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Who's Behind the Times Square Bomb Scare?

Aired May 3, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, breaking news -- was the Times Square bomb scare an international terror plot?

Investigators are not ruling it out.

Could a homegrown really be responsible?

Why does the law enforcement want to talk to this man?

Tom Ridge, America's first secretary of Homeland Security, tells us what he thinks.

And New York Governor David Paterson reveals what insiders are telling him.

Then, environmental disaster, economic catastrophe, two-and-a- half million gallons spilled into the Gulf, four states in its path -- could currents carry it up the entire East Coast?

Jack Hanna is here with the effects on wildlife.


Good evening.

First, let's check in with Deborah Feyerick, our CNN correspondent in New York, with the latest on the car bomb investigation.

What's up to date -- Deborah?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, what we can tell you is that a law enforcement source is telling us that, in fact, that Nissan Pathfinder that was loaded with propane tanks and fertilizer and placed in Times Square -- that, in fact, that was purchased on Craigslist about three weeks ago. The buyer, a man in his late 20s/early 30s, we are told. The seller handed over the keys to the vehicle for $1,800 in cash. There was no record of the transaction, no formal registration. It was done virtually anonymously, with no way to trace it, though we are being told that investigators are now looking into possible e-mails, as well as phone calls, that the buyer and seller had with one another, to determine exactly who this guy was who bought the vehicle.

We're told that blogs are really saying that it's really the easiest way to purchase a car virtually without trace.

Now the scrap yard that we're at here in Connecticut, you can see just here. It's about an hour-and-a-half outside of Times Square. And, in fact, authorities believe this is where the license plate on the car actually came from. So although the car was purchased elsewhere here in Connecticut, not too far away, in fact, the license plate -- sort of the decoy license plate was apparently picked up here at this scrap yard in Connecticut -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Deborah.

Deborah Feyerick on the scene in New York. Speaking of New York, let's go to the state capital, Albany, and check in with Governor David Paterson, the Democratic Governor of the State of New York.

GOV. DAVID PATERSON (D), NEW YORK: Good evening, Larry.

KING: What's the latest information you have on all of this, Governor?

PATERSON: Well, Larry, I've heard about this. But I think that it is so important to bring those who tried to inflict pain on a lot of our citizens to justice, that I don't want to go beyond anything the investigators are saying publicly.

KING: What has the conversations with Mayor Bloomberg taught you, if anything?

PATERSON: Well, we're just very happy that somebody saw something and somebody said something. It could be a whole different description that we would be discussing this evening and it could have been very tragic. But the t-shirt vendor told a mounted police officer. And the New York City Police Department cleared Times Square in a matter of a half hour, which is stellar. And we have a very strong police force there and a strong police force in New York State.

We've gone through this a lot. We have all kinds of threats assessments every couple of weeks. There are a lot of stories that don't come out that turn out to be false alarms. And we are happy to say that people are safe today, as they were yesterday.

The problem, though -- and this is what terrorism really is -- is whether or not people feel as if they can conduct their normal business. And that's something that we have to persuade the public that the situation, at least in this instance, is under control.

KING: But, Governor, the White House doesn't characterize the car bomb scare as terrorism until today. You used the word this weekend. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today: "I would say that was intended to terrorize and that whoever did that would be categorized as a terrorist."

Do you agree?

PATERSON: Larry, I was coming from an event -- Asian-Pacific Heritage Night. And it was at 32nd and Fifth Avenue. My and assistant and I drove right past that area right around 7:00 in the evening or 7:30, something like that.

Don't think that even I, as the governor of the state, don't feel a little bit of anxiety about having been in the vicinity. And so that's what I equate terrorism. It's the symbolic attempt to make masses of people feel frightened and to deny them of their freedoms that this country allows.

So I think that it can come from Timothy McVeigh's car bomb, that killed 168 people in Oklahoma City. It can come from the Middle East.

Any time violence or the threat or violence is used to distract people from the everyday lives, I would label it terrorism.

KING: Do you have knowledge that other acts that we may never have heard of were prevented?

PATERSON: I mean, from time to time, that probably has been the case. And there are -- believe me, we have a strong Homeland Security system. And coordination between the agencies, I think, is the biggest advantage that we have from, perhaps, where we were 10 years ago. And there are a lot of false alarms, as well.

