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Expert Panel Discuses New Developments in Laci Peterson Case; Current, Former Senators Talk About Iraq Policies, Global Protests

Aired February 18, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, an all day police search at the home of missing women, Laci Peterson. Her husband's, Scott, new truck seized. And why was Laci's sister at the house today?
Ted Rowlands of KTVU has the latest from Modesto California. Plus we will have some debated on this new twist with former prosecutor Nancy Grace of Court TV, renounced defense attorney Mark Geragos, and Marc Klaas, whose daughter Polly was abducted from their home and murdered in 1993.

And then, how does President Bush keep the heat on Saddam Hussein, after the weekend's massive global anti-war protests?

We'll ask Republican Senator, John McCain of Arizona, Bob Dole former presidential candidate, and one-time Senate majority leader, Democrat George Mitchell of Maine, also a former Senate majority leader, former Republican senator Allen Simpson of Wyoming and former Democratic senator and presidential candidate George McGovern.

What a lineup, and they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: Well, I'll start with Nancy Grace.

What do you make of the search warrant today in the second look in the home of Scott Peterson?

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Well, Larry, I think it may signify a turning point in the case. No matter how much police tell us he is not a suspect, I find it very far fetched to at this point still continue to make that ascertation. Clearly, police have either developed a lead with the evidence they already had, in other words, to do something from what was already on the table or they've gotten some indication from the crime lab. I think it's highly significant.

KING: Mark Geragos, do you agree?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. I think what they've got -- I'd go with the latter. I think they've received something back, either a DNA match of some kind or some kind of a forensic test, and they went back in because they'll collect another additional evidence either to link it up one way or another. They didn't go back there because they struck out.

KING: Mark, Klaas, you got a thought as to why they took away his new truck?


The one vehicle he could drive he would have to ask Laci's family for and they're certainly -- he's certainly not going to be calling them up. But there's no way in the world that the judge would have issued a search warrant unless there was some significant development in the case and hopefully this will bring some resolution quicker, sooner than later.

KING: Nancy Grace, the search warrant application was sealed by court order, why?

GRACE: Well, probably right now they're looking forward. They've got their eye on the prize and that is a jury trial, and you don't want to taint your jury pool or tip anyone off as to where you're headed.

However, Larry, when you get a search warrant, the police have to go under the judge, swear under oath that they have, and they their is in case law, fresh, fresh is the word often used, fresh probable cause to go research the home.

You on, Mark Geragos just said he thinks it could be something from the crime lab that is leading them to another search. It could be true. However, you cannot discount the presence on the scene today of Amy Rocha, the sister of Laci Peterson. That suggests to me that they were looking for something intimate. Intimate to Laci. Something only a family member could lead them to. That's a far cry from the crime lab.

KING: Ted Rowlands of KTVU who has been covering the case, covering it for KTVU and for this program. You spoke with Scott Peterson late today.

What did he have to say?

TED ROWLANDS, KTVU-TV: Late this afternoon he said he wasn't upset by this search. He's saying that it is all part of the Modesto police effort to help him find his wife. I pushed him on it, I said you're not a bit upset about this, Scott? I mean, they seem to be dogging you throughout this entire investigation. He said no, Ted, I'm not upset. I have no further comment.

KING: What word do you get there, Ted? What's the buzz around police head quarters?

ROWLANDS: Well, was there a huge buzz, obviously this, morning when word came out that this wasn't had been issued. But we'd heard that this might be something that the department was going to do in the next week. Still, they are saying that this is a piece of the puzzle. And they're down playing it significant, saying that it is definitely a piece that they needed to take care of, but that any sort of an arrest, if it is coming, is still weeks away.

KING: Mark Geragos, Nancy Grace, seems to want him to be called a suspect.

Why don't they? Sure looks like a duck and acts like a duck, walks a duck, is it a duck?

GERAGOS: If they were just looking for something that was connected only to Laci, or Laci's disappearance, they wouldn't have taken his truck. His new truck. So, that tells anybody who has two brain cells working that the point that he is a suspect. So, clearly, and in response to what Nancy was saying before, the reason it's sealed is not so much because they're looking at trial. Here in California you can keep it sealed, the affidavit sealed until file the return on the affidavit, and that's when you actually take a laundry list of what you recovered to the judge.


