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CNN TALKBACK LIVE

Sniper on the Loose: Deadly Waiting Game Continues; Interview With John McCain

Aired October 23, 2002 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, HOST: And hello, everyone. Welcome to TALKBACK LIVE. I'm Carol Costello, in for Arthel Neville this afternoon.
Today, the deadly waiting game continues. Authorities have linked yesterday's shooting of a bus driver to the sniper. And CNN has learned that another letter was found at the scene of that shooting. What are the sniper's demands? And is there a French connection?

Plus, stay tuned. We'll have Senator John McCain here on the set. Find out his views on Iraq, North Korea and the prospect of war and also about the D.C. area sniper. Plus, we will talk to him about his new book and we will take your questions.

But first, we want to get the latest on the sniper investigation. We'll start with Carol Lin at the task force headquarters in Montgomery County -- bring us up to date, Carol.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, Carol. You're a busy girl today.

Yes, here's the latest from the Montgomery County police. As you said, that they've been able to confirm that Conrad Johnson, a 35- year-old bus driver who was shot and killed yesterday in Aspen Hill, Maryland, is indeed the sniper's 13th victim. They were able to get the ballistics confirmation today -- sad news to report there.

Also, they are confirming -- we are confirming -- that the sniper has written not one, but two letters to law enforcement in an effort to communicate, making a series of demands, and both letters apparently asking or demanding $10 million.

Now, the letter that we know more about is the first letter that was found over the weekend in Ashland, Virginia. That is the location of the Ponderosa restaurant where a 37-year-old man was critically wounded. And in that letter, it apparently described -- investigators have described to CNN that it was a very angry, frustrated letter, where the sniper was making very specific demands, where he laid out a specific timeline and threatened that, if these deadlines were not met, that body bags would follow.

Also, this was the letter with the postscript, a specific threat to children, a warning to parents that, "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time." Now, law enforcement knew about that threat over the weekend, but did not disclose it until late yesterday afternoon. And that led to a lot of criticism that law enforcement is not releasing enough information to the public, certainty not enough information for parents to make a balanced judgment over the weekend as to whether they wanted to send their kids to school.

In the meantime, schools have remained open. But, for example, in Montgomery County, here in Montgomery County, the schools have remained in code blue. That means that the students are locked in their classrooms. They have extra security around the perimeter of the school -- heavy police presence at all D.C. area schools.

Also, if you want to get a gauge, a measure as to how concerned people are about the latest sniper attacks, the governor of Maryland, Parris Glendening, announced today that the state is seriously considering bringing out the National Guard on Election Day to protect voters as they go to the polls.

And an unusual appeal today by Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose: He believes -- investigators believe that there are additional witnesses to yesterday's shooting in Aspen Hill, Maryland, specifically illegal immigrants who may have seen something or heard something, but who are afraid to come forward because of their illegal status.

Well, Chief Moose said he is not interested in their immigration status. He only wants the information that they can provide to help. And to back him up even more, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the INS commissioner today issued a statement saying, -- quote -- "I want to personally urge the immigrant community to come forward if they have information that will assist in this investigation and assure everyone that INS will not seek immigration- status information provided to local law authorities in this effort."

Of course, that flies in the face of what happened to two illegal immigrants who were arrested down in Richmond, Virginia, a couple of days ago as they tried to make a call from a pay phone, law enforcement down there thinking that they had some sort of connection to the sniper investigation. They did not. They just had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Nevertheless, they were taken into detention. And there are plans to deport them -- but some assurance, at least, from the INS commissioner that that won't happen. And the INS is even saying that, if illegal immigrants come forward, that they may qualify for special visas to stay here in the United States if the information they have leads to something conclusive in this investigation, Carol.

COSTELLO: Interesting. A couple of more questions for you, Carol.

Has the sniper in any way tried to communicate again with police today?

