CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With John Ashcroft and Queen Rania of Jordan
Aired November 9, 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, an FBI profile based on those three anthrax letters. But can the Bureau nail the source of bioterrorism? Attorney General John Ashcroft will join us for an exclusive one-on- one about that, and his sweeping plan for getting American justice into wartime gear.
And then from London, a conversation with Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan. It's another interview you'll only see here. Plus, Billy Ray Cyrus with a tribute to American heroes, "Some Gave All." All next, on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's a great pleasure to begin our program tonight with an old friend. I know him back from the Senate -- remember those days? -- the attorney general of the United States, General John Ashcroft. He is scheduled, by the way, to get involved with many things -- proposals to the House and Senate, which we will deal with.
But this in earlier today, general, I wonder if you'd comment on the anthrax mailings -- "probably the work of a man familiar with hazardous material; a man who holds a grudge against certain people," the FBI reporting -- looking for like a single individual.
What's your input?
JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I am pleased that the FBI has gone forward. We need the help of Americans to help us find the individual who's involved here. They announced a profile which was substantial. It talked about various characteristics of the individual. You mentioned several. They think that all three of these anthrax letters which we know something about, that we've got the letters, we've actually seen the letters themselves, analyzed the substance -- they think that it's highly likely that all three of those came from the same kind of individual.
They think it's a male individual with some technical expertise, a person who tends to be willing to hold a grudge for a while to get back at individuals, a person who picks his targets carefully. Took the right care to have the right addresses and to do things rather scientifically -- a person with scientific expertise and capacity.
These were all components of a profile announced by the FBI, and there'll be broader publicity of those components -- or those characteristics for people to consider when they might evaluate suspicions they have, and they might contact the FBI and other law enforcement authorities with a view toward helping us with this case.
KING: General, does that relieve anxiety in the sense that maybe it's not bin Laden and that element, it's one or maybe two American kooks, for want of a better term, that you can centralize on better? You think that would reduce fears?
ASHCROFT: Well, anthrax is a very, very serious thing, and it's still an act of terrorism. Anytime anybody sends anthrax to anyone, I consider it a terrorist act. And we're not sure. We don't have a level of confidence that makes certain the fact that these are domestic. But we think that there is a profile that the FBI believes might be helpful in apprehending an individual, and that's what we're announcing the profile for.
We still know that we're dealing with Al Qaeda. They have continued to express their desire that all Americans be killed and that people kill Americans. So I think we ought to respect this threat and we ought to be very careful, but obviously we still have other fish to fry with the international terrorist network.
KING: A story in "The New York Times" today reporting that the FBI, kind of, stumbled in this -- reporting a former lab scientist as saying the Bureau was caught as unaware and unprepared as the public. Any comment?
ASHCROFT: Are you talking about...
KING: The FBI.
ASHCROFT: ... and anthrax generally?
KING: Yes. Yes.
ASHCROFT: Well, frankly, I think our system has responded pretty well. Now, we have lost several people and their lives here, but you have to understand that there were also about 7,000 false threats phoned in, and much of the system has been deployed in evaluating false substances and the like.
There was a time in New York when the FBI received a letter which did not then test subsequently to have anthrax in it, when that letter was not processed as promptly as it might have been. That was the first Brokaw letter, I believe. It was eventually processed and found out to be benign -- at least it was the first Brokaw letter discovered. Then it was later learned that there was another Brokaw letter that had come in earlier, and that's the letter the traces from which have proved to be -- reveal anthrax.
KING: I guess the key thing is, is your faith in the Bureau still high?
ASHCROFT: My faith in the Bureau has been growing. I think obviously as we move through these kinds of circumstances, we get better at it. And this was a new responsibility -- the entire terrorist threat. And I have to indicate that this is not the first time, though, we've had anthrax mail in the United States or anthrax-threatened mail. It's the first time we have actually had the anthrax in the mail, but over the course of the last several years we've been dealing with 100 or more of these kinds of threatening hoax-type activities.
