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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

The L.A. Catholic Archdiocese Settlement of Sexual Abuse Cases

Aired July 16, 2007 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight in Los Angeles, America's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese agrees to the biggest U.S. priest sex abuse settlement ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For $660 million, he bought himself out of testifying in our case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, in their first national TV interview, some of the alleged victims speak out on why it will take more than millions to heal their scars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ESTHER MILLER, VICTIM OF CLERGY ABUSE: You know what this money does for us victims?

The money pays for our therapy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And then, is America safe from Al Qaeda?

A new government report says the world's most notorious terrorist organization is regrouping to unleash new attacks on the United States. And the homeland security chief says that a gut feeling tells him a strike on the United States' soil could come this summer. We'll ask top terror experts, including New York City's police commissioner and the police chiefs of L.A. And Washington, what do their guts tell them?

Next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with the story of the extraordinary settlement in the Catholic diocese in Los Angeles.

Joining us are Raymond Boucher, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the multimillion dollar clergy sexual abuse settlement, and three of the alleged victims. And they are Marcia Lewis, plaintiff in the case; Manny Vega, also a plaintiff; and Andrew Cicchallo, also a plaintiff.

Raymond, what's the reaction to this offer?

Is it -- by the way, is it accepted?

RAYMOND BOUCHER, LEAD PLAINTIFFS' COUNSEL IN CLASS ACTION SUIT VERSUS L.A. ARCHDIOCESE: Yes, the settlement is complete. The terms and conditions have been accepted by all sides.

The reaction is -- is mixed. I mean, obviously, this is a bittersweet moment. It's -- it's an acknowledgment and vindication and validation of these people who were not alleged victims but were actual victims and a realization that they have changed -- they have changed people's lives by taking and having the courage to come forward and speak about what happened to them.

KING: Marcia, what was your reaction to the settlement?

MARCIA LEWIS, PLAINTIFF IN SETTLEMENT SAYS PRIEST SEXUALLY ABUSED HER FROM AGE 7-14: Actually, when we were downstairs coming up, I ran into Mr. Boucher and I said I'm waiting for you to tell me that the ink is drying before I get excited about it. And he said, well, it's OK.

Just -- as Mr. Boucher said, I'm -- I'm just kind of numb about the whole thing. You know, everybody is saying, oh, you know, you -- everyone has gotten a lot of money, but --

KING: This is about $1.5 million?

BOUCHER: It depends on the victim and the circumstances. It ranges, on the low side in the $100,000 range, and up to $3 million or $4 million.

LEWIS: It's not -- it's not about the money. I think I can speak for most of the victims, that we're going to spend a lifetime, and already have spent a lifetime, of just healing.

KING: You wanted a trial, Manny?

MANNY VEGA, PLAINTIFF IN SETTLEMENT, SAYS PRIEST SEXUALLY ABUSED HIM FROM AGE 12-15: Absolutely. That's what I want. I -- I guess you could say I'm having buyer's remorse. I really wanted to take them to task. I wanted my day in court.

KING: So you have mixed emotions?

VEGA: I have very mixed emotions, absolutely.

KING: How do you feel, Andrew?

ANDREW CICCHILLO, PLAINTIFF IN SETTLEMENT, SAYS PRIEST SEXUALLY ABUSED HIM FROM AGE 8-17: Oh, in some ways, I'm just excited. And I've been waiting my whole life to get this over and to have them admit. But the one thing that didn't seem to come forward was like an official apology or some sort of face to face with the cardinal.

KING: Were you surprised at this, Raymond?

BOUCHER: Well, I was surprised that it took so long and we had to work so hard to get to this point.

KING: What happened to you, Marcia?

LEWIS: I started school at St. Agatha Catholic Church when I was -- a little before I was six years old. And I grew up in a very Catholic home, where we were taught that priests were the closest thing to god that you were ever going to get before you pass on to your next life. So when Father Rutger came and I mean all the pictures of god were of a white man with white hair that, you know, was tall. And there was Father Rutger and he was god to us. So when he showed up in the -- in the yard at St. Agatha's, all of the little girls would run over to him and want his attention, you know?

And so when he started touching us -- was touching me specifically -- the --

KING: What age were you, six?

LEWIS: Six. That's (INAUDIBLE).

KING: How long did it go on?

LEWIS: Until I was in the seventh grade, from first grade to seventh grade.

