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IN THE ARENA

Two Men, Changing History; Radiation Found in Japanese Beef

Aired March 31, 2011 - 20:00   ET

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


ELIOT SPITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Eliot Spitzer. Welcome to the program.

Tonight I'm talking to two fascinating men who are playing a life-and-death role in the Libyan war. One is actually the person who led us into that conflict. That's right, he's the reason American planes are flying over that country right now and you won't believe who he is.

But first, I want you to meet the most important person in Libya, at least to the rebels. He's an unlikely hero, an American college professor who returned to his Libyan homeland just weeks ago. And he may have already figured out a way to rescue the struggling resistance and turn things around for the desperate rebels.

We know the odds against them are staggering. They are fleeing Gadhafi's army. Their numbers are small and they are so disorganized that our secretary of defense described them, and I quote, as "a pickup ball game."

Enter that savior I told you about. Ali Tarhouni is the financing oil minister for Libya's National Transitional Council. Just weeks ago, Tarhouni was teaching economics at the University of Washington. Now he's in Benghazi with a secret weapon that may just save the day for the resistance.

What is Tarhouni's secret weapon? It's oil. He says Moammar Gadhafi has lost control of the oil industry, and Tarhouni is trying to seize it for the rebels. One of the biggest oil industries in the world.

I talked to him just moments ago. You'll want to hear what he has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SPITZER: Have you actually begun to negotiate or execute contracts to export oil so that the opposition government can get revenue which could then be used to begin to rebuild or buy arms or do whatever you need to wage this war?

ALI TARHOUNI, LIBYAN OPPOSITION FINANCE MINISTER: I actually -- I put my signature today on the first contract between us and the Qatari government, and we will be exporting this as soon as we get the vessels that will carry the crude oil. So yes, we are in the process and the Qatari government, again, took a great stand with us on all fronts -- political, financial. They've been a great help. They agreed to market our oil, but this revenue in an escrow account joined the account with the Qatari National Bank.

SPITZER: Will you be able to use them to buy the arms or to get whatever munitions you need to wage war?

TARHOUNI: Let me put it this way. We -- you know, when the sanctions were imposed on Libya, it was imposed on Libya. So we're not exempt from these sanctions. And we requested officially from the United Nations and the allied forces that we have these exemptions in terms of the -- specifically my concern is on the finance side, the banking industry. I have a lot of back orders for basic necessities like food, like medicine.

SPITZER: In terms of lifting the sanctions that would facilitate straight commercial relations, does it matter that France and -- I think one -- at least one other nation has recognized you as the official government of free Libya? Does that permit you then to circumvent the sanctions that were intended to apply to Gadhafi, not to you?

TARHOUNI: Well, we would rather not circumvent the law. I think that this issue was raised in the conference in London. Our allied, the United States at the forefront, the British, French, they're all in favor of lifting these sanctions for the provisional council and the liberated areas.

My problem is that I need this lifting to happen yesterday. So I think it's coming, and I think they understand our need and I think they're open to it. Just it's not coming as fast as I would like it to.

SPITZER: Does the defection of Moussa Koussa, the former foreign minister of -- for Gadhafi's government show you -- is that the first sign that his regime is crumbling? How do you interpret that?

TARHOUNI: Well, we welcome Mr. Koussa, that he joined the forces that are rejecting Gadhafi even though it took him 42 years to do that. But he's definitely welcome for now, and I think -- I agree completely. I think that this is another sign, this is -- this person is as close as you can get to Gadhafi.

He did his bidding on all fronts, security and otherwise. And if he defected, I'm expecting and I think we might hear in the next 12 hours to 24 hours some more news, some of his closest aides are already in the city of Djerba, which is right on the border of Tunisia. So I think that's a -- that's a prelude to a lot of these defections.

SPITZER: You know, Moussa Koussa was the head of the intelligence service that targeted all sorts of dissidents, both domestically within Libya and externally.

TARHOUNI: Yes.

SPITZER: Were you ever on one of those lists?

TARHOUNI: Yes, I was. And he was responsible for that list. What an irony.

SPITZER: So will you still welcome him into your provisional government if he calls you and says he wants to switch sides?

TARHOUNI: Not in the provisional government. Not even close to that. We welcome the fact that he has said that he's not supporting the regime, and that's the end of that. We don't welcome him in the provisional government. We don't welcome him in any official capacity. We don't want to negotiate with him.

And the legality that is related to Moussa Koussa either domestically or internationally will be a due process in time. But he is definitely not welcome even close to the liberated areas or any part of it.

SPITZER: Should he be the subject of an inquiry and a case brought by the International Criminal Court in your opinion?

