Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with President Asif Ali Zardari/Eyewitness To Terror
Aired December 2, 2008 - 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, exclusive -- Pakistan's president confronts the question everyone is asking.
KING: Who do you believe was responsible for the terrorist attacks against Mumbai?
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KING: Here is just part of his answer.
PRES. ASIF ALI ZARDARI, PAKISTAN: I'm a victim. The State of Pakistan is a victim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: His country has nuclear arms.
Will he use them?
What about terrorists who train there?
Can he stop them?
Plus, a just released report says doomsday may be upon us.
Could annihilation be just five years away?
And he was there -- an eyewitness to the Mumbai carnage tells us firsthand about the deaths of his two friends and how he identified their bodies -- an American father and daughter murdered in the terror attacks. You'll meet their wife and mother, too.
Right now, on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's a privilege to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE the president of Pakistan, from his office in Islamabad, President Asif Ali Zardari. He took office in September. He's the widower of the former Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, both of whom were on this program in the past.
Now, Mr. President, aside -- aside from the gunmen themselves, who do you believe was responsible for the terrorist attacks against Mumbai? ZARDARI: Larry, I think these are stateless actors who have been operating all throughout the region. The gunmen, plus the planners, whoever they are, they're all stateless actors who are holding hostage the whole world.
KING: So the state of Pakistan is in no way responsible, you're saying, right?
ZARDARI: And the state of Pakistan is no more respon -- in no way responsible. That I believe even the White House and the American CIA have said that today. The state of Pakistan is, of course, not involved. We are part of the victims, Larry. I'm a victim. The state of Pakistan is a victim. We are the victims of this war.
And I am sorry for the Indians. And I feel sorry for them. I've seen this pain. I feel this pain every time I see my children. I can see it in their eyes. This pain lives with me because of my wife and what we are going through in Pakistan.
KING: What do you know about this lone surviving attacker -- the man that's in custody?
Is he definitely a Pakistani?
ZARDARI: Not as yet. We have not been giving any tangible proof to say that he is definitely a Pakistani. I very much doubt, Larry, that he is a Pakistani.
Who do you think -- what's your guess?
ZARDARI: Like I said, these are stateless individuals who operate throughout -- I mean, I've got a situation in Pakistan that -- the fourth largest army in the world is challenged on my border, on the west. I've got 150 people out -- boys out, soldiers out. We have casualties every day.
We've had incidents just the past two days in Karachi where we've lost more than 40 to 45 people. Hundreds injured.
These are stateless actors who are moving throughout this region.
KING: What do you believe is the responsibility, if any, of -- I want to get this right -- Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that's aimed at ending your -- or Indian rule, rather -- in Kashmir?
Do you think they're involved?
ZARDARI: That's a banned organization, Larry, in Pakistan and all around the world. If, indeed, they are involved, we would not know it. Again, they are people who operate outside the system. They operate like -- al Qaeda, for instance, is not state-oriented. They operate something on that mechanism. And we would love to -- I've already offered to India full cooperation on this incident. And we intend to do that. KING: Do you believe that al Qaeda -- you mentioned them -- might be involved?
ZARDARI: We cannot rule anything out at the moment, Larry. It's too premature.
KING: All right. Pakistan -- you've called on India to produce evidence of the complicity of any Pakistani group in the attacks.
If it's produced, what would you do?
ZARDARI: I would -- my government would take action. Our government would take action. The democratic government of Pakistan would take action against the -- all the actors and anybody who is involved.
KING: So you're firmly committed to getting at the root of this?
ZARDARI: Not just the root of this, I'm firmly committed to fighting terrorism per se. That's why we are fighting them every day, Larry.
KING: In a new interview, India's external affairs minister has declined to rule out the possibility of Indian military strikes against terror camps in Pakistan. He says that every country has a right to protect itself.
Do you agree with that?
ZARDARI: I would not agree with that, because this is a time to come together and do a joint investigation and look at the problem in the larger context. We have a larger threat on our hands.