KING: Did you tell your parents?

LEWIS: I didn't tell my mother until I was in the seventh grade and that was only because it had gotten to the point where I was so conflicted between feeling like the hand of god was touching me and I'm feeling like the devil has got some hold on me.

KING: What happened to him?

LEWIS: He is, I believe, in a retirement home now, at the Catholic retirement home.

KING: Normally we hear -- it's usually the boys, right?

BOUCHER: Well, that's the myth it's usually boys. But, in truth, one fourth to one third of all of the cases involve women in this case. And, you know, Father Rutger, in particular, is a -- a serial pedophile who molested more than 40 to 50 people.

KING: Manny, what happened to you?

VEGA: Well, it started for me in the sixth grade. It lasted all the way through my freshman year. I was photographed nude. I was masturbated, digitally penetrated.

KING: Did you tell your folks?

VEGA: No, I didn't.

KING: Why not?

VEGA: Oh, it's just like she said, you know?

I mean growing up very Catholic -- I mean there's an absolute power that these men have and this power --

KING: I mean how could you look at him?

VEGA: I'm sorry, say that again.

KING: How can you look at him?

VEGA: You just did. I mean I -- this didn't come out until, god, about 15 years ago. And I'm 41 years old.

LEWIS: Um-hmm.

VEGA: I mean it didn't come out until then and --

KING: Where is he now?

VEGA: The last I heard he was in Mexico, still in a retirement home for priests. And that's the last I've heard.

KING: Is he Latino?

VEGA: Yes, he is.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll get Andrew's story and a lot more.

Before we go to break, we have a statement from Attorney Don Steier. He represents a number of priests accused in the massive lawsuit now settled here in L.A.

Among those priests are Father George Rutger, accused by Marcia Lewis, and Father Carl Sutphin, accused by Andrew. We'll hear his story in a minute.

The statement says, in part: "We're gratified the cases have been settled. The plaintiffs will be compensated and they complete their healing. The remaining process, to determine what parts of personnel records must remain private. It is required by the constitution. Keep in mind, what was mandated to be disclosed by the legislature has already been disclosed. What remains to be decided is whether the rights of privacy will be invaded beyond what is required by law.

As we go to break now, some of what Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles Archdiocese had to say about the case.

Stay tuned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARDINAL ROGER MAHONY, LOS ANGELES ARCHDIOCESE: I apologize to anyone who has been offended, who has been abused in the Catholic Church by priests, by deacons, religious men and women, or lay people in the church. It should not have happened and should not ever happen again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before we get back, here's a statement released today by Cardinal Roger Mahony: "I wish to express my gratitude to all of those who participated in today's settlement meeting in Judge Haley Fromholz's courtroom. I again extend my personal apology to the victims, who suffered sexual abuse by clergy and repeat again my steadfast commitment to continuing all of the abuse prevention programs and policies currently in force in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

As Chief Shepherd of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, I also will continue to meet with any victim of abuse who wishes to meet privately with me. I'm very aware that this day in particular is a day for the victims to speak, so I'll refrain from further comment beyond the remarks I made yesterday during my press conference at the cathedral. I will spend the reminder of today in prayer for the victims."

You smile, Andrew.

You don't think he means that?

CICCHILLO: No. In 1991 I wrote him a letter telling him that Father Sutphin, Carl Sutphin, started -- well, molested me and that I was very upset about it. They had moved him to St. Rose because of that. They moved him from St. Rose because of that. And then they moved him to a hospital and he was a chaplain in a pediatric ward.

So I couldn't -- I was wracked with guilt. And so I wrote them a letter and then they promised, at that time, that they would not -- he wouldn't be a priest anymore. They would retire him.

And then on my mother's 80th birthday, they -- we saw pictures of him giving tours at the cathedral, living with the bishop or the cardinal.

KING: And they washed it away?

CICCHILLO: Yes. And they just washed it away. So, no, I don't believe him.

KING: How old were you when it started?

CICCHILLO: About seven or eight. And it went until I was about 15.

KING: Did you tell your parents?

CICCHILLO: No, no.

KING: Why not?

CICCHILLO: He was in our house all the time, just the way -- the way he prepares you for it. You're going to hell if you tell anybody. I love you. This is how we show affection.

And so it wasn't just me. My twin brother Joseph was -- was also abused.