TARHOUNI: I have no doubt about that. I think that the -- you know, the recent matters for the future, there is a long list -- yet this is a regime for 42 years that basically robbed, killed, maimed, indiscriminately, not only Libyans but neighbors. This is only regime, by the way, for my country, the United States, that we're -- we have him -- we are documenting that he bombed civilian airplanes.

So I think there's a long list internally and externally, but I'm not really worried about this now. My worry now, my responsibility is to marshal all the economic resources that I have at my disposal to liberate the rest of Libya and hopefully the resolve to bring some form of democracy and institutional government, the rule of law, the respect to the international law, and then, trust me, we have time to heal wounds and also to bring justice for a lot of the Libyans who suffered injustice.

SPITZER: You know I just have to ask this question. In a couple of weeks you've gone from being an economics professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, to being the minister of oil and finance and economics in a new government in Libya.

What is that like? Day to day, are you waking up some days and saying how did this happen?

TARHOUNI: Yes. Whenever I have time to. I think -- I think the truth is that the hectic schedule that I keep so far are preventing me from thinking about it. And I -- I honestly think about it when I'm asked that question. And then I realize that I don't really want to think about it. Realizing the responsibility that I have, the decision that I make now.

And keep in mind we still don't have these well-organized institutions, but I find it to be as smooth as I, you know, thought in my dreams. I'm in -- you know, in my birth country. I'm not overwhelmed. I'm tired, but I'm not overwhelmed.

SPITZER: All right. Well, good luck with all your endeavors, Minister, and professor at the same time. Thank you so much for joining us today.

TARHOUNI: Thank you very much. Thank you, Eliot.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SPITZER: You know, Ali Tarhouni is a fascinating guy with an amazing story. And if he's representative of the government over there that's going to form bodes well for who they are and what they stand for.

Anyway, E.D. and Will, what do you guys first have tonight?

E.D. HILL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm going to follow up on the line of questioning you had there about Moussa Koussa. He has -- you know, he fled Libya yesterday. He is sitting in London right now.

This I a guy that everybody says have a lot of blood on his hands. Should he immediately be jailed and prosecuted or should he be used as a key witness against Gadhafi, and perhaps give President Obama the opening he may want to actually put boots on the ground simply to nab Gadhafi?

SPITZER: We need to find out what he knows first, then figure it out. All right.

HILL: We'll discuss that.

SPITZER: Will?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Got a grim story from Japan. They're having trouble collecting the dead around the Fukushima nuclear plant. We'll have a live report -- due to high radiation levels. We'll talk to somebody in Tokyo tonight about that.

SPITZER: Yes, it is grisly and just shocking and staggering. All right. Look forward to it.

In a moment, the man who led the United States and Europe into Libya. Don't miss it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Sometimes all it takes to start a war or to stop a massacre is one person. When the world was waffling about what to do in Libya it was one man who lobbied French President Nicolas Sarkozy to recognize the opposition council as Libya's legitimate government and to bring France's military power to bear against Gadhafi.

And Sarkozy listened which paved the way for the international military response to Gadhafi's aggression. Who is that one man? Bernard-Henri Levy, a hugely influential author, journalist and philosopher in his native France where he's universally known by his initials DHL.

He joins us tonight.

Welcome and thank you for being here. So tell us the story. You were actually in Benghazi. Why were you there and how did this sequence of events occur?

BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, FRENCH AUTHOR, JOURNALIST: Yes, I was in Benghazi because as often in my life I wanted to see things myself with my own eyes and on the ground.

I wanted to write stories for newspapers and I was witness of certain number of things. Witness of the anxiety of the people of Benghazi waiting for the bloodbath. Really, they knew that the revenge of Gadhafi would be terrible.

I was witness of the distress, the misery, the un-equipment of the fighting -- the fighters in Brega, for example, which was at this time retaken by the rebels.

SPITZER: So this is during the actual combat? This is --

LEVY: During the --

SPITZER: Correct.

LEVY: Three weeks ago, yes. Three weeks ago. The -- and balance between on one side, the loyal troops who were so strong with heavy military equipment and the young fighters who never had a gun in their hands and who had to face that with nearly bare hands. And I had the chance to see the people of the transitional council, Mr. Mustapha Abdul Jalil, Mister --

(CROSSTALK)

SPITZER: Mr. Jalil who had been -- he'd been the justice minister under Gadhafi for a long time.

LEVY: Absolutely. Mr. Tarhouni, whom we just saw a few minutes ago. And I spoke with these men and women. There was one woman in the group. She's already known. And I felt that they were good people, responsible, and so on. So I did what --

SPITZER: Did you call your president? I mean this doesn't happen to normal people. Mr. President, I have an idea.

LEVY: I call -- yes, I call my president from Benghazi. And I told him that. A bloodbath threatening young fighters completely with nothing in hands and a political council worth being helped.