The threat is in the region, and just not to Bombay or India. The threat is to the state of Pakistan. There's a threat to the state in Afghanistan. It's a threat throughout the region.
So that would be counterproductive, Larry.
KING: Both your nation and India have nuclear arms.
Would Pakistan make -- ever make -- can you conceive of Pakistan ever making a preemptive strike?
ZARDARI: Larry, I've already been on record, and I have said so, that Pakistan has no intention of ever being the perpetrator of first use. I have asked the Indians to join us in a nuclear-free South Asia. And we are willing -- I am willing to assure the world through -- on behalf of my parliament, that if India comes with us, we can together jointly sign a free of an -- a nuclear-free South Asia.
KING: Do you think that would happen?
Do you think it could happen?
ZARDARI: We can definitely stand on the possibility of that to happen, Larry.
KING: All right. Your nation and India, you fought three wars since the subcontinent was divided at the end of British rule back in 1947.
What do you think is the potential for another war now?
ZARDARI: Larry, democracies don't go to war. All those wars you're talking about did not take place in any democracy. They all happened in the times of dictators. So democracies do not go to war. War is not our expression of thought.
KING: What about America in Iraq?
ZARDARI: Well, that's -- that's exactly an example today, that America went to Iraq in a reaction to the attack on America. That's a reactive action. And that is something that the terrorists are always looking for, because they can corner the state -- stateless actors can corner the state to go into a motion or an action which otherwise they would not do. This is exactly the fear. And that's why we should rise above it.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KING: Some quick domestic breaking news. Voters in Georgia went to the polls today in a runoff election for a U.S. Senate seat. Republican Saxby Chambliss is the incumbent, facing off against Democrat Jim Martin.
Tonight, CNN projects the winner is Saxby Chambliss, the Republican.
When we come back, I'll ask the president what Pakistan is doing about finding those responsible for the terror in India.
Stay with us.
KING: We're back with the president of Pakistan, President Zardari.
Mr. President, are you -- by the way, are you actively working at finding out who caused this attack?
ZARDARI: Obviously, all my state of practice is looking into the allegation that has been thrown at us from the -- across the border. Obviously, if an accusation of this sort comes or doesn't, I'd ask the intelligence agencies to do an -- to investigate.
KING: And do you have a lot of respect for and confidence in your intelligence agency?
ZARDARI: That and the fact that we are all hoping to improve our relationships with India and all the democracies of the world. The whole nation of Pakistan is united to making -- having friends -- becoming friends with India.
KING: Now, this was just issued this morning, Mr. President: "The odds that terrorists will soon strike a major city with weapons of mass destruction are now better than even." This, a bipartisan congressionally-mandated taskforce concluded in a draft study. And they particularly single out Pakistan with grave concern because of its terrorist attacks, history of instability and arsenal of several dozen nuclear warheads.
How do you act to that report?
ZARDARI: Ever the more reason that Pakistan needs more help, more attention and more looking into and looking after. So we appeal to the world and the world at large -- and our neighbors -- to sit down and find solutions to all problems facing the region in today's times.
KING: The report also said: "Pakistan is our ally, but there is a grave danger it could also be an unwitting source of a terrorist attack on the United States, possibly with weapons of mass destruction."
Do you agree?
ZARDARI: Well, that's a position that has been going -- it's a continued situation which is -- which we have inherited. It's a part of the Afghan problem, part of the war in Afghanistan, part of the war in our northern regions. That is an issue that needs more attention. And I'm hoping that the new administration coming in will work with us to look into it for a regional solution.
We've been advocating a regional solution. We need more participation from our neighbors -- India, China, and extended neighbors, as such, in the UAE. We all need to come together on a collective mindset and find solutions to that problem.
KING: By the way, what do you make of President-Elect Obama?
ZARDARI: I think there's a world romance with Obama. And we all in Pakistan -- whether throughout the world, there's a romance to Obama. And we are looking forward to working with him.
KING: What steps, Mr. President, is your government taking to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons? This is something every country fears.
Are you taking steps at preventing it?