KING: Hold on a second, for our viewers we'll be going to calls because this is only half of the program. The other half devoted to the possibility of war with Iraq with four outstanding former United States senators, plus Senator John McCain. So we are going to be going to calls early.

Nancy, you wanted to say?

GRACE: Yes, I just wanted to say that, Larry, I don't necessarily want him to be officially titled as a suspect right now, because you know what that does. That hands over a defense on a silver platter, because if he ever is indicted and goes to a jury trial, Larry, you will hear the defense say, see, the police focused on him at the get go. They didn't look for the real killer, and so they lost a lot of leads. So I don't want him to be named a suspect officially at this point.

GERAGOS: And Nancy -- Nancy, at the same time you have got another point, which is if they identify him as a suspect, and turns out that it is somebody else, you've created a defense for the other person that gets arrested.

We shouldn't discount the professionalism of this police department. They've worked three extremely high profile missing person cases in the last three years. I think they know exactly what they are doing, and I think they're following a tight script, and I think they'll bring this thing home.

KING: Ted, do you think they're close to some sort of an indictment with what they have now?

ROWLANDS: Well, they obviously have something they're pretty confident about. They've had this confidence throughout the investigation. And they are describing today's action as just another piece in that -- in the end result of making an arrest. And we heard about a week ago that it is weeks, rather than months before they can go with or without a body on this case and make an arrest.

KING: Does, Scott, have any comment on the sister being there during the search? ROWLANDS: No. My full conversation with him was, extremely short today. I tried reaching him a number of times this afternoon. Finally, he picked up and said Ted, this is the tenth time you called me. You know I don't have any comment. I pushed him a little bit and that's how I got out of him that he wasn't upset and in his word, "the police were helping him find his wife."

KING: Ted, is there any kind of search still going to?

ROWLANDS: Well, yes. There's the investigative side of this and then there's the search effort. And according to Modesto police, they are out there every day searching different areas in and around Northern California, looking for any evidence. So that search effort continues and, of course, that's plan a. They would love to find a body and all of the evidence that would go along with that.

KING: There say $500,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Laci Peterson. The Modesto police hot line for tips is 209-342-6166. And you can contact the web site at www.lacipeterson, one word,

We'll take a break and come back with your phone calls. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The status of the house is that we, the police department will maintain control pursuant to the search warrant of the home. We will not release it back to Scott until they're finished tomorrow. We're searching. They are finished today, detectives have been here all day. It's time for them to go back and finish their reports for today and then get some sleep, rest and come back tomorrow.



KING: This is the 56th day since Ms. Peterson disappeared, Mrs. Peterson disappeared.

Let's go to some calls. Jessup, Missouri -- Jessup, Maryland, I'm sorry, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. This is Lisa from Maryland and I just had a question for you.

We had a case here that a man was convicted of murdering his wife and they didn't have a body. It just was all circumstantial evidence and I'm wondering is there something they can do like that in your state?

KING: Mark Geragos, what can they go on here without a corpus galecta (ph)?

GERAGOS: They can establish that she's missing, obviously, which they've got. That they, at a certain point, have enough evidence to point to the fact that he had a motivation, that Scott had a motivation or somebody else. They did can go forward and they've gone forward on a number of occasions over the years.

KING: From what you know what they have now, do they have now to get an indictment?

GERAGOS: From what publicly been reported, no. I don't think they have enough.

Normally in California, they go by weigh of a preliminary hearing. It's much more rare to go by way of a grand jury indictment. You can indict anybody for anything is the old thought (ph), but for a preliminary hearing they would need more than what has been publicly released.

KING: Nancy, you agree with that?

GRACE: Well, based on what the police have released, I agree with Mark on that.

But what we have heard from police sources, if -- let me just tell you this, Larry. If there is blood, if there is Laci Peterson blood in his vehicle or in his boat and that blood shows that she was pregnant at the time the blood was deposited there, I would say they have enough for an indictment.

KING: Do you agree with that?

GERAGOS: Yes, they've got a test that they can do for her blood to see whether or not she was pregnant...

KING: Meaning, so..

