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CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Joe Lieberman; Conflict in Middle East Intensifies

Aired August 09, 2006 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, Israel suffers its bloodiest day yet on the battlefield and its biggest ground onslaught could be next. But the United States say no more escalation.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah's leader backs Lebanon's plan for troops in the south and warns Arabs in Haifa, northern Israel, to evacuate as the death toll tops 900. When will the bloodshed end?

We'll have an intense debate between liberal and conservative radio stars and the very latest with reporters at the front lines.

Plus, three-term Senator Joe Lieberman on his devastating primary defeat last night and why it still won't stop him from running.

That's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: Good evening everybody.

We begin tonight with our team of reporters covering the Middle East crisis. In northern Israel, Senior National Correspondent John Roberts; Senior International Anchor and Correspondent Jim Clancy stands by in Beirut; and in our Washington studios Chief National Correspondent John King.

First, to John Roberts, John on Paula Zahn's program preceding this one you said this could all be over the fighting by Sunday, yet today we have evidence of the bloodiest day for the Israeli military. The Israelis apparently approve an expansion of the war. Why Sunday?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well that was just an opinion if of one soldier that I talked to, Larry, who was kind of reading the tea leaves and thinking that maybe this could be over by that time but a lot of other indications are pointing exactly the other way.

The diplomatic track is faltering right now. There's this new threat from Israel to expand the ground campaign and soldiers are dying in higher numbers than ever before, a terrible day for Israel.

Four soldier died in the town of Aita Al-Shaab, nine died in a house in the town of (INAUDIBLE) and it just seems to be getting worse. And if they expand the ground campaign, if they push deeper into Lebanon with more troops, it's likely that that death toll is going to increase.

But the thing that gives that one soldier I talked to optimism that this could be over soon is that the Israelis are holding off on expanding the ground campaign, simply using this for the moment as a threat to the Lebanese leadership to say "This is what awaits you if you don't agree to an end to hostilities."

So they still are giving the diplomatic track more time. Maybe they had some inside information that things may break soon. For the moment we just -- they're just continuing with the campaign which is very intense I must say.

For the last 30 hours there's been a very, very intense firefight raging in the valley and the hills behind me. But for the moment they are giving diplomacy a chance -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, John. John will be checking in with us and we with him throughout the program.

Jim Clancy is in Beirut. What's the situation in Lebanon tonight? Are the Lebanese braced for an all out attack from Israel?

JIM CLANCY, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I would say that the Lebanese are braced for it but they don't want to see it come. Larry, when you look at Lebanon, the veil has really been torn away by this conflict. Lebanon isn't really going to have peace until it steps up and takes control of its own security, disarms the militias inside the country, and unless and until the countries in this region stop using Lebanon for a battlefield.

And, I'm talking about Syria. I'm talking about Iran. And, I'm talking about Israel. All of these countries have used for the past four decades this country as a battleground. Its civilians, as we have seen so graphically in recent days, have been paying that price -- Larry.

KING: What about -- what did Nasrallah have to say today?

CLANCY: Well, Nasrallah, it was rather interesting. Nasrallah came on television and you know he's very slick. He is extremely well spoken, calm, cool, collected. He comes on. He never makes a promise that he doesn't think he can keep.

At the same time, he was issuing threats, telling Israel southern Lebanon was going to be a graveyard, telling the Arabs that live in Haifa they had better evacuate. He was offering, if you will, some glimmer that there was the possibility of peace because he said he was supporting the seven-point plan being put forward by the government.

What does that do? Well that offers the possibility that if Israel withdraws and Lebanon deploys its army down there on the border that's already a political settlement, a settlement that means that Hezbollah will step back.

But, Larry, there's a lot of those seven points that Israel doesn't agree with, for instance turning over the Shebaa Farms region to the United Nations until its status, does it belong to Lebanon, does it belong to Syria or should the Israelis remain there? All of that has to be decided. So there's a lot of ifs in all of that promise of peace.

KING: Can we say, Jim, that Israel's hard line remains intact?

CLANCY: Well, Israel's hard line remains intact but if you're Ehud Olmert, you know, the prime minister of Israel, you have to be asking yourself, and I'm sure some Israelis, if they weren't caught up in the conflict right now, we all know the Israelis come together in a conflict like this but they've got to be wondering.

At the outset of all of this they were offered a deal. We'll exchange the prisoners. And the answer for the prime minister's office was, "Well, we don't exchange prisoners." Well everybody knows that isn't true and, in fact, Shimon Peres came on CNN just a few days ago and said, "We're always ready to exchange prisoners."

