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CNN Larry King Weekend
America Readies to Strike Back
Aired September 15, 2001 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are at war. There's been an act of war declared upon America by terrorists, and we will respond accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, America gets ready to strike back, but how hard and against who? Meantime, recovery efforts and emotional memories. Will we ever really feel safe again? Lots of guests tonight, and of course LARRY KING LIVE working seven nights a week, as is everyone else here at CNN.
The top headlines and developments for this Saturday, September 15: President Bush, as you know, has declared the fact that we are at war. He names Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in the terrorist attacks. At ground zero in New York, 152 bodies have been discovered. The number of missing is 4,972, and there are more bodies recovered at the Pentagon. Repairs to cost over $1 billion.
We start in Phoenix with Senator John McCain, a member of the Armed Services Committee. The president says we are at war. With whom, where's it going to be fought, and how?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Yesterday, we prayed and tomorrow we fight, and it will be a war against those who choose to or seek to inflict damage upon the United States of America, who hate the United States of America -- both organizations and those countries that harbor them. If we wiped out Mr. bin Laden tomorrow, I still think we would face a terrorist threat from certain countries in the Middle East. And so...
KING: So what do we do? Where's the battlefield, senator?
MCCAIN: I think we have got to be patient. I think that tomorrow we could probably launch a bunch of cruise missiles, which have proven to be singularly ineffective in the past. I think this may take some time, I think it's going to take some planning, and I think it could include a wide range of military options, including putting troops on the ground. Not for a long period of time, but put them on the ground in order to get the mission accomplished.
But I think the important message here is is that this isn't going to be easy. It's going to be very, very difficult against an elusive target. But at the same time, I'm convinced we can prevail and we will vanquish them.
KING: You see nothing imminent, though?
MCCAIN: Well, these things take time, and I would rather see, very frankly, a very effective operation than perhaps something we could do today or tomorrow, and that would be just to fire off some cruise missiles at some targets or suspected areas where bin Laden or his people are.
So, I don't know how soon we are going to act, but I hope that when we do that it will be a very well-thought out and well-planned operation, and one which we can be happy about.
KING: Senator, is the next phase going to be sadly biological?
MCCAIN: I don't know. There's a variety of threats. I've often said we've gone from a very dangerous world during the Cold War to a much less predictable world.
There are a variety of threats, as we know, including missiles and nuclear weapons and biological and chemical warfare, as well as people crossing our borders and doing bad things to us, but that's all the more reason why we have to go to the source. It would be very difficult for us to seal off all of our borders, and so we have to go to the source, but we also obviously have to take added measures here in the United States, particularly at airports.
KING: So nothing will ever be the same?
MCCAIN: Not completely, but I hope that we can reach a point where we can have most of our freedoms. If we don't, then obviously then our enemies will have prevailed, but to be honest with you, I don't think air travel is ever going to be exactly the same, but our mission is to eradicate these threats to the United States so that we can have as much normal lives as possible.
KING: Do you fear, Senator McCain, as what happened to Russia, a protracted conflict, if it's Afghanistan?
MCCAIN: I see perhaps a protracted conflict against various terrorist organizations and nations that harbor them. And by the way, these nations are going to have to make a choice between harboring terrorist organizations and having friendly relations with the United States.
But I don't see us ever trying to occupy Afghanistan the way the Russians and the British have tried. I don't envision that scenario, because I just don't think it would be profitable and I think we might suffer the same fate. But I think we may be in and out of that country. That's one of the military options.
KING: Is your worst fear biological in that that's something, that's no plane going into a building, that's something in a water system? MCCAIN: Well, I hate to enumerate my fears. I would rather concentrate on our strengths, on our dedication, on our commitment, on the steadfastness of our purpose, and frankly my support of the president of the president of the United States.
I'm very concerned about a number of threats and have been for a long time, but I believe that the United States of America can stop these and prevent them from occurring, as long as we remain steadfast. And I keep saying it over and over again, Americans now are going to have to be not only steadfast but patient.
KING: Two other quick things. During the campaign, you were concerned about -- when you were running -- military preparedness. Have your concerns been allayed?
MCCAIN: I think we still have a lot of work to do with the military to restructure the military to meet the post-Cold War threats. I think we are very, very good at doing things that we needed to do during the Cold War. I don't think we are as good as we should be at combating threats such as the ones that we are now facing, so there still has to be a fundamental reorganization and restructuring of the military, and we haven't done that yet. And Congress, because of their pork-barrel spending, is partially to blame.
KING: Do you think the people are ready for a protracted period of time?
MCCAIN: I think the moments -- the greatest moments in American history have been times of crisis. Americans have again rallied, they've again displayed their heroism. New chapters of American heroism have been written in the last few days and are being written as we speak. I have the utmost confidence in the American people, because that's why we are the greatest nation in the world.
KING: Thanks, senator, as always. And glad to see you're feeling well.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
KING: Senator John McCain, member of the Armed Services Committee. In a moment, Senator Joe Biden. We'll devote that moment to a portion of what the president had to say this morning. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: There's no question about it. This act will not stand. We will find those who did it. We will smoke them out of their holes. We will get them running, and we will bring them to justice. We will not only deal with the -- those who dare attack America, we will deal with those who harbor them and feed them and house them.
Make no mistake about it. Underneath our tears is the strong determination of America to win this war. And we will win it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: By the way, I should have mentioned at the beginning, we will be taking phone calls throughout the program tonight if you would like to call in. We now welcome from Wilmington, Delaware, his home, Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
You heard what Senator McCain had to say, you heard what the president has had to say. What's your interpretation of us being now at war?
