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CNN Larry King Live
Dr. Murray to Turn Himself In; Americans Jailed in Haiti; 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Debate
Aired February 02, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, breaking Michael Jackson death news -- Dr. Conrad Murray is about to turn himself in.
Then, 10 jailed Americans in big trouble in Haiti, accused of child trafficking. Their desperate pastor and families are here pleading their case.
And then "don't ask/don't tell" -- Commander-In-Chief Obama says homosexuals in the military shouldn't have to hide who they are and the top brass agreed with him today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Plus, she was a POW, ambushed, taken captive in Iraq. Shoshana Johnson's ordeal revealed next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin with breaking news. Dr. Conrad Murray expects to surrender to the Los Angeles authorities as early as tomorrow on charges relating to the death of Michael Jackson -- that according to his lawyer.
With us, Ted Rowlands, CNN correspondent; and Jim Moret, chief correspondent, "INSIDE EDITION," author, by the way, of a terrific new book, "The Last Day of My Life" -- all right, Ted, what's the story?
Has he been indicted?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, not yet. He is in -- he's here in long Angeles. His lawyer from Houston is here in Los Angeles. And according to the spokesperson representing the law firm -- that is, representing Murray -- they're expecting that he'll surrender within the next 24 to 48 hours.
But up until about an hour-and-a-half ago, they hadn't heard anything specific as to when or where. What they're trying to do is make sure he's not hauled off in handcuffs. They want to surrender. They want it away from the media. Tough to do in Los Angeles.
KING: What charge, Jim? JIM MORET, "INSIDE EDITION" CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: My guess is that it would probably be involuntary manslaughter. You know you've got a situation where Michael Jackson was under this doctor's care. You know that Propofol was administered and you know that this was the only doctor -- the last doctor to be treating Michael Jackson. And you probably have a gross negligence charge and involuntary manslaughter.
KING: Are we jumping the gun, Ted, or has the lawyer said he will be charged?
ROWLANDS: They -- they don't know for sure and they're still ruling out their...
KING: Then why -- what are they basing it on?
ROWLANDS: Well, they're -- they're holding out hope that there is a -- a small chance that they won't be. But all of the signs are leading toward a charge coming and coming soon. And the A.P. Reporting today that they're not going to use a grand jury, that they're going to go ahead and release a criminal complaint.
KING: What about means, Jim?
The prosecutor must have told the lawyer something.
MORET: Not -- well...
KING: Have your client ready or what?
MORET: Yes, absolutely.
KING: What are they basing it on?
MORET: There -- there clearly is some contact with these offices. However, the D.A. hasn't necessarily tipped its hand. There's no charges filed yet. But you -- you hear things. You hear things from police officers. They all have sources. The -- the A.P. is getting information from someone. CNN is getting information from someone.
RadarOnline, TMZ -- there are all of these various sources. And -- and Ted is right, there is every indication that this is moving forward.
KING: What do we know happened?
I mean what do we know, supposedly, that this doctor did or didn't do?
ROWLANDS: Well, one thing we don't know yet -- we know he was the last one with Michael Jackson. He was caring for him. He was the doctor in the background of that 911 call. He was absolutely there.
And he has admitted, through his attorneys -- they've said, listen, this guy has admitted he gave him Propofol, he gave him some other things leading up to his death. But we don't know what was in Michael Jackson's system and the toxicology report hasn't been released. There could be other things that aren't tied to Murray that could have contributed to the death, which could complicate the case.
KING: A puzzle, Jim. With no toxicology report...
MORET: Well, I mean...
KING: ...(INAUDIBLE) charge?
MORET: Well, the DA...
ROWLANDS: They have it.
MORET: ...does have the toxicology...
MORET: They have it. They simply haven't released it.
But look at the Propofol alone, Larry. You can't get Propofol as an individual...
MORET: You can't get it outside of a clinic or a hospital. Michael Jackson had it. Presumably, Dr. Murray procured it or brought it to Michael Jackson and administered it, without the proper tools, without the proper equipment.
ROWLANDS: It's not a controlled substance, though, so technically it's not breaking the law to take that out of a hospital.
MORET: But it doesn't follow any medical protocol.
KING: It's an anesthesia.
MORET: No doctor has ever -- I'm sorry?
KING: It's an anesthesia.
MORET: Yes. And there was no anesthesiologist there. There was no -- there was no equipment to resuscitate him or check Michael Jackson's...