And so he -- he did the same to my mother, that he not just took out us, but he had her under a spell. So I just remember one --

KING: He had sex with your mother?

CICCHILLO: No, but he had her under a spell of that he was -- I don't know, he had some sort of power in our household.

KING: Were you told you were loved, Marcy?

LEWIS: I wasn't told that I was loved. But the thing about my relationship with Father Rutger was that my mother worked all the time. I wasn't getting a lot of attention at home and he knew that. And so he gave me all this special attention.

KING: He took advantage?

LEWIS: Absolutely.

KING: Manny, were you told you were loved?

VEGA: In different ways. But it's parts of the -- what these victims are expressing. It's part of the grooming process. It's basically what these pedophiles do. They look for, you know, the weakest link and they exploit it. What makes it even more devastating on my part was that my parents were having marital problems. So my parents were going to him as their spiritual counselor and at the same time I was going to him. And I mean -- so he found those -- those weak spots and he exploited it. And what did we know?

We were just children at the time.

KING: Are you Catholic, Raymond?

BOUCHER: I am.

KING: What do you make of this in your own faith?

BOUCHER: Well, you know, the hardest thing for me to do is go to church. And every time I'm in church, whether it's a funeral or a wedding or anything else, I'm constantly looking at the priest and wondering, what did you do to somebody or who did you cover up for?

KING: Do you go to church, Marcia?

LEWIS: Absolutely. I'm very involved in the church I was involved with, at St. Agatha's. I went away for a long time and came back.

KING: Do you trust the priest?

LEWIS: Do I trust the priest that's there now?

I'm not a 6-year-old, 42 pound little girl. So, yes, I do trust the priest.

KING: What do you do for a living?

LEWIS: I am a counselor at Santa Monica College and in the church, I'm a children's choir director.

KING: Oh --

LEWIS: So --

KING: Manny, what do you do?

VEGA: I am a police officer.

KING: Appropriate.

VEGA: Yes.

KING: Do you feel the scars of this all the time?

VEGA: Absolutely. There doesn't go a day, an hour, that I don't think about it. It's -- I'm immersed in the abuse. It's something I will take to the grave. It's something that is always going to be with me. And it's also now -- it's also now part of my family, unfortunately. My wife, my children, have all been affected by it. My mother-in-law, my parents.

KING: Do they all know about it?

VEGA: Oh, yes. And friends -- I mean friends are deeply affected by this, also.

KING: Andrew, what do you do?

CICCHILLO: I work at the superior court in Arizona and I'm just in information technology.

KING: How has it affected you?

CICCHILLO: Oh, it broke up my first marriage. What happens, when you have a secret, you just can't tell anybody. And when I told my first wife, our marriage was over within a year. So -- and your trust is gone. You run -- I did -- I ran as far away from the Catholic Church as possible. I'm Baptist now. And --

KING: When you left, you left.

CICCHILLO: I left. Yes. I left.

KING: I don't know whether to say congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

KING: That's legitimate. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is.

KING: The settlement is a form of admission. I don't care what they say. When you settle, why are they giving you money?

VEGA: Yes. They were wrong.

KING: Well, they said that.

VEGA: Yes.

KING: Congratulations. Andrew -- Raymond will hang with us for a minute.

When we come back, is true closure possible for victims of abuse at the hands of a priest?

And as we go to break, we hear from other alleged victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MILLER: It means that Mahony decided, for a purely business decision, to settle this so that he wouldn't stand in front of god and his colleagues and the media in a courtroom and tell what he knew and be culpable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before we meet our next group of guests, although this problem deals with Los Angeles, there are 195 Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States. And according to SNAP, a survivors network of those because by priests, there are sex abuse cases pending in all of them.

And according to a 2004 report commissioned in the United States -- by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 4,392 priests faced allegations of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002. Those allegations involved more than 10,000 children. The overwhelming majority were boys.

Raymond Boucher, the attorney successful today in gaining that settlement, remains with us.

We are joined by David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the survivors network of those abused by priests.

In Dayton, Ohio, Judge Michael Merz, chairman of the National Review Board. That's a lay panel established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The NRB works with bishops to protect children from sexual abuse by people in service to the church and to try to heal the damage done by past abuse.

In Madison, Wisconsin is Anna Salter, Ph.D. clinical psychologist, who has interviewed scores of sex offenders and victims of sexual abuse. And among her books, "Predators, Pedophile, Rapists and Other Sex Offenders."