This is the first time when we've actually had the kind of danger to human health that's resulted in actual sickness, death and obviously many other Americans having to take the kinds of antibiotics that would forestall the disease.
KING: A lot of people around America are talking today. We'll talk about your proposals, but one that has created wide discussion is your feeling it necessary to issue a rule that would break attorney- client privilege with regard to certain people, that you could monitor attorney-client conversations. What's the genesis of that and, obviously, why?
ASHCROFT: Well, let me just -- I'm very pleased that you've mentioned this, because it's been misinterpreted. First of all, it only applies to individuals that are the subject of special administrative measures in our prisons, and this is a special category of spies or terrorists or people who try to carry on ongoing criminal activity from jail.
And we have less than 0.01 percent of the prison population in this category. So we're talking, right now, about 13 prisoners nationally in the United States of America whom we have reason to believe would be seeking to continue with criminal activity while they're in jail. And sometimes, they even use their attorneys -- sometimes the attorneys may not be aware of the use -- in signalling ongoing criminal activity.
Now, this program, which provides that for individuals in this very small category, who are suspected as terrorists, the subject of special administrative measures, this program says that we can listen to their conversations with their attorneys, but we have to give them notice first and that there are other guidelines that are established so that none of the information could be used against them subsequently in court that was a result of what is overheard.
Just imagine this: You have a terrorist who has -- as a matter of fact, of the 13, some are terrorists -- that has an uncompleted task and is waiting to signal those colleagues of his on the outside of a time to complete the task, to finish what the terrorists endeavor. We think we ought to be able to try and detect that and prevent that ongoing terrorism.
So this is a very narrowly focused thing -- less than 0.01 percent of all the prison population. It's all done -- given notice to the individuals. And before the information can be used in any way, it has to be approved by a judge unless the loss of human life is imminent. Then you can use the information to prevent that before you go to the judge.
KING: You've made that quite clear. I guess this would never have been thought of pre-September 11, would it?
ASHCROFT: Well, there have been procedures that have been specifically court ordered in pre-September 11 settings. We needed to be prepared, in the context of terrorism which threatened thousands of lives in a single terrorist act, to move quickly. And for that reason, in the post-September 11th environment, I said, "Given these safeguards to the constitutional rights, we should be able to safeguard the American public with this potential."
As I've indicated, only 13 individuals have been involved in it, and as a matter of fact, since we've issued the rules subject to September the 11th, we have not been involved in this additional activity. But it's there as a weapon and tool if we feel we need it.
KING: Glad you cleared it up.
You're watching LARRY KING LIVE with the attorney general of the United States, John Ashcroft. We'll be right back. Don't go away.
KING: Yesterday, General Ashcroft, you announced a major reorganization, mobilization of the justice system. First, does the president approve of it?
ASHCROFT: Well, this is in accordance with the kind of priorities that the president has asked me to focus on. The number one change is that we are shifting our highest priority to that of prevention. The most important thing we can do is to prevent terrorist attacks like those that happened in Pennsylvania, in Washington, D.C., or in Virginia -- northern Virginia, at the Pentagon -- and at the World Trade Centers. Thousands of lives are at stake there, and it's very important that the Justice Department understand that preventing those kinds of crimes is our top priority.
And it may require the reallocation of some of our resources, and we're going to have to understand that we can't be all things to all people. But prevention of terrorist acts, the deployment of our resources intelligently to get that done, moving people into the field where they can serve and actually get the job done, is more important than having people in the administrative offices in Washington.
KING: Did -- I mean, did you discuss it with him before you announced it? Did you discuss it with him today? Has he said, "Great idea, let's go forward"?
ASHCROFT: The president mentioned to me this morning that he had noted that I had made this announcement. And I don't want to say that the president and I have conferred about every aspect of this, but he has made it clear that he expects prevention to be our number one objective and priority.
KING: And the key element of it working is what?
ASHCROFT: Well, it's a change in culture. You know, in the intelligence community and in the law enforcement community, frequently, we've thought always about how do we convict an individual for the commission of a crime, and that's still an important priority.
