Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Larry King Weekend

Look Back at Week's Best Moments

Aired December 22, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, where in the world is Osama bin Laden and what should be done with American Taliban John Walker? Key questions during another incredible week. We'll look back at interviews with CNN's Nic Robertson and "Newsweek's" Colin Soloway, both on the ground in Afghanistan.

And just returned from the war, journalist and best-selling author Sebastian Junger.

We'll also hear from Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Richard Lugar, Senator Bob Graham, Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton; with insights from Bob Schieffer, the moderator of "Face the Nation."

And inside special ops, we'll meet members of the military's elite who'll share their front line stories.

And then, the one and only Paul Anka gives us a song for the holiday season. It's all next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

Thanks for joining us. The Bush administration declared its war on terrorism 100 days old this week, and offered an accounting of what it accomplished so far. Not on the finished business list: Osama bin Laden. His whereabouts a huge question mark. On Monday, we focused on the hunt for him, and I began by asking CNN's Nic Robertson in Tora Bora about reports that bin Laden had been spotted.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, some of the captured al Qaeda fighters that CNN was able to talk to yesterday did tell us that they thought they had seen him or thought they heard he was still in the mountains as recently as Saturday.

But now the local fighters here have taken over all the al Qaeda positions, they say he is nowhere to be seen. Now, he could be anywhere in the mountains. He could be coming around the back of the mountains back into Afghanistan, or he could be going over the border, south of here, into Pakistan. It is just impossible to say. Nobody but nobody here has an accurate fix. It is all rumors, and nobody has hard, hard information, Larry.

KING: Sebastian, with literally the world looking for this fellow, and with a price on his head, what do you make of the difficulty in finding him and getting him?

SEBASTIAN JUNGER, AUTHOR, "FIRE": Well, sometimes it is hard for the -- United States even to catch people that they are looking for in the United States. Of course Afghanistan is a much wilder country. Frankly, I don't think anyone would survive turning bin Laden in. The only people who would know where he is, first of all, would be suspected al Qaeda, and secondly, they would come from the Pashtun tribes along the border area and I don't -- there is a lot of allegiance to bin Laden. I don't think they would live long enough to cash the check.

KING: Nic Robertson, those reports about his voice being heard on radio, have we ascertained that that was true?

ROBERTSON: Well, U.S. officials said that voice recognition processing have been tried out on those transmissions and they did believe it was him. They did say at the time that it was possible that these could have been recorded transmissions all transmitted from somewhere else and retransmitted in this area.

But it is likely the content was as well as the voice recognition that is the clue to whether or not he was there. We have been hearing calls on the radios here every time there was a bomb landing we heard al Qaeda calling out colleagues' names to find out if people were still there.

We had even heard people referring, go over to the sheik's channel. Perhaps an indication there that they wanted people to change frequency and go into the same frequency Osama bin Laden was on. But the radio transmissions are perhaps, perhaps one of the more significant items of evidence that have been put forward, at least in the public domain so far, that he may be there.

But again, they don't give necessarily, a hundred percent accurate picture really what's happening on the ground right below.

KING: Sebastian, you know the territory. if he had gotten to Pakistan, how would he done that?

JUNGER: Well I think he could only get there with the help of people in Pakistan, that is to say, extremist elements in the Pakistani military, and intelligence. Their allegiance to the war on terrorism is very, very shaky. Pakistan was sending arms and ammunition into Afghanistan as late as October to help the Taliban. I think we can pretty much assume that there are elements in the military who would be only too happy to help bin Laden.

I also think it is a little bit naive to think that we might catch him in Afghanistan without his consent. He has had two months to get out of there. If he wanted to get out I think he would make sure that it happened.

KING: Nic, do you see -- is it much more the possibility that he is taken dead rather than alive?

ROBERTSON: People have said this could be his last stand here. And certainly we were up in some of the caves yesterday and we found massive stockpiles of ammunition, ammunition that no terrorist organization could take on the streets and use in any city around the world. This is heavy caliber machine gun stuff, mortar rounds things like this.

This is not the tools of international terrorists. These are tools of a military force that wants to fright from their bases. They didn't. Clearly, they fled into mountains, but Osama bin Laden had decided to stockpile equipment, munitions here, for a last stand is perhaps indicative of his mood, of his style, of military style that he would want to fight this out.

Does he have greater world recognition and importance in his own terms, as if he dies a martyr or does he -- what happens to his image if he is captured? He has in the past, a lot of people have said, really wanted to court the media to present a good image, to present the type of image that is going to encourage followers. So it is likely whatever he does, however he plays out this period right now, is going to be maximize his, A, safety, and B, maximize his global exposure, his importance amongst his own followers, Larry.

KING: Sebastian, how do they exist in caves? What could that be like?