And I told him also that on my opinion Gadhafi had lost any sort of authority to represent any longer the Libyan people. So I ask him on the phone, would you receive, Mr. President --

(CROSSTALK) SPITZER: You said something else. You said there are French flags flying here and there will be blood on the French flag if we don't act.

LEVY: Exactly. Because --

SPITZER: What did you mean by that?

LEVY: Because one day before -- Sarkozy, first of all, accepted the principle of receiving and hosting some emissaries of these free Libyan council. But before receiving them, he made the first gesture which was to salute, to greet, to pay homage to the birth of this council.

And at this moment, there was French flags all over the city or at least all over the colonies which is a road going --

SPITZER: Let's fast forward this. Let's fast forward this. Because there's so much more to the story. He gets them -- you go to Paris, he then recognizes the government --

LEVY: And I tell him, I tell him absolutely. I tell him there is French flags today in Benghazi. If there is a bloodbath, the blood of the people of Benghazi will go on the French side --

SPITZER: You made a moral argument to him.

LEVY: Not only I made the moral argument, I spoke with my heart. I spoke with my consciousness, and I -- it was a conversation from one heart to another heart. He is president of France, but he's a man --

SPITZER: And he then did this without even speaking so, we're told, to his foreign minister, to the leadership of his party? You must be one persuasive advocate.

LEVY: Not -- that is not the point. I think that he knew -- he understood that if he began to put everybody in the story, nothing would happen. You know, bureaucracy, administration, European partners --

SPITZER: So what you're saying --

LEVY: So what -- Mrs. Merkel did after -- how she tried to block the process. Just imagine if Sarkozy had told her before. She would have done even more.

SPITZER: So he acted when other people spoke. He moved when the U.N. was dithering. You can -- don't need to be so polite. And the consequence of this was that by leading, everybody else followed -- the United Nations, the United States.

LEVY: Yes.

SPITZER: Britain. Now let's fast forward. How was it turning out? You see what is happening. The opposition forces still outnumbered, no arms. LEVY: What happened --

SPITZER: What do we do?

LEVY: What happened is not war. It's stopping a bloodbath. We did that. We, France, America, England, Arab League. We must not forget that it is -- it was an operation demanded by the Arab League. We stopped the bloodbath.

SPITZER: The morality of that unambiguous. And I've been all for it. But here's the question. Is the objective just to have saved Benghazi, or is it to unseat Gadhafi, who is behind this bloodbath?

LEVY: Of course the implicit objective is to unseat Gadhafi. The explicit objective is to prevent attacks on civilians.

SPITZER: That's what the U.N. mandate says. But putting flesh on that --

LEVY: Yes.

SPITZER: I want to quote to you what the secretary of defense in the United States said today and then we can discuss it. He said, "You could have a situation in which you achieve the military goal but do not achieve the political goal."

Military goal, save the civilians, political goal, getting rid of Gadhafi. You have this tension here. And right now it's an uneasy tension. What should we do now? Should we arm the opposition?

LEVY: I think we should first of all listen more to Mrs. Clinton than Mr. Gates. She was right from the beginning.

SPITZER: Right.

LEVY: And I am also witness of that.

SPITZER: Right.

LEVY: Number one. Number two, we should act by joining political and military targets. The two are completely the same. We cannot say that we will achieve our military target --

SPITZER: So what is -- what does the target --

(CROSSTALK)

LEVY: There is no solution -- no solution without Gadhafi out.

SPITZER: Go. So how do we do that?

LEVY: Of course.

SPITZER: Are we arming them now? You have said -- are we getting arms to the opposition through Egypt?

LEVY: It is very difficult for an intellectual to ask for arms but like you --

SPITZER: You're not playing intellectual now, you're just playing diplomat.

LEVY: Like in Sarajevo 17 years ago, you cannot accept with a warm heart to see such an imbalance on one side, some tanks who can shoot 20 kilometers on the other side. Some are --

SPITZER: So what do we do? So do we send -- do we send them troops?

LEVY: No. Troops is absolutely excluded by the mandate.

SPITZER: We are running out of time but I want to --

LEVY: Nobody wants troops.

SPITZER: No, no. The spokesman for the opposition today said that they were open to foreign troops.

LEVY: I know. But the Arab League, the African Union, the European countries and America said clearly this war is the contrary of the Iraqi war. It is a --

SPITZER: The converse?

LEVY: The opposite.

SPITZER: Right.

LEVY: The opposite. It is an operation blessed by the community of nations, blessed by the area, the Arab League and so on. So we have to stay in the mandate, no boots on the ground, but to correct the imbalance.