KING: Why would you give that to a patient?
ROWLANDS: Well, that's a question that Dr. Murray will -- will have to answer. And, obviously, if you look at what we've learned about Michael Jackson and his history leading up to his death, he wanted it.. And Dr. Murray gave it to him.
Now, is that criminal negligence to the point of manslaughter?
It's going to be -- it's going to be an interesting case (INAUDIBLE). KING: If this all happens, there's going to be a big L.A. trial, right, Jim?
MORET: We've seen them before. I would suspect this would be about as big as it gets.
KING: Any comment yet from the Jackson family?
ROWLANDS: Nothing yet. Nothing yet. And they've -- you really reserve comment until things actually happen. So I think once he's indicted, if he is, then we'll get a comment.
MORET: Clearly, the Jacksons want someone to pay. And I'm not suggesting Conrad Murray is the only person responsible or even that he is responsible. It simply looks bad for him.
KING: The coroner's office declared it a homicide, right, didn't they?
ROWLANDS: Yes. He died...
KING: Or did they?
ROWLANDS: Yes. A homicide and the cause of death was an overdose.
But the question, again, is that toxicology -- what killed him?
Did Diprivan kill him?
The amount that he was given shouldn't have killed him. And Dr. Murray talked to investigators right away and said here's what I gave him. None of this should have killed him.
All the players here said, well, what I gave him shouldn't kill him. Something killed him. And if they can prove that it was Diprivan in that cocktail and Murray is responsible, he'll go down.
MORET: You know...
ROWLANDS: But it's going to be tough.
MORET: It could have been a cocktail of medications and the totality of the drugs that killed him, not just one drug.
KING: Why is the lawyer telling you this now?
MORET: Excuse me, what...
KING: Why is the lawyer telling you that his client might be -- this might happen?
MORET: The lawyer wants to negotiate a turnover. The lawyer does not want to see his client on TV...
KING: So why does he... MORET: ...in handcuffs.
KING: ...have to tell you, though?
Why tell the press, the people that...
MORET: They're -- they're making it known.
ROWLANDS: Well, we're -- we're harassing him, calling him and he's just responding to it. He's not...
ROWLANDS: He's not making any statements.
KING: He didn't call you?
ROWLANDS: In fact, they've gone out of their way to try not to cause any -- any stir here.
But, clearly, they brought their client out here for a reason. They think that he's going to surrender this week.
KING: Thank you, Ted and Jim, staying on top of this. And, of course, we'll stay on top of it, too.
What's going on with those jailed Americans in Haiti?
A big misunderstanding that could cost them their freedom?
Is that the question?
KING: Ten Americans have now been arrested in Haiti and accused of illegally trying to take 33 children out of the country on Friday. They had a preliminary hearing before a Haitian judge today. They could face charges of kidnapping and child trafficking. No charges filed yet.
The missionaries say they were just trying to help children in need leave the country.
Let's go first to John Vause, our CNN correspondent in Port-au- Prince.
What happened when they faced the judge today -- John?
JOHN VAUSE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, that was an investigating magistrate who actually went to the prison cell where these 10 Americans are being held. He interviewed the five women today for several hours. There were no lawyers present. He will talk to the men tomorrow. Presumably, there will be no lawyers then. As you said, there have been no charges laid at this point in time.
What happens from here?
This investigative magistrate will then present his evidence to a Haitian prosecutor, who will then decide if there is enough to push on with charges.
Now, 14 of the 33 children apparently had one or more parents. And those parents have told CNN they gave their kids up, quite simply, because they could no longer care for them -- Larry.
KING: Do you know if the United States government has tried to get involved at all yet?
VAUSE: What we've heard from the State Department is that they're saying this is a matter for the Haitian government, that it's a matter for the Haitian people to be worked out under Haitian law. So it looks like they're taking pretty much a hands-off approach at this stage.
KING: All right, Dan...
Thank you, John.
Dan Simon is on the ground in Meridian, Idaho.
What's the latest there -- Dan?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, we've been looking at the group and the plan to build this orphanage. And everything we've been able to ascertain thus far shows that they were true in their intentions to help these people.
That said, I think it's fair to say, Larry, that some questions have arisen about their capabilities to build this orphanage and run it.
First of all, they have no experience in running an orphanage -- no experience. They also have not registered as a non-profit. And they also are not recognized as an international adoption agency.
