete on the part of some of reporters for maintaining that the Brits are being held and they're being taken care of in a much better way than they were previously.

In my own experience, Iranians have a very, very good way of doing their P.R. in terms of bringing hostages out, showing them off and making them -- being perceived as if everything is going quite well. I'm certain that her letter was coerced. And I'm certain that little dinner that all of the sailors had was fabricated.

KING: Christiane Amanpour, what do you make of that statement, that these people -- it's not as it appears?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, I don't think anybody suggested that there's anything other than coercion going on. I think what has been pointed out is the imagery difference this time than what happened in 2004. There is a difference with the way these people look compared to the way they were paraded, blindfolded and looking very grim in the previous one. That's the only comment that has been made on this air as far as I can tell.

KING: Shoshana, what do you do with the fright of the situation?

JOHNSON: You deal with it the best way you can. You always rely on your faith, and just trust in yourself and your strength to survive.

I don't believe that the Iranians are any different than most people in conflict. They definitely, I don't think, want to escalate this to a war. What it comes down to, I think, is just a pissing contest. And I think eventually they'll be released. I'm sure that they're going to have quite a story to tell. But I don't see anything serious going on with the hostages.

KING: What was it like to be the only woman?

JOHNSON: It was difficult. But I think the biggest problem I had was worrying if I was going to be used to coerce the males. After a certain point, I really didn't believe any harm would come to me. But I think there was a lot of psychological things going on as far as the males were concerned. A lot of times my cell door was opened and shut for no reason given the impression a guard had entered my cell. These things can play a lot into the minds of the male soldiers.

KING: Barry, do you fear for these British prisoners' health?

ROSEN: Not in the long run. I mean I do agree with Madam Secretary that this should, hopefully, end in a short while. The longer it proceeds then the more worrisome it gets and more worried I am about the hostages themselves and treatment that they may get.

KING: Is there any doubt in your mind, Barry, that the ship was in Iraqi waters?

ROSEN: I believe the Brits on this. And I do believe that -- it wasn't contrived but I do believe that the Revolutionary Guards are upping the ante. And they are tempting to push a more hard-line approach to what's going on.

Obviously as your reporters had maintained, the situation and the Security Council and situation domestically in Iran is not very good. And the Iranians now are pushing back at the west, especially at Great Britain, right now because of its close relations with the United States.

But most assuredly, this is a message more to the United States than it is to Great Britain. Iran feels really contained by the United States.

KING: Our guests remain and Scott MacLeod and General Shepherd return right after this.


KING: General Don Shepperd, United States Air Force, CNN military analyst, returns.

We hope to hear from Scott MacLeod as well from "Time" magazine.

And back with our regular panel, Shoshana, another parallel between you and Faye Turney, the Britisher, she has a 3-year-old daughter at home. Your daughter was just 2 when you were taken. How does that affect you?

JOHNSON: There's definitely a fear that you'll never see your daughter again. You know every parent wants to see their child grow up and contribute to the world. That's definitely weighing on her mind. But she also has a husband at home that she knows will take care of her child no matter what. It can add to the stress of the situation, though.

KING: Barry, back in your day, the women were released rather quickly, weren't they?

ROSEN: They were. And there are parallels between both incidents. During our time, the Iranians released the women because it's cultural and it has that quality of preserving femininity and womanhood in Islam. But it also was a public relations stunt. And in this case, it certainly is the same thing because I think...

KING: Do you think it bodes well for Faye?

ROSEN: I think it bodes well for Faye. But I think what they're doing is they're trying to use their Arabic station to spread the news about what they are doing because in the long run they're trying to use this as a P.R. method, vis-a-vis the United States and Great Britain.

KING: General Shepperd, do you think this possibly was just the act of a commander on a ship?

SHEPPERD: It could be. It could be that.

Again, this Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is loyal to the Supreme Ruling Council. They're not part of the regular military. They take actions on their own. They have divided loyalty. So it could be that they just launched out on their own because they were ticked or misunderstood. Or it could have been orchestrated from the highest levels. We're all still guessing.

But whatever, the Iranian government has chosen to deal with this in a manner that is really offending the west, particularly the British, and that's the problem, Larry.

KING: Christiane Amanpour, what are they saying about this in your neck of the woods?

AMANPOUR: Well, you know, the issue, of course, which we haven't touched on is the whole attitude of not just Iran towards the west right now but the west towards Iran as well.

The Iranians know that the U.S. administration, the Bush administration, and the Blair government want regime change in Iran. So they believe that whatever pressure, whatever situation goes on in Iran, is always designed to eventually have a regime change there. They really believe that whether it's the negotiations, or the ongoing pressure of the nuclear program or whatever it might be. They think that that is the focus of the Bush and Blair governments' agenda.