But if we come into a situation where, if we have to reveal our source in order to prevent the commission of a terrorist act and that ruins our prosecution, so be it.
You know, we're not interested in protecting sources as much as we are interested in protecting the American people. And the old way of doing things was very frequently sometimes, "We've got to make sure this case holds, and we've got to protect this prosecution. We've got to keep all this information quiet." Well, frankly, we want to do that, but never at the expense of preventing terrorist activity or protecting the American people.
KING: General, how has this affected justice in general? The Justice Department's a very place, crime goes on. Terrorism hovers above us; 9/11 has changed us all. What has it done to justice?
ASHCROFT: Well, we're continuing to operate, although I have to say that our first priority has been terrorism prevention. But, for instance, this week an announcement was made about the settlement of the Microsoft case, which was a major antitrust case. I believe it was settled very favorably for consumers in the country, and that has been -- that case is winding up.
Similarly, other major litigation of the office moves forward. But I have to say very clearly that terrorism has changed our priorities, and we are working to prevent terrorist acts as our number-one responsibility.
KING: The Senate, your former body, passed unanimously an aviation security bill that asks you, the Justice Department, to take control of airport security. The House bill differs in other areas and thinks Transportation should handle it. The Bush administration favors the House side, but would support, certainly, a compromise.
What are your thoughts?
ASHCROFT: Well, I believe that we need to have the right kind of airport security. And I think everyone who has spent any time in the air understands that we need to have quality individuals and quality equipment, and that the people who fly deserve to have a confidence of knowing that they are safe.
And I believe that when the president, just last night, called on the Congress to send him a bill he could sign, he understands the urgency of this issue.
It's important that we have federal standards, that we require that the quality of work be done and be done very well. It's not important that they all be federal employees. As a matter of fact, some have pointed out that it's very hard to fire a government employee, and maybe we need a system where if individuals aren't doing their jobs well, they need to be subject to immediate dismissal.
And so some -- and I think one of the reasons behind the House position is that you want to have standards and demands that are very high, and set those demands high and enforce them. But you may not want this to become a government bureaucracy with all of the difficulties that attend government bureaucracies.
KING: Some former FBI agents have volunteered to come back and help, and the FBI turned them down. What was the reason?
ASHCROFT: I don't know. You'd have to ask the director about that.
Let me say this: We are accepting the help of a lot of individuals. We've put out a special call for translators because we needed additional assistance in translating Middle Eastern languages. And a number of people have responded, and it's been a great help to us.
So we've helped -- we've accepted help and have needed help in a variety of areas. It may be that in some areas that additional help just wasn't something that we could accommodate or work with at the time.
KING: The Senate Judiciary chairman and your old compatriot in the Senate, Patrick Leahy, says -- I want to quote him exactly -- "You cannot plan for the future effectively without knowing what went wrong in the past." And the senator wants an FBI oversight panel headed by former FBI and CIA Chief William Webster to review the performance of the FBI's counterterrorism.
What are your thoughts on that?
ASHCROFT: Well, I believe that all of us want to learn everything we can from our conduct, the conduct in which we are now engaged, circumstances where we now are, and the mistakes that we've made or the -- if they're not mistakes, the things that we could've done better.
And I would hope that that's a process that we'll undertake on a continuing basis. And doing so in conjunction with the oversight committees in the Congress is one of the responsibilities of serving the American people.
And while we have a very high priority right now on securing America and preserving the peace and the security of the American people, preventing terrorist acts, I believe that it's appropriate for us to think about how we can improve our performance -- and all was learned from what happened in one circumstance -- and figure out ways to do things even better the next time.
KING: So you might agree with the senator?
ASHCROFT: Well, I don't think we'll have any substantial disagreements. I'm -- you know, we have already been involved at the FBI for the last year with working to retool that particular bureau so that it meets the challenges of the future.
Yesterday in my speech on reorganizing the Justice Department, I talked about the challenges of adapting the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the challenges of the future in making sure that we equip them properly.