And in Washington is Father Thomas Reese, Jesuit priest, senior fellow, Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, former editor-in-chief of "America," the weekly magazine of Catholic thought and opinion.

David, what do you make of today's settlement?

DAVID CLOHESSY, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, SURVIVORS NETWORK OF THOSE ABUSED BY PRIESTS: Well, it's a huge victory for these hundreds of brave men and women. Without their courage, there would literally dozens, maybe hundreds of sex offender priests still in parishes today. So they made this community, Los Angeles, a much, much safer place because of their courage and their persistence.

KING: Were you surprised by it?

CLOHESSY: No. I mean we have seen Cardinal Mahony do what almost every bishop in the country has done. When push comes to shove, they're terrified of having to take the witness stand and disclose how much they knew and how little they did about these priests.

KING: Judge Merz, you work with protecting this from happening in the future.

How well are you doing?

JUDGE MICHAEL R. MERZ, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL REVIEW BOARD OF U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS: Much better than might have even been hoped. I think we're getting good background checks on folks who are being around kids. We're doing a good job of getting kids trained to recognize when the kind of grooming that Marcia was talking about in the last segment, starts to happen. They know not to feel shame and to speak up, so that if there's one victim, there are not more victims.

KING: And, Anna, is this problem -- is it really solvable?

ANNA SALTER, PHD, PSYCHOLOGIST HAS INTERVIEWED SEX OFFENDER PRIESTS: Oh, I don't know if it's really completely solvable. But certainly we can do a lot better job than we have done in the past. What obviously needs to happen is people who molest kids or show any signs of molesting kids need not to be around them in the future and not in positions of responsibility. And that is what the church failed to do. They continued to allow these people access to kids.

KING: Do you understand why the kids didn't tell their parents?

SALTER: Well, of course. Yes, I do understand that. All of the studies that I'm familiar with of disclosures in kids show that the majority of kids do not tell right away. Delayed disclosure is the norm. It isn't unusual. It's what happens typically.

Now, in the case of church abuse, it's -- church abuse is also much closer to incest than other forms of out of home abuse. The kids who are abused by priests were really -- they came from the most religious families because those families were the ones who had their kids in Catholic schools, whose sons were altar boys. And in those families, the priests really were at the right hand of god. It was difficult -- sometimes impossible -- for kids to even make sense of what was happening to them or try to tell their families what was going on.

KING: Father Reese, are you embarrassed by all of this?

REV. THOMAS REESE, S.J. SENIOR FELLOW, WOODSTOCK THEOLOGICAL CENTER, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Oh, I am -- I'm in -- I'm angry. And I'm very sad for what happened to the victims. This has been a disaster for the victims. These kids have been scarred for life. The church needs to really apologize again and again for what happened. And we need to do everything possible to reach out and try and heal them, to try to help them in any way we can.

KING: As a Jesuit, father, you're the teaching arm of the church, right?

REESE: Well, we do have a lot of schools and universities in the United States. That's true.

KING: How well are they trained to -- so they can pick out the potential problems a priest might have and not let them be a priest?

REESE: This is a real problem. I think we were probably doing better at it. But, you know, your -- our companion here, Anna, can help us more on that. The difficulty of giving a psychological exam to someone and then predicting that they're going to be an abuser is very, very difficult.

I think we have to be on guard constantly. We have to train kids to -- to be sensitive by these things and to talk to their parents when anyone touches them inappropriately.

We have -- we have an epidemic of sexual abuse in the United States, you know, over 100,000 cases of sexual abuse in the United States. You know, this is not just a problem in the church. It's a problem in our schools, in our families, that we really, as a nation, have to be aware of and do something about.

Hopefully, one result of this crisis in the church will be that the church can become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

KING: David is shaking his head.

CLOHESSY: Well, of course, abuse happens everywhere. But it's in the church context where the molesters continue to be recycled and the cover-up is the most extensive. And that's the real problem. There always have been and always will be pedophiles in teaching, coaching, the ministry.

The problem is not with training the kids, screening the volunteers. The problem is the men at the top continuing to cover it up.

KING: It's an organized cover-up.

CLOHESSY: Absolutely.

KING: It's an organized --

CLOHESSY: Which continues today.

KING: We found that true.

