Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Larry King Weekend
Special Edition: America Strikes Back
Aired October 07, 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.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: The United States strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan; what comes next?
Joining us from Northern Afghanistan, the acting foreign minister of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.
We'll also hear from Israel's foreign minister and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
From Wilmington, Delaware, Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the foreign relations committee. From Washington, Senator John Warner, former secretary of the Navy and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. From Detroit, Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. In Phoenix, Senator Jon Kyl, member of the Select Intelligence Committee.
We'll also talk with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani about the possibility of more terrorist attacks, and precautions being taken.
Plus, counter-terrorism expert former CIA officer Larry Johnson; and retired Army Colonel John Alexander, former special forces team commander and author of "Future War."
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Let's get an update by going to Islamabad, Pakistan, where we;re joined by Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent.
What's the latest on -- I know it's dawn now in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. What's the latest on what the strikes accomplished, Christine?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can imagine it's been an exceptionally long night for everybody in Afghanistan and, indeed, in the region.
We know that the Pakistanis have been having a Cabinet session that lasted into the early hours of this morning. A previously scheduled news conference by the president of Pakistan is scheduled to go ahead in about four hours from now, so we'll hear much more Pakistani reaction then.
We do know that Pakistani airspace was used in the over-flights, in the airstrikes last night, according to a Pakistani military official. And right now it's still a little bit too early to assess exactly what's happened on the ground in Afghanistan, although we have, throughout the evening been talking to our sources, both Taliban and CNN employees inside Afghanistan hearing about the strikes that were conducted, some of the places that they were hit.
And in Pakistan there have been several small demonstrations against the United States. As I say, small, heavily policed, and they fizzled out quite quickly. But new demonstrations are called for today; we'll see how that pans out.
KING: Christiane, won't daylight give us a lot better indication of what happened, what got taken out, more of the story?
AMANPOUR: Yes, I think absolutely. Daylight has pretty much only just broken. When we talked to our sources inside Afghanistan overnight while these attacks were going on, they indicated to us that there were multiple cities under attack; not the center of the cities, we understood, but near the airfields. In some instances, we were told, in Kandahar, the seat of the ruling Taliban; the home of the man called Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban.
We understood targets at the airport were hit. Mullah Omar's former residence, a big compound was hit. Huge plumes of smoke, we are told, rose from that. And, indeed, perhaps even one of the, maybe, terrorist bases around that area.
We understand also, in Jalalabad, which is quite near the Pakistani border, that was also hit to the south of that city where, we understand, there is an airfield and also potentially a terrorist base according to Taliban military sources there.
In Herat, near the Iranian border, there were, again, targets and an airfield hit, we are told. Particularly, perhaps, an oil dump; there was a large explosion that was reported from there. And you know that also targets at Kabul.
Again, in Kandahar, we're also told that a military base was precision-hit in the middle of town -- Larry.
KING: Do your sources, Christiane, tell you to expect any kind of daylight action?
AMANPOUR: We have no indication of that at all; we don't know. You know, you heard from the U.S. officials yesterday and from the prime minister of England that this was an ongoing operation.
Not only have they been conducting military strikes, but in an unprecedented move, at the same time the U.S., and Britain maybe -- but particularly the U.S. right now -- have been conducting air-drops, we were told by a Pentagon briefing by Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense -- air-drops of food and other humanitarian assistance which will also continue. We don't know whether that will be during the daytime or during the night time.
KING: Thank you. She's on board, and has been on deck through all of this, and remains at post. Christian Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent from Islamabad, Pakistan.
We now go to Jabul Saraaj, Afghanistan. Standing by is Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the acting foreign minister of the United Front. Are you happy about the events of the day?
ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, NORTHERN ALLIANCE FOREIGN MINISTER: Good evening, Mr. King.
KING: Good evening.
ABDULLAH: Of course, the strike has started at 9:00 p.m. last night, local time, and as far as we understand the last time in Kabul -- targets in Kabul were hit was 3:00 in the morning, by jets flying over Kabul. And targets, military bases of Taliban in different cities, like Jalalabad, Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Khandes (ph), that means all over, around Afghanistan, were hit, including two terrorist camps at least -- one in Jalalabad, eastern city of Afghanistan, one in Kandahar, southern city in Afghanistan.