JUNGER: Well, I spoke with an Afghan who fought the Soviets in the '80s from caves, and he said frankly, it is miserable. It really is miserable. He said you don't want to spend a long time there. He also said that when bombs landed outside that mouth of the cave, the shock waves were devastating, and in one case his ears and eyes bled for days, just from the concussion from Russian bombs. These aren't even American bombs, which are much more powerful.

I think a cave is actually a very bad bet. And frankly, if I'm going to guess at what he is doing I would say he held out as long as he safely could and slipped away, my guess is across the border into Pakistan.

KING: We thank you both very much. Nic Robertson on the scene in Tora Bora and best-selling author Sebastian Junger in San Francisco.

When we come back we will meet our terrific panel, introduce them individually and go at it.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Osama bin Laden is going to be brought to justice. It may happen tomorrow, it may happen in a month, it may happen in a year, but he's going to be brought to justice. He's on the run, he is -- he thinks he can hide, but he can't. We've been at this operation now for about two, two- and-a-half months, and we've made incredible progress. And one of the objectives I've set in this theater and all theaters, for that matter, is that we want al Qaeda killers brought to justice, and we'll bring him to justice.




KING: Let's meet our panel. All here in Washington. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, member of the Select Intelligence Committee; Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, member of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence; Bob Schieffer the anchor and moderator of "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" every Sunday, and CBS news chief Washington correspondent; and Michael Beschloss, historian and best-selling author, the new one, terrific, "Reaching for Glory, More of Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes," these from the years 1964 through '65.

All right. We have heard our guy on the scene, Senator, and from our author who has been there. What do you make of this race for bin Laden?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), TECH & TERRORISM SUBCMTE CHMN.: Well, I think it is important to take out the leadership of al Qaeda. Having said that, I tend to agree with Sebastian. After reading a great deal about this man, I don't think he stayed around to be caught. I suspect he sensed the way it was going. He has got money. He can certainly pay for people to get him over the border. And you know there is a heavy Pashtun sympathetic element in Pakistan, and he may very well even be out of Pakistan.

KING: Senator Lugar?

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Bin Laden is very important. But I hope we are paying even more attention to where the rest of the al Qaeda are going at this point.

KING: But the public thinks bin Laden -- 70 percent...

LUGAR: I understand that so we will take care of that, but some of the rest of us have really got to keep an eye on the rest of the cells, because, not only the al Qaeda people in Afghanistan, but the foreign nationals, who, likewise are in play here, that is, either captured or also at large, that could very well form with cells in another countries.

We could have a replication of this whole thing in a very unstable country. The formation of that government is tremendously important to us, because we could have a replication again in Afghanistan, of an unstable group, which al Qaeda or some other group comes back to prey upon them, so those are very important events, and I don't see the same world attention on them, but I hope we focus rapidly.

KING: Bob? BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS, "FACE THE NATION": Well it seems to me that Afghanistan -- I mean one thing we can say has happened so far, is Afghanistan, at this point, is no longer a place that can harbor terrorists. And there were a lot of places that Osama bin Laden thought he could operate from. I don't think at this point he is going to be operating very well from there. So I think there is some success. Where is Osama bin Laden? Who knows? We will know where he is when we catch him. But, we will eventually catch him.

KING: Has to be caught, right?

SCHIEFFER: Well, when you think of the resources that the United States government can bring to bear, these rewards, they will catch him.

KING: Although we have been looking for the guy who caused the Atlanta problem in the Olympics for four years.

SCHIEFFER: Sure, and we looked for the Unabomber for a long time, but we finally got him, you know. They will eventually catch him.

KING: Anything historical to match this, Mr. Beschloss?


KING: Have we ever had a world-wide look out for one guy?

BESCHLOSS: Nothing like this, but you know you look at World War II, and Dwight Eisenhower when he was the commander in Europe, his orders were liberate the German nation. They weren't kill Adolf Hitler or capture him although we sure wanted to do that, and all of us were delighted when Hitler killed himself, but I think President Bush has been very good at keeping people's eye on the fact that the purpose of this is to free us from terrorism. And to the extent that capturing Osama bin Laden helps us to do that...

KING: So, there wasn't this hysteria about get Hitler?

BESCHLOSS: Oh, people wanted to do it. I would love to see Osama put in a cage and brought into Times Square...

KING: But there wasn't this kind of -- get Hitler kind of thing, was there?

BESCHLOSS: Well, I think people emotionally felt that way, but the real purpose of the war was less "get Hitler" than get him out of power and get a decent government in Germany.

KING: Senator Feinstein -- and anyone can jump in -- is Senator Lugar right, though, that we focus so much attention on him that we are not looking at other things?