SPITZER: OK, but let me give you a hard time here. Because I'm with you with all this. But we've corrected the imbalance as best we can without sending them arms and troops, and they're still losing. Let's not kid ourselves. They're still losing.

LEVY: I think we will be obliged and maybe we are already obliged to deliver some weapons. Yes.

SPITZER: OK, so we deliver weapons, and if Egypt says -- if Egypt says you know what, we have some troops who can join you, we are all Arabs seeking to overthrow autocrats, would that be the right thing for Egypt to do? Difficult for France, can Egypt do it?

LEVY: Of course. Of course. And I can tell you that in Egypt, in the population of Egypt, you have a lot of real people who think that. Who think that to achieve their own revolution means to be of the values of this revolution to their brothers beyond the border.

SPITZER: Do I need to remind you of all people when we here in this country fought a revolutionary war, we had foreign troops on our side, right? From Mr. Lafayette -- from France. LEVY: That's right. From France.

SPITZER: So this is not unheard of. Revolutionary wars, you get assistance.

LEVY: Absolutely. And the Arab -- and the Arabs know this story. They know the American history. They know the French history. They know how when we did our revolution, we exported the values of our revolution.

SPITZER: Right.

LEVY: And --

SPITZER: Our revolution came first but that's OK.

LEVY: Yours was --

SPITZER: And we'll fight over that some other day.

LEVY: Seminal -- the stem cell of the revolution of modernity.

SPITZER: But what would happen if western troops went into Libya? That would be a problem.

LEVY: I don't think it nobody wishes that because it would turn this war into a western war. It will be seen by the Arab world as a sort of repetition of the Iraqi war. It would not be good. But -- and more -- Nicolas Sarkozy told me very clearly to the emissaries of the free Libya who came to (INAUDIBLE). He told them you have to make yourself your own revolution. We French people made our revolution. American people, Sarkozy said, did their own revolution, too. You will do it.

But if we -- if you ask us, we can help you to do that.

SPITZER: All right.

LEVY: And this was before -- it was two weeks ago, three weeks ago, it was before the Germany blocking the process. Maybe it was more easier this time than it is today. But it has to be a shift today. And we have to help the civilians to resist the dogs of war, the war dogs, the professional of the death of Gadhafi.

SPITZER: All right. Bernard-Henri Levy, philosopher, author, diplomat -- world diplomat no less. All right, thank you so much for coming in.

Coming up, the latest news from the crisis in Japan. And like many a night before this, it's not good. We'll go live to Tokyo coming right up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Disturbing new developments out of Japan tonight. Will Cain joins me now with the latest. CAIN: Eliot, reports of contaminated beef near that crippled nuclear plant are causing some fears. And meanwhile radiation levels in the seawater next to the plant are skyrocketing.

Officials have detected high levels of cesium in the beef around the Fukushima prefecture. The first such finding since the nuclear crisis began. Meantime officials have not been able to determine the source of the leak contaminating the seawater now measuring 4,000 times the legal limit.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in Tokyo tonight.

Martin, we just said that officials are having trouble figuring out what's causing radiation levels to skyrocket in the seawater. Have you heard any new news on that?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, you know, this has been a conversation that's been going on, and the rates have been dramatically rising for a couple of days. And yet the company still seems to be at a loss to explain how in the world it's getting into the ocean.

Now a number of unnamed sources to CNN had said that they do realize that whatever is getting into the ocean is fuel. In other words, it's either fuel from a reactor or it's fuel coming from these spent fuel rods. They don't know which. But they definitely know that it's getting in in a fairly continuous rate.

But they can't figure out the channel by which it's going from a damaged reactor, say, into the ocean itself. They definitely know it's not coming from the air because they haven't had a lot of rain up there, and yet the levels have continued to rise. So it's got to be seepage, but from where they just don't know.

CAIN: On that same note there's now reports that radiation levels have spiked 25 miles away from the plant. Now the current evacuation zone is only 19 miles around the plant. Is there any talk of expanding that evacuation zone?

SAVIDGE: Well, the evacuation zone is actually 20 kilometers, so it'd be more like 12 miles around the plant. It's been in place almost since the very beginning of this disaster that they've been dealing with. And it's the International Atomic Energy Agency that discovered higher levels beyond that 12-mile exclusion zone.

They actually found it up to 40 kilometers which I think if you do the math is about 24 miles. So that is worrisome, no doubt about it. The government says, look, we feel very comfortable with where we have the exclusion zone at 20 kilometers, 12 miles. They said there is no plan to extend it.

But the IAEA is saying, you know what, you really ought to consider expanding it. But they can't order the Japanese government to do so, so right now it's staying where it is.