As far as we understand so far (UNINTELLIGIBLE) which we have had so far, targets have been hit accurately in Kabul in Kandahar, especially in Mazar-e-Sharif, in almost in all cities.
KING: Dr. Abdullah, do you fear at all the loss of any people in the Northern Alliance through a friendly fire of some kind? Do you fell to take some losses on your own?
ABDULLAH: Up to now, there haven't been reports about civilian casualties or losses of our forces. It is near the frontline has not been struck so far, it has been mainly major targets in major cities of Afghanistan. And yesterday, we had warned the civilian population of Kabul to keep away from the military targets, and that what we had done, as far as we understand. And fortunately, there haven't been any reports about civilian casualties so far.
KING: Is your own goal, Dr. Abdullah, to see the Taliban wiped out? Is that the goal of your group?
ABDULLAH: Of course, if the goal of the operation is to eradicate terrorism, that cannot be done without wiping out Taliban from Afghanistan. After all, it was Taliban who have harbored terrorist groups for so many years and comforted them and facilitated their activities in Afghanistan, in the region and beyond the region.
KING: Has the United States and its allies kept you informed of what's been going on? Did you know this was going to happen before it happened?
ABDULLAH: Yes, we did. We did know, and we left a few hours prior to the strikes now, roughly, that -- to our population and also the media, that the strike was imminent. So we knew about it beforehand.
KING: If the goal is accomplished; if the Taliban is wiped out, significantly reduced, what next? ABDULLAH: I think peace will be established in Afghanistan, and the international community should support the people of Afghanistan to achieve its final goal, which will be giving the people of Afghanistan the right to self-determination.
We are ready to work with all Afghan groupings. We share two principals: of peace; by peace, I mean just, fair, and acceptable peace, and the right of self-determination to the people of Afghanistan. The construction of Afghanistan, rehabilitation of Afghanistan will be a necessary step afterwards.
KING: Is your group united?
ABDULLAH: Yes, of course. We were united before 11th September, in 9th of September -- in September 9, when one of our heroes was assassinated by the same terrorist networks, by Osama bin Laden's people. And we remained more united after that assassination attempt and after the events in September 11. And that's how we have been able to hold against Taliban in deadly terrorist groups which have been fighting against us for so many years.
KING: Doctor, does the Taliban control bin Laden, or does bin Laden control the Taliban?
ABDULLAH: It has come the other way around, as yourself rightly put it. It is, in recent years, it was mainly terrorist groups which were in control of the situation in Afghanistan; foreign friends of Taliban which were in control of the situation in Afghanistan. But they both supported each other. They both served the interests of each other.
For example, Osama's people were fighting against us in Afghanistan to get rid of us, to get rid of resistance in Afghanistan so Afghanistan would be -- Afghan territory would be in their control -- in the control of the Taliban and the terrorist groups. From the other side, Taliban had provided terrorists' the facilities, and they were facilitating their activities in Afghanistan. So they were both benefiting from cooperating with each other.
KING: We thank you very much, and we'll be calling on you again.
From Jabul Saraaj, Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the acting foreign minister of the United Front, we thank you.
You're watching LARRY KING LIVE on this Sunday night. We take a break, and we come back with the foreign minister of Israel, Shimon Peres. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against the al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Shortly after the start of today's military activity, I spoke with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and asked about his reaction to the strikes.
SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: I don't have the slightest doubt that the decision that was taken by the president of the United States is the right one, the just one. And they are going -- and we are going to win it, for the simple reason: not just because we have the technological supremacy, you have the moral supremacy.
Bin Laden does not offer any solution and any hope to no person in the world who is not a Muslim. And to the Muslims who are not fanatics, they, too, don't have a chance. And the fanatics who don't kill are not included in his agenda. He offers nothing but killing and hate and murder. He cannot win.
On the other hand, the United States and all the free world must win. There is no room for compromise. There is no way to let one or two or three or four crazy people to kill hundreds and thousands of innocent men and women and children.
So I believe that in that case it was one of the right and courageous decisions.
You also spoke about prayer. All of us are praying today for the armed forces, for America and its president and its leadership. We're in the same camp. We should do whatever we can and whatever we should be asked to in order to help to win this battle.