FEINSTEIN: I think that is right. I think this has become deeply personalized, and in fact, he is just one person, maybe the head, maybe the financing arm, but there is other leadership, and there are probably thousands of al Qaeda all over the world, certainly Indonesia, Malaysia, some in the Philippines, some in this country; you have the Middle East situation, you've got Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad.

I mean, terrorism, may own view has taken on a tremendous scope, but Afghanistan has to be stable. The American interest there is now established. As we said with the opening of the embassy, we are going to stay with it. I think getting this government squared away, getting it functioning, getting economic recovery -- I am very worried about the winter and people starving to death over this winter, getting that solved, I think these are the important things.

SCHIEFFER: But isn't this and wasn't this tape that was released, wasn't it a wonderful advertisement for what terrorists are, and what terrorism really stands for?

KING: For the fanaticism?

SCHIEFFER: Because here you saw in this tape, you saw this man saying -- chuckling, laughing about the fact he is able to trick young people into committing suicide. And basically, that is what he did. And I just thought as I saw that, and comparing it to these pictures we see every day, of those firemen in New York, who are still going into that rubble and digging those bodies out, for no other purpose than to see that those people have a proper burial, now that tells you, this is what terrorists do. They trick their young people into committing suicide.

And here is what we do. We will spend months and millions of dollars just to get the victims so they can have a dignified burial.

KING: Senator Lugar, they keep telling us it is going take long, long time. Why?

LUGAR: I think the perspective the president and others are giving is accurate. It will take long while because there are terrorist cells in many countries.

KING: So, you are thinking post Afghanistan when you say long, long...

LUGAR: Yes, although we are not home free there, yet, even as we have all said this evening, we are still chasing down the al Qaeda, who are there. But are there other terrorists, they are in many countries, and the perspective of how to go after them and keep the alliance together, keep the same resources of intelligence sharing that have been so important in this, as well as the resources of troops, or weapons or what have you, will take lot of doing.

This why the president, I'm sure, is pleased that bin Laden is holed up there. But his own rhetoric has been, this is a long time, and people are asking the same question you ask, why? Because there are terrorists out there. The other thing still out there, of course, are weapons of mass destruction. They are in several countries too. Now the intersection of his terrorist cells, wherever they are, with the materials of weapons of mass destruction really is catastrophic news, as opposed to simply a terrorist incident, and that is why the war is going to be a long one, getting to all those weapons as well as to terrorists, simultaneously.

KING: Long wars, Michael, historically, tend to turn public down.

BESCHLOSS: Well Vietnam the big example, but you know, that was almost the flip side of this, because the problem there was that President Johnson did the opposite of what President Bush did. He first of all didn't say this is a war that could take 10 years, which is what he privately thought, and could kill 50,000 Americans. He turned out to be right.

Instead he muffled the announcement that we were going to war, and people were not told at beginning. What Bush did in September shows that he learned the lesson of Vietnam, which was, if you are going into a war No. 1, make sure it is for something worthwhile, not a corrupt regime in Saigon, but in this case, all of our physical security.

And No. 2, if you are going to get into something like that, tell the American people at the outset so they can be consulted, and if they object, let them express themselves. That Johnson never did, but George Bush did extremely well last fall.


KING: When we return, CNN's exclusive interview with American Taliban John Walker. Could his own words condemn him as a traitor?


KING: Welcome back. On December 2, CNN's Robert Pelton interviewed American Taliban fighter John Walker in Mazar-e Sharif. The entire videotape of that riveting conversation didn't become available until this past week, and what a fuss it kicked up. On Wednesday, I asked "Newsweek's" Colin Soloway, who's also talked with Walker, what he made of the tape.


COLIN SOLOWAY, "NEWSWEEK": Well, Larry, I spoke with Robert Pelton, and I've seen some of the readouts from the interview. I haven't seen the entire tape myself, but it's certainly -- he certainly went far beyond what he had -- what he had said to me when I spoke with him a few hours earlier. You know, he had given me the impression that he had some to Afghanistan. It wasn't quite clear, but he had mentioned humanitarian aid work. And he'd also given me the impression that he wasn't particularly well acquainted with bin Laden or his ideas. He had sort of mentioned briefly a couple of books that bin Laden had written.

So, in fact, when I heard about the CNN interview the next day, I was really surprised that he had gone -- certainly gone much farther in talking about his involvement with the Taliban and with al Qaeda. KING: Sebastian Junger in New York, author of a great new book called, "Fire." He also wrote the historic "Perfect Storm."

Sebastian, what do you make of the latest from Mr. Walker?

JUNGER: I've only seen parts of the interview. I was struck by it, at the depth of his involvement. Of course, that raised the question: Is he boasting of something that isn't true or was he, in fact, that deeply involved? The last part that I just saw before sitting down here he was asked: "Is this what you expected when you signed up for jihad?" And he said, you know, his face is blackened and he's wounded and in pain. He said, "This is exactly what I expected." I was really struck by that. It does give a glimpse into the psychology of people in that movement.