LIN: We don't know that for sure. What we do know is that, when Chief Moose was asked this, he danced around the edges of that question. He said that it would be irresponsible to address that question because of the nature of the investigation. But, clearly, what we are seeing is a pattern. You remember the tarot card found near Tasker Middle School, where the 13-year-old boy was shot. Then you've got a letter here in Ashland, Virginia. And you have some sort of a note found in the vicinity of this latest shooting victim just two or three days later. Also...

COSTELLO: Carol, something else I wanted to ask you before you go on with that.

LIN: Go ahead.

COSTELLO: We understand that the sniper supposedly tried to call a police hot line number a number of times and was hung up on. I was wondering about the training of the people who are answering the phones. Do you know anything about that?

LIN: Right. I was just about to talk about that.

That was mentioned in the Ashland letter. And he was complaining that he had tried no fewer than six times, that he had called and was hung up on by what he described as an FBI trainee. When asked about this, the chief today was very unspecific about it, just saying that he continues to encourage people to call the tip line, that they are looking for any leads that may help them solve this case.

What we understand, though, is that we don't know if he called the tip line or if he called a separate line into the Montgomery County police station behind me or what telephone number he called. We do know, however, that Chief Moose has said to the sniper, in a very specific message that he issued late yesterday evening, that they're willing to set up an 800 number for this guy. They're also willing to set up a private, secure post office box, if he would like to communicate by letter.

So they're trying to keep the lines of communication open.

COSTELLO: Well, let's hope they do. Thank you, Carol Lin. I'll let you get back to business there in Montgomery County.

I want to hand it over to the Pentagon right now and check in with Barbara Starr, because, Barbara, a lot of people have been e- mailing us about a French connection to this, like a French sniper is somewhere out there on the loose. Can you address that for us?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Carol.

The fact is, the bottom line, of course, no one knows who the sniper is. But there is this other interesting story floating around out there. And, certainly, portions of it are true. What we confirmed today is, there is a French army officer who has been declared a deserter and was last seen in the United States.

Now, we are told by the French government this man was a second lieutenant, a junior officer in the French army, that he came to the United States this summer with permission to go on vacation. He was due back at his French military unit on September 2. He never showed up. But it wasn't until last week that the French government informed Interpol of this matter, that this man was missing in the United States.

French government officials told CNN earlier today they had absolutely no reason to believe this man was affiliated or associated with criminal activity in the United States, but that they told Interpol last week, in the words of one French government official, just in case. They wanted Interpol to be aware of this situation.

Officials in the Bush administration, law enforcement and military officials certainty are aware of this case. They've told us they have no reason to believe the man is connected to this situation. Interestingly, he is a French citizen, but he is of Yugoslav descent. That, of course, has raised some questions about the issue of accents, the grammar used in some of the notes. But, again, officials say they have no direct evidence.

Nonetheless, the last time this man was seen was prior to early September. He was last seen in Chicago, where he was on vacation. He was expected at that point to go to Canada. So, we are told Chicago police authorities, Canadian government officials and federal U.S. law enforcement, as well as Interpol, has now been notified that there is a French military deserter in the U.S.

One additional point: Again, French government sources say this man had no special firearms training. There had been a lot of rumors that he was a top marksman, sniper-trained. French government officials say, to the best of their knowledge, he had no firearms training other than that that would have been provided to French military officers under their routine training program.

COSTELLO: I understand.

OK, Barbara, thank you so much for clearing that up for us.

When TALKBACK LIVE continues, we have so much more to talk about. We'll talk with two experts about money. Will that make the shootings stop?

Tell us what you think. Call us or e-mail us at TALKBACK@CNN.com.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: And welcome back to TALKBACK LIVE.

Of course, the topic today: the Washington, D.C. area sniper.

Joining us now from New York: John Fleming. He's a former NYPD detective. And from Seattle, Tomas Guillen joins us once again. He's an associate professor at Seattle University who has studied serial killers since 1982.

Welcome to you both. Tomas, I want to start with you, because we've had this hint that the sniper wants $10 million to stop the killings. Do you believe that?