And, finally, Larry, in terms of funding this orphanage over a long period of time, it has not been made clear whatsoever how they would have the financial wherewithal to run this orphanage. It appears that after this quake occurred, they didn't quite have a strategy in place and they just ran in there and tried to do something.
That said, again, it appears that they just wanted to help these people, but didn't quite think about things long-term -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Dan.
Dan Simon, in Meridian, Ohio. Also in Meridian, Ohio is Pastor Drew Ham, pastor of the Central Valley Baptist Church, the church where all these people were members.
Were you surprised at this, pastor?
PASTOR DREW HAM, CENTRAL VALLEY BAPTIST CHURCH: I'm sorry, Larry, surprised at which part?
KING: At the fact that they took these kids.
HAM: Was I surprised personally?
HAM: I know that the purpose of their trip was to go and help children. And so that's part of the very fabric of our church. In fact, we recently took a mission trip to Ecuador, where we did a number of things for underprivileged folks.
KING: I mean were you surprised they took children from one place to another place?
HAM: Well, Larry, that was the purpose of the trip, was to go and help those who were in need.
KING: Well, you say help. But I -- I asked, did you know they were going to -- they intended to move children?
HAM: Well, sir, I know the purpose was -- was simply to go and help. I don't know their intentions, because we certainly weren't there. And we've had very little communication with them.
KING: All right, what do you -- are you fearful of charges being filed against them?
HAM: We're certainly concerned for their safety. We're concerned for their whereabouts. We know that they have a great compassion for those children. And, you know, Larry, that's probably one of the -- the best things about this situation is the fact that these children are being taken care of.
KING: Do you know why they moved them?
Do you know why they did this?
I mean, you know these people.
HAM: Yes, sir. Well, the purpose of this trip was specifically to -- to go and establish an orphanage and to help those children that really needed help and just to -- to pour some compassion on those children.
KING: Do you expect the United States government to be more vocally helpful?
HAM: You know, Larry, I would say that the government is doing all that they can. I know that they have a great care and concern for these children, as well.
KING: Do you know this -- it's reported that some of the parents actually gave the kids to your group, saying that they could not take care of their own children?
Do you know that to be true?
HAM: No, sir. I don't know that to be true.
KING: Have you talked to members of the group?
HAM: No, sir, we have not.
KING: You're not able to communicate?
Don't they have cell phones?
Can't you talk to them?
HAM: No, sir. The information that we've received is upon their arrests, their cell phones were confiscated. And we have not been able to communicate with them since last Friday.
KING: All right, Pastor Ham, you remain with us.
We'll be joined by some relatives -- family members who are worried about their loved ones in Haiti.
Their take in 60 seconds.
KING: I apologize for saying Ohio. Of course, we're talking to Meridian, Idaho.
Pastor Ham remains with us.
We're joined by Lisa Allen, the wife of detained Jim Allen.
Renee Thompson is with us. She's the wife of Paul Thompson and the mother of Silas Thompson and the sister of Drew -- Drew Culbreth.
And Samantha Lankford is the daughter of Corinna Lankford and the sister of Nicole Lankford.
Lisa, have you been able to talk with Jim?
LISA ALLEN, WIFE OF DETAINED AMERICAN: No, I have not.
KING: I guess they -- they took (INAUDIBLE).
So, Renee, you haven't been in contact, either, with Paul?
RENEE THOMPSON, WIFE AND MOTHER OF DETAINED AMERICAN: No, no contact at all.
KING: And you, too, Samantha, right?
SAMANTHA LANKFORD, DAUGHTER AND SISTER OF DETAINED AMERICAN: It's the same thing for me, too, sir.
KING: OK, Lisa, what do you make of all of this?
ALLEN: I think it's a big misunderstanding that's kind of been blown out of proportion. Their intentions were to go there and help the kids that were in need. And like I say, I think it's a misunderstanding.
KING: Are you surprised, Renee, that they took the children and (INAUDIBLE) without checking first with authorities or the fact that these -- many of them had parents?
They were not orphans.
THOMPSON: You know, I don't know all of the details that -- that really went on over there. So I -- I really don't have a -- a firm answer on that just -- just due to there's so many details that -- that I'm not aware of right now.
KING: Well, Samantha, the group had -- they had no documents, approvals or passports for the children.
Are you surprised they moved those kids?