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS CHAIRMAN: I think we are at war, Larry, but in an unconventional sense. You asked who are we at war with and who were we going to go to war with. The difference here is that we are not -- we are at war with international terrorist organizations that cross borders, but the good news is I think we are going to go to war with a hell of a lot of people on our side, including our NATO allies, including possibly Russia and Pakistan and a number of other countries.
And Larry, I see this as a phenomenal opportunity to for the first time, for the first time, to do with international terrorism what President Bush, the first President Bush, did in rallying the world to deal with Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. And I don't have a single, single, single scintilla of a doubt about the will of the American people, none, zero, none. I'm absolutely, positively certain they will rise to this, and they will have the patience, they will have the courage, and they will have the stick-to-itness.
And last point, Larry, you know, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, General Yamamoto said something that was very prophetic. He said, "we've awaken the sleeping giant and we have sawn the seeds for our own destruction and we have created a terrible resolve in America." There is a terrible resolve created, and these guys are going to be taken care of.
KING: The world is a different place now, though, isn't it, Senator Biden? For example, let's say you go out and you wipe out a terrorist. And we brought this up earlier, and they react with biological warfare? How do you counteract something like that? They're not going to let it stand, are they?
BIDEN: Well, they sure as hell may not let it stand, but Larry, look, that's why I've been holding hearings on so-called homeland threats. We got to do first things first. This has changed a lot.
I hope we are now all resolved that we are going to deal with what Sam Nunn and others have been talking about, biological and chemicals weapons. Larry, there's chemical weapons laying all over the former Soviet Union and Russia, and Russia is asking us for help to corral them, and we haven't been putting up the money to go in and get them. We -- you know, they sit in store houses with padlocks on them.
There are a total of 90,000 people in those so-called nuclear cities in Russia who are scientists ready to go to the highest bidder unless we get them, you know, back to work somehow. There's a lot of things we had can do, Larry, and I think this is a heck of a wakeup call.
And, look, the U.N. is going to pass the resolution saying that international terrorism is the obligation of all countries to cooperate now. They've never done that before. This is the opportunity, Larry, to begin the end of international terrorist networks. And we can't do it alone. We've got to do it with the cooperation of other countries...
KING: Do you agree with Senator McCain that it has to be carefully planned; that we can't act impetuously, like tomorrow morning?
BIDEN: Absolutely, positively; for two reasons. One, it may make us feel good, but it may end up breaking that coalition.
For example, right now I've spoke with the head of security, the head of the ISI -- you know, the CIA of Pakistan. They have been very reluctant to be anywhere near us. They are granting us specific opportunities. Musharraf,the president of Pakistan, is coming on board in a way he never has before because he has no choice.
Let's not give these guys, including the moderate Arab states who are seeking cooperation, a way out. Plan this, lay it out for them, do it with the support of the international community and keep it up. And that's the only way, Larry, we're going to be able to deal long- term with international terrorism. And get to the business of dealing with things -- we can do about biological weapons, we can do about chemical weapons. There's much that can be done, Larry -- and increase our intelligence assets and human intelligence. It all costs money, though. It's a matter of priorities.
KING: We have a call for you senator: Malibu, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello Senator Biden.
CALLER: I'm very concerned about people waking up Monday morning and wanting to sell all their stocks. What can you tell us tonight to prevent that from happening so that America can stay strong and we send that message?
KING: That's a big fear.
BIDEN: That is a big fear. I predict what will happen is there will be an initial sell-off and it will bounce back like it did after -- I mean, bounce back in the same day like it did after Pearl Harbor, like it did after the World Trade tower was first bombed.
And ma'am, what we've got to stop doing is listening to anybody who tells us we're going to have to change our way of life. Larry, we don't have to give up a single civil liberty or single freedom. I predict to you that our kids are going to be reading about this period as marking the beginning of the end of international terrorism -- not the beginning of the end of America's way of life.
There is no reason why we cannot, worldwide, deal with this. And Larry, every single leader in the world that I've spoken with, they can picture that -- those two planes crashing into anything from the Eiffel Tower to hundreds of buildings in Shanghai. That's why they've all figured this out. This is nation states versus transnational terrorist organizations. And they're all in it, Larry. They've all figured it. This has been a wake-up call.
KING: One more thing senator: Of all the people I've seen speak, you appear the most, for want of a different word, optimistic.
BIDEN: I'm determined and optimistic because I believe, Larry, there's nothing naive about us. We have faced things like this before. And my God, every generation has stepped up to it. And this so called X generation has as much courage, as much resolve as any generation. Remember, Larry, the World War II generation, the greatest in the world, waited until all the British troops were swimming in the English Channel. It wasn't until we got attacked at Pearl Harbor that the resolve was there.
The resolve is there now, Larry. This is a sustained way in which we're going to go at this. It will be multi-lateral, with us leading the way. I think it's a phenomenal opportunity to bring the beginning of the end. We have to be suck the oxygen out of the air of this -- that these terrorist breathe. And we do that by denying them the places in which they have free passage.
KING: Thank you senator. Always good seeing you.
BIDEN: Thank you. Good to see you. I believe this.
KING: It comes through. Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
We go now to Washington, where we are joined by Judith Miller, senior writer for the "New York Times." She is an expert on terrorism in the Middle East, she's covered bin Laden since 1993 and has had a new book out, rather timely -- "Germs, Biological Weapons and America's Secret War." How much do you fear them against the West, Judith?