ZARDARI: We have a command and control system for that. We have a very responsible state as far as that subject goes. And we have a command and control system under a special -- a special organization.
KING: And are you confident that they're working well?
ZARDARI: Yes, I'm totally confident that they're under command and control system is working well.
KING: Because in the past, Mr. President, the Pakistani intelligence apparatus has provided support for militant movements.
And what is the government doing to root that out?
ZARDARI: In the past, lots of mistakes have been made. I cannot deny that. But the present government does not support any such action. And the -- I can assure the world from my side, from my army's side, from my parliament's side and from the people of Pakistan, that we are not helping any such activity.
KING: Mr. President, the Indian government is demanding that your nation hand over some 20 suspected terrorists believed to be living in Pakistan.
What is your response to this?
Among those are Dawood Ibrahim, a powerful gangster; Masood Azhar, a terror suspect from Indian prison, in exchange for the release of hostages; and Hafiz Muhammad, a former chief of a terrorist group.
Are you going to comply with that?
ZARDARI: I am definitely going into -- going to look into all the possibility of any proof that is given to us. At the moment, these are just names of individuals -- no proof and no investigation. Nothing has been brought to forward.
We have offered to take this step forward and cooperate with the Indians. I am willing to have my security adviser and their security in charge -- (INAUDIBLE) in charge of our intelligence security and their intelligence security head a joint committee, which we have proposed to the Indians, for a joint investigation in all -- in the Bombay incident.
KING: And if you had the proof, you would turn them over?
ZARDARI: If we had the proof, we would try them in our courts and we would try them in our land and we would sentence them.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KING: And do the Mumbai attacks make you worried about similar attacks on U.S. soil?
Go to cnn.com/larryking and click on blog and tell us.
Sixty seconds from now, the president of Pakistan reveals what he thinks of Hillary Clinton.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE with this exclusive interview with President Zardari of Pakistan.
We thank him very much for joining us.
Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of State is coming to India -- might be coming today, I think.
Would you meet with her?
ZARDARI: I am hoping to meet with her in Pakistan. She is hoping -- I'm thinking -- I think she is coming here, too, Larry.
KING: What do you make and how do you look forward to working with the possible incoming secretary of State, Hillary Clinton?
ZARDARI: I am looking forward to working with Hillary Clinton. We know each other. We've met before. We've known each other for a long time, since my wife's time. She has been a good friend of Pakistan in the past and we hope to work with her. We're looking forward to working with her.
KING: Do you think she's a good choice?
ZARDARI: I think she's an excellent choice.
KING: All right. Do you -- during the campaign, President-Elect Obama said he believes that if the United States is given actionable intelligence, it has the right to attack high value terrorist targets in Pakistan with or without permission of the Pakistani government.
What do you make of that?
ZARDARI: I think it's a misquote, Larry. The actual quote is that if we were not to take -- if we did not take action, then the president-elect said he would take action. But that would never arise.
The minute we get any actionable intelligence com -- which are to -- given to us, we shall act ourselves.
KING: Do you believe that the Mumbai attacks may have been partly intended to destabilize your own government?
I mean you're -- you're trying to get rapprochement with India.
Do you think they were trying to upset that?
ZARDARI: That is my position, Larry. I've been trying to advocate it all throughout the world, that the stateless actors hold states to -- hold states
and they want states to go into wars, do wars. It's happened in the past. If you will remember history correctly, even the Second World War was perpetrated by a stateless actor, by murdering the Prince Rudolf, if you remember. And so is the case with 9/11. It was a stateless actor which has made the world go to war.
So we should all rise above it. I expect the Indian democracy -- which is senior, which is an older democracy, a mature democracy -- I expect them to rise above this pain and this -- the loss that they have had and come together with us to fight terrorism in the region.
KING: There are some suggestions that the more vehemently India calls on you to crack down on militants, the tougher, politically, it is for you to do so.
Do you buy that?