TOMAS GUILLEN, SEATTLE UNIVERSITY: I don't personally believe that. He may want it. And he might have said that in a note, but I still think that the impetus for this case is basically a troubled mind, an individual who has anger; something has gone wrong in life. And I think that's what started the whole thing.

Now there might be an opportunity or possibly a good chance to ask for ransom. So that's the way I read it.

COSTELLO: John, do you think the police would actually consider giving this killer some money?

JOHN FLEMING, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: No, I don't. You engage these type of people. You don't negotiate with them, because, when you negotiate with someone like this, you hand control of the situation over to them. So no.

COSTELLO: And when you say engage -- because we know Chief Moose has six times in the last 48 hours reached out to this killer -- by that, do you mean engage?

FLEMING: Engage in conversation, try to find out as much as you can when you -- well, I won't give investigative methods, because I know that this individual actually monitors the media -- but just engage in conversation and maybe get some information that you wouldn't have beforehand.

COSTELLO: Tomas, do you agree with that?

GUILLEN: To some extent.

I personally think that there is material in the communication that can be released. I believe too often police have used the traditional methods of hoarding or holding their cards too close to their vest. I think, if they could release more information, it might be useful in identifying the individual now instead of holding that information for months and years. And then it does no good.

COSTELLO: And by that, you mean release the contents of this letter or letters that they've received?

GUILLEN: Right. I think they ought to keep some information from the public that's polygraph material. But I think they can release a little bit more information. And I think they probably should have released the threat to children earlier than yesterday.

COSTELLO: Yes, we're going to get into that in just a minute.

I want to center on the letter right now, because we understand the letter found in Ashland, Virginia, outside of that Ponderosa restaurant was quite lengthy. It was very neatly printed. It had grammatical errors in it. And it had the words, I believe, "I am God," which was, of course, printed on the tarot card that was found in Bowie, Maryland, at a crime scene there.

What do you make of that, Tomas?

GUILLEN: That "I am God" or the length of it or the grammar?

COSTELLO: The length of it, everything. What does this letter say to you, from what we know?

GUILLEN: Well, essentially, again, he wants to communicate. He wants a dialogue. He wants a conversation. He wants discourse.

The question is, how do you know that, when police don't know where he's at? So they have to find a way to communicate. And now it's through the media. The grammar part of that, well, I think I've seen that before. Whether it's the lipstick killer, the BTK killer, the Zodiac killer, the Smiley Face killer, they all have sometimes make grammatical errors. And they try to hide their real identity in the letter. So I don't necessarily think he doesn't know the English language.

COSTELLO: Let's talk about the phone calls that he supposedly made to police. And we don't know where those phone calls came in to. But he claimed he was hung up on six times. And he seemed very angry.

GUILLEN: Well, I would believe that. I think, just for the fun of it, I called the hot line for the FBI during the anthrax case to see how it worked and also got online. And it hit dead ends, to some extent.

So I think their hearts are in the right place. They're trying to create a way for the killer to touch base with them. But it's very, very difficult. I don't think they've worked out that part of the system yet.

COSTELLO: John, I wanted to ask you about that, too, because, when you set up a hot line or when you have people answer the phone in a police department, you get a lot of calls from people who aren't in their right mind, should we say.

And, apparently, these six phone calls were not taken seriously because the man seemed not to be in his right mind. So how do you sort through which kind of person who is not in his right mind to talk to?

FLEMING: Well, it's tough. There are procedures in place. It might be that the person receiving the call couldn't understand the caller. We've mentioned before that it could be that this is a foreign national. I've always maintained that it is part of a terrorist group. So there might be a communication problem there.

I think it's interesting in that they are communicating with the police. And they have a mission in mind. The sniper has a mission in mind. If he wanted notoriety, he would go to the press. He hasn't done that. He's requested $10 million. He's doing that for a reason. And he's not going outside the law enforcement communication channels.