KING: Years ago you were asked to show restraint and not respond to Scud attacks. Israel might well be a victim again here. Will you do whatever the United States ask you to do?
PERES: We think the United States the leader of this campaign, and we shall not do anything that may frustrate or endanger the campaign itself.
KING: Did Israel know this was going to take place? Before it took place, were you informed?
PERES: The president of the United States called the prime minister of Israel an hour before the campaign started and has informed us that, within an hour time, the campaign will start.
KING: The other day, your prime minister Mr. Sharon attacked Mr. Bush and the United States. He later, three days later, apologized. What did you make of all of that?
PERES: I am wholeheartedly with the apologize. I don't think we meant to attack the president, whom we hold in high esteem. And we consider him a real and true friend of our country. And we look forward to a joint effort to really bring a settlement to the Middle East and peace to the rest of the world.
KING: There has been some heavy fighting between the Israelis and Palestinians in the last few days. Why?
PERES: I think the story is now revealing itself. There are three or four armed groups among the Palestinians. It is for Mr. Arafat to decide, either he's going to control all of them or he'll become a prisoner of them and become a victim of them.
Most of the killing and shooting were done by the Jihad and by the Hamas. It's an assault of private organizations and private arms. Arafat has to decide, either he will control them or be controlled by them.
And leadership is not just making declarations but making choices. Some of them are very difficult. And I hope that Mr. Arafat will do the right thing in deeds, not just in declaration.
KING: And you met with Mr. Arafat last week. Did that go well?
PERES: It started well, but the implementation of our agreement was not quick to arrive. It didn't arrive even today in full. There is a start in the beginning, and we are watching if there will be a continuation and they will fully comply with this commitment.
If this will happen, we should continue our talks, because we, too, would like to see a decline in the tension and the beginning of a real peace negotiation.
KING: Back to the current situation, a few more things. If Israel were asked to commit weaponry or to commit troops, would it go that far?
PERES: We would go the farthest possible way to make the world safe.
May I say, you know, that the first prime minister of Israel, Ben Gurion, offered to the United States even to send Israeli units to Korea.
We feel part and parcel of this campaign, and if it should be asked, everything will be considered seriously and positively.
KING: Do you expect it to be successful over the long haul?
PERES: Hundred percent it will be successful. Look, we are fighting terror and terrorists. I myself confronted them on many, many occasions. Larry, let me tell you, they are not as courageous or brave as you think. They are cowards, and if they will see strength, they will retreat. Their strength is usually our weakness. The minute you appear determined and strong, you will win.
You know, 20 years ago we did something which was very daring in Antebe (ph). It looked like it's impossible to overcome the kidnapping of the people, the hijacking of the plane. We did it 4,000 miles from home successfully basically because this was a combination of courage and surprise. I do believe the United States possesses those two things as much as is it needed.
KING: Thank you so much. We'll be calling on you again. It's always good to see you.
PERES: Thank you very much.
KING: The foreign minister of Israel, former Prime Minister Shimon Peres from Tel Aviv.
I'm Larry King, and we'll be right back.
KING: Before we talk with some of the leading figures of the United States Senate, we are going to spend a couple of moments with our buddy New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The FBI has called on law enforcement agencies across the United States to be on the highest levels of vigilance and asked cities to cooperate.
What, specifically, Mr. Mayor, have they asked New York to do?
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK: Well, we have a plan that we worked out with them just about three weeks ago now that we just put into effect. I mean, it's a plan that we've been ready to put into effect for the last three weeks, in which we deploy a lot more police officers, 4,500 National Guard. We have them at what we call sensitive locations, the places that you might think somebody might want to do something with, and then we also have them at the entrances and exits to the city, so that we can have checkpoints, and at the airport.
Essentially, it involves the pulling of a lot of more uniformed officers, or National Guard, and then staying in close contact with the joint terrorism task force that's made up of the FBI and police, so we can pick up any specific intelligence that may exist.
KING: To your knowledge, have other cities been asked to do pretty much the same think you're doing?
GIULIANI: You know, I assume that that's the case, I mean, because there's -- at this point, the idea that they -- the terrorists will do something is a supposition. It's a supposition based on the fact that they have done something in the past, so nobody knows what they're going to do, when they're going to do it or where they would do it. So,it makes sense to be on alert in a cautious, sensible way all throughout the country.