JUDITH MILLER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, Larry, I wouldn't have written the book if I didn't really think this is the weapon and the problem, the challenge of the future. What we saw in terms of the damage just from a conventional weapon, which were these four jumbo jets loaded with fuel turned against us, persuaded me that there's nothing these people won't use against the United States if they can get their hands on them.
KING: Meaning anything.
MILLER: Anything, and we've seen that Osama bin Laden has consistently tried to buy, steal, acquire chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and components, and it is, alas, I fear, just a question of time, unless those networks are disrupted, and that's pretty much what we talk about in this book.
KING: Is there any fear, Judith, of fixating on bin Laden alone?
MILLER: Well, I have urged people not to do that, because the problem is not one man. He is surrounded by some Egyptian militants who are extraordinarily professional, bloody-minded and equally capable of taking over the organization if something happens to him.
So the problem is really not only getting rid of bin Laden and the clique around him and the hundreds of members of his organization, which is called al Qaeda, or the base, but also uprooting the networks, the affiliated groups, the sleeper agents that he's planted through America, Europe, the Middle East. This is a monumental undertaking.
KING: My brother called me, very nervous, with a good question. Follow the money -- who is paying for all this? Where's it coming from?
MILLER: Well, one of the advantage of biological weapons is that they are a lot cheaper than nuclear weapons, and in fact the kind of terrorism that Mr. bin Laden specializes in does not cost a great deal of money.
KING: Didn't cost a lot to do what happened last Tuesday?
MILLER: It did not. It is not the same as trying to build a nuclear weapon or spend millions of dollars buying components, or stealing radioactive material. This is something that we are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars, and bin Laden comes from one of the wealthiest families. Even though they've disowned him, he has his own personal fortune, which he has poured into this movement, and his agents and his networks know that they too have to fend for themselves.
As we've seen in previous bin Laden operations, many of these guys are out there kind of robbing delis and stealing cell phones to raise money for their operations. Now, in this case, there was money for flight schools, but still you're not talking about the kind of money that's easy to trace. It's very hard to do that.
KING: They didn't have to build a 767.
MILLER: Exactly, or even pay the fuel bill.
KING: They took it, right. What can you tell us about bin Laden that obviously we don't know, we are just learning about him. You've been watching him a long time. What would surprise us the most about him?
MILLER: What's the surprise? I think to me there are almost no more surprises in the man, except his absolute determination to do what he says he's going to do.
I think a lot of people just dismissed him, you know, this kind of wacky Saudi financier of terror, and they say what can he do sitting in Afghanistan? And I guess what is amazing is the strength of those networks that he manages to control indirectly, from Afghanistan. Now Afghanistan is a very remote place, as Americans will soon discover, and the idea that he can maneuver in this fashion from a place without telephones, without good communications, it's very impressive that he is able to function at all.
KING: We are going to take a call for you and then bring in some other members of our panel, but you said Americans will soon discover. You think that America is going to Afghanistan?
MILLER: Well, I think America is certainly preparing itself to act against Afghanistan, should it not turn Mr. bin Laden and his associates over to the government. I mean, I think that part of what we are seeing is an effort to persuade the Taliban that if they don't change their minds, they will pay a terrible price.
Now, this message, by the way, Larry, has been delivered to them before, after the embassy bombings in Africa in 1998, after the Cole. The Taliban were told, you must turn him over. The U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution cutting off weapons to him, saying no nation shall supply Afghanistan. This was routinely disregarded, and so this is going to be a terrible challenge.
KING: Indianapolis, call for Judith Miller, hello.
CALLER: Hello, good evening. What I am wondering is, what can Americans do to ready ourselves for germ warfare? Is there anything? Two questions. That's the first one.
MILLER: Well, that's a hugely important and very good question. And in fact, there is a lot we can do, which is another reason that my colleagues and I from the "Times" wanted to write this book, but most of it is not sexy. It's not the kind of stuff that this administration has been talking about it. It's not national missile defense, it's not building hardware.
The most important thing that we can do is invest in public health, to make sure that every doctor, nurse and pharmacist in this country understands what a case of anthrax or heaven forbid, small pox looks like. Right now, these networks in our country have been really ignored or underfunded, and people don't like to spend money in these quiet ways, but it's one of the most important things we can do.
KING: It's a very important book, "Germs, Biological Weapons and America's Secret War," very timely.
Let's bring in -- let's bring in -- let's bring in David Firestone. He's in West Palm Beach, national correspondent for the "New York Times," reporting on tactics of the 19 men believed to be the hijackers, had a superb piece today. And Michael Isikoff, he's in Washington along with Judith Miller, investigative correspondent of "Newsweek," we've had him on frequently. He reports the FBI is linking Tuesday's attacks to the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, and that will be in the edition of "Newsweek" coming out Monday.
And by the way, gentlemen and Judith, and we will start with you, David, they have officially -- the administration given a name to this saga, it is Operation Noble Eagle. Operation Noble Eagle is now the name of this effort. David, do you want to respond to that? Do you think it's a good idea?
DAVID FIRESTONE, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I'm not really qualified to judge the administration's response, but we have spent the last few days knocking on doors around Florida and trying to figure out who these guys were, and we've come up with some rather remarkable details.
FIRESTONE: One of the things we found from an FBI document, for example, was the way they used the conveniences that modern business travelers use, such as online travel agencies like Travelocity. They used their frequent flyer numbers to book these flights, in some cases. They used store fronts like Mailboxes Et Cetera, which so many Americans us, as essentially a mail drop.