GERAGOS: So that it would have been, if they got blood that they can also date in terms of how old it is, and they've got it in the boat, I'd have to agree with Nancy.

GRACE: They had only had the boat for two weeks, Mark. So what is an eight month pregnant lady out on that boat in that frigid weather?

GERAGOS: Why is she bleeding on that boat? Why is she bleeding on that boat? That would be very compelling.

KING: Columbia -- Columbia, South Carolina, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I first of all want to send out my prayers to the Peterson family in hopes that they find Laci.

But I have a question as far as, you know, Scott Peterson himself. Is there a possibility that maybe the Modesto Police Department has been tracking him through a GP system? A global positioning system? I know they have done that in other cases.

GERAGOS: They can in California. I've had clients that have been subjects of it, where they will get a warrant from the judge. The judge will authorize the law enforcement agency to install the tracking device on to the cars so that they can then follow the car.

That's a very good question. It conceivably could have been done in this case, that they've installed one of the tracking devices on to the truck and now they were retrieving it because they wanted to have the information that had been collected. It's a good question.

KING: New Orleans, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Hi, Larry.


CALLER: I have a question. I wanted to know if anyone knew -- I know that they were trying to get pregnant for a long time -- if they were on fertility medicine or were doing any fertility, because I find it very hard to believe that anyone who had been through fertility would kill their baby after that.

KING: Ted?

ROWLANDS: I don't know if they -- I do know they had some difficulty getting pregnant.

I can also tell you this. There's been speculation that oh maybe it isn't Scott's baby. People one the answer to that tell me there's no way that it is not Scott's baby. Indeed it is. So that's something that has been speculated on, but is unfounded.

I don't know the answer to the fertility question.

KING: Wichita Falls, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I have a question about the cement that -- I've only seen you guys mention it a few times so far.

He acts really -- I don't know, like, sure of himself that no one's going to find her. That, to me, that's a key role, the way he gets, like, knows, there's no way anyone knows how to find this bow. The cement is a big role. And where is the cement thing? Where's that at? Can anyone tell me.

KING: Marc Klaas, do you have any thoughts on that angle?

KLAAS: Well, you know, "The National Enquirer" reported that there were a couple of bags of cement in the backyard that Scott had said were left by the pool people who apparently adamantly denied it.

If, in fact, there is cement there, that Scott put there, the possibility I think is very strong that he could have put some cement booties on her and she could be at the bottom of some body of water somewhere. GRACE: Oh, man, Mark.

KLAAS: What?

GRACE: Just last Monday we were talking about it being her due date, that Conner would have been born and here you put it like that.

KLAAS: And we're looking for two people. I mean, he asked the question.

GRACE: I know, I know.

KLAAS: They're concentrating very hard on various bodies of water. That seems to be where all of the volunteer searches are going to. It's sad and unfortunate, but I don't know what else to say.

KING: Marc, why are you shaking your head in a negative manner?

GERAGOS: Because the idea in -- the idea of quoting "The national Enquirer" and putting that on to a somehow a bonified source just sends me through the roof.

KLAAS: But they're nailing it, Mark. They're nailing it time after time in this case.

GERAGOS: The only thing they've nail is their insipid reputation of the wall under numerous occasions. They get it wrong a lot more than they get it right.

KLAAS: Not on this case.

GERGAOS: They pay sources. They've been wrong on this case repeatedly. So it's mind boggling to me that we hold them up there as some kind of a reputable news source.

KING: Nancy? Yes -- I'm sorry, go ahead, Ted.

ROWLANDS: I'd like to interject a couple of things.

As far as the cement goes, Scott acknowledges that he does have cement here at the house and at his warehouse, saying that he uses it for work here and there.

And as far as "The National Enquirer" goes, one of the investigators said to me or one person close to the investigation said that, you know, this "Enquirer" may have been rights a few times, but a lot of times they are so far off base that it's incredible.

GERAGOS: Exactly. I man, they've got ebb it wrong so many times. They've led with so many truly bizarre things.

GRACE: Mark Geragos, as usual, you are trying to hide the ball. This is not a trial or an investigation of the "Enquirer."

GERAGOS: I'm not trying to hide anything.