If all of this ends, as part of that Lebanese plan, with a prisoner exchange between Israel and Lebanon I think a lot of people are going to be asking what was all this loss of life about?

KING: Jim Clancy will be returning with John Roberts along with our panel in a couple of minutes.

John King is in our D.C. bureau, he's CNN's Chief National Correspondent, any progress on that U.N. resolution? I hate to give a little smile but this seems endless.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It does, Larry. Last night at this time we were talking about how it looked like the plan for a vote on Thursday would collapse because of differences between the United States and France and, unfortunately, we were right. There will be no vote tomorrow. They are still hoping to have a vote on Friday.

But there are a number of key things they're trying to still work out. Number one is the Arab nations have said the Israelis should pull out immediately if you have a cessation of hostilities.

Well, the United States says no. That won't work. You'll create a vacuum. Hezbollah can get new weapons, can rearm. So, they're trying to negotiate some triggers, if you will. As the Lebanese Army moves south as it reaches certain points, the Israeli Army would pull out.

But there's a big hang up and it's not just between Lebanon and Israel. We understand tonight that there are some differences between the United States and France about how quickly that international force would go in.

The French apparently saying they don't want it to go in until the Israelis are gone and the United States saying, no way that the international force has to go in to help the Lebanese Army to make sure that Hezbollah does not rearm and that Hezbollah does not violate the ceasefire agreement. So, difficult diplomacy, Larry, some interesting sub-plots.

You mentioned that speech by Nasrallah today. In that speech he did embrace the Lebanese plan to send the army into the south but he also sounded like he opposed any international force saying we will not have an army, quote "that would follow the orders of foreign countries and mercenary forces," so a potential complication there.

And a very rare public criticism from the White House of Israel today, Larry, the White House saying at this very delicate moment of diplomacy the last thing you need is an escalation in the military campaign.

KING: Thanks, John, as always atop the scene, CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King.

When we come back, John Roberts and Jim Clancy remain. We'll be joined by the former Senate Majority Leader and international peace negotiator George Mitchell.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: John Roberts remains with us in northern Israel, Jim Clancy in Beirut. And we're joined now from Northeast Harbor, Maine by George Mitchell, the former Senate Majority Leader and international peace negotiator.

George, what if they don't get the resolution at the U.N.?

GEORGE MITCHELL, FMR. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I think then, Larry, there will be an escalation and this thing will go on much longer with many more people killed. But I think it is possible.

What you're seeing now are some of the complexities of the situation emerging. Take specifically the United States and France. They want to work together and as important they want to be seen to be working together.

However, if there is an international force, it will almost certainly not include a large American component so American boys are not likely to be at risk. It will very likely include a large French component, perhaps even led by the French. So, they have different perspectives on how much risk the international force should be put under because their own nationals are at stake.

And the second difference is that the French are historically close to the Lebanese and they want very much to accommodate the Lebanese to the extent possible, the United States, of course, trying hard to accommodate Israel as much as possible.

So, they're negotiating not just between themselves but also as proxies for participants in the conflict and it makes it extremely complex. But I think that the interest in getting something done is probably greater than the differences and I hope they'll get it done in the next few days.

KING: John Roberts, Israeli TV today reported that the IDF captured some Iranian Revolutionary Guard. What do we make of that? ROBERTS: Well, if it's true, Larry, that would be an indication that Iran very much is integrated with Hezbollah training them, giving them instructions on how to use weapons. Israel has maintained that these long -- excuse me (INAUDIBLE).

KING: What was that?

ROBERTS: Israel has -- that was a bomb, that was an Israeli bomb that was dropped on a village just north of where we are. Forgive me for pausing but it was a fairly substantial boom and the fighting is very close to us here, Larry, so we just want to make sure that we're safe.

But the Israeli military has maintained for a long time that Hezbollah and Iran are in lockstep. They're arm-in-arm with each other. They're saying, in fact, that Hezbollah can't get permission to -- can't fire those long-range rockets, the ones that hit Afula and places south of Haifa, without permission from the Iranians.

Now, we can't confirm this, of course. You know skeptics could say "Well all you have to do is get some Hezbollah fighters and you dress them up in Iranian uniforms." But at least the Israeli military is saying "Here's clear cut evidence of Iran's involvement with Hezbollah."

KING: Jim Clancy in Beirut, I understand you went to a funeral today. What was that about?

CLANCY: It was a very, very sad event and I'm telling you this was a building that had been hit on Monday evening. We covered that. And then we went out the next day and went to that building, saw some of the rescue efforts, some of the recovery effort going on. There were 29.