These were extremely well planned. But even more than well planned, they understood how this society works and how they could use it for their own anonymity and for their own purposes.
KING: Meaning they have studied it a long time?
KING: Michael Isikoff, your report coming out, and we've got an advance of it here, almost definitely links part of this group of hijackers, especially those at the Pentagon, to the Cole, right?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, "NEWSWEEK": Well, we do know that the FBI and the CIA had knowledge of at least two of the suspected hijackers, and in fact, the Bureau had an active investigation going, looking for those two individuals right up until Tuesday's bombing.
Just at the end of last month in late August, the CIA notified first the INS and the FBI that these two individuals, one of whom was Khalid Al-Midhar, had been captured on a surveillance videotape in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a meeting with one of the suspected leaders of the group that bombed the USS Cole last October and killed 12 sailors, and of course it was -- law enforcement had already tied the Cole bombing to the bin Laden organization.
So they had an association of this guy, Al-Midhar, with a top associate of bin Laden. They notified the INS about this guy in late August and asked that he be put on a terrorist watch list to keep him out of the country, and the INS discovers that he's already in the country, and had come in this year with another individual, and so that is passed along to the Bureau. The FBI begins an active investigation looking for them.
The problem is, they didn't have much to go on. The only information they had about where they might be was the address they listed with immigration authorities, and it was Marriott Hotel, New York, which doesn't tell you a whole lot. Yeah, well, that's right, at least 10 hotels. The Bureau methodically went down checking every hotel record, every record of everybody who had checked into the Marriott Hotel in New York this year, and came up with no matches.
They also started looking in Southern California, because they discovered that these two guys had also come into the country last year under a business visa. Again, no matches.
KING: David and Judith, this is for both of you. David, is this a breakdown here, or is this something that no one could have found?
FIRESTONE: Well, I'm not sure what the security agencies are capable of doing in terms of listening to phone calls, but I think it would be almost impossible for them to monitor the kinds of Internet traffic, for instance, that these guys used, because they were so mundane, in a sense.
A couple of these guys, for instance, went into Kinko's to use the Internet. In a sense, it's a method of hiding in plain sight that's enormously effective. By blending in singles apartments, for example, around Florida, and by using the same methods that all of us use to communicate and to get around, they were able to disguise their behavior, even from people who saw them every day.
KING: Judith, are they that bright?
MILLER: Well, it would be a mistake to underestimate them, Larry. But I would say this also about their names. Arabic names often have three or four parts. It's rarely just two names, and they're spelled differently, and someone's name can be on an INS watch list, and he can change a letter or two, or take out his middle name, and INS will not find him.
This is really hard work, and INS I think -- in previous hearings, we've learned that one of the great shortages in American intelligence is people who know how to speak the languages of the people that we are watching, and I think that continues to be a problem.
ISIKOFF: We are also reporting -- we are also reporting tonight that along these lines, that the U.S. military has some indication that at least some of the names of the suspected hijackers match names of people who were trained -- who had been trained at the naval air station in Pensacola, where the U.S. military trains foreign pilots.
Now, they don't know that it's the same -- that these hijackers were actually trained by the U.S. military, which I think would be quite a horrific irony if it turns out to be true, or if they took the names of people who had been trained by the U.S. military, but that does underscore the difficulty that Judy is talking about.
KING: David, do you think action is imminent? Retaliatory action.
FIRESTONE: Well, it certainly sounds like they're a trying to prepare the nation for a protracted struggle here, although I don't know if you can do it just with radio addresses. You know, clearly they're going to have to lay out, either while it's happening or ahead of time, exactly what we are in for. I'm not sure people really understand the length and the degree of difficulty that lies ahead.
KING: Thank you all very much. Judith Miller, we will be calling on all of you again, senior writer for the "New York Times," her book "Germs, Biological Weapons and America's Secret War." David Firestone, national correspondent for the "New York Times," and Michael Isikoff of "Newsweek" and his piece will run on the Monday edition coming out -- comes out in many areas Sunday night. Judith Miller, David Firestone, Michael Isikoff, we thank you very much.
We will meet our next panel. Here's though a shot of New York City right now. Smoke still coming through. And the rescue operations continue. No bodies were found today as of when we went on the air, no survivors. I don't think any bodies were found either.
In Washington, D.C. is Colonel Bill Taylor, United States Army retired, combat veteran and expert on national security issues, including terrorism. Nice seeing Bill again. In Washington also is James Woolsey, the former director of the CIA. And here in Los Angeles, our own terrorist expert Brian Jenkins, been with us frequently, consultant to governments and a private sector, senior adviser to the president of the Rand Corporation.
Colonel Taylor, how much of a breakdown in security was this?
COL. BILL TAYLOR, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I think the breakdown mainly was in our intelligence. Whatever we do, whatever options we go after, intelligence with a big I is number one. You don't organize military forces to go operate somewhere unless you know what the target is, where it is, how it moves. All that is intelligence. That will tell you how to configure your forces, how to do your capability analysis, how to develop your capability, your contingency plans.
KING: Does that mean, James Woolsey, that your former agency failed?
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, it means American intelligence overseas certainly needs some improvement in being able to pick up (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people being coming to this country, but some of these people in "New York Times" this morning have been here for eight years. Anything that happens in this country is of course the responsibility of local law enforcement or the FBI. So, whatever was taking place overseas, you want the CIA or other intelligence agencies to be able to pick up.