COSTELLO: Interesting. We're going to get into that in just a bit.

We have to take a break, though.

A threat to children and a community on edge: Are parents getting enough information?

We will talk about that, too, when TALKBACK LIVE comes back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: We're talking about the D.C. area sniper. The sniper's letter that he apparently left behind in Ashland, Virginia, warned that children are not safe. Area schools are in a lockdown as a result. Why is the sniper threatening children and will he follow through? I want our guests to come back right now.

Tomas, can you address that? Why is the sniper apparently targeting children?

GUILLEN: Well, you know, really, nobody really knows on that because they don't know his motive. And it may be a bluff at that. The one thing I would say is that he might want to reconsider that statement. He doesn't want to hurt children. One, if anybody is to believe anything that he has to say, in his card he said, "I am god."

Well, you know children are angels and god doesn't kill his helpers. That's one reason. And the other one is that children are innocent and this killer, this individual, was a child once. And it's not until we get older and we get rotten and we get dysfunctional where we're not children anymore. So he was innocent and these kids are innocent, so he shouldn't do that.

The third reason why he shouldn't touch children is because that will completely harden everybody's hearts. He's not going to get money or a grain of salt.

COSTELLO: But, Tomas, he did shoot, according to police, a 13- year-old who was going into a middle school.

GUILLEN: I realize that. I would hope that he realizes that that's a mistake. He shouldn't be doing it. And that he was once a child and it won't work.

I think all communications might end if he does that. If he's after anything, I think that will conclude the conversations and everybody in the country will be against him. So if he wants even an ounce of sympathy, he should probably not even go down that route.

COSTELLO: Well, we hope you're right, Tomas.

John, I'm sorry we didn't get to you more because we're running out of time. Our special guest, John McCain, is coming in. So John Fleming, Tomas Guillen, thank you both for joining us today.

Up next, as I said, Senator John McCain joins us here on TALKBACK LIVE. We'll talk about, war, politics, his new book and, of course, the sniper shootings. Get your questions ready when TALKBACK LIVE continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: And welcome back to TALKBACK LIVE.

Joining us in Atlanta today, former Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain. He's written a book about his political career so far called "Worth the Fighting for: A Memoir." Senator McCain, thank you for joining us today.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: You know, before we get into the subject of your book -- and I read it and it's wonderful -- we want to talk a little bit about this sniper who is terrorizing the Washington, D.C. area. You're a guy who knows something about courage. What can you tell the people who live there?

MCCAIN: To try to have courage and know that over time this individual or individuals will be caught. But it's a terrible thing that particularly families are going through. But all the citizens of northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. -- and I have to say one thing. I've come to the conclusion that I think we need to have somebody in charge.

COSTELLO: What do you mean by that?

MCCAIN: Well, I think that someone has to be placed from the federal government or somebody who is probably from the federal government who can coordinate all agencies of government. I think this...

COSTELLO: So you don't think the lead investigative unit should be Montgomery County, the sniper task force that's in place right now?

MCCAIN: I have great respect for them, but this individual doesn't respect state lines or county lines. And we've got, according to CNN, unimpeachable source, as we know, 1,000 federal agents are involved. Let's put somebody from the federal government in charge, somebody who the American people can hear from, talk to and be kept up to date on every bit of information.

COSTELLO: Why do you think the FBI hasn't taken control of this investigation as of yet?

MCCAIN: I do not know. It clearly crosses state lines and it's clearly an issue of transcendent importance. It's gripped America.

COSTELLO: Should the president step in and say, hey, look, Mr. FBI director, take control of the situation?

MCCAIN: If I were president of the United States -- and I never contemplate such a thing, as you know -- I would probably announce the appointment of some very high level respected law enforcement individual to take over this entire operation. COSTELLO: Because, you know, the president has sort of said the opposite of that, that he doesn't want to micro manage this investigation.