ZARDARI: Larry, politics has never been easy -- an easy place in Pakistan. And it's not easy to inherit from a dictator. So I -- it's a difficult place. It's a difficult choice. But we will rise to difficult challenges.
KING: This may be an impossible question, but we'll ask it anyway.
Do you believe it's possible for you and India to live in peace?
ZARDARI: I am looking forward and I am hoping that I will be the catalyst that makes India and Pakistan live for peace forever.
KING: So you would meet with the leaders there, as well?
ZARDARI: Of course. I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to making it a regional economical zone. I'm looking forward to working in all walks of life together. India is a neighbor. It's one billion plus people. It's a market. It's an opportunity. Relations with India is an opportunity for Pakistan.
KING: A couple of other things.
There are many who believe that Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan.
Are you trying to find him?
ZARDARI: Larry, the Americans and the world forces have been in Afghanistan and around my region and have much, much, much better technology and intelligence than we have. If you think he was there or anywhere around, they would have gotten before me. But in case I do get any intelligence and I do find out, we will definitely try and take the trophy ourselves, if we can.
KING: What would you do with him if you found him?
ZARDARI: That's a hypothetical question. Hopefully arrest and try him.
KING: In Pakistan?
ZARDARI: We can see. We can talk about it. It's a hypothetical question, Larry. First let's find him. Nobody has been able to find him in the past eight years.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KING: Our thanks to President Zardari of Pakistan.
It is, perhaps, one of the most compelling accounts ever of a terrorist attack from a man who lived through it. A Mumbai survivor joins us, along with the woman who lost her husband and the child in that violence. You'll hear them for yourself next.
KING: We go now to Faber, Virginia for an extraordinary story.
There we meet Kia Scherr. Her husband Alan and their 13-year-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in last week's terror attacks in Mumbai.
And with them are Master Charles Cannon. Master Cannon is the spiritual leader of the Synchronicity Foundation, of which the Scherrs are members. Alan and Naomi were part of a group who joined him on a pilgrimage to India.
Kia, you did not go?
KIA SCHERR, HUSBAND, DAUGHTER WERE KILLED IN MUMBAI: That's correct.
KING: So you were home.
Is home Faber, Virginia?
SCHERR: Yes, it is. I was here at Synchronicity. We had business to conduct in their absence. And so I was here attending to that.
KING: And Master Charles Cannon, what is Synchronicity?
CHARLES CANNON, SURVIVED TERRORIST ATTACKS IN MUMBAI: Synchronicity Foundation for Modern Spirituality is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1983 and for 25-plus years has explored and shared the experience of modern spirituality and has grown to international status in 25-plus years.
KING: Were you its founder?
CANNON: Yes. I was its founder, along with a group of founding associates, in 1982.
KING: Kia, how did you learn of your husband and daughter's death?
SCHERR: I received a phone call early in the morning from the U.S. consulate, who informed me that -- we knew they had been missing and we were hoping that that they had survived somehow and were possibly in hiding or in the hospital. But she told me that they were, in fact, in a restaurant and were found both shot.
KING: How are you dealing with it?
SCHERR: Just taking it minute by minute, basically. I have a huge amount of love and support here from family, friends, colleagues. And our friends around the world who don't even know us are sending so much love and support. It's giving me strength and comfort at this most difficult time.
KING: Charles was in the Oberoi Hotel when the violence erupted and we'll ask him what he saw and heard when we come back with Kia Scherr and Master Charles Cannon, on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
KING: Master Cannon, where were you when all of this happened?
Describe for us what happened.
CANNON: I was in my room at the Oberoi Hotel with my personal assistant and another longtime friend and associate who was traveling with us. It was about 9:00, 9:30 in the evening and we heard what sounded like gunshots. But in that context of that hotel, it was kind of incongruent to us that it would be guns.
But, nevertheless, one of my associates went out and down the hall to where you could look over the balcony down into the lobby below. And he saw two terrorists with their guns just shooting everyone and everything in the lobby.
He ran back to our room, informed us what was happening. And we, of course, barricaded the door and blocked it with furniture and tried to figure out what was happening.