But there's certainly, I must say, in my time as governor, every -- every two weeks, you kind of hear about something that could be brewing. And, fortunately, to this point and on -- in the period that I've been governor, we have not had a major incident as yet.

But really, you know, these car bombs are what we are specializing in, in terms of trying to stop, because it's -- it's almost impossible unless you just stopped everybody's car and search them. You have people with tinted windows. You can't see who they are they. The most difficult types of threats for law enforcement to address.

But as I said before, the coordination of the federal, state and local officials in -- and law enforcement authorities in this case, it was a banner day for all of them. And we should all, as Americans, congratulate all of them.

KING: Thank you.

Governor David Paterson, the governor of New York.

When we come back, Tom Ridge, the former secretary of Homeland Security secretary under President Bush, former governor of Pennsylvania.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back.

One more question for Deborah Feyerick in New York -- any possibility -- any word yet about an international connection to this? FEYERICK: Well, you know, Larry, that's what some of our counter-terrorism sources are telling our folks in Washington. They are investigating -- now the focus of the investigation shifting overseas to see whether, in fact, this person or people involved in this attempted attack, whether they traveled overseas; whether they communicated; did they have any sort of ties to any radical groups over there or were they influenced by radical jihadi Web sites.

All of that under investigation. They're trying to determine whether this was the act of a lone wolf or possibly a domestic sleeper cell. And one of the things they're looking at is the bomb. The bomb simply is not like any that they've seen before. So that raises a lot of questions.

But again, the focus now, while it's actively going on here in Connecticut and elsewhere, is also shifting overseas to see what the connections might be there -- Larry.

KING: Thank you.

Deborah Feyerick on the scene in New York.

Let's go to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Tom Ridge, he served as secretary of Homeland Security under George Bush -- George W. Bush, and, of course, he's former Pennsylvania -- the former governor of Pennsylvania and a decorated Marine.

What's your reaction to this story, Tom?


KING: All right. Tom is not hearing me.

It's one of those nights, folks. Mother told me about this.

We'll get back with Tom.

Let's check in right here in L.A. with Harry Humphries, counter- terrorism expert and former Navy SEAL, president of Global Studies Group; and Bob Baer, former CIA officer and host of the Channel 4 documentary, "Car Bomb." And he's a columnist for

Harry, what's your take?

HARRY HUMPHRIES, COUNTER-TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, one of two scenarios are possible. Obviously, it's extremely amateurish. It was not, in fact, a bomb. It was more of an incineration device. So we need...

KING: Not a sophisticated cell?

HUMPHRIES: Oh, not even remotely sophisticated. The -- the radicals level is so low, that I suspect it possibly could have been a probe, if, in fact, it was a... KING: It could have been a probe?

HUMPHRIES: A probe of -- of the response facilities that NYPD would have in that region -- in that area. And, oh, by the way, they were excellent. So anybody watching, if it was a probe, sees a very, very adept police force waiting for the real thing to happen.

KING: Bob, we're going to show you a video here and then hear your comment. The car and truck bombs have been deployed with devastating frequency decades in many of the world's hot spots. And you explored this in "Car Bomb".

Here's a sample of what you did.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a story how the century of the car became the century of the car bomb and how our dreams turned into nightmares.


KING: Bob, why -- why -- why -- why -- car bombs are new to the United States, aren't they?

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: They were invented here in 1920, Wall Street, the first went off. It was actually a...

KING: In the Depression?

BAER: -- a cart. During the Depression -- before the Depression. It was a cart parked in front of JPMorgan. It had sash weights in it and dynamite. It killed 38 people. The man behind -- you know, the group -- escaped. We don't -- absolutely sure. It was probably anarchists, Italian anarchists.

And -- and, of course, we had, in 1970, was the University of Wisconsin, where a...

KING: Yes.

BAER: -- part-time student blew up a math building.

KING: How do you protect yourself from them?

BAER: You can't. You can't. They're absolutely...

KING: In other words, if somebody is going to set up a car bomb tomorrow, they're going to set it off?

BAER: In a place like New York City, what do you do, inspect every car?

It's absolutely impossible. There are sniffers. There's a way to look for nitrates. You can profile car bombers. But ultimately, you cannot stop them. KING: So what did this guy do, Harry?

He left a bomb?