Too many times, the technology which we've been using at the FBI -- and all this is well understood on the Hill -- has been outdated. The kind of information technology we have needs to be updated significantly.
KING: We'll be right back with the attorney general of the United States, John Ashcroft, on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE with Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Since you were last with us, General, the Congress passed anti- terrorism legislation. How well has that kicked in?
ASHCROFT: Well, it's very important, and I'm grateful to the Congress for doing it. Immediately, it allows for us to share information between agencies of the government that have information relating to America's security and our defense against terrorism. And prior to the legislation, there were times when we simply couldn't get information from the law enforcement side of what we had over to the intelligence side, and vice-versa.
It's important that we integrate this and that we work together. And this is a very important point. I sent out a directive the day the legislation was signed, and already we're beginning to see a greater ability to cooperate and coordinate between what used to be intelligence resources that had been primarily focused overseas, and law enforcement resources that had primarily been focused here at home. We've got to integrate these resources to make sure that we prevent terrorism.
KING: On your sweeping reorganization, do you have the power to do that by edict?
ASHCROFT: I sent to the United States Congress a plan for our reorganization outlining the 10 specific goals that we have. We do have the power to do that, in conjunction with the Congress, without special legislation to do it. But we always like to comply with the need to make sure that Congress is given the right notice. Congress is the representative of the people in overseeing what we do. And they have an appropriate supervisory role and we've posted that entire plan with them.
KING: So they could kill it if they wanted to?
ASHCROFT: Well, obviously, the Congress, in conjunction with the president, can virtually tailor any part of government by enacting the laws. But I believe these are goals and objectives which are very consistent with what the Congress has expressed in the past. We simply, in one respect, just added a new priority, that of preventing terrorism, at the top of our chart, and that's something that I know that the American Congress endorses along with the president. KING: In your last appearance on this program -- we thank you for many, including the first appearance when you took the job that night. I'll never forget that historic night -- you have always opposed any breaks in civil liberties. You have stated you are against racial and ethnic profiling. Do you think, though, that a lot of that is going on?
ASHCROFT: I certainly hope that we don't have an abuse of anyone based on their race or religion in the United States. Particularly in the wake of the terrorist attacks, there was a rash of abuse of certain citizens in America, some of our patriotic fellow citizens who were of Middle Eastern origin or who were of the Muslim faith or even some Sikhs who are not really associated in any direct way with any of that activity, they were abused. The Justice Department opened investigations immediately. We announced prosecutions.
You know, America is a land of immigrants. We respect each other based on who we are, not where we came from. And we owe each other the dignity and integrity of respecting our constitutional rights. And there shouldn't be profiling based on race or religion or discrimination that refuses to recognize the valuable contributions that all Americans bring to our culture.
KING: General, you mentioned immigration. You want to change the immigration setup too, don't you?
ASHCROFT: Well, we need to reform the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Now, people don't understand the incredibly substantial job it undertakes. About 550 or 560 million people a year cross the borders of America. And they've got a big job in just monitoring the borders. There's another aspect of INS that deals with citizenship applications.
And the president, when he ran for office, understood that we had some confusion between these two functions -- one monitoring the border, the other serving individuals as they made application for citizenship. And he sought to separate those, and that's what we need to do by way of reforming INS -- to separate the functions of enforcement from the function of service, to coordinate that and bring better integrity to our borders, to understand that individuals who come to America are welcome here to enjoy the liberty but not to destroy it.
And those who abuse the rights and privileges attendant to a visa of this country by over-staying the visa or not living in compliance with its terms ought to be excluded, deported and not allowed to return.
KING: General, there are some in America who want to change this Posse Comitatus law back in the 19th century, that the military cannot be involved in domestic law enforcement. Would you want them to be?
ASHCROFT: Well, I'm not prepared to give a comprehensive dissertation on Posse Comitatus today.
Obviously, the president's indicated that we're fighting a war on two fronts and that we have our military designed generally to protect America from enemies and not to -- but not to, sort of, try to be law enforcement at home.