GRACE: If they're right, regardless of where it comes from, it's shocking evidence if it is true that her blood is in his vehicle.

GERAGOS: If it's not true, it's completely scurrilous. And we should watch out for it.

GRACE: Then he's got a heck of a lawsuit, doesn't he?

GERAGOS: Well, that's why -- What do you do? Go back and fight the "Enquirer" and their phalinx of lawyers to get your reputation back at that point? I don't know.

KLAAS: There are bodies of water all over northern California and that's the fact. They're dredging bodies of water all over northern California. There's a reason for that.

GERAGOS: And hopefully they don't find anybody in any of those bodies of waters.

KLAAS: Hopefully she walks home and I have egg on my face.

GERAGOS: Exactly. Exactly.

KLAAS: That would be the greatest.

GERAGOS: It sure would.

KING: Golden, Colorado, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Hi, everybody.

Could it be possible that Scott wanted to sell the house because of evidence that was there?

GRACE: Oh, that's a good question, but you know what"? If he had sold the house then they would probably not have to go through the hoops of getting a search warrant. The new owners would probably allow them to come in.

I thought of that immediately, you know, he got rid of her vehicle. He got -- he was trying to get rid of the house and I'm wondering, Mark Geragos, what your thought is on this -- if that is not why they were looking at his new vehicle. It's only two weeks old. What could they possibly hope to find in there, except for possibly getting rid of evidence?

GERAGOS: Well, obviously they're looking in the new vehicle to see if they've got any, No. 1, trace evidence of some kind, or something else they think he's trying to find.

GRACE: Or the GPS monitor.

GERAGOS: And that makes perfect sense.

Or, as I said before, someone's installed the GPS monitor and they want the computer chip to completely close the loop, so to speak.

KING: Ted Rowlands, is there any need or other suspect away from Scott? Is there any...

ROWLANDS: Well, they say they've looked into every possible scenario and anything that comes up, they're more than willing to look at. But we haven't heard publicly of any other specific direction that they've been going, especially lately. Early on, there were other things they looked at, but not lately.

I can add a tidbit here. They've just returned Scott's truck for the house. So it was only gone for the day from 8:00 in the morning until they literally drove it up about a minute or two ago and presumably they're going to be giving it back to Mr. Peterson.

KING: Schenectady, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hi, yes. I have a couple of questions.

One, I wondered if anyone knows if Scott has the ring on his finger still or if he ever wore his wedding band.

And, two, I wondered what the follow-up was on the clerk who reportedly Laci coming in there saying she was kidnapped and the male reportedly asking.

KING: Ted, you know about the ring, does he wear his wedding ring?

ROWLANDS: Yes, he does. Every time I've seen him, he is wearing his wedding ring.

And as far as the clerk goes, it was determined that person was either making up the story or it had nothing to do with this case.

KING: Chicago, Illinois, hello?

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, I'm wondering -- on that block -- he was burglarized in the house across the street. I'm wondering, did they ever question those people?

GRACE: They did. They questioned them thoroughly. I think they even polygraphed them and it was also determined that the burglary occurred two days -- somewhere between one and two days after Laci disappeared so that was quickly shot down.

KING: Toronto, Canada, hello.

CALLER: Hi. Is there any possibility that the police have put the blinders on and focusing their investigation and as a result may in fact clear Scott?

KLAAS: You know, Larry -- Larry...

KING: Mark Geragos -- first Mark Geragos, then Marc Klaas.

GERAGOS: There's always the possible they you focus in on the wrong suspect. You just never know when you get to the end of the investigation and hen somebody gets charged or doesn't get charged. So there's really no way to answer that until we can fast forward, if you will, another four weeks or six weeks. Something of that nature.

KING: Marc Klaas, what did you want to say?

KLAAS: Well I was going to say, it was on your show, probably, three weeks into the case that the police chief of Modesto said that they had investigated and cleared over 200 local sex offenders, but they couldn't clear Scott.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with some remaining moments and more phone calls for Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos and Mark Klaas.

Then, Senator John McCain and then former senators, Bob Dole, George Mitchell, Alan Simpson and George McGovern.

Don't go away.



DOUG RIDENOUR, MODESTO POLICE DEPARTMENT: No, he is not a suspect yet or been eliminated from the investigation.