He just ran from the car?

HUMPHRIES: Well, it's a...

KING: In the middle of traffic?

What did he do?

HUMPHRIES: It's a mystery. You have a -- a car that wasn't even parked. It simply vacated in the middle of Broadway and...

KING: And that caused suspicion.

HUMPHRIES: -- Times Square. Yes. With the flashers on, I might add.

And down the street he went. He ran. So, I mean I -- I -- I can't wait to find out what the end story is on -- on what really initiated that move.

KING: What do you think it was intended to do had it gone off, Bob?

BAER: I think this is an amateur that got on the Internet. An experienced bomb maker have had some sort of initiator that would have worked, that would set this thing off. Experts tell me that had those propane tanks gone off, the kill radius would have been 30 to 50 feet. There would have been a lot of dead people at Times Square.

KING: But if it's amateurish, does it belie, Harry, any international conspiracy involvement, in your opinion?

HUMPHRIES: It's -- it's -- I suspect no. And I suspect it's local. Again, my crystal ball is as good as anyone else's. The one thing that was -- was not done that should have been done if, in fact, he knew what he was doing, is turn the gas valve on, on the propane. And then, if he had an M-80 or an M-88, whatever firecracker he had to initiate, he would have had the initiation of a -- of a combustible that would have, as Bob said, had a radius of about 50 -- 50 feet.

KING: So they are, Bob, effective, right, when done right?

BAER: They're extremely effective. Look, they've divided Baghdad, essentially -- car bombs. And it started a civil war in Iraq. It divar -- divided Lebanon in the '80s. They're the poor man's air force. And they're very effective.

And what do we do about cars?

You can't get rid of them.

KING: So what does a society do, Harry? I mean you could live in fear or what?

HUMPHRIES: Well, basically, what we saw...

KING: You could ban making it able to see inside a car, right?

You could ban tinting?

HUMPHRIES: I mean that would be one thing. New York City is -- is doing some great things technologically in detection. They have a system called ring of -- of -- I've forgotten the exact name, but maybe I shouldn't even talk about it.

But basically it's a -- it's a detection system that actually can detect license plates, run the license plates in real time and also sniff -- sniff for radiological issues and for -- for explosives, for nitrates.

And that's been in existence now down in the financial area for some time. And I believe the city is now moving the same system up to Times Square.

KING: It would appear, Bob, they're on the trail of this guy, wouldn't it?

BAER: I think they'll probably catch him, yes. I mean it's -- because of the fact that the bomb was so crudely made. I'm sure he's made mistakes along the way. But I think the problem here is a cautionary tale, is it's reminding people New York is vulnerable.

KING: Yes.

BAER: And if we're scared about a failed attempt, what would a real explosion do?

KING: Thank you both.

We'll call on you again.

Harry Humphries, Bob Baer.

Tom Ridge is next.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back.

By the way, CNN has learned that the Joint Terrorism -- the Joint Terrorism Task Force is considering the possibility that the incident in Times Square was more than just a lone wolf and that there's a connection to Pakistan. That's according to a source familiar with the investigation. Investigators believe this was an intended terrorist attack to set off explosives in Times Square and that the individuals intended for the tanks to explode, but didn't have the expertise to detonate it.

Tom Ridge was secretary of Homeland Security.

He was our first Marine hero, former governor.

What's your reaction to this story, Tom?

TOM RIDGE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, Larry, it's a -- it's a reminder of a couple of very important elements, as we try to deal with this global scourge.

The first reminder is it can happen anywhere, anyplace and to anybody.

And the second reminder is that because of the vigilance of a couple of vendors, if you see something, you're supposed to say something.

And the third reminder is that they said something to a police officer, who reminds us that training is -- is very important. He called up -- he called in backup. He evacuated the area. They brought in the bomb squad.

And I think the fourth reminder, unfortunately, in all of this is, as good as New York is -- and there's no city that, I think, spends more time, more resources, works harder and smarter to deal with the situation to protect their citizens and to protect their visitors. But sometimes it's just good to combine luck with being smart and good at your job.

KING: Does anything about this, in view of the experts telling it was a very amateurish setup, tell you this might be international?

We just heard that report, there might be a Pakistan involvement?