SPITZER: You know, Martin -- this is Eliot. One of the things that I keep waiting to hear from either TEPCO, the company that runs these plants, or the Japanese government is sort of a long-range strategy. What are they planning to do? Where are they going to be six months from now, a year from now?

You know we had a renowned physicist on our show who suggested they do what they did in Chernobyl, just bury the whole thing in concrete. Is there some sort of dramatic step that they're going to take or that they should be thinking about that isn't even in the sort of spectrum of options that they're thinking about now?

SAVIDGE: Well, unfortunately to be blunt, Eliot, the company is trying to figure out where they're going to be in the next 24 hours from now. They really have not had a handle on long-range forecasting here because they are simply trying to maintain what is going on at that plant. Trying to keep things under control. But long-term strategies, yes, somebody is thinking about them.

Here's the other thing to keep in mind here. You know the cooling down process and that is, once you've got these reactors semi stabilized, and they are not at that point yet. But the cooling down process is not something that's going to take weeks. Not even something that's going to take months. It is estimated it is going to take years. Now we are talking three to give years before you get to a cold shutdown of the reactors out there.

Now that's what some scientists are saying. So the long-term thinking needs to be planned at some point, but the company right now is very focused on let's just get under control three reactors that are not quite there yet.

CAIN: Martin, speaking of dramatic measures, there is a Japanese newspaper suggesting that the Japanese government is considering taking over at least a portion of Tokyo Electric and Power Company, the company that owns these nuclear power plants. Have you heard any news on that front?

SAVIDGE: Well, Will, this has been discussed in a couple of different circles for a couple of days now. And for some very obvious reasons. Number one, the financial tab for TEPCO is just continuing to skyrocket. Everything that they are on the hook for that many say, you know, from the evacuees that have been pushed out of that exclusion zone, to the damage that's been done, to the reactors themselves, to the liabilities to the farmers and to the economy, and on and on and on and on. So basically what has been said is that, look, this bill is going to run higher than the company is even worth, so the government is going to have to step in and back them up.

Well, to one extent will the government step in. Some say that could become a minority partner. Others have said no, it's going to go all the way and be a majority partner. Some say it's going to be sort of a virtual nationalization.

Here's the problem for the government. If you step in and you say, all right, we're going to take over TEPCO, are you really going do a better job than what TEPCO is doing now? And if you don't do a better job the one TEPCO is doing now, the backlash from the public is going to be huge. So there is some tremendous pitfalls here politically for this government to step in and say, all right, we're going to take things over because it's not clear that the government would do any better. So right now, it has been talk. It's been the subject of conversations in newspapers, but the government says, hey, we're more focused on getting the disaster reined in. We'll think about a takeover maybe later.

CAIN: Martin Savidge live from Tokyo. Thank you, Martin.

SPITZER: When we come back, with everything happening overseas, it's easy to forget there's a potential crisis at home. I'll ask Tea Party favorite, Congressman Mike Pence, if a government shutdown is a real possibility. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Politicians in Washington tonight are working overtime to prevent a government shutdown. Vice President Biden says they're close to a budget deal, while House Speaker Boehner says not so fast. Meanwhile, Tea Party faithful had their say today outside the capitol. The rally included Republican darling Indiana Representative Mike Pence. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: If liberals in the Senate would rather play political games and shut down the government instead of making a small down payment on fiscal discipline and reform, I say shut it down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SPITZER: Congressman Mike Pence joins me now.

Congressman, it is always good to chat with you. So I hear today you had a good time in front of a rally of your Tea Party loyalists and you said you are ready to pick a fight. So I'm just asking, are you picking a fight with your own party or with the Democrats at this point?

PENCE: You know, this is really -- this is really a fight with liberals in the Senate. The House Republicans have done their work. We found a way to take spending this year below pre-stimulus, pre- bailout levels that required $61 billion in budget cuts. We also defunded Obamacare, defunded Planned Parenthood. We sent that to the Senate already once. We're going to send it to them again.

SPITZER: Well, Congressman, you know I'm going to hold your feet to the fire because I wrote an article last week saying the president should say we're going to shut down the government unless you guys came forward with real proposals to do what you've been claiming you want to do which is to reform the government. I haven't seen anything in that $61 billion that you talk about that talks about social security, Medicaid, Medicare, or defense. You're offering to cut $61 billion when we have a deficit of $1.6 trillion.

PENCE: Right.

SPITZER: So this is nothing more than window dressing. Let's get to the meat and potatoes here. What are you going to do on social security to change that system right now?

PENCE: Well, look, this is -- this is not a lot to write home about. $61 billion against the $1.65 trillion deficit. It isn't the big lifting, but it's keeping our promise. It's an important first step. It's important that House Republicans --

SPITZER: But wait a minute --

PENCE: -- keep our word with the American people, but we'll get to what you're talking about.