KING: And Nic Robertson, what are your thoughts on what you've heard?

ROBERTSON: Larry, John Walker is clearly a survivor, seeing and hearing what he had to say after surviving not only the bombardment in Kunduz and the fight around there, but then when he was in prison and there was that bloody revolt in the prison that lasted a week that led to the death of a CIA agent in the area.

One realizes that he has a very, very strong instinct for survival, the fact that he could sustain himself through the gun battles, through the attacks, and through the eventual flooding if the cave that they were in or the prison compound, the prison dungeon that they were in below the buildings there. So really he comes across to me as a survivor.

KING: Let's hear an excerpt. This is Walker talking about how he came to be in Mazar-e Sharif as a fighter for the Taliban. Watch.


ROBERT PELTON, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: Were you with the Taliban all the time or were you doing something else?

JOHN WALKER, AMERICAN TALIBAN FIGHTER: The Taliban have separate branches in the army. They have Afghan and they have the non-Afghans. I was with the separate branch, non-Afghans.

PELTON: What was the non-Afghani branch like?

WALKER: It's called Unsar (ph). It means the helpers.

PELTON: Is it the same as a Zoo 55 brigade (ph) and...

WALKER: I'm not familiar with.

PELTON: It's a term -- I was with the Taliban in 1995.

WALKER: Really?

PELTON: Yeah, and they were explaining the Zoo 55 brigade. WALKER: It has -- they have a number name -- I don't remember the number.

PELTON: You have a slight accent.

WALKER: I haven't spoken English with native speakers in several months. I've been speaking Arabic. So I've been living overseas for about two years or so.

PELTON: How did you get to Afghanistan, because some friends of mine fought in Chechnya. Did you go through the Muj (ph) trail or you just come here and volunteer?

WALKER: I came -- I was a student in Pakistan studying Islam. And I came into contact with many people who were connected with Taliban. I lived in the region, the northwest frontier province. The people there in general have great love for the Taliban. So I started to read some of their literature of their scholars and the history of the movement and -- my heart became attached to them. I wanted to help them one way or another. So I happened to...

PELTON: Do you have any military schools or you just were sort of...

WALKER: No, I don't.

PELTON: When you came into those camps, were they training you?

WALKER: Well, simple training camps.

PELTON: A friend of mine was an American and they had to hide him from the Secret Service all the time, and he went to fight in Kashmir.

WALKER: In Pakistan, yeah, that's how it is. They always had (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

PELTON: After this is all done, how do you feel? You feel like you were sort of -- you did the right thing or...

Well do you feel now after -- there's been a number of losses on the Taliban side.

WALKER: With regard to this, this particular incident you mean?


WALKER: This was all a mistake of a handful of people.


KING: Joining our panel of journalists, two distinguished representatives in the United States Senate: in Washington, Senator Bob Graham of Florida, chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee; and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, and also a member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information.

Senator Graham, what is your read on this John Walker matter with this further information and the information we learned tonight that he may be charged under a federal law, prohibits assisting terrorists facing up to 10 years in jail? What are options the president is looking at?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don't know what options the president is looking at, Larry but I imagine that they are going to be as strict and severe as is available to him. This is a man who's not a juvenile. He's 20 years old. He's been out of the country for three years. He made an adult decision to join with what he knew was an adversary of the United States and then a collaborator in the most horrific act of terrorism against our people. I think he will be dealt with severely.

KING: Senator McConnell, have you heard portions or all of the tape?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), FOREIGN OPERATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE: I've heard most of it, Larry, and it's hard to contain your anger. I can tell you this: This guy deserves a lot more than a shave and haircut. I mean, you have to try to overcome your desire to strap him on a cruise missile and fire him at Tora Bora.

But I think the president probably figures that this guy is not eligible for a military tribunal because he's an American citizen. He certainly shouldn't be court-martialed because he's not a member of the American military. So it sounds from your earlier report as if the government, the administration leans toward an American court under the new terrorism law. So it sounds like that may be the way in which they're headed.

KING: Colin Soloway, you interviewed him. Are you surprised at apparently how open he has become?

SOLOWAY: Well, I -- Larry, I think at the time when I spoke to him, he was already, I think, beginning to think about carefully about his future and the possibility of spending a long time in the future in a prison in northern Afghanistan or worse. And so he was he was -- you know, he spoke with me. But then -- then when he spoke with Robert Pelton, he had spent several hours in the back of an open-top cargo truck in the night in wintertime.