Isn't it true?

BOUCHER: Absolutely. I mean the records are very clear that this was an organized cover-up and these -- this church knew it for many, many years. And, you know, one thing very few people understand is that in 1948 an organization known as the Servants of the Paracletes were organized. It's a religious order. And they were organized specifically to deal with pedophile priests.

And since 1948, they have been putting out studies to the cardinals and bishops around the world saying very clearly that you can't put these priests back into ministry. You can't put them near kids. And so they have known this for decades. It is the civil justice system and the threat of jury trials and the courage of these young men that finally has brought the Catholic Church to the position where it has to admit that it has failed and failed miserably and that it needs to take significant steps, and that it's not taking enough steps.

KING: By the way, did the pope sign off on the settlement?

I'm assuming he would, right?

It's that much money.

BOUCHER: Absolutely. The Vatican signed off on this resolution.

KING: Judge, are you happy about this resolution?

And do you think we're in the stages of seeing maybe the end of this?

MERZ: We'll never see the absolute end of abuse of kids. But, hopefully, we're coming to the end of a litigation period. Litigation -- and I agree with David and Mr. Boucher -- that the litigation has helped bring out a lot. It's helped a lot of people come forward and begin to -- to deal with the abuse. But it tends to polarize people. And if we can get folks to begin to deal with getting treated and getting beyond it, as well as putting the prevention measures in place in the church, then we're moving forward.

KING: Thank you all very much.

A quick closing note on this topic.

Our latest quick vote question is on our Web site right now. The question is, is your opinion of the Catholic Church -- is it favorable/unfavorable?

You still have time to vote at cnn.com/larryking.

Up next, the homeland security secretary's gut feeling that we're about to be attacked by Al Qaeda.

How afraid should we be?

We're going to look for answers next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Michael Chertoff, our director of homeland security, has a gut feeling about terrorism coming this summer. And we'll get the thoughts of some real experts. Here in Los Angeles, Brian Jenkins, expert on terrorism, counterinsurgency and homeland security, security senior advisor to the Rand Corporation and author of "Unconquerable Nation: Knowing Our Enemies & Strengthening Ourselves;" Harry Humphries, former Navy SEAL, expert on counterterrorism, president of Global Studies Group, Inc. He's conducted many police-sponsored seminars on terrorism awareness and prevention technologies. In Washington is Michael Scheuer, best-selling author. His book, "Imperial Hubris: Why The West is Losing The War on Terror," former chief of the CIA's bin Laden Unit, he has a book scheduled for publication early next year, "Marching Toward Hell: America, Islam, after Iraq." And also in Washington, Ron Suskind, journalist and best-selling author of "The One Percent Doctrine, Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11."

All right, Brian, we'll start with you. What do you make of Chertoff's gut feeling?

BRIAN JENKINS, TERRORISM EXPERT & SR. ADVISOR TO RAND CORPORATION: Well, first of all, let me make a defensive gut feeling, you know, the opposite of gut feelings are specific and credible intelligence. We often don't have that. So in fact, analysts often are going beyond the actual bits and pieces of information and going with the tip of their nose or sometimes with their gut feelings.

KING: What is your gut feeling?

JENKINS: You know look we have degraded al Qaeda, the Jihadist operational capabilities. We haven't dented their determination one bit. And so, therefore, there's an operative presumption that as long as they're and as long as they can continue to operate, they will be determined to come after us.

KING: How, Harry, do you dent determination?

HARRY HUMPHRIES, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL STUDIES GROUP: Well, persistence is the only weapon that can be used against determination, a consistent pressure that continues through at least one or two generations. And while this is going on, of course, we have to get at the root cause of this jihad wave. And that, of course, is in the mosques where the young children are learning...

KING: Are you worried about something happening?

HUMPHRIES: I'm always worried about something happening. We have on our side, however, an aware public as a result of the information we're getting. And this is the force multiplier that law enforcement needs to do their job.

KING: Michael Scheuer, what's your gut?

MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER CHIEF OF CIA'S BIN LADEN UNIT: I think the secretary was right to say what he said. Certainly al Qaeda itself said it would take them seven years to get back to where they were at 9/11. We're about six years into that timeframe. And I think certainly al Qaeda, we have a body count but we haven't made much progress.

I disagree. I think there has not been much progress against their operational capabilities. And certainly I would agree that their determination remains intense.