And it's very, very hard, but we're not alarming people, because there's nothing anybody can do about this. I mean, ordinary citizens can't do anything about this. This is sort of beyond their control, so they might as well just go about leading their lives and we will try to do everything we can to pick up the intelligence and to try to thwart them from doing anything they might be thinking of doing. They should leave that to law enforcement.
KING: Have you had any specific threats?
GIULIANI: No. We haven't had any specific threats directed toward New York City. It's just the obvious caution that would come after an incident like the attack on the World Trade Center and then the action that the president of the United States took today to defend us, action, by the way, which everyone in New York City heartily endorses, and we're very, very proud of the president and very proud of our military in the way in which they have carried out our defense.
KING: The local papers in New York were reporting some sort of a lockdown plan. Do you have a plan that locks down the city? What is that?
GIULIANI: No. There is -- I'm not sure I know what the lockdown plan is. We have a plan that would say that if we had specific threats, then of course whatever it suggested we would close that down. If there were threats to the bridges or the tunnels or the airports or buildings, then those areas would be closed down, evacuated. But I mean, there is no plan to lock down the entire city.
KING: As you mentioned, there is nothing you can do with the fear, but how do you balance when you talk to people optimism and logical pessimism?
GIULIANI: By being honest with them. They are going to be concerned, they are going to be nervous, it's just the case, you got to just accept that. And then, you got to do everything you can to rally them. I took a walk on Times Square today, after the attacks took place, you know, while they were going on, because I -- and I walked in the parade in Staten Island, just to show people, don't lock yourself in your house, get out, do what you would ordinarily do. Be brave, don't be sitting there all worried, I mean.
The president is doing what he's supposed to do, he has prepared this very carefully. The FBI and the police are working really hard to try to keep things as secure as possible. And you can play your part by going about your life. And even if you have some concerns, try as hard as you can to put them aside and just go about your life. That's how you're going to make your contribution to this effort to overcoming these terrorists.
KING: Well said. New York planning any changes in the Columbus Day parade, is it going on?
GIULIANI: Columbus Day parade is going to go on tomorrow. We had one in the Bronx today and one in Staten Island. Both of them went on. The one in Staten Island, by the way, was the best attended that I can remember, and I have attended it for the last 12 years in a row. So, we will have a parade tomorrow. It's going to be in honor of our heroes, and our heroes are the firefighters and the police officers, the emergency workers, and then all of the innocent people that gave their lives at the World Trade Center.
And now I think we have a new group of heroes that we will be honoring, and that will be our military men and women who are carrying out this very difficult assignment.
KING: Thank you, Your Honor, look forward to seeing you again.
GIULIANI: Thank you.
GIULIANI: ... at the World Series. At the World Series.
KING: Always on duty...
KING: Aren't we all, yeah. His Honor, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and baseball still matters, folks.
When we come back, senators Biden, Warner, Levin and Kyl will join us. This is LARRY KING LIVE.
Later: much talk about terrorism and what we can do undercover- wise to spot it and wipe it out. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We now welcome a panel of distinguished United States senators to join us in discussion.
Senator Joe Biden is in Wilmington; Democrat of Delaware, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. In Washington is Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, ranking member of Armed Services and former secretary of the Navy. In Detroit is Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of Armed Services, member of the Select Intelligence Committee. And in Phoenix, Senator John Kyl, Republican of Arizona, member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.
We'll start with Joe Biden and run down all four.
Senator, your reaction to the events of today?
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS CHAIRMAN: Going off as planned. I got a chance to speak to the White House and the CIA and the State Department. We're not going to know until -- well, we're probably learning right now, based on reconnaissance, what damage was actually done. I feel pretty good about what's happened so far. It's a beginning Larry; we have a long way to go. And it seems successful so far.
KING: Senator Warner?
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, I was called, like many others, by the secretary of defense this morning. And how proud I am of our president and 40 nations that have bonded together to help stamp out this terrorism. And tonight, right as we're speaking, as I just talked to the Pentagon again, men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, great Britain, and pledges from others, are carrying out, successfully, their mission.
Larry, we gave every possible warning to the Taliban. They failed to adhere. And now it's not just the United States, but the whole world is turning against them.