And Robert Pelton had told me that he was virtually hypothermic when -- that he was almost freezing to death when they found him in the hospital. And apparently, Pelton had, you know, told him, you know, "Look, if you don't talk to us, you know, we may leave you and you could you die here." So I think, you know, I think this focused his attention on the idea of giving them some more information.

I think he realized that probably the more information he could give, the more likely it was that they were going to take him out of there and that he was going to be able -- that he was going to survive one way or the other. So, no, it's not particularly surprising. What does surprise me in a sense is the degree of cooperation, which at least the government claims that he's giving in their discussions with him and their interrogations of him. It will be interesting to see when whatever case comes up for Walker, whether it be a federal case or a military tribunal, how much of these, what seem to be very lengthy interrogations, judging from government sources, how much of these interrogations can actually be used in court. Again, he doesn't have a lawyer present. So it's unclear, you know, how much damning evidence, in fact, they will have against him in an open court.

KING: Let's take a call for our senators.

Butler, Pennsylvania, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry, I have a question for your people.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: If there is such a big question about the legality of bringing him back over to this country for trial, if it's legal or illegal, turn him over to the Northern Alliance and let them try him.

KING: You talking about Mr. Walker?

CALLER: Yes, sir, I certainly am.

KING: What do you make of that, Senator Graham?

B. GRAHAM: I don't think there's any question about the legality of the United States bringing a U.S. citizen back to this country to be tried by our criminal justice system. And I think that is what's going to happen.

KING: Senator...

MCCONNELL: There's no question he'll be...

KING: Go ahead, I'm sorry.

MCCONNELL: There's no question he'll be tried by us. The only question is which kind of forum will he be in?


KING: One note, by the way, John Walker initially expressed reluctance about being taped, but with the lights on and the cameras rolling, he did ultimately tell his story to CNN's Robert Pelton.

When we return, highlights from some red hot debate on what the U.S. government should do about John Walker. Stay with us.


KING: Our panel will now get into the John Walker matter. They are, in Washington, Congressman Lindsey Graham, Democrat -- Republican, rather, of South Carolina, member -- whoa. Member of the judiciary committee and member of the armed services committee.

The Democrat is Congressman Marty Meehan of Massachusetts, member of armed services, also judiciary. More than 30 of his constituents were killed September 11 aboard two Boston-to-L.A. flights that hit the World Trade Center towers.

In New York is Nancy Grace, former prosecutor and anchor for "Trial Heat" on Court TV. And in Los Angeles, the famed defense attorney Mark Geragos.

Before we start, President Bush the first was a guest on "Good Morning America." Asked about John Walker. Watch.


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm so offended by what he allegedly has done. I mean just -- how -- how he can do it. I had -- I thought of a unique penalty. Make him leave his hair the way it is and his face as dirty as it is and let him go wandering around this country. See what kind of sympathy he would get.


KING: All right. Congressman Graham, what do you make of reports we are receiving that John Walker may be charged under a federal law prohibiting assisting terrorists and face up to 10 years?

REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, given his conduct I think he is lucky to be alive, number one. And if he gets into federal court in America he should consider himself well blessed, given what he did.

I don't believe in trying people on television. We are a rule -- a nation of laws. And -- but however, Larry, the -- the evidence is overwhelming. You don't need any of these statements. You caught him with a gun in the middle of a group of people who tried to support terrorists that killed millions -- thousands of Americans. I think he's lucky if he gets out with a federal court trial.

KING: Congressman Meehan, is it as open and shut as that?

REP. MARTY MEEHAN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I think the tape speaks for itself. It's clear that this -- this man is culpable. I think we need to continue to gather the evidence and the facts, and he should be held accountable for his actions.

The tape is stunning. The whole case is stunning. But we have a responsibility to the American people to hold people accountable for their actions and that is what we will do.

KING: Nancy Grace?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV ANCHOR: Well, I'm shocked that someone would -- could even consider a 10-year sentence. I certainly agree with other supporters that think he should be tried for treason and face the death penalty.

Please, don't even try to tell me that he did not know those were U.S. airplanes flying overhead, that he did not know he was fighting against a U.S. ally, the Northern Alliance. That is treason.

KING: Mr. Geragos.

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, I hate to agree...

KING: Often called to defend people of unsavory character.

GERAGOS: Well, the -- I hate to agree with Nancy, but in some way she's correct. I mean, the idea that you would get the federal statute that you would be charged with would be up to 10 years in prison is not a very heavy penalty. I mean, there are a lot of statutes that you could be charged with in the -- under the Code 18- USC that carry 10-year penalties. That's not anything out of the ordinary.

Treason, obviously, is the most singular crime that we have. So in some ways, that is a gift.

The other kind of -- kind of perplexing thing about this is in some ways if you are his lawyer -- Mr. Brosnahan in San Francisco, who is an outstanding lawyer -- you almost don't want him brought back here. I mean, you almost would prefer that he has a military tribunal. It's one of those weird positions as defense lawyer where...