KING: Linthicum, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry, thank you.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: First, I'd like to say that I look forward to the day when Mark Geragos and Nancy have their own show. I think that would be very entertaining.

KING: Probably right around the corner.

GRACE: I'd rather meet him in court.

GERAGOS: I wouldn't mind meeting you in court, Nancy.

KING: Point, counterpoint.

CALLER: Well, my question is with the case having been in the media for so long, we all kind of feel like Laci is part of our family. So why isn't the police being a little more forthcoming with some information? I understand they can't lay all their cards out on the table, but that can they tell us something?

KING: Mark and then Nancy.

GERAGOS: Well, I was going to say the part of the problem with that is if they give too much information, then generally what's going to happen is they figure they might tip-off whoever the perpetrator is here. So they don't want to do that.

And sometimes you will find the police will give out disinformation specifically in order to try trick somebody. So it's a very calculated maneuver on their part. It's part of the strategy and generally it works pretty well with sophisticated, professional departments.

GRACE: Well, what I have seen in murder investigations is the best rule is say little and do less when in doubt because if they put it all -- think of how he -- the viewer called in about feeling like Laci is part of their family. Think of how protective you are of your family.

They don't want to damage the case. They don't want to put anything out there that can come back and hit them on the neck like a boomerang later on. So they are playing it, wisely, close to the vest.

KING: Boston, hello? Boston, are you there?

OK. Goodbye.

Bainbridge, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Yes, sir. I have a question about this recent trip to Mexico. Was it really business-related? Does anybody really know what went on? Did he drive that truck down there or what?

KING: Ted, do you know?

ROWLANDS: We believe he flew there because we knew he had flight plans on the way home. So, yes, he flew there, didn't drive. But what he was actually doing there is still unclear. There was a fertilizer and soil conference down there. We've not sure if he arc tended it. According to the folks that put the conference on, he didn't. However, he and his family says he had to be there for his business.

KING: Los Angeles, hello?

CALLER: Hello, yes. I'd like to know is there any type of doctors or anything that can do a facial profile on Scott Peterson because his expressions look like his emotions are on cue.

KING: Mark, what do you make? He can't win in that, right? GERAGOS: I was going to say -- as far as I know there hasn't been anybody in this state that's been able to get, any prosecutor at least, that's been able to get in any kind of facial expert as terms of being scientific evidence.

GRACE: Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Mark Geragos...

GERAGOS: No, Nancy, if you're going to tell me that there is somebody who can look at somebody's face and tell me if they're guilty, I haven't seen it...


KING: Maybe Nancy can.

GRACE: Mark and Larry, you know all of the time when police take the stand and you're asking them questions on direct exam, you can ask them the demeanor of the questionee such as Scott Peterson and, of course, we saw it in the David Westerfield trial where the first time police spoke to him he sweat buckets. Police noticed he was drenched. He kept looking away from them. He wouldn't meet them in the eye. He was stuttering. He was holding his hand up to his face.

GERAGOS: That's sweat evidence and that's something that's objective.

GRACE: You tell that to a jury, Mark.

GERAGOS: There's no nobody they know of that lets his facial expressions.

KING: To, I am certain, be continued.

Thank You, Ted Rollins, Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos and Marc Klaas.

Senator John McCain of Arizona and then four former senators join us to talk about what's going on or possible will go on in Iraq.

Don't go away. We'll be right back.


KING: Two presidential candidates, two majority leaders four former senators will join us in a little while. Right now we welcome Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, decorated military veteran, former Vietnam POW.

Did the protests of yesterday and of Sunday and the weekend have any effect on you?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R) ARIZONA: No. I respect their right to demonstrate. I think that they have every right to do that. They also have the right to be unwise and foolish.

The demonstrations in the '80s, for the nuclear freeze. The demonstrations against putting cruise missiles in Europe were all unwise and wrong and I believe they have the right to protest against the war and I respect that.

But they should not and cannot demonstrate on behalf of the Iraqi people because the Iraqi people have been slaughtered in hundreds of thousands and tortured and murdered and mistreated by a terribly oppressive despot. And they cannot demonstrate on their behalf.