KING: And Ron Suskind, what's your feeling?

RON SUSKIND, AUTHOR, "THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE": Well, the fact is we've been feeling our way in the dark for a few years now. Our human intelligence, which is really the core to actionable intelligence, has been diminished certainly since the Iraq war began in 2003. And that means often we have little else to go on but gut feelings, and that's troubling.

KING: Steven Hadley, the president of the International Security Adviser, says that al Qaeda is not the organization it was.

JENKINS: There's no question. It has morphed over the years. It has adapted to a new operational environment. They were under intense pressure. But they had to do a number of things to survive operationally. They have preserved their top leadership. We haven't removed bin Laden or Zawahiri. They have developed a reasonably secure base somewhere in this wild area of Pakistan. They continue to communicate, in fact with increasing frequency and increasing quality. They continue to fight. They continue to instruct. They have changed. This has transcended -- al Qaeda has transcended beyond the organizational boundaries to become an ideology of inspiration.

KING: All right. Those critics of the Iraq War say that the war in Iraq is their best recruiting weapon.

HUMPHRIES: I disagree with that. I think that the war in Iraq is proof of the strength that the forces that are working together do in fact muster up when needed. Al Qaeda has to be aware of the fact that as they centralize and get together as a group, they risk concentrated efforts on the parts of the U.S. and other air powers. There are definite signs that these folks are being damaged physically. However, being an ideological concept, it is very difficult to defeat in a short period of time.

KING: Michael, they weren't in Iraq until we went in, right? SCHEUER: Yes. I think Iraq is the turning point. It turned al Qaeda from being a group and a man to a philosophy and a movement. And Iraq is just an absolute disaster for us. And more than that, whatever you think about al Qaeda's capabilities, whatever you think about their man power, the one indispensable ally al Qaeda must have is a continuity in our foreign policy. And our foreign policy remains as it was for the last 15 years. And as long as it remains the same, there's no way to slow down the growth of al Qaeda and its allies.

KING: All right, hold it right there. We'll come back with more. When we come back though, we're going to interrupt this panel. They'll stay with us. And city police chiefs from three of our country's most likely terrorism targets, a coast-to-coast comparison of how they're keeping our citizens safe, is next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Despite bombing al Qaeda strongholds and counterterrorism operations around the world, al Qaeda is regrouping and is at its strongest since the war on terror began. U.S. officials say that's the conclusion of a classified government report. Intelligence experts say al Qaeda has been able to find safe haven in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

JOHN KRINGEN, CIA DIRECTOR FOR INTELLIGENCE: We see more training. We see more money. We see more communications. So we see that activity rising.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before our panel returns, let's check in with three top police chiefs and get their thoughts on security in their area. In New York, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the chief for the city of New York; here in L.A. Police Chief William Bratton, the Los Angeles police chief, previously was New York's police commissioner; and in Washington Police Chief Kathy Lanier of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.

How safe is New York, Ray?

RAYMOND KELLY, N.Y POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, we're doing everything we reasonably can do to protect the city. We devote 1,000 police officers every day to counterterrorism duties. We have a lot of initiatives. We have 10 officers assigned overseas. We deploy heavily armed officers every day. We have bag searches in our subway systems. We have truck checks, rolling vigilance. We call it Radiation Detectors. I think we're doing everything that a municipality can do, but at a pretty heavy cost as well. It costs us about $200 million a year to do what we're doing.

KING: $200 million a year just in the area of security with regard to terrorism?

Chief Bratton, what's the story in L.A.?

CHIEF WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Don't I wish. No...

KING: You don't have that money?

BRATTON: No, we don't have that money, unfortunately. But understandably, New York, having gone through the two most significant terrorist incidents in our history, it's understandable. Where he with we not had the experience here, there's less willingness on the part of the political establishment to spend the money. At the same time, I think we've been able to develop a very robust counterterrorism operation. So we feel that we're in good shape in terms of the gathering of intelligence...

KING: Do you have people assigned to it every day?

BRATTON: Yes, we do. We have a fusion center, a Joint Area Regional Intelligence Center, JARIC, with the FBI, with Homeland Security, with the sheriff's department, Lee Baca. Additionally, we have a very robust joint terrorism task force, similar to what New York City has.

KING: And Chief Lanier, what's the story in the nation's capital?