RIDGE: Well, you know, it's interesting, Larry, when you look at the ideology, they're going to follow the evidentiary trail are. They -- obviously, they focused on who purchased the automobile. They get a name. They'll check phone numbers. They'll check e-mail. They'll do some data mining to see maybe where -- where there's some kind of international connection. Obviously, it's a pretty unsophisticated device. You can buy that material very inexpensively. You can put it together.

Ironically, they learned on your show what they did wrong. We live in a very transparent society. So maybe the next time, they'll be a little bit better at it, because we do in -- we do talk about these things.

But I think, at the end of the day, you know, this may be a very unremarkable person who may have been convinced, because he got access to a Web site. And his connection to the international community may be simply that. So time will tell whether or not there's a formal connection or whether he's just been radicalized because of the access to a Web site or some radical imam in the neighborhood.

KING: You mentioned luck.

RIDGE: You bet.

KING: From our previous guests' standpoint, it's very hard to stop car bombings.

Do you agree?

RIDGE: I agree. I think one of the things we need to accept as a reality in the 21st century, as we deal with these terrorists, is that the real battle is to identify the terrorists before they act. The tip of the spear in counter-terrorism is the work that the Joint Terrorism Task Force do, that the New York City Police Department does, that John Brennan and the National Security Council do. And everybody doesn't try to identify the terrorist.

But when you live in a huge, open, welcoming country such as ours, it is almost impossible to stop these, unless you have vigilant citizens, who, fortunately, because you had a fairly unsophisticated terrorist attack, who act swiftly upon something that looks out of the ordinary.

And, fortunately, this thing didn't go off, but also fortunately, you had some people who were smart enough to say it's in the wrong place, there's something wrong with this, we'd better contact officials immediately.

Preparedness -- and we call it situational awareness, but kind of being just alert to your neighborhood and to what's going in on in your community. If you see something, you're supposed to say something. And that's exactly what they did in New York.

KING: Tom, is there anything locally or federally that should be getting done, not be getting done?

RIDGE: Well, I think -- this is also a reminder, Larry, every time an incident like this happens -- I mean I think about the Fort Hood incident. I think about what happened on December 25th. I think of this incident.

There's still some recommendations, Larry, that Lee Hamilton and Governor Kean and the 9/11 Commission made almost 10 years ago and we still haven't done them.

For example, we -- we -- we really do need to give our public safety community the capability to communicate. They call it interoperable communications. But, you know, to that extent, you want them to be able to send voice and data and video to each other.

You know, I -- I kind of looked at this incident and said, gee, I wonder if we would had been as well prepared if there had been a radiological device inside that automobile and were we prepared to respond to it?

So, again, it's a reminder that even though quite a bit of time has elapsed from 9/11, that we shouldn't be breathless about this fear. There are still some fundamental things that I think we need to do as a country to maximize our ability to protect ourselves. And we're still not down that path yet. And, frankly, the political agenda has kind of taken us off that. There are a lot of other pressing problems we have in this country.

But I do think it's important -- and maybe this incident will elevate the need to do a little bit more in this area and -- and then sustain it. I suspect New York is looking for more money and they probably deserve it. They have been and will continue to be a significant target to the terrorists.

KING: How is the Obama administration doing, in your opinion, in regard to this problem?

RIDGE: Well, Larry, there are a couple of things that I -- I've -- I've commended them on and a couple of things I've found fault with. I mean I -- I really think the debate whether that -- they should have the -- KSM's trial in New York City is misplaced. I think the debate around Guantanamo was misplaced. We need to understand that these are not criminals. I don't believe we should treat them as criminals. I did both some prosecution work and I was defense attorney. I never met a criminal that wanted to be caught and I never met a criminal that was prepared to blow themselves up in order to advance their mission.

So I think we've got to get away from the rhetoric. I, for one, would love to see a special court system built to deal with what I consider to be a -- a global challenge that we're going to be dealing with in -- in the -- in the years ahead.

I think -- generally, I think we should pay a lot more attention to what the Coast Guard is doing. It's a little one off (ph) from what we're doing here, but this is an agency that's critical in so many different ways, as well as the maritime defense. I think they're under resourced and under funded.

I could give you a long list. But I still think there's a lot of work that needs to be done. And I think this administration could be -- should try to shape, as it looks at its budget, in response to what's happened over the past year-and-a-half, particularly with the number of homegrown terrorists that we're seeing, a more elevated and more focused response on counter-terrorism.