The death toll now is 41 people out of one building. Everybody there says there was no Hezbollah here. It's not in a Hezbollah neighborhood. It's very close to one but it is not in one. It's in what's called a (INAUDIBLE) neighborhood, a movement of hope neighborhood of the speaker of the parliament Nabih Berri.

And all of these casualties, 29 of them were laid out on the floor. People were wearing masks. It wasn't a particularly pleasant event inside that funeral hall in that sense. It was really unpleasant just seeing the faces of people.

A man that I sat down and talked to lost 12 family members. He lost his brother and his sister-in-law, their three children. He lost nephews and nieces that were grown up and they had four children of their own. He was burying a 10-day-old baby girl. And he had been featured in some of the newspapers holding her up above his head outside the rescue scene.

It was really a sad event. And then, Larry, right as they are laying, they're trying to lay the people in the ground, prayers are being said, people are all solemn, another bombing attack and two bombs fell within about 300, 400 meters of that funeral. So it was a funeral interrupted by war.

KING: George Mitchell, what do you say, and many have asked this of me, what do you say to Americans who say aside from the humanitarian side of this and people killing people what's the effect on the United States?

MITCHELL: Well it's clearly, Larry, further reducing the credibility of the United States around the world. It's already the lowest it's ever been. The fact is ironically American power is the greatest it's ever been in our history but America's standing in the world is the lowest it's ever been. And it's not just the Muslim world. It's everywhere, including our closest allies Britain and other places.

What you see, Larry, in the Middle East now is the narrative of each side taking hold and deepening. Whenever you have these conflicts there's a point of view, a narrative, and here you have the Lebanese and Israeli narratives and they almost always in conflict situations emphasize the hurt that's done to my side and minimize the hurt that's done to the other side.

That happens all the time in all cases. The task of leadership, and here it is the task of the United States, although our credibility has been impaired in recent years it's still necessary to get this job done is to understand the narrative of both sides and to find that narrow band of common ground that exists in every single conflict that you can bring the parties together on to end the violence.

Because I'll tell you it's horrific for everyone to have this violence on both sides. The problem is the more casualties you get the more the demand for revenge, the more casualties result, the more the demand for revenge.

KING: George Mitchell, thank you very much.

We'll take a break. And when we come back two of the top and more vibrant, volatile radio talk show hosts in America, Neal Boyce from Atlanta, Randy Rhodes from New York. We'll discuss Israel and this war right after this.


KING: As we've been doing every night, discussing Israel's action in the Mid East war, the pros and cons of same, joining us now in Atlanta is Neal Boortz, host of the nationally syndicated Neal Boortz Show. And, in New York, Randi Rhodes, host of the Randi Rhodes show, heard daily on Air America Radio.

All right, Neal, Israel decides to expand its military operations and loses world support. What's the advantage of that?

NEAL BOORTZ, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Well, the advantage of it is Israel's engaging in an act of self defense. I mean what do they want to do survive as a nation or garner world support? They've never really had world support. They're in a fight for their very national life right now and, if they feel they need to expand the ground operation or the air operation to vanquish the enemy, then that's exactly what they should do.

This idea of -- I heard the Senator talking about understanding the narratives. Well, Hezbollah is an arm of Iran and we understand the narrative from Iran. It's Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth. So, Israel has a right to self defense. They're exercising it.

KING: Randi, what's wrong with that?

RANDI RHODES, AIR AMERICA RADIO HOST: It's just so sad, Larry. I mean Lebanon's been used as a battleground for 40 years for various things. Follow the money. Go do some diplomacy, talk to Damascus, talk to Tehran.

Right now, you know, we can't afford to be isolated in the world and neither can Israel and I just don't understand what good can come to Israel by creating more hostility, more terrorists, more hatred.

Lebanon should be rewarded. They kicked Syria out. They were doing the right things. They had their leader assassinated. They went about having free elections, elected a moderate in Siniora, managed to get Syria out in less than a year he's been in power.

Hezbollah is part of the cabinet. They're a part of the parliament. They unanimously passed a seven-point plan to get the armed part of Hezbollah to put down their arms. Negotiations should be taking place. Why should civilians keep on dying?

I don't see how anybody benefits from this let alone the United States, who can't deliver trailers to Katrina victims but can deliver bombs on time to Israel. How is this helping?

KING: Isn't Lebanon, Neal, a kind of innocent bystander?

BOORTZ: Well, no it's not an innocent bystander. Lebanon was under United Nations mandate to disarm Hezbollah. They made absolutely no move to do so. Randi accurately says they had a plan. Well isn't that wonderful? You have a plan. No plan is good unless it is implemented. It was not. Hezbollah remained armed.

RHODES: Well, look you know let's not piddle around with the U.N.