And I hope those of the Muslim faith will recognize it's not against them. And they're in a good position to help us better understand and to, perhaps, give us the intelligence necessary to stop bin Laden and the al Qaeda.
KING: Concerning bin Laden, Senator Levin, in a taped message, we believe, obviously, it was stated after September 11 but before the events today, bin Laden said that "America will never dream of security until the infidel armies leave the land of Muhammed. America was hit by God in one of its softest spots. America is full of fear from its north to its south, its west to its east. Thank God for that."
What do you make of that comment?
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN: It's just more of the same. We've got a long road to defeat terrorism in this world, but we've made a beginning today, going after him, going after his operatives, and doing it in the right way.
It's very clear that the administration understands that our first goal, of course, is to get after bin Laden, to get after his operatives, and to make Afghanistan no longer a haven for terrorists. But it's also important -- and I think Secretary Rumsfeld made this very clear this morning -- that if possible, that the Islamic countries take the lead here or, at a minimum, that the Afghan people be the tip of the spear to remove bin Laden, because that will prove the propaganda lie that he's been trying to spread; that somehow or other this is a war against Islam.
It is not. It is a way of the civilized world, including Islam, against terrorism. And it's very, very -- would be very helpful, and I think very practical if the people of Afghanistan can be the ones who throw out bin Laden and destroy him, because that would really show the propaganda for what it is, that bin Laden's trying to spread to the streets and the Islamic world.
KING: I don't know what the average citizen can do about it, Senator Kyl, but should we, governmentally, be concerned about retaliation? SEN. JON KYL (R-AZ), SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's the wrong word, Larry. The September 11 attack on the United States was not in retaliation for anything; it's because they hate us. And they have additional attacks planned, I'm sure. They've been planned for a long time, not knowing what action the United States might take.
So we have to do what we have to do, and fully expect that the terrorists will strike again. But it's not in retaliation to what we do, it's because they intended to do us harm. The only way we're going to end this kind of terrorism is first to strike at bin Laden and the Taliban, and then go to the source, the base of operations throughout the rest of the world that harbor and support these terrorists, and bring that to a stop as well.
KING: Senator Biden, Christiane Amanpour gave us the report, as others have said, that we're dropping food and medicine to displaced Afghans inside Afghanistan. Is that going on? Is that confirmed? And do we know they're getting it?
BIDEN: We don't know yet whether they're getting it, but there's 350,000 of these meals that can sustain a person for a day that are being dropped, Larry. And, you know, I think it's an important point to make, that the mayor made. It is supposition that we are going to have -- be attacked again. We do not have -- I don't want the American people thinking the CIA -- I was on a secure line tonight with them -- I don't want anyone thinking that we know that there's another New York planned; we know a specific deal going on.
We assume; we assume that they'll continue whether or not we respond to them, to repeat the kinds of things they've done. But we do not have -- it is supposition now. So this notion that Americans should be fearful and not go about their daily lives tomorrow morning here would be a gigantic mistake. People should go about their daily lives; and the way we're going to end this is we suck the oxygen out of the air these guys breathe by shutting down havens for them like they have now in Afghanistan, with the Taliban as their protectors.
KING: And Senator Warner, to back up what Senator Biden just said, we just confirmed that two C-17s have dropped relief supplies down. Is that something you support, and are you sure it's going to go to the right place?
WARNER: As sure as we can be. In my discussions today with the military experts, we've done a lot of practicing in the last year on how to successfully airdrop and target, almost like precision munitions, those drops to where they belong.
You know this, I think, is the first time in contemporary military history where a military operation is being conducted against the government of a country, and simultaneously, with the troops carrying out their mission, other troops are trying to take care of the innocent victims who all too often are caught in harm's way.
That's to the credit of the American people. That's a clear example to the Muslim world of how we care for people irrespective of their background or their religion. We are a peace-loving nation. And I want to pick up on another thing that the mayor of New York said. What a marvelous man he has been throughout this whole tragic episode. But we were talking about, what can you do? Yes, we go back to our normal life, but America has grown up. We're more cautious now, for ourselves and our children. But we go about our way of life holding our head high.