LANKFORD: Sir, all I know is my -- my mother and my sister love those children and have compassion toward them. And they were going there to help. I'm not -- I'm unsure of the situation down there being, as I am not down there. But I -- I definitely feel for them in the situation that they are in.
KING: Lisa, would you like the American government to be more involved than they apparently are?
ALLEN: No, I feel comfortable with what they -- they're doing at this time.
KING: Do you know what they're doing?
ALLEN: I believe they're working it as best they can. I think it's a difficult situation and just a lot of details to be worked out.
KING: Renee, is your big fear that Haiti is going to charge them and Haiti is going to try them?
THOMPSON: You know, I -- I don't -- I don't know what -- what Haiti will -- will be doing. I -- I do know that -- that our -- our men and women down there are -- they're upstanding citizens and they're compassionate people. And I just am -- am resting on that at the moment.
KING: The Haitian prime minister, Samantha, called them kidnappers, although he admitted they may have been misguided in what they were trying to do. What do you call them, Samantha?
What do you feel about these people?
LANKFORD: Well, sir, it's my mother and my sister. And I know that their heart was to help these people. And it very much hurts me that they are being accused of this. They are -- they -- I know that they are working very hard to take care of these children in there, even in where they are right now, they are concerned about them.
KING: Pastor, would you describe yourself -- I don't want to put words in your mouth -- as shocked by all of this?
HAM: No, sir. I know that the government in Haiti has had a tremendously difficult time. And, you know, once again, there is a great level of encouragement, because we know that the country of Haiti has a great compassion for these children. And, you know, the purpose of this trip was -- was to provide for these children. And we know that right now, they're getting the provision and the care that they need.
KING: Do you think the Haitian government is trying, Pastor, to send some sort of message here?
HAM: I really don't know. I know that it must be remarkably difficult for the government, because, you know, it -- it's just extremely hard for them. And we have a -- we have a great compassion for those people, Larry. That's why we -- that's why the group from our church wanted to go down there, because they cared about those people. And that includes the government.
KING: Lisa, since the intentions were, apparently, obviously honorable, are you a little surprised by the government taking this action -- holding them, taking away their phones and the like?
Couldn't this have been resolved, do you think, a little better?
ALLEN: Well, it's hurtful because, again, we know what their intentions were when they -- when they went. And we're just ready for them to be brought home safely.
KING: Renee, what does your -- what does -- what does Paul Thompson do?
What does your husband do for a living?
THOMPSON: My husband is a -- he's a pastor. And he also drives a school bus for -- for a school district.
KING: What did you think when he told you he was going there to do this?
THOMPSON: I -- I was not surprised in the least. My husband is -- he's the most compassionate, unselfish man. I've been receiving phone calls, e-mails, messages in the hundreds from people that he has known over the years and that -- that know him well, highly respect him. They are -- they are shocked and are all behind him and eagerly awaiting his return.
KING: What did your mother and sister, Samantha, tell you when they went?
LANKFORD: Well, sir, I was informed of the fact that they were going to go and help children, which excited me because these children -- after seeing pictures of them on the Internet and pictures that were posted -- I -- I also felt compassion for them and was excited for the fact that they were given the opportunity to go and help take care of these children and meet their emotional and physical needs.
I -- I'm very proud of them.
KING: Well, as well you should be.
We'll stay on top of this.
We'll keep in constant touch.
We wish all of you the nothing but the best in all of this.
Pastor Drew Ham...
HAM: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Lisa Allen...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
KING: Renee Thompson and Samantha Lankford.
Thank you all.
"Don't ask/don't tell" is the policy that's divided the military.
Is it about to change?
Stay with us.
KING: Defense Secretary Gates told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee today that the Pentagon is taking the first steps toward repealing the military's "don't ask/don't tell" policy.
To get into all of this -- all our guests in Washington -- General Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme Allied commander. He supports the president's call to end the policy.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert Maginnis, U.S. Army retired. He thinks it's too soon to repeal.
Lieutenant Dan Choi is a gay himself and currently serving in the National Guard. He faces discharge because of "don't ask, don't tell." He's a West Point graduate and an Iraq war combat veteran.
And Tony Perkins, former sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, president of the Family Research Council. He is against the repeal of "don't ask/don't tell".
We're going to show you back to back tapes now.
First, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Andrew Mullen, and then Senator John McCain.