KING: If you were his lawyer you might...

GERAGOS: If you were his lawyer you might want -- this may be one of the few cases where you'd say, "look, don't bring him back to America. I don't want him tried here."

President Bush the first had a -- kind of a unique perspective. This is not a guy who's going to engender a whole lot of sympathy here in America.

KING: Let's listen to another soundbite and watch him. Walker talking about the rightness of the cause for which he ended up fighting in Afghanistan. Watch.


PELTON: I'm just curious. Was this what you thought it would be? I mean, was this the right cause or the right place?

WALKER: It's exactly what I thought it would be.

PELTON: Had you thought of fighting in jihad in places like Chechnya where (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

WALKER: Because of -- any Muslim that's concerned for the affairs of Muslims, oppressed Muslims, has considered this, I think.

PELTON: But you chose Afghanistan. And one thing that I always wondered was you have Muslims fighting Muslims here.

WALKER: That's a question that's actually addressed in the Koran itself, that if there is an Islamic state, I mean, there are certain situations in which Muslims by necessity fought.


KING: Repeating again, initially Walker expressed some reluctance -- expected -- expressed reluctance to being taped, but with the camera rolling and lights on, he did tell his story to CNN's Robert Pelton, who'll be a guest at the top of the hour with Aaron Brown. What do you make about that statement, Congressman Graham, that he kind of knew this?

L. GRAHAM: If I was an American Muslim or a Muslim who really understood what the Koran was all about, I would be extremely offended that his view of the Islamic religion, I think, has been hijacked. He's hijacking a great religion and it's just another reason that if he gets a federal court trial with a 10-year sentence, he gets a lot better than he deserves.

KING: Congressman Meehan, can -- when you get this much attention -- can he get, in your opinion, a fair hearing?

MEEHAN: I think he can. Look. We don't even know what the facts and the evidence in this case are all about. We have to wait and see what the pentagon comes up with, what the Justice Department comes up with.

The president ultimately will make a decision. I think the decision the presidents have made -- the president has made in -- in this matter thus far have been prudent decisions. And we'll have to see what happens.

But I think he can. I think Americans are fully competent and qualified. They have time and time again made decisions based on the law, based on the facts and based on the evidence, and they will do so in this case.

And just -- just the fact that we have a tape which I believe would be admissible in almost any conceivable court, you have a tape that shows his guilt pretty clearly. That will be the basis upon which a decision will be made.

KING: Now, Nancy Grace, could you not serve on his jury because you have presumed his guilt, have you not?

GRACE: Well, I'm basing that on what I have heard so far, and what I have seen. And I have seen him making statements -- I have heard that he has admitted to being a member of al Qaeda, to supporting the Taliban, that his fight against the Northern Alliance was exactly what he thought it would be.

And just think about it, Larry, he was the crown jewel for the Taliban. They actually had in their clutches an American who hated the West, who hated America, who would raise his arms against an American alliance.

From what I have seen, yeah, I think he is guilty. Let them prove him innocent.

KING: Mr. Geragos, can he get a fair shot?

GERAGOS: No. That's one of the reasons why I said if I -- if I were defending him, or Brosnahan is I'm sure thinking the same thing. You don't want him brought back here. Let him -- let him be tried in a military tribunal. He's not going to...

GRACE: But hey, Mark.

GERAGOS: This is one of the few cases, Nancy, where I would say that a military tribunal makes more sense...

GRACE: But wait a minute. Wait a minute, Mark. What about all...

GERAGOS: ...than bringing him over to a federal, civil justice system.

GRACE: What about all those people out in America who that think he is a poor young fellow that was brainwashed?

GERAGOS: Yeah. I think that...

GRACE: All I can say is it didn't work for Patty Hearst. It's not going work for him either.

GERAGOS: I -- I don't think that you're going to find a whole lot of sympathy after this tape. I think most of the people who had a lot of sympathy for him, that was pre-tape.

I think this tape at this point and the playing of this tape and some of the clearly, kind of, prejudicial things that are being said and some of the inflammatory things that are being said, this just -- this is just not somebody who's -- if you are a lawyer you're going to want to parade this guy in front of a jury in America.


KING: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will weigh in on the Walker matter when we continue. She also talks about helping the heroes of 9/11. Stay with us.



KING: Joining us now in Washington is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, of course, the former first lady; and in New York, Dr. Kerry Kelly, chief medical officer of the New York Fire Department, has been with that department for 20 years. Her father and grandfather were firefighters. She testified before the Senate about the need for mental health resources for firefighters and public safety officials in the aftermath of September 11. That's what we are here to talk about.