SPITZER: I'm waiting --

PENCE: Within the next couple of weeks, you're going to see Republicans do what Democrats didn't do in the last Congress. We're going to produce a budget.

SPITZER: Wait a minute.

PENCE: And we're going to have entitlement reform in that budget. So I promise to come back on and talk to you about that then. Right now, we're trying to keep our word to the American people.

SPITZER: Wait. Your promise to the American people is you're going to balance the budget. You're not even willing to raise -- to vote to raise the debt limit. We'll get to that in just a moment.

I haven't heard a word from the leadership of your party about the things that really matter here. I don't want to hear about nondefense discretionary spending, 12 percent of the budget that is irrelevant to the ones driving the deficit. You and I both know the numbers. I want to hear are you going to rein in defense spending? Are you willing to cut a few hundred billion dollars out of defense, yes or no?

PENCE: Look, you may have forgotten we have this thing called the Pledge to America.

SPITZER: I've read it.

PENCE: We included very specific promises to the American people. This $61 billion in cuts represents us keeping a major promise of the Pledge to America to the American people. I think keeping your promise is important. I think finding budget cuts this year and making good on those promises is vitally important.

But I want to stipulate to you, you're absolutely right. This is nothing more than a down payment on fiscal discipline. The only way we're really going to change the fiscal direction of our national government is if we get serious about spending across the board. We look for savings in discretionary spending. We look for savings even in defense spending, and we look to reform entitlements. And Republicans are going to produce a budget that lays out a template for beginning the process of reforming entitlements and saving our nation from the sea of red ink.

SPITZER: Look, Congressman, I've been waiting for months to get the specifics on that. A down payment in the world of business where I come from usually requires about 10 percent.

PENCE: Right.

SPITZER: You're not even making a down payment.

PENCE: Right.

SPITZER: And frankly, I don't want to parse the words --

PENCE: And it's too much for Harry Reid.

SPITZER: Look, let's pivot for just a little bit. Let's talk about Bowles-Simpson. Bowles-Simpson which garnered some bipartisan support --

PENCE: Yes.

SPITZER: -- does that begin in your mind to make those serious cuts? They did real things when it came to tax policy, Medicare, Medicaid, social security and defense? What was wrong with their sort of bipartisan -- they made the hard decisions.

PENCE: You know, I -- look, we may have accidentally found some agreement here. There was an awful lot --

SPITZER: You and I both --

PENCE: -- in the Bowles-Simpson -- in the Bowles-Simpson commission that I thought was very admirable. I thought both sides of the aisle came together, did serious work. I think that's why it's mystifying that the president included not one proposal from his own spending commission in the budget that he sent to Capitol Hill. We're not going to make that mistake when Republicans produce our budget, and you're going to see a lot of the kind of bold ideas, maybe not specifically the same, but you're going to deal with all the areas of the federal government that's going to be in that budget.

SPITZER: What I want to do is talk about the big picture issues, tax reform. Are you going to come in with something about tax reform? We have a situation here with G.E. which made enormous profits last year, a great company, but they paid no taxes. Is that fair and is that equitable? Are you going to do something on the tax side, the revenue side, to make it more equitable as part of this? Because you're cutting money from poor people left and right, which I disagree with. You know we disagree. Are you going to do something on the tax equity side?

PENCE: Well, I don't know if it will be specifically part of the budget -- the budget is about spending and the revenue is a piece of that. But I think you're going to see Republicans -- I personally am in favor of a flat tax for individuals and corporations, eliminating the loopholes. You remember the president actually talked about lowering the corporate tax rate but doing away with a lot of the loopholes that allow many corporations to pay no taxes whatsoever. So, I think we're going to have those conversations.

SPITZER: I want to come back to politics for a minute.

PENCE: Yes.

SPITZER: Are you going to threaten to actually close down the government and deny your speaker, Speaker Boehner, the votes he needs to get a compromise through unless he gets up to $61 billion in cuts?

PENCE: Well, look, it's not about denying things among Republicans. I think the question here is whether or not Harry Reid wants to shut down the government or whether he wants to accept what is a small down payment on fiscal discipline in the form of the bill that we've sent him now. We'll send him again tomorrow. Nobody wants to shut down the government. But if we don't take a stand right now for -- to begin to turn the ship of state back toward fiscal solvency, we're going to shut down the future for our children and grandchildren, and that would be a lot worse.

SPITZER: All right, Congressman, I know you have to run. We're going to continue this conversation. Look forward to those details you promised. Thanks for showing up.

PENCE: Count on it. Thanks.

SPITZER: My pleasure.

It's always a great time talking to Congressman Pence. He and I do not agree on a whole lot, but it's always a great conversation.