One's going one way, one is the other.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULLEN: Speaking for myself -- and myself only -- it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Our men and women in uniform are fighting two wars, guarding the front lines against the global terrorist enemy, serving and sacrificing on battlefields far from home and working to rebuild and reform the force after more than eight years of conflict. At this moment, amidst hardship for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the "don't ask/don't tell" policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right, General Clark, why is this the time to overturn it?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Oh, I think it's -- it's past due. I think that, first of all, we should honor all those who want to serve their country. I think it's wrong for people to be told they have to lie about who they are and cover up their identity in order to serve their country. Other nations have looked at this and they've said the policy isn't "don't ask/don't tell," it's don't misbehave. And their armed forces have gays serving in them and they're doing quite well. And I don't see any reason why we have to discriminate against men and women who want to serve their country.
KING: Colonel -- Lieutenant Colonel Maginnis, why encourage lying?
LT. COL. ROBERT MAGINNIS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I agree, we shouldn't encourage lying. Well, I agree, we shouldn't encourage lying, quite frankly, Larry. And "don't ask/don't tell" is not really the law, unfortunately. It's -- it's a Clinton administration aberration of the law. But that's what we're dealing with. You know, the fact is, Larry, when we went -- back in '93, when I was working with this 50 man group, we looked at all the data that was available. They didn't do the extensive research that apparently Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen are suggesting. I think that's a great idea. And I endorse what they're about to do.
However, you know, we went with the best information we had. We convinced the Congress -- and the Congress was a Democratic Congress at that time, Larry. They wrote 15 very specific findings. Now, if those findings are no longer valid, throw it out. But if they're still valid, then we need to keep the law because it supports military readiness.
KING: Lieutenant Choi, why, in your opinion, are they no longer valid?
LT. DAN CHOI, NATIONAL GUARD: Well, I think when we are in a time of war and for those who are currently serving in the counter- insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, we learn a very important lesson -- we need every skilled soldier we can get. Any good leader that's serving right now will tell you that. And to kick out Arabic and Farsi linguists in a time of war, I think -- especially those who refuse to lie about who they are or refuse to lie about who they love, I think that's an absolute mistake.
KING: Tony Perkins, you will admit that there are crosses and Jewish stars at Normandy and other battlefields that -- that, symbolically, there are gay soldiers buried there?
TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: It's not a question...
KING: Doesn't that tell you something about their desire to serve their country?
PERKINS: It's not a question of whether or not they have a desire to serve nor is it a question whether they can serve. They certainly can serve in the military today. It's a question of the behavior of those who identify themselves as homosexual.
I think the question, Larry, has been and raised, is what has changed since 1993, when this policy was implemented by the Clinton administration?
We've had 14 Congressional hearings since then, all coming to the same conclusion -- that this would undermine unit cohesion and military readiness.
And so even -- even the -- the Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Ike Skelton, says he's opposed to changing this policy. There's members of the Joint Chief -- Chiefs that are opposed to being -- to changing this policy.
KING: Well, what...
PERKINS: So it's not a foregone conclusion that this is going to be changed.
KING: What is the fear, that the gay person will come on to a straight person or the straight person will be embarrassed to take -- what's the fear?
PERKINS: Well, I think we've seen the same thing when we -- we have to be very careful with how we integrate the sexes in the military, and I think a lot of people don't understand, present company excepted here, but the military is a different environment. There is very few occasions where you're living in the same room and showering with 80 men. Having been an enlisted man in the Marine Corps, there is no privacy. Officers have a little more privacy than enlisted men.
So especially when you're in training situations, where you have an individual that has the power, really, of life and death, in some circumstances, over individuals, there can be a lot of coercion. And this can be a very dangerous situation and very intimidating situation. It's just not healthy for the well-being of the military.
KING: General Clark, how do you respond to that?
CLARK: I think the standard is exactly what Tony suggested it should be, is don't misbehave. But, unfortunately, that's not what the Don't Ask, Don't Tell rule is about. It's about witch hunts, It's about tattle-tales. It's about a lot of pressure to cover things up, and not be seen, and not know who you are. So I think the standard ought to be, don't misbehave.
There is a lot of coercion in training. There's no doubt about it. It happens between men. It happens between men and women. It happens between men and men. And it happens between women and women. That's what it is when someone has power over someone else. It's not tolerated to misbehave in the civilian community, and it shouldn't be tolerated in the military. And that should be the end of it. People should be entitled to be who they are. And the standard is don't misbehave.
KING: We'll ask Lieutenant Colonel Maginnis why it shouldn't be based just on behavior right after this.