KING: One at a time. Randi, don't interrupt, one at a time. Let Neal finish.

BOORTZ: Randi, well I'm glad she did. I'm glad she said that and she's absolutely right. Thank you, Randi, I agree. Let's not mess around with the United Nations. It is completely and absolutely worthless in this regard. It has always been anti-Israel and pretty much anti-U.S. by the way along the way.

RHODES: Then why do you use their resolutions and say this one's good but the ones that Israel doesn't follow they don't need to be followed?

BOORTZ: I'm not -- Randi, I was just doing that -- I was just doing that in response to your statement...

RHODES: You know there's no -- listen, just stop Neal.

BOORTZ: ...that Lebanon...

RHODES: Neal, Neal.

KING: One at a time!

RHODES: Neal, stop!

BOORTZ: Randi, Randi I know you like to interrupt. I listen to your show.

RHODES: People -- people are dying. People are dying, Neal.

BOORTZ: OK, go ahead.

KING: Randi, let him finish.

RHODES: And you...

BOORTZ: No, no, Larry, let Randi talk. Randi's not interested in listening. Let her talk.

RHODES: You know, Neal, I've heard you call every Muslim a rag head. I've heard you, you know, say horrible things about Mohammad (ph). This doesn't help us in the world do you understand?

BOORTZ: Now, Randi -- Randi, I'll tell you what.

RHODES: This is really critical (INAUDIBLE). It's not fun anymore, OK.

BOORTZ: Randi...

RHODES: If you -- if you don't understand that Lebanon...

KING: Randi...

RHODES: ...that the civilians in Lebanon did nothing they should be rewarded for getting Syria out of there.

KING: Neal, did you...

RHODES: Condoleezza Rice, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Lugar, Chuck Hagel...

BOORTZ: Larry, Randi's not through talking yet.

RHODES: ...they can't all be wrong and they all agree with me.

KING: Randi, hold it a second. Randi! Randi, hold it a second. Neal, did you say such a thing about Muslims by the way?

BOORTZ: No and, if Randi can show... RHODES: No? No you didn't say...

KING: Randi, don't interrupt. Let him respond.

BOORTZ: Larry, are you kidding? You're asking Randi not to interrupt? You've been doing this longer than that, Larry. You know better than that. If Randi can come up with an instance where I called all Muslims rag heads, I have a $5,000 donation to Air America, so come on Randi.

RHODES: You owe me $5,000 for Habitat for Humanity. You'll hear the audio on my show because, Larry, I don't know that your producers can get it.

BOORTZ: That's fine.

RHODES: But it's on the actual audio.

BOORTZ: Now remember I called all Muslims rag heads? I don't use that term.

RHODES: You called...

BOORTZ: Oh, Randi, why don't you...

RHODES: You called Mohammad -- you called Mohammad who is their prophet a rag head.

BOORTZ: No, I didn't.

RHODES: You called him a phony. Let your producers go to and look up what Neal Boortz said...

KING: Hold it, hold it, hold it. Guys, we're off topic or I'm going to cut this short.

RHODES: ...about this religion.

KING: Please stay on topic.

RHODES: You know it doesn't help though, Larry.

KING: The topic -- hold it Randi!

RHODES: It doesn't help.

KING: Randi, hold it. Randi, hold it!

RHODES: People are really dying.

KING: Randi, you don't help your cause by talking too much. Hold it, just one at a time. Neal.

BOORTZ: Yes, sir.

KING: Doesn't Israel have to be cognizant of killing civilians? BOORTZ: Sure. I mean in every war.

KING: They're innocent.

BOORTZ: Yes, sir. In every war you have to be cognizant of killing civilians but you cannot say, "Look, I am not going to defend my homeland because in doing so a civilian might die." That is a sure -- well I mean that's just virtual suicide to say that.

KING: All right, Randi, mustn't Israel do something in its defense? It's surrounded by people who don't like it.

RHODES: Yes, but this escalation is just unconscionable because it's not making anything but terrorists. It's not making anything but Hezbollah completely. The militia, the armed part of Hezbollah it's giving them no reason to put down their arms. They agreed to put down their weapons. They agreed to join the electoral process. They agreed.

There needs to be serious diplomacy now with Damascus and to peel Syria off, which is a Sunni country, and put it on the side of a good neighbor and to peel Iran away and to make sure that Iran, what we did in Iraq emboldened Iran. We need diplomacy with Tehran right now. We cannot afford to be isolated. Neither can Israel with a nuclear threat from Iran. We need all the friends we can get.

KING: Neal. Neal, how does this in your opinion end?