CHIEF CATHY LANIER, D.C. METRO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Well, much like my counterparts, I'd say we're probably part way in the middle between New York and L.A. We do have experienced terrorism here in Washington. So we have made significant investments in terms of preventions, protections, deterrents.

Well, I have police officers specifically that are assigned to homeland security and counterterrorism. I also am trying to expand the capacity of my everyday police officers and investigators to make that connection between the daily crime that goes on and terrorism.

KING: Does the car bombing in London, Ray Kelly, put you on extra alert?

KELLY: Well, we've been on high alert since September 11. We're at orange because, unfortunately, we see ourselves at the top of the terrorist target list. Obviously, it gave us food for thought. It's the information that Issa al-Hindi put out. We found it in any event in August of 2004.

And we've certainly been looking at the information that is coming from London. We have our detectives assigned in the U.K. and they've been very open and very cooperative with us. There's still lots of unanswered questions, of course, associated with that event, and, of course, the attempted bombing in Glasgow.

KING: How much do you share information with other cities, Bill?

BRATTON: Oh, quite a lot. That's the name of the game, the sharing, the inclusion. The joint terrorism center that we have, the fusion center, it shares information with all of the entities not only within the county but with the rest of the country.

KING: Are there things you've stopped we don't know about?

BRATTON: There are. That's correct. And there are things that we are actively investigating at this time.

KING: Chief Lanier, does the federal government, since that's a federal city, assist you?

LANIER: Oh, absolutely. I think we've come a long way since September 11. And you know Washington, D.C. really is the epitome of multi-agency coordination. We do about 4,300 special events in Washington every year. Most of those events are multi-jurisdiction, multi-agency. We work with the FBI and Secret Service and a lot of the other federal agents every day. So we're pretty good on the lines of information sharing. I'd like to see things continue to get better. But I think we're doing pretty well in that area.

KING: Do you have any gut feelings, Ray?

KELLY: We, of course, look at the intelligence information. I wish there was more of it. But we look to the information. We don't see any particular concern about a season, a summer, or holiday or an anniversary date. We don't think al Qaeda has operated like that. So we keep our guard up every day.

KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be seeing a lot of you. Ray Kelly in New York; Bill Bratton in Los Angeles, and Kathy Lanier, Washington.

Back with our panel after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Give me kind of a gut feeling that we are in a period not to have a specific threat, you know, that we have in mind right now. But we are entering a period of increased vulnerability.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a perception in the coverage that al Qaeda may be as strong today as they were prior to September 11. That's just simply not the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We will be right back with our panel.

Ron Suskind in Washington, what kind of event, if it happens, do you see happening?

SUSKIND: Well, in "One Percent Doctrine," I show how intelligence inside the U.S. government for several years is predicting that the next event will most likely be something bigger, more audacious, more destructive than 9/11. If you read early detailed, strategic plans, which frankly are public of al Qaeda 1988-1999, they talk about various steps in various stages. We are now are in, whatever, the third stage, a latter stage, in which they say they have to do something more dramatic, more pronounced to create the effects that they're looking for.

You know the fact is that al Qaeda has had a strategy, a strategy that's been known to the U.S. government, frankly, that's visible. You can you read it online. That for the most part, even though there have been twists and turns along the way, Larry, they have carried forward and carried forward with some success.

Meanwhile the United States has essentially not had a strategy. Here we are six year after 9/11 almost and we have tactics. But even folks at the top of the counterterrorism and terrorism communities in the United States, our intelligence community, say we don't really have a strategy that's effective. And I think the big question this year in this election year coming is are we going to have a strategy?

KING: Do we not have one, Harry?

HUMPHRIES: I would say the communications coming from the administration could have been better. There is indeed a tragedy.

KING: There is?

HUMPHRIES: There is obviously a strategy. There must be. The fact that we don't hear that strategy is good and it's bad. It's good in that once we hear about it, our enemy hears about it. It's bad in that our public, we and the audience, are not aware of it.

KING: So we assume it?

HUMPHRIES: We have to assume it.

KING: Do you assume it, Michael?

SCHEUER: There's no strategy, I think, that makes much sense. The president and the Democrats both continue to tell Americans that we're at war because we have liberties and women in the workplace and elections. This war has nothing at all to do with any of that stuff. It has only to do with the impact of our policies in the Islamic world.