I believe that the law enforcement community is doing a good job right now. I want to commend the homeland security director, Governor Ridge, who has come to Washington to try and put together our response to things and to coordinate the response to things, like the anthrax problem.
And I believe our law enforcement officials are responding very constructively. We're relying on state and local officials substantially.
KING: General, we've asked other Cabinet officials -- Tommy Thompson and others -- there's no pre-course for this. There's no previous secretary of Health and Education -- and Health and Human Services that he could have called and said, "What would you do about this?" There's no previous attorney general you could call -- right -- to say, "What would you do about this?" So what do you go on?
ASHCROFT: Well, we've almost had so much activity that we've just had to ask God to help us make good judgments and then to share the counsel of individuals who are here on this team.
The president assembled a team which is providentially talented, as far as I'm concerned: Look at Colin Powell, who was previously experienced in this kind of circumstance; the vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney, who had the experience during the Gulf War; Condoleezza Rice is a brilliant individual who has a sense of poise and calm that always seems to provide the right ballast in any situation, no matter how stressful. She has -- this team which he has assembled -- Don Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, having been the secretary of defense decades ago, willing now to serve his country again, having a host of experiences in the private sector as well. It's an honor for me to confer with these individuals.
And when we work together, at least I find that they always add immeasurably to any suggestion that I might have. And I think that's the reason that we've been able to deal with this challenge.
KING: There is, then, a lot of interchange of ideas?
ASHCROFT: Well, I've had the benefit of these individuals working with me and conferring with me on a broad range of things. I don't want them to be taking responsibility for any of my mistakes. But I'm grateful to them for all the good advice and the, kind of, collaboration that's existed in the administration.
KING: We have one more segment with the attorney general of the United States. We'll be back with John Ashcroft on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE with Attorney General John Ashcroft. We know how strong your beliefs are, but how has all of this changed you or affected you? You can't be the same, or are you?
ASHCROFT: Well, frankly, I think this has sobered every American. Any American that wasn't saddened and, frankly, angered by these events, I just don't understand that.
But I've also been inspired. The people of America have responded in a way which is so constructive. We are unified. We are together.
I was driving toward the airport here in Washington just two days ago, and beneath one of the elevated highways, some homeless individuals had assembled from skids and refrigerator boxes a place where they shelter themselves. And on the side of the refrigerator box in which one of those persons lived was posted an American flag.
Now to me, that speaks volumes about the breadth of unity that exists in America. What a tremendous statement, from one end of the culture, from the refrigerator box to the White House, that we reject terrorism, that we respect the values of America and that we won't be intimidated, no matter what our station, no matter what our role.
You know, it's changed me. This has sobered me. It's required me to miss time with my family, although I find that we probably hug a little more than we did before.
KING: Has it caused you at all to question your faith?
ASHCROFT: No, not really. It's caused me to spend time asking God for wisdom and protection for the American people.
I believe that we are a target because of the kind of success, the kind of credibility that America has, and the kind of freedom we enjoy. The terrorist doesn't believe in freedom. If he believed in freedom, he could simply expect people ultimately to choose on the basis of their freedom that which he is pushing. But the terrorist knows that in the marketplace, he doesn't succeed. So the terrorist says, "I have to force people to my position. I have to extort their consent because I could never earn it."
America is a place where we trust people to make good judgments, and we trust our system and free people to make good decisions. And that really is, I guess, salt that rubs in the wound in a very special and irritating way for terrorists, and that's why we're a target.
KING: Well said.
The attorney general of the United States is never far away from controversy, and earlier this week, you issued a directive saying that Oregon doctors who use the state's unique assisted suicide law would lose their licenses to prescribe federally controlled drugs. On Thursday, the U.S. district judge, Robert Jones, granted a temporary restraining order barring enforcement of that directive.