KING: "The Washington Post" is reporting the president plans two more weeks of diplomacy before deciding on whether to attack. Is that in your ballpark?

MCCAIN: I know nothing more than what's reported in the media, but that sounds reasonable. If you look at when there's a new moon and when our buildup will be complete, and I understand why the president would seek a second resolution from the Security Council. But the American people elected the president to make the decisions as far as our national security is concerned, not the United Nations Security Council.

KING: What if he doesn't get the second resolution?

MCCAIN: I think the president does what he thinks is in the national security interest of the United States.

But also you have an impact and that is that the Security Council risks irrelevencey because Saddam Hussein is in violation of their resolutions. And if they're continuously violated, I believe this is the 17th of those resolutions, then they risk irrelevencey and it's very unfortunate.

KING: Doesn't the divisions in Europe give you concern?

MCCAIN: Yes, it gives me concern about Germany and France being isolated by the other nations. I'm glad to see the British, the Spanish people -- government, all the new countries that the former Soviet Union satellites that are now rallying to our cause. And both Germany and France risk irrelevencey.

Let me just say, the Germans, Mr. Schroeder played a very cynical card of anti-Americanism in order to get reelected and the Germans are helping in Afghanistan and Kosovo and Bosnia. The French have attempted to really throw sand in the gears of NATO and the alliance for a long period of time. So I do make some differentiation between the two countries.

KING: What about those who say borderline, the middle here, and say, OK, you're right to do what you're doing, but what's the rush? He's not going to start anything while this is going on. You've got all the inspectors there. So what if they stayed another two months and try to find more things? What's going on happen in the two months?

MCCAIN: Well, I just think there comes a time that you have to reach a conclusion. In 1998 under the previous administration, we passed a law that called for regime change in Iraq. We could have probably acted in 1998 and might have under a different leadership. But there comes a time in every kind of scenario where it has to reach a conclusion because if you waited two months then why not two more months? Eventually Saddam Hussein will acquire these weapons. And from a practical reason, we can't practice this kind of keeping our troops on alert indefinitely. We probably could for a couple of months, four months, but this kind of military buildup can't be sustained.

If it was drawn down, which it would have to be over time, then you would see Saddam Hussein engaged in more adventurism and frankly, the credibility of the United States, if he remained in violation of the Security Council resolutions, the credibility of the United States would be very badly eroded.

And finally, it's up to Saddam Hussein if he wants to come up with these weapons, if he wants to come up with the laboratories and the evidence that's clearly there, then he remains in power, as terrible person as he is. But so far he has shown no sign of that.

KING: As you see it, is this war relatively easy to win?

MCCAIN: In terms in overall military terms, yes. The tragedy is we will lose young American lives, but the Iraqi army and military is very weak.

There are very great risks, such as the launching of a Scud missile with a chemical weapon on it against Israel. They're setting the plans, perhaps for sending the oilfields on fire, but there's no doubt we will prevail. There's no doubt that Iraq will be a far better country. Their people will have an opportunity for democracy and freedom instead of being under the regime of this murderous butcher and his family.

So -- and by the way, democracy in Iraq, which will be long and painstaking, will send a message throughout the region that the people of other countries including Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, also deserve an opportunity to have democracy as well.

KING: And does the United States and Britain set up that democracy? Do they have a MacArthur-type government as evidenced in Japan in 1946?

MCCAIN: Well, I'm a little bit different than prevailing view on that. The Iraqi National Congress is made up of some very fine people. I would put civilian rule in powers quickly as possible as we did in Afghanistan. And by the way, the Iraqis can pay for that, Larry. They are not a poor country like Afghanistan. And I think that they would be entirely appropriate if they paid for this transition.

KING: Always nice talking with you. Thank you so much, Senator.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Senator John McCain. When we come back, Bob Dole, a war hero, former Senate majority leader, Republican presidential candidate. George Mitchell, former Senate majority leader. And the man who brought peace in Northern Ireland, Alan Simpson, former United States senator, his party's whip. And Senator George McGovern, one of the great war heroes of World War II, a presidential nominee himself. They're all with us next to discuss this same topic right after these words.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Evidently some of the world don't view Saddam Hussein as a risk to peace. I respectfully disagree. Saddam Hussein is a -- gassed his own people. Saddam Hussein has got weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein has made -- defied the United Nations. Saddam Hussein is providing link to terrorists. Saddam Hussein is a threat to America and we will deal with him.