BOORTZ: Well, the way it should end is with a complete military destruction of Hezbollah. The way I'm afraid it is going to end is with another one of these negotiated peace agreements which will be used by radical Islam to do nothing more than to regroup, re-strength, re-arm, and become stronger until they find the time is right, usually at the instructions of Iran, to launch yet another attack on the west.

KING: So you're saying, Neal that total victory over Hezbollah is the only answer?

BOORTZ: Radical Islam will view negotiations and agreements as a sign of weakness on the part of the west and they will exploit it. This is the way it has been done for generations. This is the way it will be done if we negotiate a peace agreement this time.

KING: Randi Rhodes, hasn't he got a point?

RHODES: No. You know it's really funny but Hezbollah sat there on the border for five years of Sharon's prime ministership (ph) and everybody knew that they were armed. Everybody understood that they were armed and Sharon wouldn't touch Lebanon again because it was his Vietnam.

And so, really the way to take care of terrorists is always going to be a law enforcement matter. It's always going to be a carrot and a stick. It's always going to be through political negotiation. You're never, ever going to do anything but make more terrorists with this sort of attack. And I think that everybody -- I think the whole idea of isolating Israel even further by killing so many civilians, or the idea of isolating the United States in a time when we need our European allies, we need the Middle East, we need to keep Iran from going nuclear, we're isolating ourselves further.

It's almost like they're baiting people to come here and attack us. It's almost ridiculous. I mean I never knew there would be so much death in their culture of life and I also never knew that you would see so many civilians killed with such ease and that you would hear -- I mean I knew the right wing was (INAUDIBLE) but I never knew that they would be screaming "Kill them all."

I never understood that they were so pro-death in their culture of life, Larry. It scares me. It used to be fun to debate things like health care and immigration. This is serious and I'm really scared.

I'm on the verge of tears listening to these reports. And I just can't believe that their solution is "Kill them all." I don't see how this can end without diplomacy.

KING: We only have a minute left. Neal, what are your listeners saying?

BOORTZ: Well the listeners I think are much like the Israeli population but a listener is always going to reflect the host, Larry, so let's admit that both Randi's and mine.

KING: Yes.

BOORTZ: But if there's anything I'd like for the people to take from this segment it is the idea that when you are attacked by terrorists, if you defend yourself, you always create more terrorists so don't defend yourself.

RHODES: Then why didn't we go after Osama bin Laden?

BOORTZ: That is an amazing attitude.

RHODES: Why did the president -- why did the president cut and run from Afghanistan? Why did we not catch Osama bin Laden if that's the truth if that's the way you deal with it?

BOORTZ: That's a very, very weighty, wise comment, Randi, and a perfect way to end the segment I guess.

KING: I'm going to end it. Neal Boortz and Randi Rhodes, thank you both very much.

BOORTZ: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Neal hosts the nationally syndicated Neal Boortz Show. And, Randi Rhodes hosts the Randi Rhodes Show on Air America Radio.

RHODES: Thank you. KING: Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is next. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now from New Haven, Senator Joe Lieberman, defeated yesterday in the Democratic primary. Hillary Clinton went in and supported him. But here's what she had to say today. Briefly, let's watch.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), N.Y.: What's important is that the voters in Connecticut have spoken. And I certainly am going to do what I can to help Mr. Lamont become the next senator from Connecticut.

KING: Does that surprise you Senator Lieberman?

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: It did not surprise me, Larry. I expect most Democratic elected officials to support the winner of the primary. They're following the old traditional political rule. But I'm reaching out to the people. The truth is that if endorsements determined elections I would have won the primary yesterday because I had just about everybody's endorsement.

We're now going to the full electorate, Democrats, in which I got 48 percent yesterday and closed strong, closing a 13-point gap last week, down to four points yesterday. Democrats, Republicans, and independents. A wider audience in which I can now present my case, which is that I can be and will be a better senator than the Democrat or the Republican and that, most importantly, I'm not a polarizer. I'm not partisan. I work across party lines to get things done for my state and country.

KING: How do you resist, senator, being called a sore loser?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I don't know who said it, but it doesn't fit and therefore, it doesn't bother me. I mean, look, I defeated my opponent at the Democratic convention. He exercised his right to go on to the primary. He won the primary. I'm exercising my right to run as an independent Democrat. I'm loyal to my party, but I have higher loyalty, which is to my state and country. And I really feel that I can do so much better a job for Connecticut and America in the Senate and get things done instead of contributing to the partisan gridlock that I want to give the choice to all the voters of Connecticut. And in the end it's their decision.

KING: Are you at all, is it kind of a weird feeling knowing that a lot of right-wing Republicans are endorsing you?