Shouldn't Oregon be entitled to pass any law it wishes? ASHCROFT: Well, you know, in 1920 the Harrison Act was passed, and then in 1970, the Controlled Substances Act. And in 1984, there were amendments to those acts which provided that controlled substances -- substances that are the subject of regulation by the United States government in its drug relation responsibility -- they can only be used for legitimate medical purposes. And it's been a quite longstanding understanding of the federal government that legitimate medical purposes are healing and helping people, not killing people.
Now, I think we should use these drugs very aggressively to help people. But in 1997, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued an opinion saying that those drugs could not be used to kill people. Then that opinion was set aside. I believe the opinion was right. I reinstated that opinion.
Now just last year, the Supreme Court of the United States, in the Oakland cannabis case, which had to do with marijuana in Oakland, reinforced the responsibility of the federal government to regulate in this area, saying that the federal law prevails. So it's based on that Supreme Court decision that I reinstated the 1997 opinion of the DEA. And I believe that ultimately that reinstated opinion will prevail.
KING: But does it hurt you, as a man who has always liked the idea of government local better, that the people of Oregon think it's OK if someone wants to die and is in that kind of pain or need, they should be allowed to?
ASHCROFT: Well, I certainly believe that people who are in pain should be helped and assisted in every way possible, that the drugs should be used to mitigate their pain. But I believe the law of the United States of America, which requires that drugs not be used except for legitimate health purposes, that those laws need to be enforced, and that's my responsibility.
KING: We have a couple of moments left, John, I want to get your -- forgive me for calling you John.
ASHCROFT: OK, not a problem.
KING: They're having some fun with you on "Saturday Night Live" -- Darryl Hammond is. I want to show you a little clip here and get you to comment. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARRYL HAMMOND, ACTOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we're out of time. So in conclusion, I'd like to say again, live your lives as normal, just be strong and just be vigilant, just be confident, and live from New York, it's "Saturday Night."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHCROFT: I should look so good.
KING: What do you think of that?
ASHCROFT: Well, I, kind of, was amused by it. I don't -- I wish I looked that good. I have always thought that the best way to begin to accommodate to new circumstances is to learn to laugh in them. And I don't think there's anything really funny about terrorism, but there are funny things about me. And I take life very seriously and my job seriously, but I better not take myself very seriously.
KING: What advice -- we have a couple of minutes -- would you give to understandably nervous Americans about this coming holiday season?
ASHCROFT: Well, obviously, I look to the president's speech last night. I thought it was marvelous. He told us how to fight terrorism. He said to accentuate the values of America by serving each other more aggressively, by helping the needy, by volunteering, by going out of your way to make America an even stronger and better place.
I'm thrilled that our leader -- President Bush has mapped out ways for us to fight terrorism that improve the quality and character of American life. Just look at the contrast between what he's asking the children of America to do. Our president is teaching our children to love Afghan children. The terrorist teaches their children to hate Americans.
I tell you what, as I approach the Christmas season, I'm glad that I have the honor of serving a president who cares so much about American values that even when we have to defend them, we don't defend them in a way that destroys them, that he says, "We are a country about respecting individuals, their dignity. We're not a country about hate. We're a country about love."
And for the next generation, our president is teaching our children how to love the other people in the world, rather than hate them. And that's something to think about in the holiday season.
KING: Always good seeing you. Thank you so much.
ASHCROFT: My pleasure.
KING: General John Ashcroft, the attorney general of the United States.
When we come back, Queen Rania of Jordan will join us from London. Don't go away.
KING: It's a pleasure now to welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, Queen Rania of Jordan. She comes to us from London. She's the wife, of course, of King Abdullah II of Jordan, accompanying him on a three- day state visit to the United Kingdom.
What has this been like for you, this trip?
QUEEN RANIA OF JORDAN: Oh, this has been a great visit. It's been very successful and very productive. We've had the chance to discuss with the British side some of the outstanding bilateral issues, some political and economic issues. So it's been very successful.
KING: The queen of England on Tuesday lauded your husband, saying -- praising his steadfast support of the international coalition, help in persuading others this is not a conflict between Islam and the West. Is that, Your Majesty, the most difficult thing to get across to people -- that it's not between a religion and a portion of the world?