Tonight I attended a prayer vigil for those who suffered at the Pentagon and for those first responders that came. And as I sat there, I said to myself, this is a clear difference between America and so much of that world that perceived us to hate us. And I hope every citizen -- yes, we have an intelligence problem, but think of yourselves as an agent -- not to spy on your neighbor, but just to judiciously report to those in authority if you see something suspicious because we're all in this together and we all want to survive.
KING: Senator Levin, at this point, what is Congress' role?
LEVIN: To be very supportive of the president; to give him and our military all the resources that they need; to help our intelligence...
KING: I'm going to interrupt you, Senator Levin. We have a special press set up here with a B-52 lead pilot, a B-52 bombardier, an offensive system officer and a refueler pilot. It might be in progress. Let's join. It's always part of the mission today.
This has to be set up by phone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we start with Stinky? I'm sorry, Woodstock on the bombing run, could you tell us what your personal experience was today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don' know...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you think? What did it feel like? What did you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello?
I'm trying to answer your question; it's a little difficult for us. We trained for this eventuality. We certainly don't look forward to it, but we're equipped to handle it when it comes to it.
And so today what I was thinking about more than anything was the mission handed before us, the fabulous training that I've received throughout my career, and the safety of my crewmates. And all those things came together, and it was as we had trained for. And so it was like what we practiced to do. It all came together just perfectly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did it come together?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, again, the tremendous training that we received through the support... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve, I don't know if you can hear me or not; hopefully you can. I'd like to try to take this thing from the top. I have no idea what these maps look like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoever's talking about the maps, please get off the phone!
Stinky, go ahead please -- or Woodstock, sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, it all came together because we train for this. This is what America's citizens expect us to be able to do. And in peacetime we prepare for these eventualities. And then today we had all the moving parts, from the people who support us on the ground, preparing the aircraft, preparing our intelligence, all the numerous support functions that just came together like a finely oiled machine so that it was very similar to what we practiced for at home. There were very few differences other than being in, you know, in a different region of the world than we would normally be. But our training just all came together, so it seems very familiar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even without discussing the operational details, could you tell us what Afghanistan looked like to you from altitude, Sir?
KING: We are obviously are flying by rote here and that is phone conversations and live interruptions. We are doing the best we can as events continue. We will take a break, come back, rejoin our senators and hope we can hook up with that conference again. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The operation today involved a variety of weapons systems and it originated from a number of separate locations. We used land and sea based air craft, surface ships and submarines and we employed a variety of weapons to achieve our objectives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was rather garbled and hastily thrown together, but we will return with Senator Levin. You are chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Apparently, from that pilot's one clear account that we heard, everything went perfectly.
LEVIN: That is really what we are here for and what we worry about. We want to make sure that our troops have the best equipment, the best training, and it sounded like it worked for him and for his crew today and then we have those C-17 crews that dropped all those relief packages. Tens of thousands of tons of food today and there will be a lot more showing what our purpose here is, which is to strengthen the opposition so that the Afghan people can reoccupy their country.
We are not there to occupy Afghanistan like the Soviets did in the '80s. We are there to help the Afghan people and the opposition to reoccupy their country and for them to take on the Taliban and bin Laden and those missions today I think were the first steps in that long journey.
KING: Senator Kyl, you are a member of Select Intelligence Committee. Do we have a difficult balance here of what we are going to learn and what has to be kept secret?
KYL: I don't really think so, Larry. Obviously, a lot of the operational details will not be disclosed. The American people will not ever know some of the things that occurred and much of it we will learn after the fact. But I think that our government is open enough that we will know an awful lot about this. And remember, too, that part of the effort is to play real mind games with the Taliban and with others who are harboring terrorists.
And in that regard, we have to let them know that we are going to be doing certain things. So, I think in some respects, the more clear we make it to them that this will be a relentless and very robust campaign against them, the more they are likely to cut and run and obviously that is part of the game here, to get them to disburse so that the Afghan people can take control of Afghanistan so that eventually the countries that harbor terrorists elsewhere in the world will begin to decide that it is better to be with us than to be harboring terrorists who might harm us.
KING: What are our concerns, Senator Biden, I know Colin Powell is gone to India and he is going to Pakistan, if the Taliban falls, does the United States play a part in setting up whatever is new there?