Now, there have been some limitations put on that in the last few years that clearly ought to come off. On our terrorism commission last summer that reported to the Congress, we said that the guidelines that were put in for the CIA in late 1995 -- I hasten so say after I left the job -- that made it harder to recruit people who might have some violence in their past as spies, really needed to come off right away. That's like telling the FBI they should penetrate the mafia, but they can't get as informants anybody who might be a crook. I mean, it's just a terrible idea to have those restrictions.
And then also, the government increased the funding for counter terrorism by the CIA in 1999, because they were worried about Y2K. And in fact, a number of terrorist operations were stopped, and then in typical fashion, in the morning after Y2K was over, the budgeters in both the executive branch and the Congress dusted off their hands and said, "well, that problem is now solved," and they took the budget back down again.
So there are things that need to be fixed, definitely.
KING: Brian, it looks from what we've heard tonight in talking to these journalists and senators that this is a tough enemy, that it's smart, resourceful and knows how to use things people use every day.
BRIAN JENKINS, TERRORISM EXPERT: They are. There's one other thing that however comes out of this operation that I think has caused a significant revision in how we have looked at some of these possible attacks, and that is we have often operated under the notion that the terrorist suicide attack was not something that could be easily exported from the Middle East. That the recruitment and the maintenance of a suicide bomber was such that you couldn't really launch them at great distance or time from the target.
Here we have seen individuals, sophisticated individuals, training to be pilots, living normal lives in America, taking out the garbage on the right day.
KING: Going to bars.
JENKINS: Going to bars, eating hamburgers on the weekend, and yet all the while knowing that on a certain date they are going to kill themselves and thousands of people.
KING: And there's no background for that, right? There is a study -- people who have studied terrorism say there's no history of terrorists being like this.
JENKINS: There's not a history of that that we can find in the annals of contemporary terrorism, no.
KING: So therefore, Colonel Taylor, that being true, might we be on guard for anything happening?
TAYLOR: I think we have to be prepared for all kinds of contingencies. We've got the best trained, best equipped military forces anywhere in the world. But remember, even our own chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shelton, over the last year has repeatedly said our forces are underfunded, over-stretched. "Our forces are frayed," he has said.
We have to keep that in mind. We can't ask them to do the impossible. We have to think about economy of force. We cannot talk about using force, military force in the abstract. We can't say, well, we have 12 carrier battle groups, 52 fighter squadrons, 10 Army divisions. We've got other things around the world that we are having to watch, other threats, like North Korea, Saddam Hussein who can still cause an awful lot of trouble. So we can't concentrate all our forces on whatever our intelligence tells us that we are supposed to be able to do, if it is Taliban, Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
All this takes a lot of very good planning by the joint staff over in the Pentagon, by the FBI, by the CIA, by the National Security Council staff. And these people, these men and women are working around the clock. They are good. We will be ready, but we are not going to be ready tomorrow for any kind of go fast out there and kill somebody. That's not the way it works.
KING: San Carlos, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. I have a question for you and your panel, Larry. And I'm concerned about the security issue, about the amount of information that we are releasing through newscasts. I've been watching CNN ever since this started, and there's some things I've heard I don't like regarding our intentions and when we intend to do these things, and I wonder if anybody is paying any attention to the information that's being released.
KING: Yeah, in fact, James, I was just going to ask you, what's your scenario for what's going to happen next, and the gentleman's caller is saying should we be talking about that?
WOOLSEY: Well, this country is a free country with a First Amendment, and the way we do this is to hash most of it out, not all of it, most of it out before everybody. I think that...
KING: There's a downside to that, though.
WOOLSEY: Well, there is in a sense, but we have to reach a national consensus on how to support the president to get the job done. And certainly no one is angrier than I when we see from time to time someone say that, you know, an agent said such and such, or an intercept of a communication said such and such, because that almost always blows a source that you could use in the future.
But I've got to say that it's between that and doing what the British have, having a National Secrets Act, which gives the government great and substantial powers to repress free expression -- I'll go with our system. Out of our cacophony, I think on the long run we do better.
KING: Brian, what's your scenario? What do you think is going to happen?
JENKINS: I don't know what's going to happen. I mean, clearly there is going to be two objectives in any type of military operations in the future. One would be to reckon with those who are directly and indirectly responsible for the actions that took place on September 11. The second is going to demonstrate that international terrorism, as a mode of conflict, is unacceptable and a dangerous course of action for any nation to support.
KING: Indianapolis, hello.
CALLER: Yes. I understand that the Taliban controls about two- thirds of Afghanistan, and I'm wondering, how many people are we dealing with here -- if in terms of the Taliban organization? And just secondly, is their ideology parallel to bin Laden?
KING: Colonel Taylor, what do we know?
TAYLOR: We know that the so-called freedom fighters, fighting against the Soviet Union from 1979 until the late 1980s -- with our support, by the way and other support -- did an awfully good job.
KING: Do we know how big the Taliban is?
TAYLOR: I don't. Maybe Jim Woolsey or Brian does.
KING: Jim, do you know? Jim, do you know?
WOOLSEY: I think their fighting forces are something on the range of thousands to a few tens of thousands. Their most effective unit is really the one that bin Laden has been associated with and his people. They control maybe 90 percent of the country, and until Massoud was either assassinated or very badly injured, I guess the word is still not in on that, the Northern commander who was fighting them, just the day before the attack on us, I think there was a reasonably strong resistance, at least in the north to them, but that may be very heavily damaged by the attack on Massoud.
KING: The likelihood, Brian, that they would give up bin Laden is remote?
JENKINS: I think it's likely.
KING: Save a lot of lives.