And I would say until you get the enemies' motivation straight, it's impossible to have a strategy that will emerge victorious. And if part of the strategy is to lose wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, then I guess that's a strategy. But otherwise I think we're up a creek without a paddle.

KING: Brian?

JENKINS: We -- you know, right after 9/11, the effort was focusing on destroying --beating on the operational capabilities of al Qaeda because we didn't know if there was another 9/11 in the pipeline. But what we have failed to do, and actually coming on six years later, have still not successfully done, is really worked on the front end, that is impeded this radical organization and recruiting process. Unless we can really begin to affect that, the qualities that drive it and the actual process itself, then we are going to continue to be in danger of both major attacks by al Qaeda in the future, as well as homegrown terrorism, self-radicalization here in the United States.

KING: We'll be right back with some more on this fascinating discussion. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I leave nothing away from the audience. During the break I asked Harry Humphries how long this is going to take to get rid of al Qaeda and he said two generations.

What's going to happen during that time?

HUMPHRIES: I think your two panel members here are in agreement on the fact that the primary target has to be in the incitement stage, as Brian had suggested, and the training stage, at the very beginnings of their -- of the youth's education with what is religion. The present generation, of course, are the fighters. They're going to be very difficult to discourage other than combat them. The second generation will be easier to deal with. The third generation, of course, is if we remain persistent in our battle, we'll be discouraged.

KING: Ron, are you optimistic or pessimistic?

SUSKIND: Well, I'm not particularly optimistic. I think about what George Bush said, al Qaeda is not as strong as it was around the time of 9/11. And in some ways what's happened is it's changed. You know it's like mercury on the table. We smacked it and it spread. You know bin Laden at this point six years later is an ism. He can retire to the cave and essentially the spore of his ideology is everywhere.

And what we have now, of course, is what I call Amway terrorism. It's self-activated, self-starting, very hard to detect, that is spread, frankly, throughout much of the world. The haven, well, Iraq is a haven, Afghanistan. But a haven is wherever light-minded people get together. Wembley is a haven. Spain is a haven.

And what's interesting now is how we need to adapt and think clearly about not only how to get to the roots but day to day, how to not do things that quite frankly insight and multiply the challenges that we're facing.

KING: All right. Ron, are you pessimistic?

SUSKIND: I think so...

KING: I'm sorry, I meant Michael.

SCHEUER: Yes. It won't be two generations. If we stay as we are now, we'll lose far before that, far before two generations go by.

KING: Lose?

SCHEUER: Yes, sir. You know it's exactly right to talk about incitement and getting them at the first stage. And that's very important to do. But we have no intention of doing that. We're going to continue unlimited support for Israel. We're going to continue to support Arab tyrannies and police states in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. We're going to continue to keep military people on the Arabian Peninsula. We're going to continue to thirst for oil from the Middle East. Those are the things that are inciting the enemy. And there's no way to affect that process unless we change policies.

KING: Brian?

JENKINS: You know I'll be the contrarian optimism here. It's going to take a long time but we have had dark moments in our history. We have come through them so long as we can hold on to our own courage, our own self-reliance, our own very, very important values. When you're in a very, very long struggle, and I think all of us here agree, this is going to be a long struggle, then you look for strategy that is sustainable for a long period of time.

KING: Can a new president make it happen?

JENKINS: A new president, can he make it happen?

KING: Or she or whatever?

JENKINS: Right. That will be the challenge. The challenge will be to move from where we are now. We are in a hell of a mess, into basically re-establishing some fundamental directions. And I say this as a ferocious nonpartisan. It has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat. That doesn't mean I'm not critical. But it will be up to the new administration, whoever that is, to formulate a way forward that we can actually sustain and enlist our own population in this struggle that we can hold onto for the next 25 and 50 years, if necessary.

KING: You can get the country behind you?

JENKINS: We can do it.

KING: Thank you all very much. We have just lightly touched this subject. We're going to do a lot more on it. Our panel is Brian Jenkins, Harry Humphries, Michael Scheuer, and Ron Suskind.

Before we turn things over to Anderson Cooper in New Orleans, just a quick reminder to check out our website, CNN.com/LarryKing. And from that webpage, you can send e-mails or a video question to upcoming guests, participate in quick votes, or download our podcasts. You can even sign up to receive a daily e-mail that tells you about that night's guests. It's all at CNN.com/LarryKing.

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