KING: Thanks, Tom.

We'll call on you again soon.

We always appreciate having you with us with.

RIDGE: I look forward to it.

Thank you Larry.

It's always a pleasure to be with you.

KING: Tom Ridge. RIDGE: We talk about -- we don't talk about too many fun things, but we talk a lot about important ones.

Thank you.

KING: No, you're not kidding.

Tom Ridge, a terrific American.

The staggering cost of the oil -- oil spill in the Gulf -- and we're not just -- we're not just talking money.

That's next.


KING: We are back. Let's let get the latest on the Gulf oil spill and its tragic consequences. CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman joins us from Gulfport, Mississippi. What's the latest?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Larry, this is like a horror movie, where you keep waiting for the scary part. It's like a slow motion disaster. It's been 13 days now since this tragedy. And it's a tragedy because 11 people were killed when it happened. But 200,000 gallons of oil, more than -- at least 200,000 gallons every day spewing in the Gulf of Mexico. We expected by today, the oil would reach the beach here in Gulfport, Mississippi, along the Mississippi/Louisiana coach. But it hasn't reached the beach yet.

Does that mean it won't come here? Unlikely. It's probably going to reach here in the next few days. Nevertheless, we have just been told by Rob Marciano, our colleague, who was in a helicopter, at its closest point right now, the oil about 30 miles away from the coast. The winds are supposed to be light and variable for the next couple of days, so it may take a couple of days more. But it's very likely that this huge amount of oil will hit the Gulf coast beaches and it will make life very difficult for fishermen, for the tourist industry and everyone who lives here on the coast.

KING: One other quick thing, Gary, is that a definite? Is it gonna hit?

TUCHMAN: Yeah, I asked Rob that question, because Rob is our meteorologist, an expert these kinds of things. I said, is it definite that it is going to hit, exactly the question you asked me. He said, no, it is not definite. However, it is very likely.

KING: Gary Tuchman, CNN national correspondent, one of the best in the business. Thanks, Gary.

Robert Kennedy Jr. is president of Water Keep Alliance, environmental attorney involved in two class action suits, find behalf of commercial fishermen in Florida and Louisiana in connection with the oil spill. He is the son, of course, of the late Robert F. Kennedy, nephew of the late Senator Ed Kennedy. And James Carville, senior political contributor and Democratic strategist. James is with us from New Orleans. Robert from Vancouver.

BP, the oil company, says that while BP is responsible for dealing with the oil gush into the Gulf and for cleaning, it is not responsible for the accident. They note that the rig which exploded and sank was run by Trans-Ocean, and it was their people and their processes. Do you agree, Robert? Bobby, you agree?

ROBERT KENNEDY JR., PRESIDENT, WATERKEEPER ALLIANCE: It is unclear now who's responsible for the spill. There are actually liability issues that are involved that are -- that are really critical, I think, ultimately to BP's claim, because there's more limitations on liability if there's -- if it's Trans-Ocean, under the Oil Prevention Act.

The culprit that I think people are more focusing on today is Halliburton because Halliburton actually poured the cement. And the accident occurred as the cement filling of the casing was completed. Now, if you look back over the past 15 years, half of the oil failure -- of the oil platform explosions and failures on the Gulf have occurred because of inattentive or poor application of the cement.

The cement is forced down the center of -- the steel center of the pipe and it comes up and floods the casing of the pipe. It protects the pipe and creates a firm casing that will isolate the oil and the gas as it comes up the pipe. If that is -- if the wrong cement is used, poorly applied, it can lead to this kind of explosion. So Halliburton now has become one of the major culprits.

KING: James, could this be a Katrina moment for the Obama administration?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, I think an entirely different kind of event than Katrina. That is silliness. But what this is this is going to be some kind of a defining event in our history. I don't know which way it's going to go. As of right now, this is kind of a Hail Mary thing -- they're trying to get this thing plugged up, you know. If they don't, from what people estimate, there could be another three months before they do. It's just going to keep spewing this oil up, as far as people know.

So, we are -- we might be in the first, second inning of this thing, to use a baseball analogy. We just don't know what is going on. There is some talk about currents taking this I can up in the Atlantic Ocean. This is an on-going story. We are going to be on this story for a while to come, I'm afraid.