JENKINS: They have been warned before. I think their belief system, their connections with bin Laden would make it very, very difficult for them to do so. Certainly right now the pressures are on them in a way that they haven't been on them before, but it would be perilous for me to attempt to predict what's inside the mind of the Taliban leaders in Kabul.
KING: We thank Colonel Bill Taylor, James Woolsey and Brian Jenkins. We'll be calling on all again. We appreciate it, gentlemen.
We go now to FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Standing by is Joe Allbaugh, the director of FEMA, that's the Federal Emergency Management Administration. He was in New York on Wednesday, he's a close friend of the president, was there with the president when he toured yesterday. What's the latest on the situation there, Joe? Apparently nothing's been discovered. I mean, it's so slow. Why?
JOE ALLBAUGH, FEMA DIRECTOR: Well, it's a very tedious process, Larry. It's a crime scene, remember. There must be respect and dignity also paid and cared for for those individuals who are still buried in the rubble. There are 600,000 tons of debris in New York City. I visited the Pentagon this morning, came back from New York City this afternoon. I visited the Pentagon this afternoon after I arrived, and it's a much smaller situation, even though it's just as serious at the Pentagon, and moving a little bit quicker there, but both situations, and even the one in Pennsylvania, very, very serious.
KING: These swabbing cheeks for DNA, the concept there is what, Joe?
ALLBAUGH: Swabbing cheeks for DNA -- that is to match up and make sure when we are coming across bodies that may be unrecognizable or there's no identification, we need to match up DNA for identifying body parts.
KING: I mean, that's quite an operation, though, isn't it?
ALLBAUGH: It is a massive operation conducted by not only New York City's finest, but we have disaster and mortuary team on site in New York City to handle that.
KING: You just stepped into this agency. What's your read on how well the New York people are handling it?
ALLBAUGH: I will tell you, Larry, if this incident was to be happening anywhere else other than New York City, we would probably be approaching the way we are handling it in a much different fashion. These folks obviously have suffered through one attack on the World Trade Center. They are the best.
Last week, I was in New York City having lunch with a shift at rescue one downtown New York City. Ray Downey was on my left, Captain Terry Hatten (ph) was on my right, they were a part of New York City's best trained firefighters, and today they're gone. I sat with the entire crowd around a huge table for lunch, and they're gone.
I met Terry's wife last night, Beth, and his dad, Ken, and I wish I could ease their pain as well as all the other firefighters' families and the police officers. It's extremely tough. It's going to take a long time for everyone to get through this, but we will get through it.
KING: How many months is this going take, Joe, to clear out?
ALLBAUGH: I have no idea, Larry. I have no idea. We are just scratching the surface really, getting into the debris in New York City. It will be several, several weeks here at the Pentagon, and I just cannot commend the bravery and the dedication of the firefighters, the law enforcement officials, our military, emergency officials. I mean, they are doing yeoman duty and we ought to thank every one of them for putting their lives on the line.
KING: And Joe, one other thing and we will be calling on you again, of course. What does FEMA need, if anything, from the lay public? ALLBAUGH: We need patience more than anything else. Everyone wants to do something across America. First and foremost, donate blood. The country always needs blood. I think we are fine insofar as our immediate supply in New York City and Northern Virginia, but we can always use blood as a country.
Light a candle, say prayers, hug your loved ones, appreciate your next door neighbor. Put your petty differences aside, quite frankly. Let's focus on the bigger picture. Let's think about those who have lost their lives and also those who are putting their lives at risk trying to save folks we hope that are still alive, Larry.
KING: And that's 1-800-933-BLOOD if you want more information. And you're asking people to donate blood no matter where they live, right?
ALLBAUGH: Regardless, regardless. The nation always needs blood. And I would ask for their patience, their prayers. Everyone wants to come to New York City. Please give us time to set up the proper systems. Mayor Giuliani has done a fabulous job. Governor Pataki, they're working so hard, their teams, but we don't want to overburden an already fragile system.
Let us work through this. I know everyone wants to get in the middle of the fray, but let's let the professionals go about it in a systematic fashion, Larry.
KING: Let me get this clear. So what you're saying is, don't come to New York to help. Send money maybe or blood, but don't come to New York to help.
ALLBAUGH: Please, right now -- we may need people to come in and help later on, but give us time to sort through all this. We've got enough people on the ground right at the moment. They're ready to go. They're already engaged. Tommy Vanesen (ph) and his crowd, the New York City fire department and the commissioner of police are doing a fabulous job under very, very strenuous situations.
KING: Thank you Joe. Joe Allbaugh, the director of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
We now see the scene at Union Square in New York, as people still gather and pray to hold a vigil. This is a long -- it's a different kind of Memorial weekend. We had a Memorial Day weekend in May. We are having another unexpected one in September. That's the scene at Union Scare right now in New York City.
Now joining us from Columbus, Ohio is Mary Schiavo, aviation safety expert and the former inspector general, Department of Transportation.
Airline security right now, would you buy a ticket and fly tomorrow, Mary?
MARY SCHIAVO, AVIATION SAFETY EXPERT: No, I would not buy a ticket and fly tomorrow, but unfortunately Americans don't have the choice, and also we do need to make the corrections so we can continue business. If we are headed into war, it's going to be for the long haul, and we've got to fix the system so we can continue literally to work.
KING: And can that fixing be done quickly? When would you fly again?