KING: Joining us now, privileged to have four distinguished Americans. Four former United States senators, presidential candidates, majority leaders.

In Miami, senator Bob Dole.

In New York, former Senator George Mitchell.

In (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Wyoming, former Senator Alan Simpson.

And in Montana, former Senator George McGovern.

All right, Senator Dole, where do you stand on what we've been talking about.

Go? Not go? What?

BOB DOLE (R), FMR. SEN., MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I think the odds are about two to one, that within the next six weeks we're going to see some action. I listened to John McCain and agree with essentially everything he said. I think what we need to do -- suddenly I think Saddam Hussein is sort of a forgotten person.

Everybody is second guessing Tony Blair and George Bush and the 18 European countries and the American Secretary Powell. And we seem to have lost focus Saddam Hussein who has killed a million people and another million and a half injured and 4 million refugees from Iraq. So, I think we need to keep our focus this very bad man.

KING: Senator Mitchell, your thoughts?

GEORGE MITCHELL (D), FMR. SEN., MAJORITY LEADER: I think the administration made the correct decision to go to the U.N. in September and I hope they stay with it. It's important not so much for the military effort, I think there's a huge military imbalance, and I don't think the conflict will be long or difficult, but in the rebuilding, in the continuing war on terror where we need a let of friends and allies.

In addition, I think it's important for our friends in this effort, you've mentioned Tony Blair. He's a very fine leader. I know him very well, from my experience in Northern Ireland. He faces an extremely difficult situation, overwhelming opposition in Britain to unilateral action. So I think he needs a second resolution. It would be an immense tragedy. A real tragedy if in the effort to obtain regime change in Baghdad, we ended up with it in London. And that's talked about in Britain now. He himself has said his future is on the line.

So I think we should do the best we can to pursue it through the United Nations. And I don't think it's impossible that there will be a coming together. The statement by the European Union today, I think, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the positive to common ground.

KING: Senator Simpson, your thoughts?

ALAN SIMPSON (R), FMR. U.S. SENATOR: Well, Larry, what an honor to serve with those three gentlemen that are right here on this panel. And I was Bob Dole's assistant and in various times, George Mitchell was the leader of his party and George McGovern. But I have a different thought. You knew I would. I really believe that this guy will go into exile. I think when they light up the torches and they light those jets on the five or seven carrier groups, he'll know that. When they switch those lights on the tomahawk missiles from red to green, he'll know that. And I think he'll say, wait a minute, just a second because he knows only one thing, this is a very selfish and extraordinarily vicious man.

And Bob Dole and I and three other senators, visited with him before he pulled the trigger. I think he will never give up that lifestyle of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and chicks and Havana cigars. And he knows that it's over. And when he knows when it's over he going to seek exile. He is going to go to the Algiers and have a little villa on the Mediterranean. He'll say let my kid do it, and they'll say the kid isn't going to do it. And then you'll have regime change and that's is really mission. That is the mission. That's my view, twisted as it may be.

KING: Senator George McGovern, where standeth, thou?

GEORGE MCGOVERN (D), FMR. U.S. SENATOR: Larry, I'm glad you introduced me earlier as a patriot. Because I think one characteristic that all of the men on the program tonight share is that we're all convinced we live in the best country on the face of the earth. I believe that all my life. And one of the great treasures of our country is we have the right to disagree. I think that just, to quote, quickly two or three very influential men in the recent past.

Lyndon Johnson who said near the end of the Vietnam War, somewhat ruthlessly, "It's awfully easy to get into a war, it's hard as hell to get out." Winston Churchill while tried to talk our leaders out of going in to Vietnam said "There is nothing certain about a war except nothing is certain about a war" And that's what worries me about this rush to war. We heard the national security adviser to the president Condoleezza Rice, a very intelligent woman, say yesterday that those who were trying to slow the confrontation with Saddam Hussein are playing into his hands. I don't agree with that.