RANIA: I think it is a very important concept to get across to everybody. This is not a clash of civilizations. It is not a war between the West and Islam. And I think President Bush has made that very clear right from the very beginning.
However, it is very important for both sides to engage. There is still a gap I think between the Western world and our part of the world. This gap needs to be closed in. We need to have more dialogue and we need to explain each other's points of view. It needs to be made clear to our part of the world that this is not a war against Islam. In fact, we know there really is no clash. Christianity is not a Western religion. In fact, Jesus Christ was born in our part of the world.
So we really need to focus on the real issues here, and make sure it's very clear to people's minds that we are all standing together against the danger that this presents to all of us.
KING: So are the people who are committing atrocities and violence in the name of the Muslims totally going against their own religion?
RANIA: Well, I think it's very important to realize here that Islam has really been a victim in this. It has been a victim in two ways.
First of all, we have had some extremists who have distorted the image of Islam and have really presented it in its harshest form; stripped it of its spirituality and humanity and really used it as a platform to air their own political agendas and radical views. They have taken a religion that is essentially pure, one that builds on Christianity and Judaism, and they have contaminated it with their own radical points of view. So that is one way that it has been distorted.
The other way is I think the rest of the world, in an attempt to make sense of what has happened on the 11th of September, have tried to explain it by blaming Islam. And that is an oversimplification, I think, and a generalization of the problem. The problem is a result of an interplay of many different factors, many complex issues are at hand here. And as a result, we cannot just pigeon-hole the problem or explain it in terms of sound bites.
It is very important for us to educate ourselves about Islam to understand that it is a religion of peace, compassion and tolerance, and to realize that Islam, in and of itself, is not a threat to the world.
KING: One of the difficulties, Your Majesty, it puts the West in is -- let's take Ramadan. Do you bomb during a major holy series of days or do you not? If you're not fighting -- in other words, what do you do with that quandary?
RANIA: Well, you know, Ramadan is a holy month. It is a month where Muslims fast. It is a month of cleansing one's soul and praying to God. It is a very sensitive issue, bombing during the month of Ramadan. I think for all of us, the most important thing is for us to try to end the conflict as soon as possible. The sooner we end it, the less aggravation there will be.
It is important to realize that people in our part of the world, when they look at the war, they look at it not necessarily through a political lenses, but rather the humanitarian point of view. I think we've all seen images of young children who have been hurt, of people who've lost their homes, people whose lives have been uprooted. And I think that is an emotional aspect and people are very concerned about that. So the sooner we can end this, the better.
KING: And we do have, do we not, a looming disaster here in the humanitarian end with the coming of winter?
RANIA: Absolutely. I think in the best of times, the Afghani people do not have it easy. And we have to realize that we have to do our utmost to try to help the innocent people. This is not a war against Afghanis, and that has to be made very clear.
KING: Has this, in your opinion, set back the question of Israel and the Palestinian state and that whole portion of the Middle East? Has the occurrences of September 11 set that back?
RANIA: I think it's very important to realize that the main issue in our part of the world, the main source of anger, frustration, is the Middle East conflict. It's incumbent on all of us to try to work as hard as possible to ensure that we get a just and lasting comprehensive peace in our part of the world. We have to return back to the U.N. resolutions of 242 and 338, and make sure that we stop the settlements and really get back to the negotiating table.
It's impossible for anyone to predict whether the events of September 11 would've taken place had there been peace in the Middle East. But I believe that even if we do take care of the terrorists in Afghanistan, in the absence of a Middle East peace, then it's only a matter of time before new terrorists come on the stage. So it is very important for us to really reach a just and peaceful solution in our part of the world. KING: And you're saying this for all parties, because there are many, President Bush included, who think that Mr. Arafat also has a lot to do in that regard.
RANIA: I think all sides have a part to do. And I think we are all tired of the finger-pointing. We really want to see the two sides sitting on the table.
International support is very important in this case. The international community has to rally together and make sure that we do reach this peace in our part of the world.