KING: James, the president had announced he was going to expand oil drilling off the Atlantic coast. Now they're kind of stopping all of it. Was that premature?

CARVILLE: Well, let's remember -- I think Robert can address this, too -- this is deep-water drilling. This is 5,000 feet. Something like this happened at 5,000 feet, a lot different than happening at 300 feet. One is running 100 yards. One is running a mile. And I don't think anybody's going to be drilling anything in deep water until we find out what happened out here and how it won't happen again. You know, maybe there will be some shallow-water drilling, but not anything in deep water that I see any time soon.

KING: When we come back, I will ask Robert if he thinks we will find out who caused it, what caused? Will we get the whole story on something like this? Right after this.


KING: Bobby Kennedy, will we eventually find out who, what, where, when, why?

KENNEDY: Well, the Coast Guard and the Minerals Management Agency is currently doing a postmortem. The -- what they are focusing now is the absence of a number of pieces of equipment that could have provided a fail safe for this operation, Larry. One, there apparently was no acoustic regulator device, which is a device that could remotely shut off the valve. There was a manual device, but the manual device was a button that was at the precise location where the fire started. So we don't know whether the men who were actually killed during the blowout were able to ever push that button.

There is a remote system that is used throughout the world, the North Sea -- and it is used by BP on all of its North Sea rigs. It is called an acoustic regulator device, and it can remotely turn or shut off the pipe in the event of a blowout. They did not have one on this pipe. They were excused from having that during a 2003 meeting with Dick Cheney, in which he said -- which he absolved the oil industry from installing these safety devices in its offshore rigs.

They also didn't have a deep-well valve, apparently, which is another valve that is 200 feet below the surface of the sand. It is another fail safe device that they could have used to shut off the pipe. Apparently, BP was also drilling beyond its permit limitations. It was permitted to go down to 18,000 feet, but we have information indicating they were as deep as 25,000 feet, which would have been a violation of permit.

Unfortunately, BP now is concentrating on limiting its liability by making statements blaming Trans-Ocean, but also by circulating large numbers of operatives throughout the communities along the Louisiana coast, the Alabama coast, which -- to get fishermen and other people impacted by this to this -- by the spill to sign limitations on liability for payments between 1,000 and 5,000 dollars.

And we think instead of doing that, they should be installing absorbent booms up and down the coast, which they have failed to do to date.

KING: James, Governor Schwarzenegger today withdraw his support of a plan to expand oil drilling off California's coast. Are we going to see a lot more this? Should we stop off shore drilling, James?

CARVILLE: We certainly ought to -- we need to find out what happened here. That job -- if an airplane crashes, we find out what happened, why it did. And until we know that -- and believe me, there's a lot of people look and we need answers. But right now, I tell you, people on the coast, first thing we want is somebody to protect -- protect people and to try to stop this thing. And after that, there is going to be a ton of lawsuits. And I don't know what BP is thinking, trying to get people to sign these waivers. This is the worst -- this is the dumbest PR move and legal move that one can imagine. And they are getting hammered for that, and I think rightly so.

But people here -- you know, people want to be protected. That's the most productive, high-quality seafood area in the world, not the United States. And we are in danger of losing this. There's an entire way of life people have down here in south Louisiana and all along this coast. And you know, people are really looking for solutions right now.

And I mean, the lawsuits are going to come. And, I mean, eventually, we have to find out what happened here. And boy, people are liable, they have to be held accountable, and I mean strictly accountable.

KING: James, you mentioned sports as an example here. Therefore, we can use the term snake bit. Do you think your state is snake bit?

CARVILLE: No. My state is a victim of two massive engineering failures. What happened in Orleans and St. Bernard Parish was an engineering failure. What happened in the Gulf of Mexico is an engineering failure. We are a victim of sloppy engineering. And that is a real kind of a tragedy here.

You know, storms are going gonna come. There is no doubt about that. We were supposed to be protected and protected well against a storm the size of Katrina. We were not. What happened in the Pacific Coast and other parts of the natural disaster -- that happened. That's part of the risk that one takes when he lives in a place like this.

What happened out here in the Gulf was an engineering failure, could be something worse than that. If what Robert said was true, that they were exempt from putting these kind of safety devices on that, they need to full fledge look into what happened here. We are deserving of answers. But this country -- we need more people going into engineering and less people going into investment banking. That's what I think.