LIEBERMAN: Well, yes. You know, I mean, this is a story where there's, the lines are drawn so hard, and so many Democrats seem to not just disagree with President Bush but hate him, very much the way so many Republicans in the '90s didn't just disagree with Bill Clinton but they hated him. It's bad for our politics. It divides our country unnecessarily. It weakens our country at a time when we're at war.

We've been attacked by radical Islamist terrorists. And at a time when we have very, very serious problems here at home in retaining jobs and fixing our health care system and getting the price of gas down and all the rest. So, but this is a moderate, independent state. And what we saw yesterday is what we see in primaries in both parties. The people at the ends of the spectrum tend to win. But there's a broad middle ground of Americans, Democrats, independents, and Republicans. And I want to be their spokesperson and their representative, their senator here in Connecticut. I'm taking my case to them, and I'm asking them to come out and give me the privilege of continuing to work for them in the United States Senate.

KING: If you had to vote again, if time could roll back, would you go into Iraq again?

LIEBERMAN: I would. I would and incidentally, John McCain, Bob Kerry, and I put legislation in in 1998, when George Bush was still in Texas, saying that we thought Saddam Hussein, a mass murder, had used chemical weapons against the Kurds and the Iranians, supported terrorists, invaded two countries, wanted to be the new emperor of the Middle East, that he was a ticking time bomb and if we didn't take him down we would pay for it. The fact is that we did the right thing. Mistakes were made by the administration after he fell. But now the question is how do we get out? And I think if we just cut and ran as my opponent wants to do by a deadline it would be a disaster for the Iraqis and for us.

KING: We'll be doing a lot more on this race coming up, senator. But one thing we want to show you is that famous hug, or whatever it was, from President Bush.

LIEBERMAN: I lost, Larry.

KING: Do you hear me now?

LIEBERMAN: Can you hear? I lost him.

KING: I'm sorry. We lost Senator Lieberman. But he'll be on a lot. We hope to set up a debate between him and the senatorial nominee, Mr. Lamont, and the Republican nominee as well in the race ahead for Connecticut. We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. We go now to northern Israel. We'll be talking with John Roberts and Anderson Cooper. First John Roberts. John had a front row seat, front row view of the Israeli military in action. Let's see a part of a report that he filed today, watch.


ROBERTS (voice-over): It is a bizarre ringside seat to a lethal spectacle. From our base of operations in northern Israel, we watched the newest front in this war unfold in real time. Tank and artillery fire pound suspected Hezbollah targets in Arab towns and villages that dot the hillsides.

Israeli troops march along the ridge line, taking the high ground while powerful Merkava tanks ground through the dirt to provide covering fire. From this close, you can feel the explosions as the shells and bombs hit, rattling windows, shattering nerves of civilians brave enough to remain in their homes.

And from the Israeli side the sounds of battle rise. Air raid sirens wail almost constantly as Hezbollah counterattacks with rockets on civilian targets. Nighttime brings no relief. If anything, the battle only intensifies. Israeli troops, their faces blackened to blend into the night, prepare to steal across the border.

In the dark we can track the trails of rocket-propelled grenades and tank shells finding their marks. Artillery bursts flair on the hilltops in a sort of apocalyptic fireworks display. It's all outgoing fire, which gives us a sense of safety. But anything this close somehow feels too close.


KING: John Roberts, our senior national correspondent, has been covering this story for weeks. Now, what's it like to be around so much death?

ROBERTS: You never get used to it, Larry. And I saw an awful lot of it in Iraq as well. Also saw it in Belgrade during the Kosovo war. That's something you never get used to. What you do get used to in a sort of a bizarre sense is the canon fire, the bombs that are dropping. The thing that you always keep an eye open for, though, are the air raid sirens.

You know, when we're trying to sleep, and we only sleep between probably 7:00 in the morning until maybe 10:30 or so, you can sleep through the artillery fire. But when you hear those air raid sirens go off you sort of open one eye because those Katyusha rockets are so capricious.

And while the town that we have been staying in has been fairly immune to Katyushas -- it's only received three in the time I've been here compared to the dozen that have fallen into towns like Kiryat Shmona, you just never know. The Katyusha rocket could hit in a field a half a mile from here. It could come through the window of your room.

You just don't know. But do you after a while, and it's very bizarre, get used to all of this. The only thing that somehow jars you is a sound that's a little bit unusual, such as when a 500-pound bomb lands not too far away you wonder, well, just how close was that? Where's the next one going to land?