SCHIAVO: Well, you know, I was awfully glad that we got to hear from Judith Miller, because what we cannot do now -- and I suspect what the terrorists might by expecting us to do is to fix piecemeal. Since they got carried on ceramic knives and things through security, well, we are going look at the screeners and we're going to look at the baggage and we're going to take away stake knives and we're going to stop curbside check-in, and we can't do that at the expense of everything else. And Judith Miller brought up a great point: One of the bad scenarios considered within the FAA was actually spreading germ warfare through the use of international flights.
These are very clever terrorists, and they do seem to have a fixation with aviation, in part because you can wreak so much terror. So, focusing on one thing at the expense of others is very, very dangerous. The suggestion that I would have for fixing things at least in the short term and then eventually in the long term is putting this security under -- this is literally national security now on domestic airports -- but putting security under a law enforcement agency, and the one you could put it on rather quickly within the Department of Transportation by transferring the function and eventually building it up is of course the Coast Guard, because they guard the ports.
KING: So not the FAA, but...?
SCHIAVO: That's right.
KING: All right. What do you make of Continental and Northwest announcing today they're laying back flight schedules, they're cutting flight schedules. Continental laying off 12,000 employees, and the airlines are all of them in big, big trouble.
SCHIAVO: Well, first of all, we've got to remember, as Americans we tend to have short memories about airlines. During Desert Storm, obviously Americans didn't want to travel, not only because of the threat -- but when we are headed to war, frivolous travel goes. And also, the airlines had a down period in the beginning of the '90s.
Now remember, airlines were in trouble already before, partially because of the horrible conditions we experienced, in terms of overcrowding. But what we don't want to see -- and I'm very, very disturbed to see is the airlines taking an advantage of this suffering, asking for bail-outs from Congress, asking for Congress literally before the care teams got on the ground to take care of the victims and their families, asking Congress to protect them from responsibility.
That is just disgusting to me. This is not the time to be talking about a financial protectionism for the airlines. That was a highly, highly I think disingenuous move, and fortunately Congress appears to have defeated it.
KING: Thank you, Mary, we will be calling on you again. Mary Schiavo, a strong critic of the airline industry, and this hasn't tamed her at all. Aviation safety expert, former inspector general for the Department of Transportation.
The New York fire department held three funerals today, its first since Tuesday's terrorist attacks. One of those being mourned, the department's chaplain, Father Michael Judge. He was killed by falling debris as he gave last rites to a dying firefighter. We have a brief look at Father Judge's funeral.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lord, come and bless us. Bless our minds with the gifts of understanding. Bless our eyes with vision, that we may see our lives and the life that you give us. Bless our ears that we may hear your words as you speak to us through so many others.
KING: Joining us now outside the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia is firefighter Mark Skipper. Been a firefighter for seven years, including four years in the military on crash fire rescues, now at the Fort Myer, Virginia fire department, one of three civilian firefighters on duty at the Pentagon when the plane hit.
Where were you when it hit the Pentagon, Mark?
MARK SKIPPER, FIREFIGHTER, PENTAGON ATTACK SURVIVOR: First of all, Larry, I'd like to say that our hearts and prayers go out to the firefighters and their families that were injured in New York and also here at the Pentagon.
To answer your question, we were about 300 feet from the impact site from the collapsed building side. Me, myself and Al Wallace (ph) were standing outside when we saw the plane, not too far from where we are sitting right now, and as soon as we saw it, we started running toward the north side of the building, and that's when we heard the explosion and the incredible crash.
KING: What was the biggest problem as a firefighter you faced?
SKIPPER: Just dealing with all the people at once. There were so many people trying to get out, scared people, people that were not very injured but just shaken up.
KING: Obviously, there is no training for anything like this. Was there any thought of putting out fires?
SKIPPER: We -- as a plane came in, it took out our fire truck, destroyed the back end of it. We tried to put out a few spot fires underneath the truck and around the window that the people were exiting.
KING: You've witnessed other aviation crash fires, right?
KING: What made this different? SKIPPER: Being right there, actually seeing it on the scene, before it even happened. It was quite a scary scene.
KING: How did the people react? We've heard stories all week about incredible acts of heroism and putting themselves secondary to others.
SKIPPER: Well, we've heard acts like that and there's miracles happening all over. I mean, the woman that went down 80 flights of stairs and the man who went down through the elevator 20 flights and just walked out with minor bruises and injuries, just been blessed, you know. Myself, Al Wallace (ph), walked out with minor injuries. The third guy, Dennis Young (ph), he walked out with absolutely nothing, no scratch on him.
KING: What injuries did you sustain?
SKIPPER: Just minor flash burns. I got some burns on my arms, a couple of stitches in the hand, abrasions from the fall from the impact after the crash.
KING: Mark, why do you fight fires?
SKIPPER: It's been my career ever since I joined the military. Started off as crash fire rescue in the Marine Corps, and after that I moved onto civilian side, worked on air bases, worked on MCS Yuma, and then decided to transfer here.
KING: I mean, to the layman, it's got to be one of the more harrowing occupations.
SKIPPER: There's a lot of heroes out there. My job -- you know, most people go through whole careers to be on incidents like this, and I wish I'd rather, or I wish that I'd rather not seen one like this.
KING: Thank you, Mark. Thanks very much for joining us.
SKIPPER: Thank you.
KING: Mark Skipper, firefighter outside the Pentagon.
Joining us now at the Armory in New York is David Vincent. He is a resident of Rochester, New York. His daughter Melissa, 28 years old, was on the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center, in Tower One. She did make a 911 call from her cell phone.
How do you know that, David? I see you are holding a picture of your beautiful daughter, by the way.