KING: OK, Lieutenant Colonel Maginnis, why shouldn't it just be bad behavior? Hetero to homo, homo to hetero, whatever, bad behavior should be expulsion.
MAGINNIS: Larry, we have a lot of laws and we do prosecute as many people as we can when we find a case. The military has a very unique culture, and we need to understand that, and the Congress certainly needs to take that into consideration. I'm sure Admiral Mullen, when he has the group working on this, will consider that.
Back in '93, Larry, we went through all the issues on cohesion, the bonding, the privacy issues, the values, and so forth. All of those contributed to the law. The law is very specific with regard to its findings on sexual behavior. Can you enforce this? Probably. Don't know exactly. That's why it's important to go out and ask the soldiers and the families, which I wholly endorse. I think this is the best thing I heard from the secretary today.
KING: Is it possible, lieutenant colonel, that times have changed? This is 17 years later.
MAGINNIS: Times have changed, Larry, but the military's culture has not radically changed, because it's a time of war. So it's possible that, you know, we could change this, but be very, very careful because you have a military that's defending us now. You don't want to do something rash and create a risk that you don't want -- you just can't put back in the bottle.
KING: Lieutenant Choi, does this policy personally hurt you?
CHOI: Of course, Larry. When we can all just talk about policy, I think that's fine for a great show in the evening. But for me, all of this really does affect my life. That hearing today was talking about my job.
But you know how it really affects me personally -- and I think personally for all of us that are here -- we're wearing our rings. And on my West Point ring it says "honor." On the first day at West Point, I learned the honor codes: a cadet will not lie. You will not lie. You will not tolerate those who lie.
But when I tell the truth -- I told the truth, obviously, in different means. I went on national TV and told the truth. I went to drill next weekend and we went on the rifle range, and as we were cleaning our weapons, one of my soldiers comes up to me and says, so was that you talking on TV? I said, yeah, that was me. It was a little bit of a surprise, because it was an infantry unit. But by the time we were done cleaning our weapons, he said, all right, then. When do we get to meet your boyfriend?
To think that there is all this fear, on a policy level, and people talking -- it makes for a nice sound bite. But the reality on the ground is, we're ready for people to tell the truth. And I think it insults our soldiers to assume they can't handle the truth.
KING: Tony, doesn't it bother you to hear Lieutenant Choi say that?
PERKINS: No, Larry. I mean, I certainly -- we've had a chance to talk and I have great respect for him and his service to the country, as I do for every man and woman, regardless of their sexual orientation. But we don't make public policy based upon personal situations. We make public policy for what's best for the nation.
You know, what the president has done is he has urged the Joint Chiefs to make a change at a time of war, undermining, potentially, our nation's security and the effectiveness of our military, and quite possibly opening the door to the draft once again, because we've seen that there are men and women who do serve in the military who have expressed reservations about staying in the military if this change comes about.
So there are some -- there are ramifications to policy decisions. Unintended consequences, sometimes, but I think we need to look those through. I'm not sure the Joint Chiefs -- particularly the chief -- can tackle this issue when he's already said -- the secretary has said they're going to carry out the orders of the commander in chief, and that is to make sure this policy is done away with, which, by the way, is troubling to me, in that the military would be undermining the very thing they protect, and that is the rule of law.
KING: General Clark, doesn't the military need people?
CLARK: The military needs people. And Larry, I do think attitudes have changed. I was a division commander with the First Cavalry Division when the last policy was adopted back in '93. I knew what the soldiers felt. I watched it over the years that I remained in the service. I talked to people about it. The attitudes changed even in the course of a few years. And they've changed more now.
But I would caution this. If this becomes a political football, and Democrats line up on one side and Republicans on the other, those opinion polls that we're talking about, and polling soldiers won't mean a darn thing again. It will just in flame the forces.
I think the standard is that Soldiers and Marines and Airmen and Sailors have to obey the law. They have to uphold the standards they've again given. They have to be responsible. They have to tell the truth. And they should be who they are. And that means we should accept human beings for who they are and honor and love them, because we need them in this country.
KING: Lieutenant Colonel Maginnis, would you rather have no gays in the military, period?
MAGINNIS: Well, we have gays right now, Larry. I don't think anybody denies that.
KING: But would you like to see a law that says no gays?