I think people here have suffered for far too long on the ground. There has been so much injustice. People are feeling very hopeless and tired, and they really to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In our part of the world, the main frustration has been that the people have not seen the dividends of peace. They have not been able to look forward to a brighter future. And we really need to give them that opportunity.
KING: Your Majesty, do you see yourself and your family in danger since Jordan is, kind of, a peace broker in this, and has that difficult of, kind of, straggling a thin line sometimes? Are you concerned for yourself?
RANIA: Well, Larry, I think these are very strange times. I think everyone in the world feels a sense of unsafety. We're all feeling quite nostalgic for our pre-9/11 days, when we didn't have to worry about getting on planes, and we didn't know what anthrax was. So it is a very difficult time for the whole world. And I hope that we can rise above -- we're at the very low point at this stage, and I hope we can rise above this and, out of adversity, find a brighter future.
What I am beginning to feel is that we really should not tolerate extremism in our world. Extremism is very dangerous, and I'm not just talking about religious extremism, but also political. When extremists engage in their hardline views, they do so at an expense to us, the rest of us who want to live our lives in peace. When they try to rally support and mobilize the masses, using anger and frustration as fuel, then that represents a danger to the rest of us. So we should not tolerate extremism in any form.
KING: When you were last with us, you told us you were going to try to keep the images of September 11 away from your children. As this has progressed now to almost two months, how has that worked?
RANIA: Well, you know, it's still very difficult, Larry, to speak to children about this issue. The most important thing I've tried to explain to my children is that when you disagree with somebody, you not necessarily resolve your differences through violence. That is the wrong way to go.
We have to teach our children not to hate. They have to be able to grow up and realize that they may have differences, but in many ways, our differences can enrich us, and we have to embrace them.
So it is a difficult talk to have with young children, but I hope -- we all have to work very, very hard to make sure that, by the time our children are adults, that they will never have to witness what we have had to witness.
KING: With all you live with and see around you, is it hard for you to be optimistic?
RANIA: Not at all, I think that, in fact, this is a very -- this is an important time in our history when we have developed a global moral consciousness, a real sense that what happens in other parts of the world concerns us; that one day, if we do not solve the injustice and the grievances in other parts of the world, if those are not addressed, then they could come back and hurt us.
And I think that that is a positive thing for us to really sensitize ourselves to the rest of the world, to look with concerned and objective eyes at some of the injustice committed in other parts of the world. That is a positive feeling, and I hope that we can build on that and therefore make sure that there is more justice and people are having a better chance in life.
KING: Thank you, Your Highness. It's always good seeing you.
RANIA: Thank you, Larry. It's a pleasure to be here.
KING: Queen Rania of Jordan. She will attend Sunday the opening of the Arab Women's Summit taking place in Cairo.
We'll close it out with Billy Ray Cyrus next on LARRY KING LIVE. Stay right with us.
KING: We close the proceedings tonight with Billy Ray Cyrus, the brilliant songwriter, singer and star of the PAX TV series "Doc." This coming Sunday is Veterans Day and "Doc" will be devoted to September 11, right?
BILLY RAY CYRUS, SINGER: Yes, sir. I wrote a song back in 1989 about a Vietnam veteran. The song was called "Some Gave All." The writers of the show wanted to pay tribute to the veterans, so they wrote this episode during the summer that we began filming on September the 10th.
As you know, the world changed on September the 11th, and that morning, I stood acting out this scene by the bed of a man who was portraying a Vietnam veteran. His character -- the very definition of "Some Gave All." On that morning, the world changed forever.
KING: And that will be the topic on Sunday's series, "Doc"...
CYRUS: That is right. Sunday night is our show. And we hope to pay tribute to America's true heroes and that's the veterans. KING: And nobody does it better. And this song so typifies all of these two months. So we are going to close with it. Here is my man, Billy Ray Cyrus, "Some Gave All." ,
(MUSIC, BILLY RAY CYRUS, "SOME GAVE ALL")
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