All right. Coming up next, journalists do not like to get in the middle of the stories they cover but that's exactly what happened to four "New York Times" journalists kidnapped in Libya. Anderson Cooper takes up inside their unbelievable tale when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Captured by Gadhafi's forces, bound, beaten, and threatened with death. Throughout the Arab uprising, journalists from CNN and around the globe have put their lives on the line to document this remarkable story. But few have suffered the nightmare faced by four journalists from "The New York Times." Anderson Cooper sat down with those brave reporters today. He joins us now with their chilling tale -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's really remarkable. These are four incredibly experienced war correspondents, photographers, and they were captured basically trying to get out of the city of Ajdabiya as Gadhafi forces moved in. They found themselves not only captured by Gadhafi forces but then literally caught in the middle of crossfire between Gadhafi forces and opposition forces. Basically threatened with death, they were at one point all had to lie on their stomachs, bound, and they were sure at that moment they were going to get killed.

One of them -- one of the photographers, Lynsey Addario, was repeatedly groped by the various groups of Gadhafi militia, who they found themselves in the hands of. And I talked to them extensively tonight. We're going to play that tonight on "360." But I just want to play one little bit where she talks about being in the back of a pickup truck, put in the back of a pickup truck with her hands bound behind her back and show you what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Lynsey, you weren't spared any different treatment because you were a woman?

LYNSEY ADDARIO, "NEW YORK TIMES" PHOTOGRAPHER: I think I was spared -- I was punched in the face twice.

COOPER: While you were bound?

ADDARIO: Yes, while I was bound. The first time was right at the beginning when they took us. They put Steve and I in one car, and they lifted me up first. Two men picked me up and put me in the car. And this was before Steve got in. And I remember I was sitting in the car and I'm bound, and they had bound my hands so tight they were starting to go numb. And I'm sitting there, and my hair was falling in my face, and you can't do anything. You know, it was really irritating me. And I was sitting there sort of blowing the wisps of hair out of my face. And this guy came up next to me, and my instinct was that, oh, he's going to help me. And he just punched me in the side of the face. And to me, I've never been punched in the face before. I mean, it actually was -- I was really surprised. I thought, wow, that's strange. Then I started crying because I thought, it's only going to get worse. This is just -- you know, we're in the first 15 minutes. You know, this could last months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Within the first 15 minutes, I mean, they thought they were going to die in those first 15 minutes. And really for the next three days, they had no idea what was going to happen. They were ultimately held for four more days in addition to that. But it was really those first three days that we focus on in the interview.

SPITZER: You know, it is harrowing. The story they tell they were bound, they were facedown, guns pointed at their heads. What did they think saved them at the end of the day?

COOPER: Well, one of the -- in fact, one of them spoke Arabic. They believed their driver may have already been shot. They don't know what happened to him, but they did see a body on the side of the road by the vehicle. But one of the reporters did speak Arabic. And he heard one soldier say "shoot them" when they were down. And they had been arguing with the soldiers trying to not get on the ground, full on face down on their stomachs because they felt once they were face down on the ground, they thought that was it. They would just be shot. So they agreed to go down onto their knees, but they were kind of begging and trying to use whatever they could to kind of bargain, to not actually lie face down because they felt that would surely be the end. And finally, when they were forced to be face down, one of the soldiers said "shoot them." And another soldier said after a few seconds, "you can't do that, they're American." And they think that it was simply that. That the idea that, you know, they're American and there will be some sort of repercussion for these low-level militia members if they decide to shoot Americans.

SPITZER: But as you point out, their driver, they think, may very well have been shot. And he was Arabic.

COOPER: Right.

SPITZER: The only thing that saved them is this latent fear that Gadhafi's forces may have had. You shoot Americans, something bad may happen to you.

COOPER: Right. Without some sort of order from above, they had no doubt that these people wanted to kill them and were willing to kill them. And, I mean, not only were they punched repeatedly, you know, hit with rifle butts in the back of the head. One of them was head-butted. You know, the female photographer who you just saw was repeatedly groped, I mean, by just about every group of men that they would be handed off to. In fact, she talked about one time this man, one of the militia members, stroking her head very kind of gently and almost tenderly. And all the while he was repeating this phrase, and he was speaking Arabic, she didn't understand. And so she turned -- she turned to Anthony, one of the other reporters and said, "what is he saying?" And he said, "what he's saying is that you're going to die tonight." And that was, you know, day two.

SPITZER: There is a ruthlessness and a lawlessness about it that is absolutely shocking. Almost an anarchic society with nothing sane going on any moment.

COOPER: Yes, they really have the sense after being, you know, held for some seven days that this is all just disparate groups really without any kind of central organization.