MCCAIN: Well, I'm not sure it would be micro-management if you appointed somebody. I don't expect the president to conduct the investigation, clearly. But I think -- and all due respect to Chief Moose and all of the other hard working, dedicated wonderful people that are working 24 hours a day -- I just think we need an individual in charge, the federal government in charge. It's clearly crossing state lines and it's clearly gripped the nation. It's affecting every American.

COSTELLO: You know, there is a theory that's going around out there that the FBI don't want to take control of this investigation because it doesn't want to deal with another loser case on its watch.

MCCAIN: I hope that's not the case. I hope that's not the case. But they're the best -- they're still the best professionals in the world. And I'd like to see -- I know they're involved. I mean, there's no doubt about that. But we just need somebody we can look to just as whenever there is a crisis, we need to look to somebody. So...

COSTELLO: Is there anything you can do to force the issue?

MCCAIN: No. No, no. I don't think so. But I think it's going to happen. I really do. But I hope the guy is caught in the next hour, you know.

COSTELLO: Oh, me too. Do you have any theories about who this guy is?

MCCAIN: No. I do not know. It's beyond any of our imagination, any of our thinking, any of our experience. So I have no idea.

COSTELLO: A lot of people are guessing this might be an ex- military person.

MCCAIN: And people are guessing it might be more than one person. So I think that's all speculation and I -- you had on CNN a lot -- some people that are a lot more expert than I am on this kind of thing.

COSTELLO: Gotcha.

MCCAIN: I'm reluctant.

COSTELLO: I understand. So I'll let you off the hook now. Let's talk about your book.

MCCAIN: On this hostage thing real quick, Chechens, by -- if they indeed released Muslims from this theater, it probably indicates it may be Chechen terrorists who have, as you know, inflicted other acts of terror in Moscow. It could be a very, very, very serious situation in Moscow. COSTELLO: A lot of horrible things have been happening in Moscow. And what do you make of this plane on the runway at JFK?

MCCAIN: I have no idea about that either. But it was sufficient information from the pilot of the plane that caused them to take the steps they did. Apparently it's resolved. But I don't know.

You know what this all means, is we now live in a very, very dangerous world and we've got to strike at the heart of where this terrorism begins rather than trying to fight it on our borders and inside of our country.

COSTELLO: I have to interrupt you, Senator, because we have to go to break. We're going to talk more about what's in your book and also about North Korea and Iraq and a whole bunch of other stuff. So stick around.

TALKBACK LIVE, with Senator John McCain, coming your way right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: And welcome back to TALKBACK LIVE.

We're here live with Senator John McCain. And there you are. He's walking all around, shaking hands. I never can keep track of you.

MCCAIN: Found Joe from Arizona over there. Way to go, Joe. Glad you're here.

COSTELLO: All right, a constituent.

MCCAIN: Don't spend any money while you're here, Joe.

COSTELLO: No, you go in that Turner store.

Hey, we're going to talk more about your book, "Worth the Fighting for," because that's the real reason that you're here today. It is a great book.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

COSTELLO: It's terribly introspective, sometimes painfully so. And I felt sad at times.

MCCAIN: Well, I made a few mistakes in my time, as you noticed from reading it. But I also wanted to write about people that inspired me, Carol. And all of us have role models, all of us need people who inspire them. And people inspired me from Ted Williams to Theodore Roosevelt to Scoop Jackson to Barry Goldwater.

COSTELLO: And you do realize that you're a hero to some people out there.

MCCAIN: Well, I'm very -- these ladies here husbands are serving in the United States Air Force. And their husbands know that it doesn't take a lot of talent to get shot down, which is what I did. And they know that very well, yes.

COSTELLO: See, that's sort of like his book is written. You take so many pot shots at yourself. For example, I'm going to quote one right now. This is from page 53. You say, "I crave distinction in my life. I have never been able to conquer it, but I have tried." Why?