DAVID VINCENT, DAUGHTER MISSING IN WTC: Thank you very much, Larry. We know that because we went back through the cell phone provider to find out that information. We are still trying to get copies of the transcripts from the FBI and from the New York City police to try to understand where she was in the building at the time that it was hit, where she was at 9:02. What we are asking for here, our family is asking for any information that has any relevance as to where Melissa was in the building, outside the building, anybody that saw her after Tuesday at about 7:30 in the morning. We need to locate her. We don't know if she's down underneath in the underbelly of the building, maybe still in some of the voids that are there or whether we should be looking in other places.
KING: Who did Melissa work for?
VINCENT: Melissa worked for Alliance Consulting, Larry. They had a good share of the 102nd floor of the first tower on the World Trade Center.
KING: Was she married?
VINCENT: No, Melissa wasn't married. She absolutely loved New York, loved being here, loved everything about it. Everybody here has been terrific in supporting us and trying to get her picture around and getting some information relative to her, get her missing persons reports and all of that taken together, but the only thing that's important in my life right now is to stay focused on how do I find my daughter, how do I get to where she is.
KING: David, how did you hear about this? Where were you when it occurred?
VINCENT: Actually, Larry, I was at my office at Eastman-Kodak company. My son called me from his trading office. He was actually on the phone with somebody at the World Trade Center. They told him exactly what had happened, that a plane has just hit the building. He dropped the phone, called me, we both started calling both her cell phone, her home phone and her phone at her business, trying to raise her.
When that didn't work, we started calling her roommates to try to understand where was she. Did she go to the gym that morning, did she go into work? We find out that she had an 8:45 standing meeting on Tuesday mornings. That's where we started to put a timeline together.
KING: David, you still have hope?
VINCENT: You bet. I'm down here for the long term, Larry. I'm going to find my daughter, no matter what it takes, no matter what I have to do. There's only one thing in my life right now, and that's to bring her home.
KING: Where's your wife?
VINCENT: My wife's at home with my two other children. They're working the phones to the hospitals and what not.
KING: Thank you.
VINCENT: Thank you very much, Larry, I appreciate your help today. KING: Thank you, David Vincent.
We're going to spend our final moments with three friends of a terrific lady who died on American Airlines flight 77. Her husband was with us last night. They are in New York Nancy Grace, the former prosecutor, now Court TV anchor who appeared with Barbara Olson on this program often. As well in Washington, Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor, Barbara's friend, frequently appeared with Barbara, attended the memorial service today. And here in Los Angeles, Mark Geragos, the defense attorney, who also frequently appeared.
Mark, first for you. You often, you and Barbara went at it lots of nights here.
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, man it's been three years I guess since she and I started that kind of the right and the left, and I developed a real affection for her, as you know.
KING: And she for you.
GERAGOS: And I -- one of the first thing I thought about was one of those evenings a couple weeks ago, you remember China was going to be on here, coming on after us, and in the station break he was insistent with you that you get a picture for one of Ted's daughters, signed directly.
KING: You reminded me. I never forgot that.
GERAGOS: Yeah, and it was an amazing thing, and just says so much about Barbara -- that and what Ted was talking about last night, the idea that she still -- she was so unflappable, and to be standing there on that plane herded in the back, talking to Ted, asking, "what should I tell the pilot?"
GERAGOS: Yeah, typical of Barbara.
KING: Nancy, what's your memory tonight.
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV ANCHOR: Well, Larry, Barbara and I actually started on opposite sides of the fence during impeachment, but then as the years progressed, as you know, we often joined together with each other, fighting criminal law issues, fighting perceived crime and injustice against maneuvering the justice system. And saying, nobody can deny, no matter what she said, but always struck me, Larry, was that brilliant, that beaming smile.
And even in the end, Barbara went down like the prize fighter she was, using her most powerful weapon, her mind, at the very end.
KING: Cynthia, you were at the service today. I know she was a friend of yours. What was it like?
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it was obviously very sad. The most moving part of the service for me was hearing her brother, who I did not know, and it was amazing to me the number of things I learned about her and what a missed opportunity it was for me to not know more about her.
You know, I knew mostly about her from our TV appearances. He was an accomplished ballet dancer, and I learned that at her funeral. She loved country music, and I learned that at her funeral. And she had a yellow convertible as a kid, and I learned it at her funeral. And I felt such sadness of my missed opportunity, which can only be a billion-fold for her family and close friends.
KING: I want to thank you, Cynthia. We know how hard this is for you. We are going to miss her, Mark.
GERAGOS: We are going to miss her a lot.
KING: And she went down a special way, as Nancy said.
GERAGOS: Absolutely. She and the people who were on that plane in Pennsylvania who were -- who still had their wits about them, and the firefighters and the policemen who have gone into these buildings, you know, just not thinking about anything other than just saving people and how they were going to help, it's something that's inspiring out of all of this tragedy.
KING: And Nancy, panels will never be the same without Barbara Olson.
GRACE: No, absolutely not. And you know, we all became a little family over the airwaves, and how much fun and how angry we all got together over every legal issue.
KING: Nancy Grace, Cynthia Alksne, Mark Geragos, thank you so much. We thought it appropriate we share these moments with you at the end of this program tonight.
We will be back, of course, tomorrow night, we will be here seven nights a week. Aaron Brown will be hosting next on CNN. We leave with a look at Barbara's memorial service earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a spectacular love story. She his princess, he her prince.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): And he will raise you up on eagle's wings. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of his hand. And hold you, hold you in the palm of his hand.
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