SPITZER: All right, Anderson. We're looking forward to the entire interview. It's quite a story and it will be on "ANDERSON AC 360" tonight, 10:00. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SPITZER: Despite the intelligence he can provide about Gadhafi, the Libyan foreign minister who defected this week is by all accounts a very bad guy. There are a lot of people who would like to see him pay for his past including the families of the Pan Am 103 bombing victims. E.D. Hill is here with me now, and she's talking to a man who represents some of those families -- E.D.

E.D. HILL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Eliot, it has been 22 years since Pan Am 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. And now a man many say was intimately involved is that is sitting in London. And a whole lot of people want to talk to him. Frank Duggan joins us. He represents many of the victims' families.

Frank, thank you for being with us.

FRANK DUGGAN, PRESIDENT, VICTIMS OF PAN AM 103: Happy to be here.

HILL: Moussa Koussa was the foreign minister but also the intelligence chief in Libya. What was his connection to the Lockerbie bombing?

DUGGAN: Well, the intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies have said for years that he was the mastermind behind it. We know that he was behind a series of murders and kidnappings of Libyan dissidents around the world. He confessed to certain murders when he was in London. He was removed as foreign minister in London in 1980. But the Lockerbie bombing was 1988. He was -- from everybody who knows about this case says he was the mastermind behind it.

HILL: So he was removed from London, now he has just arrived via private plane back at a RAF airport in England. The U.K. says that it has not given him asylum. So if that's true, based on what you just told me, shouldn't he have been arrested the second he got off that plane?

DUGGAN: Well, one of the problems that we have is we don't know really what the arrangement was. You don't just fly into an RAF base in London without all sorts of previous arrangements being made. Some promises had to have been made to him. The British government says that they have not offered immunity, which I understand they'd be crazy if they offered him immunity. But even if they did offer immunity, that doesn't make him immune from anything that the U.S. government might want to do or perhaps an international criminal court. But he has a lot of information that a lot of us want to know about. And I for one am hopeful that he could have answer an awful lot of questions.

HILL: Yes.

DUGGAN: I mean, he's -- he knows who ordered the bombing of that plane. He knows who made the bomb, who paid for the bomb. He knows how the bomb was transferred to Malta. He also knows a great deal about the diplomatic arrangement when the one bomber was released from prison in Scotland last year.

HILL: Wasn't that the bomber that was supposed to die in three months and he's still alive and kicking?

DUGGAN: Yes. And Moussa Koussa was -- by this point he's taken off his terrorism hat, and he's being a good guy hat. And he was the go-to person for all diplomatic relations with Libya.

HILL: That's just what burns me, you know. I guess -- I just don't understand the way -- that's why I'd never make a politician. It just drives me crazy when I'm watching TV and I see this guy just strolling around, and everybody's, you know, greeting him like this big man. And, you know, he's a confessed murder.

DUGGAN: Yes.

HILL: He is intimately involved in the killing of almost 200 Americans. And now this is what I hear. I hear the back channel sources saying that he helped the U.S. on counterterrorism. So --

DUGGAN: He was helpful in a number of areas. Not only counterterrorism --

HILL: How?

DUGGAN: Well, he turned over a lot of information about terrorist activities. He ratted out, for example, the IRA, that they'd been supporting for years. He told the British government who they had been supplying these explosives to in the IRA. And after 9/11, he was very helpful in turning over the weapons of mass destruction that Libya had. And they clearly had it. We didn't believe it for a long while they had anything worthwhile, but they did. He was involved in that, and he was the diplomatic person you dealt with. And our State Department and the British foreign office had to hold their nose when they dealt with him because they know his background.

There was a part of George Tenet's book that he talked about this surreal life that we have to lead in the CIA where we had to make pleasantries with the likes of Moussa Koussa who we know masterminded the bombing of Pan Am 103.

HILL: Yes. And that seems to be or having to do, hold your nose and get on with international diplomacy.

Frank Duggan, thank you very much for joining us.

DUGGAN: Happy to be here.

HILL: We certainly hope the best for the families.

DUGGAN: Thank you.

HILL: Eliot.

SPITZER: You know, it is amazing, E.D. Those are the sorts of very hard choices that have to be made. You shouldn't forget it was under President Bush that relations with Gadhafi were normalized. And that was done because Gadhafi ended his nuclear program and in fact Moussa Koussa was part of those negotiations, as well, turning over an entire nuclear program. So these --

HILL: Wall Street the line, though?

SPITZER: Well, these are --

HILL: When you go from killing Americans to helping us enough that we say forgive and forget? SPITZER: You never say forgive and forget. What you do is make the practical decisions. That's what the Bush administration did in normalizing relations with Gadhafi, which at that time was deemed the right thing to do.

Anyway, E.D., thank you.

Good night from New York. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.