MCCAIN: Well, I'm not exactly sure why I can divine all my motives, but I think that ambition has been a great part of my life and I think to say otherwise wouldn't be in the interest of straight talk and telling me what I really feel and believe.

COSTELLO: Well, you talked a lot about the arrogance of youth, but I have always that you need some arrogance in youth to push yourself forward, because if you dwelled on your mistakes in your youth, you would never do anything else.

MCCAIN: Well, that's true. But what I was trying to say is, when I was young, I was an individualist. I admired Ted Williams, who was a tough guy and never recognized the fans. And, yet, he then served in the military in two wars and served a cause greater than himself. And when I was young, I was just an individualist.

And then when I was in prison, I became dependent on others and then associated myself with a cause greater than my self-interest. And then it's OK to be an individualist. But it's not OK -- as I say in the book you're just a punk if you don't have a cause to be associated with.

COSTELLO: And of course you served a very long time in public life. There is another quote in your book on page 393, but you know that. It says, "Has my time passed?" It sounds like you're going to exit public life.

MCCAIN: Well, I think after you've been 44 years in public service, you ought to pause and take a look at what you've done and what you can do. One of the things I've seen about Washington and in the Senate is many people stay too long and they outlive their usefulness or they're no longer capable of doing the job.

COSTELLO: Do you want to cite any examples?

MCCAIN: I think some of them are readily apparent, if you ever look at the floor of the Senate. But -- so I think about that. I think I would most likely run for reelection, but I think you ought to look and see whether others might do a better job than you, people who are younger.

MCCAIN: Will you ever run for president again? Having said all that, you'll probably say no, but I've got to throw it at you anyway.

COSTELLO: My dear friend, Morris Udal (ph), who was a congressman from Arizona said if you were a United States senator, unless you are under indictment or detoxification, you automatically consider yourself a candidate for the president of the United States. But, no, I have no plans.

COSTELLO: No plans.

MCCAIN: No plans. I plan on a career in singing, actually, if you saw me on "Saturday Night Live."

COSTELLO: Did everybody see him on "Saturday Night Live"? Of course you sang some songs by Barbra Streisand.

MCCAIN: Look for that CD. It's coming to a store near you.

COSTELLO: You spoof Barbra Streisand and her directives to the Democratic Party. Would you like to expound on that now?

MCCAIN: No. I just said I was singing some songs like "Memories" and "People" and I said for 20 years I've been in politics, for 20 years Barbra Streisand has been trying to do my job, so I thought I would do her job. And so I sang a few tunes, as you know. It was all in good fun.

COSTELLO: OK. What about the spoof of John Ashcroft?

MCCAIN: Well, we did a little hard ball and that was -- I'm sure that John will enjoy it. At least I hope he will. I don't know if he stays up that late.

COSTELLO: Let's hope not. What you said during your comedic spoof, and I'm recalling it right now, you said that "Americans won't be satisfied until we're all afraid of being thrown into jail," and that was coming supposedly from this John Ashcroft character you were playing.

MCCAIN: Yes. Or there is a barcode on our heads and a chip in everybody's head that I can control with my remote control. I think then we'll probably have the issue...

COSTELLO: Mr. McCain, is there any hidden message there?

MCCAIN: I don't know. No, but it shows that the writers on the skits on "Saturday Night Live" are very talented young people.

COSTELLO: You are a politician, aren't you?

MCCAIN: We did a "Meet The Press" spoof, too, as you remember.

COSTELLO: Tim Russert.

MCCAIN: He kept saying, "You are going to run." And then finally he says, "What if President Bush forgets to run for reelection?" I said, I would call him and remind him.

COSTELLO: Sadly, I think some real reporters would probably ask you that. No, I'm just kidding. Senator John McCain, we're going to take a break now, but when we come back, we're going to talk about serious issues like a possible war with Iraq and also what's going on in North Korea. TALKBACK LIVE will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: And welcome back to TALKBACK LIVE.