They also know that over the last several days and weeks, the Bush and Blair governments have been basically saying in public that, "Look, our pressure is working, our sanctions are working. It's rattling the Iranian government. Let's keep ratcheting up the pressure." And I think that this is part of the push-back on that.

Historically, the Iranians have almost more animosity towards Britain than they do against the United States. It goes way back to the early '90s and even beyond, but most particularly in the early '50s that coup against the prime minister then, Mossadegh, which the U.S. implemented but which was very much urged by Britain over the whole issue of oil and nationalization in Iran.

They have a long history of suspicion against Britain. And they even believe that the British have been interfering -- quote, unquote -- "along Iran's and Iraq's southern border" from their bases now in Basra.

But the notion of putting pressure on Britain to come out of Iraq, I don't think is correct, because the British have already announced that they are going to be withdrawing.

KING: General Shepperd, what's going to happen?

SHEPPERD: Well, I tell you, I think this is going to get resolved. And I think, Larry, we have to keep the big picture in mind.

There's a lot of John Waynes out there that say, you know, why didn't they shoot and start? Why didn't they shoot back? Well, the local commander has to make that decision. He's got to complete his mission. He's got to take care of his people. And if two boats surrounded by six boots, if the shooting started, the Iranians would have killed the Brits. So that's a fact.

We have to keep in mind that the United States and Britain are trying to get out of a war that we're in in Iraq right now. We have to keep in mind the Iranian nuclear ambitions that we are trying to keep from taking place. We to keep in mind the danger of Israel striking Iran over the uranium nuclear issues. And we have to keep in mind that all of us in the west want the oil and the energy to continue to flow from the Persian Gulf. So we've got to make sure that whatever we do, we keep the big picture in mind and don't let it spin out of control and bring all of these factors together, and not let it be driven by just 15 hostages. But we want them home.

KING: Shoshana, what are you doing with your life now?

JOHNSON: Well, I started taking classes at my local community college. I do speaking. And I've been working on a book, which is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

KING: A book about your experiences?

JOHNSON: Yes, about my perspective of everything that happened in Iraq. And part of it is actually about me coming home and how it's not that easy as people think.

KING: Barry, what are you doing?

ROSEN: I'm now a spokesperson for the Borough of Manhattan Community College, part of the City University of New York, and recently returned from Afghanistan working there in Kabul on an Afghan literacy project to bring new textbooks into Afghanistan.

KING: We thank you all very much, Shoshana Johnson, Barry Rosen, Christiane Amanpour and General Don Shepperd.

Coming up, they call it free trade, but CNN's Lou Dobbs disagrees. We'll talk to him about his congressional appearance when we come back.


KING: Our good friend, Lou Dobbs, is in Washington, the anchor and managing editor of "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." He testified today before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on things like terrorism, and nonproliferation and trade.

What was that like for you?

LOU DOBBS, ANCHOR & MANAGING EDITOR, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Well, it was a great opportunity, obviously, Larry.

Congressman Brad Sherman, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Nonproliferation and Trade, he and his committee are just, for the first time, diligently looking into the issue of what is happening to working men and women in this country as a result of free trade policies and foreign policy. It's an exciting opportunity for me. And I believe this committee is moving in the right direction.

KING: Is there a piece of legislation you were endorsing?

DOBBS: No, not at all. I was asked, as a witness for the committee, to come there and to share my views on what has been the impact of so-called free trade policies, to lay out the cost of the policies, the $5 trillion in debt that has been amassed over the past 11 years, the failure of this administration and previous administrations to put working men and women in this country, our middle class and their families primary in all policy considerations. The middle class, as you know, Larry, I believe strongly is the foundation of this country. And I truly believe that we're seeing at least the reason for a glimmer of hope, that we're going to see the middle class be represented in this Congress.

KING: Was there anything specific you proposed they do?

DOBBS: Well, one of the things I specifically proposed was they not renew the president's so-called fast track authority which effectively moves Congress out of real consultation and involvement in trade policies. And rather than leaving it up to the president and simply allowing him an up-and-down vote on something, take it or leave it, to have him actually involved, protecting the hard won rights of working people in this country for worker protection, for occupational safety, for a host of environmental regulations, and the quality of life we all enjoy in this country.

KING: What, Lou, was the difference, if any, in the attitude between the Democrats and Republicans on the committee?

DOBBS: It is interesting, Larry, and it's one of the hopeful signs.

The Republicans on that committee and the Democrats alike seemed very concerned with what they now recognize are unsustainable trade deficits and a trade debt that is rising faster than our national debt.

I was absolutely impressed, Larry, and surprised, frankly, to see actually the warm welcome from both parties, members of those parties on that committee, to my views and my opinions. It was remarkable. And I think it argues well if that becomes reflective of the entire Congress for better representation of our middle class in our country.