Then began the real unfolding of events -- of the first of the explosives, grenades, very, very heavy gunfire. And we didn't know, really, what was happening. We had no information. Then we heard a very loud explosion that rocked the whole building right underneath us. And we could see from the window that looked out toward the front of the building that there was smoke coming up and that the building was on fire. Our rooms filled with smoke, to the point that we could hardly see each other two feet away from each other.
We covered our mouths with wet towels and tried to keep breathing. We moved toward the window, looking down toward the street below, to see if there was anybody there. We saw some firemen gathering and police, of course, gathering by that point. And the police -- a fireman down below was standing next to a van and trying to communicate to us in the window above, and he pointed to the window on the van and kept indicating to break it. And we got the message, break the window. So, we broke one of these very thick hotel windows, and three of us kind of stuck our heads out, gasping for air. And sat there for the longest time until the fire brigades came and put out the fire ...
CANNON: ... and then the air-conditioning system began to suck the smoke and the mess out of the room. But we were ...
KING: How long, Charles, were you in the room?
CANNON: We were there for 45 hours.
KING: Good grief.
CANNON: And it was -- it was intermittent, very intense bombs, explosions, gunfire, because eventually, of course, the Army commandos and the special ops units came in. And these terrorists had 40 hostages on the 18th floor. And so, the Special Forces were trying to minimize civilian casualties, and thus it took a long time to bring these two terrorists under control. And they did an absolutely excellent job.
KING: Other than Alan and Naomi, were any other people in your group killed?
CANNON: No others were killed, but three others were wounded and are in the hospital now post surgery and recovering.
KING: How did you learn about Alan and Naomi?
CANNON: Well, as events -- the event progressed there in our room, we began to get information from our people on the outside via the one cell phone that we had. And we began to piece together where different members of our group were. Some we knew were in their rooms. Some were unaccounted for. But slowly, over time, we were able to account for everyone except Alan and Naomi and we knew they had been in the restaurant at a table where four of the others who were shot and injured had gotten out. So, we knew Alan and Naomi hadn't gotten out and we just had to wait to find out.
KING: We're going to ask Kia to tell us a little bit about Alan and Naomi when we come back. By the way, do the Mumbai attacks make you worried about similar attacks on U.S. soil? Go to our Web site, cnn.com/larryking. Click on "blog" and tell us. We'll share it later in the show.
KING: Kia, what can you tell us about Alan and your daughter, Naomi?
Well, I can tell you that they -- they were thoroughly enjoying their trip to India. Alan loved the people of India. He was a very passionate person, who loved life, with all its intensity, and fully embraced it. He told me actually over the phone one day, I love these people. I could live here. He really appreciated the culture.
KING: And what about Naomi?
SCHERR: Naomi was 13. She was a teenager. And thoroughly enjoying being 13. And it was her first trip. And she was having the time of her life. She was well treated by everyone in India, and just loved exploring everything there is to explore that's there. KING: Charles, how was the trip going up to that point?
CANNON: How was the trip going up to that point?
CANNON: Absolutely perfectly. We had our public programs every evening. We knew many Indian people and were making many new friends as we were there during the days. We had our activities of pilgrimages to temples and sacred sites and ashrams and meetings with other gurus I've known.
I've been going to India since the 1970s, I lived there for 12 years, I'm very familiar with the culture. And all the people that were with me were just having a wonderful time. They couldn't thank me enough. We were just riding this incredible wave of happiness and joy. And it was unfolding absolutely perfectly.
KING: Kia, do you have any other children?
SCHERR: Yes. I have two grown sons, Aaron and Adam, who are with me here today, and they've been a tremendous blessing and comfort to me during this time.
KING: Charles, has this changed future plans for your group?
CANNON: Well, yes and no. I've been asked if I would ever return to India again, and my answer to that is of course, I'd return to India. These aren't the kinds of events that you can predict or expect are going to happen in one particular place in the world. This is their 9/11.
KING: What's the "no"?