KING: Anderson Cooper's also in northern Israel. He'll anchor "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at the top of the hour. And here is a personal report on what he saw of this war, covering it the last few weeks -- watch.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It's been three weeks now, three weeks and counting, fighting and dying, shelling and running. So much of it seems so long ago. Only the pictures are a reminder you were ever there. War is like that. Each day is the first. The past is dead, forgotten. In war there's only now, only this, a smoke shared by buddies, a few hours' rest. The minutes pass, so do the memories. At first the shelling, the rockets. That's what you see, it's what you hear. Incoming, outgoing, sirens and screams. All of it quickly fades, however. It becomes like your pulse, always there, a throb in your ear, a beat you barely notice.


KING: Anderson, we've discussed what you went through covering Katrina, death and destruction by natural means. What's this been like?

COOPER: You know, as John said, you know, there are some things you do get used to. The sounds that you hear, the shelling. It's a strange war to cover, though, because in one sense you're in a population center. You know, it's not like with Katrina where everything was sort of decimated around you and you were living in trailers and trying to get supplies sent in.

Here, I mean, there are hotels for people to stay in. Even in Beirut, a city which has been very hard hit, it's only been really hard hit in the southern suburbs. So you know, journalists in Beirut, you can say in the downtown area near the port and have room service and, you know, have your laundry done.

It's this strange juxtaposition of the one hand being in a population center where life is sort of going on and at the same time knowing that just over the hill, and you can hear the sounds, people are dying. That's a hard thing to get used to.

KING: Anderson, don't you need a little R&R?

COOPER: Well, you know, I'm probably going to take a couple days off this weekend. It will be the first -- I haven't had a weekend off in a month now. But I'll, you know, still be staying in the region, and continue to cover the story.

This thing -- if anything, it seems to be intensifying, Larry. Certainly with the word that the Israeli cabinet, the war cabinet has approved going deeper into Lebanon. It doesn't seem like there's any letup. And if anything, it just seems to be getting worse. So we're going to continue to cover it, Larry.

KING: And superbly, I might add. John Roberts and Anderson Cooper both in northern Israel. And Anderson returns at the top of the hour to host two hours of "ANDERSON COOPER 360." We'll be back with more of LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Right now we'll devote some time to people helping other people. First, Simon Ingram, communications officer for UNICEF. Simon's in Beirut. What's the scope of the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon, Simon?

SIMON INGRAM, UNICEF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: Well, Larry, it's big and it's getting bigger. Unfortunately, the longer that this conflict goes on, the greater the extent of the impact that we're seeing among the civilian population.

I mean, just to give you one idea, we've got something like 900,000 people who've been displaced from their homes, whether in the south of the country where the bulk of the conflict has been going on, or from the southern suburbs of Beirut.

So we've got something like 150,000 of those people camped out in schools and public gardens and the like in Beirut and other areas and an even larger number forced to stay with extended family and relatives.

KING: And what, Simon, does UNICEF do?

INGRAM: Well, we're doing what we can to make the best of a very difficult situation. That involves bringing in our supplies from outside the country. Things like medical kits, like essential drugs, like hygiene, water purification tablets. A lot of water equipment as well because that of course is one of the first needs of a population that's been displaced. And we're getting this equipment, these supplies out to the people that need them.

Now, as you know very well, it's been difficult to get supplies down to the south of the country, but we have managed to get quite a lot of supplies down there to where it's needed. But increasingly, we are focusing on the needs of the displaced in and around Beirut. And those needs are very great indeed.

KING: Thank you, Simon.

Let's go to Jerusalem. Ron Oates is director of Asian operations for Operation Blessing International. What's the humanitarian needs in Israel?

RON OATES, OPERATION BLESSING ASIAN OPS. DIR: Well, Larry, in the area of northern Israel you have almost ghost towns. I've been up there for the last few days. I was in Akko (ph) most of the day today and over in the area around Kiryat Shmona yesterday. But if you drive through the downtown areas of these towns, all the businesses are closed. They have no restaurants, no markets, no pharmacies are open, and most of the people are living in bunkers.

We've been focusing a lot of attention with some of our partners in the area around Akko. We've been working with the city administration in Akko. And they have, it's a city of about 52,000 people. And about 4/5 of the people are still there. Akko is not a very economically well off area. And so although some of the people have come south, most of the people are living in the 750 bunkers that they have within the city. And we've been involved in food distribution with the city of Akko and with a partnering organization that we have up there called Tents of Mercy. The needs are really great up there. And because most of the people do not have an opportunity to work now, they have no way to be able to support their families and it looks like the situation will get worse before it gets better.

KING: Ron Oates doing an outstanding job for Operation Blessing International. Back to Beirut and Dr. Jeff Goodman, M.D., emergency medical center, with the International Medical Corps. What's the scope? How big is the medical crisis?