KING: Was the questioning with well done?

DOBBS: I thought it was terrific.

Nearly every issue one could imagine in association with this foreign policy, trade policy, on issues of worker rights and Congress's responsibilities themselves, illegal immigration, border security, fiscal policy. It was, I think, a broad canvas of issues.

KING: How long were you on the stand?

DOBBS: Two hours. I was with Ambassador Carla Hills, who served as trade representative...

KING: Yes.

DOBBS: ...for a Republican administration, for the Bush administration, President George H.W. Bush, and who was obviously instrumental in implementing NAFTA.

KING: Yes.

We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments with Lou Dobbs who goes to the action. Don't go away.


DOBBS: Free trade has been the most expensive trade policy this nation has ever pursued. There is absolutely nothing free about ever larger trade deficits, mounting trade debts and the loss of millions of good paying American jobs.



KING: Lou Dobbs doing great specials in Washington.

Does this leave you optimistic?

DOBBS: Optimistic, you know, I guess fundamentally, Larry. You and I are both optimistic people because we're in this business. We believe in the ideals of this country and we want everything for the people of this country.

I listened to some congressmen today, and I said this to them, too, I said, "You know for the first time in a very long time, I truly believe that we may be at a turning point in our history where the middle class of this country is going to receive representation, where the fundamental values, our national values of equality, equality of rights, individual liberties, equality of educational opportunity and economic opportunity, the cornerstone values of this country are starting to emerge and to ascend into the thinking of possible policy officials and elected representatives." You know, God, all I could say is, "I hope so."

But I saw signs of it, so you know I'm very hopeful. And I just hope that that atmosphere that I sensed in that committee room today permeates the entire Congress and even moves up to 1600 Pennsylvania. Some would say that's hope against hope, but I'm going to hope.

KING: The unbudgetable 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Would you rescind NAFTA?

DOBBS: Would I rescind it? In all likelihood, that is what we will have to do or seriously or substantially alter it. The country has lost a million jobs. We have a $140 billion deficit in 2006 with both Canada and with Mexico.

The immigration crisis, the illegal immigration crisis in this country, we have been a social safety valve for Mexico. Half of its people are in poverty as a result of NAFTA. Manufacturing wages in Mexico are declining. We have to take serious steps to alter it or to altogether rescind it and recognize that this great sovereign nation of ours is the reason the world economic and financial system work. And we cannot permit our own elected officials any longer to simply throw it away and to destroy this great country and our middle class.

KING: Are you saying Ross Perot was right?

DOBBS: I'm saying that Ross Perot was right about many things indeed.

And you know I will tell you, I was wrong on the issue of NAFTA. I'm one of those people, Larry, who truly believed in 1993 that if this great nation was to enrich anyone, it should enrich its neighbors, Canada and Mexico. But what we have done is -- the damages are difficult it sustained over the course of the last 14 years. We've got to correct it.

Only fools do not acknowledge mistakes and deal with them. And we've got to do that. And our policymakers have to do that.

KING: Is free trade in trouble?

DOBBS: Free trade is a noble economic concept. It's certainly not in trouble. But the propaganda that surrounds current and previous so-called free trade policies is definitely in trouble.

And as I say, I'm hopeful that as a result of an awakening and looking at the facts, 31 consecutive years of trade deficits, 6 million jobs lost to those trade agreements, and to off shoring and outsourcing of jobs, we're looking at the prospect of 40 million more jobs in jeopardy. We have to change direction.

KING: And what's in line tomorrow night? You're back at GW, right?

DOBBS: We're back at George Washington University, a wonderful campus with wonderful people and wonderfully hospitable. We're going to be focusing on the war on the middle class. I'll be talking with two of the senators leading the battle to reclaim representation for our middle class in this country, to assert the common good and national interests. Senator Sharon Brown and Senator Byron Dorgan will be among our many guests as we continue our special report on the war on the middle class.

KING: Are you enjoying having a live audience?

DOBBS: I love it, Larry. I mean I really do. And they're wonderfully knowledgeable and friendly.

KING: And there's energy.

DOBBS: And there's energy. And I'll be honest with you, Larry, after about 12 hours after an appearance on Capitol Hill, you know, I needed a little of that energy at my age.

KING: Thanks, Lou.

Lou Dobbs, go get them!

DOBBS: Thank you, you, too.

KING: Before we say good night, let's check the result of last night's text vote. We asked you, "Will there ever be a cure for cancer?" Sixty-one percent of you said "yes."

Tonight's question is about "American Idol." Do you think that Sanjaya should have been voted off "American Idol" this week? Text your vote from your cell phone to CNNTV, which is 26688. Text KINGA for "yes," KINGB for "no." The results on tomorrow night's show.


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