But I want to ask one question of Senator Clinton first. What do you make of this John Walker thing? And as a lawyer, what do you make of it?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Well, Larry, I think that we are learning more. I don't know how reliable the information is and how accurate his own words even are as to what he experienced and what he observed. I'm pleased that he is in American custody and I hope that he is providing useful information to those who are questioning him.

You know, the president will be making a decision about how he should be treated. And we'll wait to hear that decision. But I think what's really a significant difference between what we see when we hear this young man talk about taking up arms against his country is the hundreds and thousands of young men and women who are putting their own lives at risk defending not only our country, but the rights of people to be free from terrorism. And, you know, as we go into this Christmas season, we all ought to be grateful for, you know, their commitment and service.

KING: All right, Dr. Kelly -- and we'll get the senator in on this of course -- what are the needs with regard to mental health in the aftermath of 9/11?

DR. KERRY KELLY, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT: I think you have to look at our membership and realize the experience that they have gone through. Our entire membership has really been exposed to the events of 9/11, both in their response from the initial alarm that went in. They were there during collapses. They have been there in rescue and recovery efforts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since that event.

They have been busy trying to rescue and now recover the bodies of loved ones and civilians. And their exposure has been tremendous to really a very overwhelming event. And I think it is important that we supply the emotional follow-up for these members so that we can keep them healthy both physically and mentally.

KING: Senator Clinton, is there funding for the psychological end of this problem?

CLINTON: Well, Larry, Dr. Kelly testified before our committee. And I was very struck by her personal experience. She was there doing the work that she has done for all those years, taking care of people. And so she not only has the responsibility of taking care of those in the department, but she has firsthand experience of the real terror that was experienced by so many, in addition to the loss of life.

So I went to work to get some additional funds. You know, the fire department does take care of its own. And I think that is one of the really admirable characteristics that everyone is seeing, that this is a, you know, a real extended family, where people, you know, look out for each other and are going to be there day in and day out. But Dr. Kelly knew from her own work and from the work of others who've dealt with disasters and tragedies that there would be a lot of mental health and counseling needs. And so I was able to get some additional dollars, about two and a half million, to go to firefighters and the emergency personnel who were there working on 9/11 and who have been involved in the aftermath.

And I just have to commend Dr. Kelly and, you know, her team and the people who are working so hard to provide for all of the needs that we are seeing in this holiday season, but that we know are going to go on for months, and months afterwards.

KING: Dr. Kelly, other than the obvious, what is the biggest emotional problem people face after loss?

KELLY: I think in addition to the grief process, which has really been extended because we have had memorial services and funerals that began soon after this event and have continued and will continue through, people are dealing with their own stress reactions. They are dealing with the aftermath of being at this event and dealing with being part of a terrorist attack. And I think sleep disturbance and anxiety are not unusual after an event such as this.

KING: And Senator Clinton, are you supporting the proposal by Senators Lieberman and McCain for an independent commission to look into the events of 9-11?

CLINTON: Yes, I am. I called for that earlier this week, and I'm glad that the Senate will help put together such a commission. I'm also sending a letter to the president, because I think there are ways that the federal government could also participate from the executive branch, in this investigation. But I think everyone needs to have a professional investigation to learn what we can learn, so that, you know, if something like this doesn't happen, if it can at all be avoided, we are going to try to prevent every possible terrorist attack, but in the event of an attack we want to make sure we have taken every precaution to save every life possible.

KING: Happy holidays to you both. Thanks for being with us.

CLINTON: Same to you Larry, thank you.


KING: Still to come, special ops, firsthand stories of front line action and hard-core devotion to duty. Stay with us.



KING: Joining us now in Fort Benning, Georgia Lieutenant Colonel Buck James, 15 years in the military, regimental operations offices, 75th Ranger regiment. He was deployed in Afghanistan. In Fort Benning as well is Sergeant First Class Thomas Fuller, 13 years in the military. He's also a member of the 75th Ranger regiment. He was the Army special operations command, non-commissioned officer of the year in 1997, not yet been deployed in Afghanistan.

And in London, Andy McNab, the highly decorated former member of the SAS. That's Britain's elite special air service. He's the best- selling author of the fiction thriller, "Firewall," and his autobiography, "Immediate Action." He's in shadow for his security, as he is wanted by some terrorist groups.

All right, Lieutenant Colonel James, you went in -- you were deployed on October 19 in Kandahar? What was that like, parachuting in?

BUCK JAMES, LT. COL., 75TH RANGER REGIMENT: Well, I will tell you that it was a definite attention-getter. First off, let me say, thanks for having us here tonight.

KING: Sure.

JAMES: Appreciate the opportunity to get to speak with you.