BIDEN: Larry, we are playing a part right now. There is no doubt in my mind the Taliban is done and the American people are going to learn about that and the world is going to learn about that in a matter of weeks, I predict.
The hard part is going to be what follows on after the Taliban so we don't have the chaos that occurred after the Soviet Union left and real chaos in that area of the world. The harder part is going to be getting bin Laden himself, but we are in the process, along with others in the region, Islamic countries as well, trying to make sure that the Pashtun, the part of the population in the south, has some kind of coalition with the so-called Northern Alliance so when a government is put in place replacing the Taliban, there is a prospect for stability and little prospect for the flourishing of the kind of al Qaeda operations that existed there before.
But the hard part is going to be putting together, the easiest part is going to be taking in down.
KING: Are you as confident, Senator Warner, of the end of the Taliban that quickly?
WARNER: I think they are being disbursed tonight and I am hopeful that the Arab world will quietly, in their own way, pass the word, it's over, and that nation can no longer harbor those criminals. And in the aftermath I hope the coalition of nation which worked with us on this will help reformulate some type of government so that self- determination, the greatest strength of democracy, self-determination in the follow-on government.
We are going to succeed in this. I commend the president in the excellent way that he and the secretary of defense and others have patiently put this together, and on their own timetable finally utilized military force, diplomacy has been working, economics have been working, humanitarian efforts have been working and the Taliban got the message and now, of course, the military action is necessary.
KING: It is, Senator Levin, a delicate balance though, when you are bombing a country and also telling that country that you care about them.
LEVIN: I think that we are doing that very well and particularly with the dropping of so much food aid which we are doing, but also making it clear that we are not there to occupy Afghanistan. We are there to help he Afghan people to take back their country from the Taliban which is really not at all historically what Afghanistan is all about.
And I also believe that the Taliban is finished. It may be a little more gradual. It may be that they are going to be disbursed into the mountains first and then they have to be ferreted out from there, but what my hope is, is that it will be the Afghan people and some kind of a government that is put together that is representative of all the Afghan people that is doing the ferreting out, so that they become the tip of the spear. I think that is very important in terms of the aftermath of Afghanistan.
Bin Laden wants to be killed by the west. We should hope that indeed that does not happen, that he is ferreted out and destroyed not by his people, he is a Saudi, but by the Afghan people. Because if it is Islamic people who do him in, it will be, it seems to me, the very dramatic answer to the propaganda lie that he tries to disseminate.
KING: He wants to be killed by the west so that martyrdom occurs?
KING: Senator Kyl, are you concerned at all that the coalition will hold, that the people of the neighboring countries will stay with this if there is bombing and constant repetition and night after night strikes?
KYL: Well, there are a lot of people within various Middle East countries that won't like what the United States does. That will put pressure on their government. But I think that as each mission evolves with different coalitions surrounding it, you'll see that we have been able to hold together.
In the long run, though, I think we have to be prepared to deal with the fact that there are several Arab nations and one Muslim nation, Iran, in the area that need to stop supporting terrorism and we are going to have to turn from Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in Afghanistan to those other countries to be able to root terrorism out of there as well.
You have got to destroy the base of operations everywhere in the world or these people will find somewhere else to operate and the same thing is true of the schools that they operate, the so called madrasses (ph) which of course educate a new group of terrorists coming along. So until you destroy that base of operation, we haven't completed our task.
KING: Thank you, Senators. Thank you for joining us. I have to take break and then we have to call on our two terrorism experts. We are calling on all of you again. I am Larry King and we will be right back. Don't go away.
KING: That scene when we went to break was of Afghanistan this morning; it is now early morning in Afghanistan.
We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE in Washington, Larry Johnson, terrorism expert, former CIA officer. And in Las Vegas, Colonel John Alexander, United States Army, retired, former special forces team commander.
Larry, in your opinion, as an expert on terrorism, was today an effective start?
LARRY JOHNSON, TERRORISM EXPERT: We're not going to know for several days. It's starting us down the right path. You have to take apart the military infrastructure, and then we're going to be in a position to go after the guts of the terrorist organization.
At a minimum, they're so busy avoiding bombs today they don't have time to do planning; that's the good news.
KING: All right, Colonel Alexander, you were a special forces team commander, when do you expect commandos and special forces to start going in?