CANNON: The "no" is that I think in these modern times, the world the way it is, that we all have to be as vigilant as we can be. And perhaps be more precise in our preparations, in our plans, and considerations of where we go when there are groups of people together in the context in which we travel.
KING: Thank you both very much. Kia Scherr and Master Charles Cannon. An extraordinary story. By the way, Brad Pitt will be with us tomorrow night, stayed at that hotel. He'll talk about that as well.
Experts say a nuclear or biological attack is likely within the next five years. Is doomsday on the way? Can we stop it? Back in 60 seconds with some answers.
KING: Welcome back.
Terrorists are likely to unleash a weapon of mass destruction somewhere in the world in the next five years. That's the ominous conclusion of a blue ribbon study assembled by Congress. That panel, the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, officially releases its report, "World at Risk" tomorrow. Already being published on the Internet.
Joining us to discuss it in Quebec is Peter Bergen, our CNN national security analyst, and fellow with the New American Foundation and New York University Center on Law and Security, and in Washington, Ron Suskind, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. His best selling books include "The One Percent Doctrine" and the new one is "The Way of the World." What do you make of this report, Peter?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I take a little bit more skeptical view. When terrorists have actually engaged in using biological weapons as with the anthrax attacks after 9/11, that was one of the -- the U.S. government says the person who did that was a very highly talented scientist. He managed to kill five people.
So, even if you have a very good technical background, developing biological weapons that can kill a lot of people isn't very easy. Similarly, you know, Iran has had a nuclear program now for nearly 20 years and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and they still don't have nuclear weapons.
So I understand the impetus of the report which is to raise the alarm, certainly biotechnology in the hands of terrorists is worrisome. But we need to put it in the proper context, which is weapons of mass destruction used by terrorists generally speaking don't kill a lot of people at the moment.
KING: Ron, the report says that a biological attack is more likely than a nuclear one. What are your thoughts?
RON SUSKIND, JOURNALIST: I think the sense is that a biological attack is probably logistically easier currently than a nuclear one. It's difficult to get the materials, the highly enriched uranium and to fashion an improvised nuclear device. The report says basically both of them are threats, more or less equivalent in their way, and this is an alarm. The whole idea here is to try to shock the beast, to try to startle people into a sense that this is in some ways inevitable, and the key is to try to get ahead of it. You know, these reports are written, especially this one, which is sort of the mother of these reports, to say that what would we want to have done after an attack? Let's think about trying to do that before an attack. Especially if there is a WMD terrorist attack, and clearly, the trend lines are moving in the direction that there will probably be a terrorist attack using a WMD sometime in the -- in the not-too-distant future, who can say when, let's think about now how to prevent that.
It's not like 9/11. We don't want to wait until after it happens and then say what should we have done? That's the impetus and really the purpose of this report.
KING: The report also says, Peter, "Were one to map weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan." Agree? BERGEN: Well, you know, you had President Zardari on the program earlier saying that Pakistanis have got a pretty good security program around their nuclear program, which I think is true. On the other hand, do you have Osama bin Laden meeting with Pakistani nuclear scientists, and I doubt they were discussing gardening, in the period before 9/11, so there is a worry about people in the Pakistani nuclear establishment, as you know, A.Q. Khan, a leading Pakistani nuclear scientist was proliferating nuclear know-how and technology to all sorts of rogue regimes.
So Pakistan is clearly a concern, but as President Zardari told you earlier in the program, Larry, they seem to really recognize that it's a problem and seem to be doing something about it.
KING: Speaking of doing something, Ron Suskind, what would you recommend to the Obama administration that they do?
SUSKIND: Well, the fact is, this report says, and others have said, you can't simply do more of the same. You know, what is clear here is that the threat is outrunning our efforts to try to bring it under control. And I think the key for the Obama administration, up ahead, is to really rethink the problem. They've got to figure out some way, some kind of incentive, for countries around the world to get their arms around biological facilities, potential nuclear enrichment facilities, maybe using reprocessed nuclear fuel.