I will tell you that I was apprehensive, but very confident. The training that we do everyday here in the Ranger regiment, really prepares you for these kind of situations. And being with fellow Rangers, that as you've gone through that training with and shared hardship with, really builds that confidence.

KING: Sergeant Fuller, I know you -- I -- probably disappointed that you haven't been called there yet, right?

THOMAS FULLER, SGT. FIRST CLASS, SPECIAL OPS NCD OF 1997: Yes, everyone that doesn't go wishes they were, but we understand also there's, you know, everything doesn't just stop. And we still got training that goes on here. And the rest of the regiment, everyone can't go on every mission.

KING: What essentially, Sergeant, is the role of the Rangers?

FULLER: Well, Larry, the Rangers are always probably going to be part of a direct action force, probably serving as part of a larger force. Their job, in a nutshell, is to go in, hit hard, hit fast, overwhelm the enemy immediately, and then leave. And that's what we tried to do 48 weeks a year here at Fort Benning, as well as other bases around the country.

KING: Now Andy McNab in London, you're a former member of the SAS. And that's a special elite air service. Is that kind of equivalent to the Rangers?

ANDY MCNAB, AUTHOR, "FIREWALL": It's -- no, because we're a lot of a smaller force, Larry. We're more like the United States Delta Force, which the -- is based on the special air service. And basically, we work in small groups, maybe between four and six men. And our biggest weapon, until we get to the point of contact, is concealment. And then it's very much, like the rangers, where we get in, do what you got to do as quickly as possible, and get out again. Because we are such a small force. So it's maximum damage, minimum amount of risk. KING: Now all this, of course, is volunteer. Lieutenant James, why do you do what do you?

JAMES: I would tell you I personally do it for the challenge. This organization provides you the ability, every day, to push yourself harder against a very, very strict set of standards. Every man, from the riflemen that served down in the fire teams, all the way up to the regimental commander, Colonel Votel, meet the same standards every single day.

You don't compete against each other. And you basically, the only man you have to be better than is the man that you were yesterday. And it's very exciting. It's, as I said, it's very challenging. And it's very rewarding being part of something that's larger than yourself.

KING: Sergeant Fuller, why do you? Why are you a Ranger?

FULLER: Well, Larry, I think, there's an inherent desire to excel and to try push yourself to be best with all soldiers. And I think it's a natural progression that you're eventually going to attempt to try to serve in the Ranger regiment. And as Colonel James said that's for challenge.

However, I think once you become a Ranger, once you serve in the regiment, you kind of evolve in your thinking that now it's not so much about me and what I've done for myself. It's about what I could do to make the regiment better. And there's a fierce pride in the regiment as a whole. And that's why I stay here. You know, I came for the challenge, but I stay just to try to continue to contribute every day.

KING: Andy, is it -- maybe enjoy is the wrong word, but we'll try it, isn't it an enjoyment of danger that you like?

MCNAB: No, I don't think it's the enjoyment of danger, because everybody's scared. When in a contact situation, everybody's scared. And if they say they're not, they're sort of mentally deficient or they're lying.

And -- but there is a sense of a relief. There's a big adrenaline rush that you get afterwards. And you know, people get to talk about what has happened. Nine out of 10 times, it's -- you've got most of it wrong anyway until sort of the information sort of, you know, comes out a lot slower. But there is a feeling of professionalism, of a job well done.

And it's because people want to be the best that -- at what they're doing. And sometimes unfortunately. Well, that means that you've got to confront the enemy and get involved in fire fights.

KING: Lieutenant James, there's an extraordinary movie coming "Black Hawk Down." It's about the Rangers in Somalia. And one of the things that really brings home, and it's a very, very tough, terrific film. You're going to enjoy it, I'm sure. Is that each Ranger stands for his fellow comrades, right? You don't go out without taking them back?

JAMES: That's correct. We live by a creed, the Ranger creed. And it's not just a set of words that we memorize and say every morning at physical training. It really is a value set that we inculcate.

And part of that is I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy. And under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country. We know that no matter what, we can rely on each other, regardless what the situation is.

And I think that -- I hope that the film bears that out. That was a very difficult mission.

KING: Oh, it does.

JAMES: It was a very difficult mission. It -- but I will tell you, the Rangers that were on the ground, they never lost their cohesion, never lost their discipline. And they accomplished all of their objectives. And they did it because they were well trained, because they knew and trusted in each other. And they knew that no matter what, nobody would be left behind.


KING: A special treat when we come back, a musical performance from Paul Anka you don't want to miss.


KING: That's it for our look back at LARRY KING highlights from the past week. We close with this song from our pal Paul Anka. It's from his album "Christmas Classics," and Paul sings "Winter Wonderland." Enjoy. Have a good night.

PAUL ANKA, SINGER: Merry Christmas, everybody. Thank you, Larry.