COL. JOHN ALEXANDER (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Oh, they already have been.
KING: I mean going in to where they're in action.
ALEXANDER: Well, as you know, we've already had reports of the SAS making contact with bin Laden's forces, and that was maybe a week or so ago. So they've probably been in and out for some time.
KING: Do you expect, Larry, this operation to succeed, with regard to the Taliban?
JOHNSON: It's going to succeed, but it's going to succeed in a way that we haven't been accustomed to in the past.
JOHNSON: For example, FBI Director Mueller has done an outstanding job over the last week of pulling together the different law enforcement agencies. They're working right now on the financial puzzle.
So for the first time you've got FBI, DEA, Customs, IRS sitting in a room sharing information, where in the past you've had turf battles where Treasury and Justice would go at each other. Here you had Attorney General Ashcroft and Secretary of Treasury O'Neill together, encouraging; and they're making tremendous progress on that front.
KING: Colonel Alexander, your new book is "Future War," subtitled "Nonlethal Weapons in 21st Century Warfare." Is this a good example of that?
ALEXANDER: Well, this is a phase in a multi-phase war. And I don't think you're going to see much in the way of nonlethal weapons used in the Afghanistan phase, except maybe to go after electrical infrastructure we saw with carbon fibers.
But as the senator was mentioning at the end of their segment, this war is going to go on for a long time, and much of it is going to take place in major metropolitan areas around the world. And there we need to be able to separate terrorists from hostages, or just people who happen to be co-located with them.
KING: And what about on the homefront, Larry? We know this is going to come around the world. What can the public do, if anything, or is Mayor Giuliani right: All you can do is all you can do?
JOHNSON: Well, he's right. One thing everyone can do is stop being afraid. We're going to scare ourselves into making it worse than what it is. The fact of the matter is right now, with the investigation on so many fronts, these guys are being run to ground. Their ability to organize and to conduct operations right now is extremely difficult; it's not impossible.
But, you know, last week there was the word circulating -- "100 percent" certainty of attacks; that's too alarmist. The reality is we don't know. We're 100 percent certain that we don't know.
So what should we do? We should be calm.
KING: Colonel Alexander, would you agree with that? We're 100 percent certain that we don't know?
ALEXANDER: I think so. The terrorists certainly have somewhat of an advantage of picking a time and place.
But I think what he said about this is very important, about going on about your life. We do know, there's a lot of young folks that are particularly upset, but they've never been through any kind of threat to the U.S. Those of us of my generation remember "duck and cover" and things like that. You'll get used to it, and life will go on.
KING: Does bin Laden's statements, Larry, give you concern? His statements played today?
JOHNSON: I think he was pretty stupid, coming out and saying that stuff. If nothing else, he had to -- someone had to physically deliver that tape to the television station, wherever it was ultimately broadcast from. Once you start putting things in people's hands, there's a way to trace it back. I hope he continues to be as arrogant and as overconfident, because I think ultimately he's going to wind up dead.
KING: Any personal measures you'd recommend, Colonel? Should the public buy antibiotics, should they buy gas masks?
ALEXANDER: No, I think the news media, by and large, is scaring a lot of people, and potentially needlessly. Again, it's about going about your life. And as the woman from Israel mentioned earlier, just be aware of what's going on around you. If you see things that are really unusual, report it to local law enforcement. They're going to play a key role in what happens on our counter-terrorism here in the United States.
KING: Long haul, right Larry? Be prepared for that, though?
JOHNSON: Yes, this is really the easy part. I mean, as you look down the road, we're going to have to deal with Lebanon. They're a staging base for terrorism. Iran and Syria have been supporting them. Now, right now Iran and Syria are saying, hey, we're with you; great. But ultimately they're going to have to prove it by shutting those camps down and giving those terrorists up.
KING: Thanks Larry, and thanks Colonel, we'll be calling on you both again. Larry Johnson and Colonel John Alexander. We'll take a break and I'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night, and we'll tell you what Aaron Brown's going to be doing following us.
Don't leave us. I'm Larry King; stay there.
KING: Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE: Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer Prize winner of "The Washington Post"; Walter Cronkite, the dean of American television newscasters; Senator Richard Shelby and others.
I'm Larry King. And we're going to turn it over now to my man Aaron Brown in New York.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com