MAGINNIS: Well, the current law is a double pretense. Homosexuals like Dan have to pretend that they're not homosexual to serve. And the military pretends that they don't mind. The law is clear. The military obeys the law of the land. The Congress said, this is the law, you obey it. They salute and they drive on.
Larry, at the same time, going back to what General Clark was saying, you know, we dismiss a quarter of a million young soldiers every year for all sorts of reasons. About one-third of one percent fit the category of homosexuals. Every soldier that walks out the door is a loss. But every one of those decisions is made on the best interest of the military, based on the laws that Congress has given us. They either change the laws, after considering all the requisite information that the Pentagon hopefully will provide without bias. Then we can get on and do the important business of fighting the wars of this country.
KING: Lieutenant Choi, have you thought of quitting?
CHOI: What kind of question is that, Larry? Why would you ever ask a soldier to quit?
KING: Because they don't want you if you admit who you are.
CHOI: Well, I think that the morals that you're taught and the values that you're taught at the very first day of your basic training, that's what you fall back on whenever you have a gray area, or whenever you have a difficult decision. And I think anybody here in this can understand that. We've learned -- my dad is a Southern Baptist minister. And he taught me from the very first, I don't care what you did, just tell me the truth.
Those are the values that we fall back on. My instinct right now? I was given the chance to quit, and I would most likely hold onto all of my benefits. As a combat veteran, I think I've earned some of those. But I said no, I'm putting it all on the line, because I learned on that very first day that you tell the truth, and there can be consequences. There can be risks. But, for me, being solidly sound in those things that I was taught from day one, I'm confident that I made the right decision.
KING: We're going to do a lot more on this. I thank you all very much.
A former POW is with us. Her fight for life wasn't just on the battlefield, next.
KING: We welcome Shoshana Johnson back to LARRY KING LIVE. She is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She and other members of the 507th Maintenance Company were taken captive March 23, 2003. She was held prisoner 22 days. Author of a terrific new book "I'm Still Standing; From Captive US Soldier to Free Citizen, My Journey Home."
Before we get into this, what do you make of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell controversy?
SHOSHANA JOHNSON, FORMER POW: Silly. If men and women want to serve in our military, I really don't care who they want to sleep with. It's all about serving your country.
KING: So you would repeal it?
JOHNSON: Yes, definitely.
KING: It's been seven years since you were a POW. Do you think about it a lot?
JOHNSON: Still. Very much so. The conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq is still in the media, so it's hard to forget.
KING: How were you caught? JOHNSON: During an ambush, vehicles were disabled. Basically, it seemed like the whole city of Nazariyah came out and participated in the ambush. I was shot and -- shot and caught, basically.
KING: Shot where?
JOHNSON: In both my legs.
KING: What were those 22 days like?
JOHNSON: It was hard to describe. You know, fear every day that they would just be done with you, and just kill you, and end it all, wondering about my family, my daughter, you know, wondering where the special forces were.
KING: How were you treated?
JOHNSON: Pretty humanely. I can't complain. Was it perfect? No, it wasn't. But compared to what I expected, I'm very grateful.
KING: You write in the book that you were not raped, but you wonder about the possibility. What do you mean?
JOHNSON: During the medical care, I had an operation and I was given general anesthesia for the first time ever, and I don't know what happened, basically.
KING: You're right. Do you suspect something might have happened?
JOHNSON: I try not to think like that, you know. They treated me with kindness. I'm just going to leave it at that, but I have to admit I don't know what happened every second.
KING: Your captors told you about seeing your mother on television, didn't they?
KING: What did that do to you?
JOHNSON: It broke me down. The first thing I thought was, what is my mom going through; what's my daughter going through? Of course, when I came home, it turned out it was my grandmother, not my mother, who they had seen on television. But it really hit home. I had tried to be so tough and not be the whimpering female that that really tore at my heart.
KING: Were you married?
JOHNSON: No, I've never been married.
KING: How were you freed?
JOHNSON: The united states Marine Corps came to the rescue.
KING: What happened?
JOHNSON: It seems they got a tip from an Iraqi individual, and they took the tip and ran with it, and basically kicked down the door where we were at.
KING: How many were captured there?
JOHNSON: It was seven of us being held in the house.
KING: Did they get all seven out?
JOHNSON: All seven out.
KING: Were you the only one wounded?
JOHNSON: No, Joseph Hudson, he had three bullets to his back. He got shot in the buttocks. And then Edgar Hernandez took a bullet to his arm.
KING: Were you discharged after that?