DR. JEFF GOODMAN, INTL. MEDICAL CORPS: Well, the medical crisis is quite large, of course, because these people have been displaced. They're in a situation now where they're vulnerable. They're vulnerable to diseases. They're vulnerable to a variety of things. We do a lot of work at the International Medical Corps on health work but we're also looking at things that affect health, things like sanitation and food and housing. So it's a broad spectrum, multifaceted problem.

KING: And we'll be checking back with you, Dr. Goodman, probably tomorrow. By the way, the Internet address for International Medical Corps is The donor hotline is 1-800-481-4462. We'll be right back.


KING: Before we talk with General James "Spider" Marks we're going to go back to George Mitchell in Maine, who wants to respond to something that Neal Boortz said in an earlier segment. George?

MITCHELL: Yes, Larry. Mr. Boortz apparently misunderstood what I said because when I was talking about the competing narratives I was speaking, and I believe I said Israel and Lebanon. He said that I spoke of Hezbollah. Before this happened Hezbollah was a minority party in Lebanon. The majority of the government and the people of Lebanon opposed Hezbollah. So Lebanon and Hezbollah are not identical. And as you know, Larry, on this show I have condemned Hezbollah's actions as reckless and wrong. So I wanted to make sure that his inaccurate comment was responded to lest it be taken as true.

KING: I'm glad you cleared it up, and we'll see you tomorrow night. Thanks, George.

MITCHELL: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Senator George Mitchell. And now to Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, United States army, retired. He's in Washington, a CNN military analyst. General, what are the Israeli forces going to do as they push toward the Litani River, tactically?

BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Larry, the decision's been made at this point that Israel, the IDF, needs to put more forces and attack with more forces north of the border. And that's what it is. It's an attack, it's not a road march. But here's what I think the IDF will do. They'll move up to the Litani River as quickly as they can, bypassing Hezbollah's strong points, securing them as best they can. But the key is to get up to the Litani River and secure along that river and then reduce the Hezbollah forces from the north to the south. That keeps Hezbollah contained, and Israel really can dominate what they're trying to do if they do that.

Additionally, the IDF needs to get back into the Bekaa Valley. They struck last week very hard, very quickly, had a very precise target they needed to go after. They need to do that again to go after command and control structures, any weapons cache sites, and additionally going after some high value targets, key leadership, if you will, within the Hezbollah that might still be located in the Bekaa Valley.

KING: General, what type of terrain are we talking about?

MARKS: Well, Larry, that is the question. This is very, very tough terrain north of Israel. But additionally, it's dominated by 100 cities. Over 100 cities and villages, maybe 200 to 300 folks or, like in Tyre, maybe 30,000 folks. But you have in addition to those villages, you've got a road network that dominates the area. On top of that you've got 13 United Nations compounds that exist in this area. Those are where the UNIFIL, U.N., United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, is located. So what Israel has to do is they've got to control these villages. They've got to put soldiers and boots on the ground. Then they've got to conduct patrols along this road network to ensure that Hezbollah doesn't have freedom of movement and they've got to conduct a relief in place and secure those compounds. That takes manpower. That will dictate how many forces have to go across.

KING: How long is it going to take?

MARKS: Larry, I'd say this is at least two to three weeks. When you look at the tasks that have to be taken ongoing right now and increased by the IDF, we're talking two to three weeks and I don't see a letup in the fighting.

KING: What's the major risk when you send a large force into a small area?

MARKS: What you have, Larry, is a thing called friction, and you can have chaos. You've got very large forces that have some very precise challenges to control terrain and to control movement. One of the big things that they'll be concerned about is fratricide. You've got soldiers that are whipped up into a fighting shape and they might be at this point a little bit trigger-happy because now they have a lot of forces that are north of the river and they've got to do, in very short order, the reduction, the remainder of the reduction of Hezbollah.

KING: General, we only have about 40 seconds. What do you make of Israeli changing military commanders yesterday?

MARKS: Well, it's always unfortunate but the buck truly stops at the top, and if the ground commander hasn't been achieving his objectives you've got to make a decision to remove that individual. But he's not the only dog in this fight. He's got a boss who endorsed his plan and reinforced his plan at the policy and strategy level. So unfortunately, you don't want to talk about blame, but there is blame to go around and the ground commander has to raise his hand and say I've got it.

KING: Thanks general, as always, probably see you tomorrow. Brigadier General James "Spider" Marks, our CNN military analyst, United States army retired and that's tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Time to send you back to northern Israel. Standing by is Anderson Cooper. He will host for the next two hours "ANDERSON COOPER 360," Anderson.