Right now just saying, look, this is a problem up ahead and you countries around the world need to do something is not enough. Right now most countries in the world can't handle the problems they're dealing with day to day in the present tense. The idea of a problem up ahead that they have to move meaningful and urgently solve is not something that is going to work. And I think the whole idea is to rethink the problem such that countries have some sort of incentive to do something that at day's end will be a salvation.
If there is an attack using a biological weapon or a nuclear weapon via terrorists, it will change history as we know it, certainly in the United States and I think anywhere in the world. The key here is to try to get ahead of it.
KING: Peter, why do you think there hasn't been an attack on the U.S. since 9/11?
BERGEN: I think there are three reasons for that, Larry. One is the American Muslim community has rejected the al Qaeda ideological virus. Two, I can't prove negatives to you, but I don't think there are al Qaeda sleeper cells in this country. If they exist, they are so asleep they are either comatose or dead. And, three, it's very hard to get the terrorists into the country. The U.S. government has done a lot of things to make us safer. If you don't have people here and not recruited into the ideology and you can't get people into the United States, it's pretty hard to do an attack.
KING: Ron is shaking his head.
SUSKIND: I happen to think -- I'm in the camp that says the al Qaeda playbook is one that says we will have a next attack when it can be bigger and more dramatic than 9/11, ostensibly a WMD attack, to create an upward arc of terror and anticipate from that second attack to whatever follows.
Remember, terror, fear is what they are about and sell. That is what they are about. And to give Americans a futility about fighting this spored Diaspora of an enemy. I frankly think the fact that there's not been an attack should not be a sign of success.
KING: Peter, what is your biggest fear?
BERGEN: Well, my biggest fear is itself as FDR said. I think we can scare ourselves to death and we should think about the things that is appropriate with the knowledge that we have. The fact that there hasn't been an attack in the United States I think is indicative of al Qaeda's weakness, not that they're planning to do a massive attack.
Of course they're planning a massive attack. Of course they're planning. But the question is not one of intent but the question is one of capabilities. And their capabilities right now are pretty weak.
KING: And your biggest fear, Ron?
SUSKIND: Well, I think al Qaeda is reconstituting and it's reconstituted significantly in the tribal regions of Pakistan. If you want to understand Pakistan, think of it as a country essentially in civil war, much of it not controlled by the government, and the fact is that they are very patient.
Al Qaeda has always been patient and I think that's their hallmark, such that we need to be vigilant. I think absolutely fear is something that everyone needs to rein in. That's what they want us to feel, fear. But the fact is that we need to move urgently and ardently to deal with threats that we know are real.
KING: Are you pessimistic, Ron?
SUSKIND: You know, I try not to be. You know, I -- I think that with the new Obama administration, there is going to be kind of a start-over switch, that people are going to say, we need to reorient the way the United States engages with the world, so that we really make headway against global terrorism. And I think that's at least an opening salvo of some hope.
KING: Thank you, Peter Bergen, as always, and Ron Suskind, both of you, right on the mark, even when you disagree.
Breaking news update. CNN projects Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss will win the runoff for the Senate seat from Georgia, apparently defeating challenger Jim Martin.
Next, are you worried about a terror attack on U.S. soil? Your comments on our blog next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Anderson Cooper heads up AC 360 top of the hour. What's up tonight, Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, Larry. We're following the breaking news out of Georgia. Senator Chambliss holds onto his long contested seat. We'll tell you how his win is going to affect the balance of power in the Senate and affect the Obama presidency. We're also anticipating him talking sometime very close to the 10:00 hour. We'll bring you some of his comments live.
And the Big Three automakers asking Congress for even more money. They presented plans that include job cuts and $1 a year salaries for CEOs but is that going to be enough to convince lawmakers to give them the billions they want?
And pirates attack an American cruise ship. We'll tell you what happened and how come so many ships are getting attacked these days. All that and more, Larry, at the top of the hour on 360.
KING: That's weird. Anderson Cooper, AC 360, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. You, our audience, have been busy blogging and now it's time to check in with David Theall to hear what they have to say. David.