JOHNSON: In 2003, I got a medical discharge because of my legs, my back and the PTSD.
KING: Had you signed up for a career in the service?
JOHNSON: In the beginning, no. I just wanted to do the first three years, get out, and go to culinary school. But after I had my daughter, I thought I could make this a career and still pursue my culinary dreams.
KING: Why did you write the book?
JOHNSON: To put to rest a lot of questions, basically. I heard a lot of different versions of what had happened to me. And I wanted to set the story straight. Now people can pick it up and see what happened from my point of view.
KING: There were misunderstandings?
JOHNSON: Misunderstandings, out and out lies. There were a lot of things about me running away and shooting over my shoulder; I was leading the convoy; I'm the reason they got lost. Totally untrue.
KING: All wrong?
JOHNSON: All wrong.
KING: More after this.
KING: Shoshana Johnson is with us. Her terrific book is "I'm Still Standing: From Captive US Soldier to Free Citizen, My Journey Home." You decided you should write to get out of the Army because you had problems with blatant resentment and pettiness from fellow officers. What do you mean?
JOHNSON: There seemed to be a lot of resentment.
JOHNSON: Of the attention I got, all the media, going to certain events, even military events. They started complaining about the color of my lipstick, to the color of my nail polish, which was really silly, because these were the same things I used before I was deployed.
KING: What rank were you?
JOHNSON: Specialist, E-4.
KING: You got a medical discharge, so you'll get a pension for life, right?
JOHNSON: Yes, I will.
KING: What's ahead now? What are you going to you?
JOHNSON: I'm in culinary school in El Paso, Texas.
KING: You made it.
JOHNSON: Yes, I did. I'm studying to be a pastry chef. I'm enjoying it. I'm raising my daughter, just enjoying life as much as I can.
KING: How do you look back at your military career?
JOHNSON: I loved it. I enjoyed being in the military. And I don't regret for one second joining up. It was something that I think improved my life, improved my outlook on life, and made me feel -- really appreciate the freedom I enjoy.
KING: What'd you make of all the media attention?
JOHNSON: It was kind of a pain in the butt.
KING: Did the other six captors resent it?
JOHNSON: No, not at all. We are very tight.
KING: Because you got the most.
JOHNSON: Yeah, but --
KING: You did.
JOHNSON: You know, we understood that we shared a bond that nobody could understand and nobody could come between. They're my brothers and I can lean on them anytime. KING: You were, am I correct, the first black POW in American history.
JOHNSON: Black female, yeah.
KING: Black female.
JOHNSON: It's not a title that I like.
KING: Did they have to convince you to write this book? Was there any hesitancy at all?
JOHNSON: There was a lot of hesitancy. My family insisted --
KING: Didn't want you?
JOHNSON: No, they insisted that I write the book. You know, they're your family. They think what you do is so important and so wonderful. I wasn't sure that other people would think that also. And I'm expecting some people to not like it, some people to make dirty comments and everything like that. But I know, in my heart, that I've told the truth.
KING: How old is your daughter Janelle (ph) now?
JOHNSON: She is nine years old, four foot eight, 100 pounds.
KING: Fourth grade?
KING: I know. I've got a nine-year-old. Would you mind if she joined the military?
JOHNSON: I wouldn't mind at all. I would definitely sit down with her and let her know what it's really like to be in the military. And if she makes that decision after our talk, I will support her 110 percent. I enjoyed my time in the military. And there are times when I actually miss it, the camaraderie.
KING: Keep in touch with other soldiers?
JOHNSON: Yeah, definitely.
KING: Thank you, dear. Good luck.
JOHNSON: Thank you very much.
KING: This will be a best seller.
JOHNSON: I hope.
KING: Shoshana Johnson, "I'm Still Standing: From Captive US Soldier to Free Citizen, My Journey Home."
James Cameron and the cast of "Avatar" will be here tomorrow night. If you have a question for them, go to CNN.com/LarryKing and fire away or Tweet me at KingsThings. We've got a preview, next.
KING: Oscar nominations were announced today and the epic "Avatar" received nine nods, including best picture, best director. Speaking of which, James Cameron will be here tomorrow night. So will the cast and others who helped create the two billion dollar grossing blockbuster. Here's a look at the movie that's changed the film game forever. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Action!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look out!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to be kidding me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will never be one of the people!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: James Cameron and the cast of "Avatar" tomorrow night.