We have Senator John McCain in the house. Want to talk about this now. President Bush upped the defense budget today by more than $37 billion. Billion dollars, signing two military spending bills this morning.

The president says the military has been asked to prepare for a possible conflict in Iraq. Senator McCain, let's talk about this right now, because this $355 billion defense spending bill does not include the price of a war with Iraq.

MCCAIN: Nor your salary.

COSTELLO: No, definitely not my salary. But the first question I think many Americans have is, where is the United States getting the money to pay for all of this conflict in the world?

MCCAIN: Well, I think September 11 obviously indicated that we have to do more on defense spending. And I think we need to do it. I think a lot of this equipment is necessary and absolutely vital to the defense of our nation, particularly a lot of the high tech equipment, intelligence gathering equipment. That's the good news.

The bad news is it's loaded up with pork barrel projects. We identified about $7 billion worth of wasteful unneeded pork barrel spending projects that congressmen and senators put up for their home states and districts and it's disgraceful. We used to call it war profiteering.

COSTELLO: Yes, but it's too late now. The president has already signed it. I want to center on a possible war with Iraq in light of what's happening now in North Korea. Should we really be thinking of going to war with Iraq when North Korea has already come out and admitted it's developing a nuclear weapons program?

MCCAIN: Carol, as briefly as possible, I think the lesson of North Korea should be a lesson for Iraq. In 1993 and '94 they didn't have at least the capability they have today nor the missile ability. Now they have nuclear weapons and they can hit Tokyo. A very big challenge.

Instead, we bribed them in 1993 and '94 with billions of dollars of aid, and clearly they violated the agreement. Saddam Hussein is bent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

COSTELLO: OK. So shouldn't we be thinking more about military action against North Korea over Iraq?

MCCAIN: I think we should. North Korea is economically incredibly weak. And I think we should ask our friends and allies, the Japanese and South Koreans, including the Chinese, to impose economic sanctions on North Korea. I think that could bring them down because they're very, very weak economically. I think if you -- military option is always the last option. You should try everything first before we go to the military option, because we sent young men and women into harms way.

COSTELLO: That's right. Very quickly, the United Nations Security Council is going to meet again to talk about this U.S. resolution. Do you think that the United States will wait for that to happen?

MCCAIN: I think we will get a reasonably good resolution from the United Nations Security Council, perhaps not for all the best reasons that might motivate them, but I think we will at the end of the day. And, again, it's up to Saddam Hussein. If he wants to allow the inspectors in, get rid of these weapons, I don't think he has a big problem. I think he has a big problem if he continues the development of them.

COSTELLO: OK. Thank you very much, Senator McCain. Are we out of time? Do we have more time? We've got more time, but we have to take a break. We're going to ask you more questions, Senator McCain. We'll be right back.

MCCAIN: And Joe had a question over there.

COSTELLO: OK. We'll get to Joe right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: You can hear Senator John McCain answering questions from our studio audience. And Barry (ph), you had a good one, so why don't you stand up and ask that question again? Let me come over here so you have a microphone. Take it away, Barry (ph).

BARRY: Senator McCain, I just wanted to know, taking into consideration your vast experience spent as a soldier overseas and the information that you're privy to being a U.S. senator that a lot of citizens aren't, how do you feel and do you feel like the U.S. military is substantial in conducting several offensive maneuvers in the different theaters all at the same time?

COSTELLO: Barry (ph), you took all the time with the question, but you think the military is quite capable, right, Senator McCain?

MCCAIN: Yes, but remember we just found out in Bali and as we're watching in Moscow now, the war or terror is going to be a long drawn- out affair.

COSTELLO: Thank you, Senator McCain, for being with us. We appreciate it.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Carol, for having me.

COSTELLO: We're out of time.

I'm Carol Costello. Arthel Neville will be back tomorrow. And you can catch me on "DAYBREAK" on CNN. That airs at 5:00 AM Eastern Time.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with Judy Woodruff coming your way next.

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Interview With John McCain>

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