DAVID THEALL, CNN PRODUCER: Larry, as the world deals with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, we wonder whether people here are concerned about whether or not another attack can happen on U.S. soil. And that was our question today on the blog.
To that, John, says, no, it doesn't make him nervous, those attacks last week. He said it does make him more aware of his surroundings and the activities of others nearby.
Hugh also says that he's not more nervous because he thinks that's just what the terrorists want. Says, Hugh, "I refuse to live in fear to appease their sick minds."
Now, we of course heard from people who feel differently. Of that group we chose Carol's comments tonight, Larry, who says, "Of course those attacks make me nervous. We've been hit before" and says, Carol, "this is a good reminder that we can be hit again."
We're going to continue this conversation throughout the evening on your blog, cnn.com/larryking. Of course look for the live blog link, click, it come in, join the conversation. And while you're there you can also check out Larry's latest edition of the "It's My Two Cents".
KING: Thanks so much, David. I have fun doing that. David Theall keeping us up to date on your blogs. I taped an interview earlier today with Brad Pitt. You'll see it in it's entirety tomorrow night. He has got a new look, too. And we'll show you a little clip from it. Check it out after the break. Don't go away.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Welcome back. Breaking news update. CNN has projected Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss will win the runoff for the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Apparently defeating challenger Jim Martin.
He's expected to make some remarks and you'll see him during ANDERSON COOPER 360.
Brad Pitt is our gust tomorrow night. We're going to cover a lot of ground. I spoke to him today about the twins, about President- Elect Barack Obama, the attacks in Mumbai and his mustache.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I must ask, Brad, what's the mustache for?
BRAD PITT, ACTOR: It's political, Larry. It's political. I'm making a stand for men with mustaches. I don't think they get treated fairly.
KING: You got a point.
PITT: And I want to change that.
KING: Are you doing a movie where you wear a mustache, is that it?
PITT: Yes. I'm currently in Berlin now filming a Quentin Tarantino film and I'm a man with a mustache.
KING: How are the twins doing, by the way?
PITT: Everyone's healthy, so we're all happy.
KING: Do you ever feel outnumbered.
PITT: Oh, yeah, yeah. But, you know, our plan is that we're going to give it all to them anyway, so whenever they want to take over, we're ready.
KING: Let's talk about a couple things before we get to what you've done in New Orleans and then the movie. What are your thoughts on President-Elect Obama?
PITT: Me? I'm -- oh, man, I think overnight we redefined what America's about. I couldn't be any happier and more hopeful for the -- for America, for the upcoming -- in the upcoming years.
KING: Were you ...
PITT: And that team he just announced, I'm so impressed with.
KING: Were you in Berlin when he won or stateside?
PITT: No, we were actually in Chicago, in Grant Park. And I tell you it was an incredible experience.
KING: Oh, wow.
PITT: Yeah, yeah. We ended up walking home from the night. All the main boulevards were closed. And just the jubilation in the street was something extraordinary to see.
KING: What do you make of what happened in Mumbai?
PITT: Well, funny enough, we were actually -- we stayed in the Taj, and we saw the room we were in was on fire. You know, I mean, I can't even begin to make any sense of it. But I'm sure they're doing their best to uncover, you know, what was at the base of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We were with Brad Pitt just about a year ago in New Orleans, and we were at that spot where he was taping when we taped earlier where he was today. And you can see the rest of the interview with Brad Pitt tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE Wednesday and he has a new movie coming called "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" that may I personally say will blow your mind.
A baby is born, apparently, about 85 years old and gets younger as the plot goes along. Incredible movie. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" with Brad Pitt, who's with us tomorrow night.
Go to cnn.com/larryking to blog, take our quick vote or read Dean Cain's commentary "Eye's on Kenya". He visited the country and made connections there to change the way he looks at his own life.
It's a LARRY KING LIVE Web exclusive. Brad Pitt and I will be with you right here tomorrow. Right now Anderson Cooper and AC 360. Anderson?