KING: We -- Sammy Kershaw was due to be with us. We had a technical difficulty getting through to him. I promise you, Sammy will be on here tomorrow night or the next night to discuss this. It is his home state, too.

We will be back with more on the ecological damage from Jack Hanna after this.


(NEWS BREAK) KING: Let's go to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio with Jack Hanna, director emeritus of that zoo, and host of "Jack Hanna's Into The Wild." Jack may have some animals in and around him, a sea turtle, a baby alligator. He is outside. What is the threat to marine life by the oil spill, Jack?

JACK HANNA, COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM: Larry, as far as this is concerned, the timing couldn't be worse. You have got to remember, for 500,000, thousands of years, who knows how long, these animals have been making migrating patterns, turtles laying eggs this time of year, fish spawning this time of year, birds migrating through the area this time of year, laying nests, laying eggs this time of year.

With all this said, the timing is probably the worst it can be. Manatee now are getting away from -- obviously, it's not colder any longer, maybe going out in the ocean a little bit more. You have the plankton and things like that, really the source of all food in the ocean that are being affected.

Even though it hasn't hit shore yet, which I pray it doesn't, because the Valdez oil spill affected -- lost lives of over 200,000 animals. So let's hope it doesn't happen.

One thing, Larry, for your viewers; people are going to want to go -- I've already heard and gotten calls. They want to go and help. They want to go down there with some Dawn soap, which, by the way, is great to use, if you know what you are doing. You just can't go down there and take an animal that is stressed, whether it be a bird, a sea turtle, whatever it might be, and try to help, unless you get with the folks and know what you are doing. If not, it could lead to more deaths.

Folks shouldn't be out there trying to, by themselves, rescue these animals. Get with folks who know what they are doing. It could be the Audubon Institute, Audubon Zoo. Sea World rescued 20,000 penguins in South Africa in the year 2000 by washing these birds off. And they did pretty good. But the timing, Larry, couldn't be worse.

KING: Do any of these creatures have a sense of this and try to get away?

HANNA: You know, Larry, that's a very good point. For example, you take the manatee -- I don't know if you're watching -- behind me, I don't know if you can see this. I'll show you this, this is a court of oil, for example, I'm holding here. In this 300,000 plus beautiful habitat with manatee, sea turtles, sting ray, this one little thing right here would kill all of them probably within 24 hours. And of course, the manatee, it would take quite a bit longer.

But animals like dolphins, other animals like that, might recognize what this is and take off. But other animals might think, hey, it's just a flood flow here, maybe a little bit of flood. They land there, like a lot of sea birds, shore birds. And oil obviously gets on their wings. What happens? It waits them down. They can't fly. Some of them can sink. They can't get away from predators. So automatically, not knowing what it is, they're affected. But some animals, I think -- maybe some fishes, that type of thing can. But remember, this is a spawning area. I'm not sure about a certain type of tuna. This is a spawning area for a lot of fish. Of course, that could be affected greatly right now, because a lot of these eggs rise to the surface.

KING: We'll be right back with Jack Hanna. Time now for tonight's "LARRY KING LIVE" top 25 moment. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the U.N. today. He called the United States a bully. Last time he was in this country, he appeared on this show for a second time. And after this exchange, possibly the last time.


KING: Do you agree that there was --

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (through translator): Allow me. If you bear with me --

KING: Was there a Holocaust?

AHMADINEJAD: You want to impose your viewpoint on me.

KING: No, it's not a viewpoint. It's a question.

I normally don't like to get argumentative, but that really drove me up a loop. I'm Jewish. I have had relatives, cousins, that were kids. How can you deny what is an obvious fact?

It wasn't that I'm Jewish. That had nothing to do it. What frustrates me is when I ask a simple question, all it can be is no, I don't think there was a Holocaust. Two days prior, we had breakfast. He says we always look forward to having you. We know it will be fair and wonderful. I say I look forward to it, too.

Will you acknowledge here tonight there was a holocaust, that six million Jews were exterminated by the Germans? That's all I'm asking.

AHMADINEJAD: What exactly does this have to do with Palestine?

KING: Do you agree there was a Holocaust?

AHMADINEJAD: Allow me to raise a second question and you'll get your answer.

KING: Are you denying that a Holocaust existed?

AHMADINEJAD: You can't violate the rights --

KING: I understand that. But all I wanted to know is do you agree that there was a Holocaust? That's a simple yes or no. I don't think he'll let me do him again. Ahmadinejad, that was something.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: I agree with myself. We need your help choosing our top five LARRY KING LIVE moments. To vote for this or one of the other top moments, go to While you're there, sign up for our LKL 25 Sweepstakes, chance to win a trip to LA, meet me, see the show. We'll even go out and have dinner. You can also win this one of a kind LKL 25 t-shirt. Got two sides to it.

More with Jack Hanna coming up. Don't go away.


KING: we're back with Jack Hanna. How much can actually be done? You can't really protect them if something goes wrong with an oil spill, can you, Jack?

HANNA: Well, not with tens of thousands of animals, no. But Larry, if you see in the picture there, you'll see the manatee, for example. Right now, we lost over 500 manatee -- approaching 500 right now in Florida because of the cold weather. We only had two manatee we were rehabbing here several weeks ago. We have six more manatee here. That's about seven or eight manatee we have here right now.

For all those animal rights groups that say we don't do much, we spend millions of dollars, all the zoological parks in this country and aquariums, are rehabilitating these animals. For example, look behind me right now Larry. These are animals, there are less than probably 3,200 in the world. We've lost 500 probably this winter. Imagine if this happens again or if the oil spill affects them? Look what they're eating there. That's lettuce, obviously, that we feed them there. We'll get them out in the wild as quickly as we can.

However, if the food chain is affected out in the ocean, you can imagine how it will affect the sea turtles, who have to go lay their eggs this time of year. What do they eat? The plankton supplies everything in the world, basically. It all starts there in oceans.

Of course, this is what I'm more worried about than almost anything. If it starts affecting food sources, it's going to affect a great many types of species of animals.

KING: What other wildlife are affected, Jack?

HANNA: Well, right now, Larry, you can imagine, we know about the bird life. What about the oysters, as James Carville said? What about the fishing industry? Even though that's an industry, that's what people stay alive with. That's very, very critical. What do all those animals -- we talk about the chain, Larry, and people -- well, the chain really isn't anything.

This is going to be a perfect example of what the chain of life is going to be like. It's going to start with the little microorganisms and it's going to go up all the way to the biggest, what you see there, the magnificent manatee. It's going to affect all of them, if this really does hit shore. Even though it hasn't hit shore yet, it will affect many creatures. Let's hope and pray that it doesn't hit shore, just like that tsunami that we all looked for and didn't hit shore. That's what I'm praying for, that this doesn't happen. If it does, I can't tell you the numbers of animals, Larry, from the little crabs -- you know, everybody forgets about the beautiful little creatures that really affect all the creatures throughout the world. That's what we have to think about, just the littlest ones as well.

KING: Did we learn lessons from the Exxon Valdez habitat clean- up effort, what they went through?

HANNA: Well, the Exxon Valdez effort, someone said this is going to be another 20 or 30 years before the entire thing is totally done right. But a great effort was made I'm sure by those folks. A lot was learned from the oil spill, just, as Carville said, James said, about this spill here. We all depend on oil. We have 22 boilers here at the zoo that keep some of the most endangered animals in the world alive. Until we find another source, we all have to work together to figure out what happened here, correct it, and then we're going to have to use the oil to keep life sustained here, endangered wildlife throughout the world alive in situations like this.

What else is the answer? I don't know until we don't have to depend on oil. But right now we do. As far as the oil spill -- I know we're short on time. We lost 200,000 animals there. But many, many animals are saved thanks to folks at the zoological parks up there, the aquariums up there, the Sea World parks, all of us. The Columbus Zoo in Ohio, we're here saving manatee that we're going to release back in Florida.

So all of us are going to work together, the Audubon Institute. I think we all get together. Folks call them if you see an animal, I think it makes a difference.

KING: Thanks, Jack. Jack Hanna, director emeritus, Columbus Zoo, host of "Jack Hanna's Into the Wild," at the Columbus Zoo. Thanks Jack.

Great actress, wonderful lady passed away today, much too young in age, 66. Lynn Redgrave, part of that great Redgrave family -- there's that wonderful face-- She was a guest on this show. We miss her. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?