The United Nations has arms experts in Iraq right now, trying to determine the extent of his power, including especially any weapons of mass destruction. They need more time. I think that's the unanimous verdict of all of those inspectors.

Why not give them the time to complete their work?

KING: Fair question, Bob Dole. Why not?

DOLE Well, they're inspect not detectors. I think that's the big difference. And they're there to look at material that Saddam Hussein's regime is supposed to say, OK, we've gotten rid of this and this is where we destroyed it, or we haven't destroyed it, but here it is, and we are going to destroy it. You have a people or 150 inspectors in a country the size of the state of California.

Now, if anybody believes these 150 or if they want to triple as the French say, to 500, are going to find, detect all these things, it's just not going to happen. But certainly none of us want a rush to war. It's been 12 years and we're on the 18th resolution. And I certain would not want to disagree with my good friends are Senator McGovern, but I do believe there's some a time and I believe the time is just about -- it's going to be the next few weeks.

KING: George Mitchell, do you agree that it is right around the corner?

MITCHELL: Well, several recent published reports have stated that the peak of the American military buildup will occur about the middle of March. And the lighting conditions, the moon and so forth will be right about that time. And I notice just this weekend for the first time, a high administration official said we could do it as late as early April. So I think you will see an additional period of inspection and efforts to get diplomatic consensus among all of the Western nations. The inspectors are going to report back in a couple of weeks. I think they're likely to come back again by mid-March. So I think there are several more weeks to go before a final decision is made.

KING: Cane we get a break and be back with more moments with this distinguished panel. Don't go away.


KING: Senator Simpson, did the protests of Sunday have any effect on you?

SIMPSON: Well, sure. You see people who are in angst.

But I think the thing that disturbs me is to think there are people who will really come off as if they were pro-Iraq. How can you be pro-Saddam? You can't be pro-Saddam.

Not just that. I think that for the first time, this is a very selfish person to say I watched Bob Dole confront him and say I know the horror of war. I have the scars of war. That was a very powerful day. I remember we spent half a day with Saddam Hussein.

What he knows is that his pampered, imperial life, under this scenario, whatever it is, except one, is over because this trip they're going to hunt him right to his lair and he'll be in the rubble of his palace bunker. There won't be any kind of stopgap, nothing to stop it, going to go for the chunk.

And he knows that if he wants to promote and continuous this marvelous lifestyle that he'll pull up his stakes and he'll move out of there before the bombs hit.


KING: Senator McGovern -- Senator McGovern, you were a hero in war against the depot, in World War II. Hero in Europe, with a brilliant book about that. Bob Dole the first one to clue me in on that book, about your exploits in World War II. Why let this despot continue?

MCGOVERN: Well, let me say the real hero in war time on this program is Bob Dole who suffered more than any of us. And I can't stress the common things that we have with all the men on this program.

I think the reason we have to be careful about going to war in Iraq is, as Churchill said, we have no way of guessing what the repercussions are going to be. But it seems to me that dropping an American army into that tangled, Middle East tinderbox is the worst way to reduce terrorism in the world.

Even Governor Ridge, the manager of Homeland Security, appointed by President Bush, has warned us that if we go to a war with Iraq there's going to be more terrorist attacks on the United States. Not less. And I think that stands to reason.

The Arabs are already skeptical about us and if we go to war now with Iraq on the flimsy evidence we have assembled, I think you're going to sets off convulsions all across that Arab world. All the way from...

KING: Isn't that..

MCGOVERN: ... Syria to Baghdad.

KING: Senator Dole, isn't that a danger?

DOLE: It's a danger and I think it's one that is beginning to be addressed. No one knows for certain what will happen if this is not done very quickly and very successfully.

There's another side of that coin is that if it's done quickly and successfully, we're liberating millions of Iraqis who have been subjected to this madman for the past, I don't know how many years, and we're setting an example for other countries in that area. And we'll do as Senator McCain suggests, not have the American military run the country for a couple of years, but bring in the INC. There are about 60 different Iraqi groups. They're Democratically-oriented, let them run the country.

But in so far as the protests are concerned, we live in a free country. People have a right to protest. But I do wish they would focus a little more on the real target. If there's some other way to do this, I wouldn't disagree with Senator McGovern. Some other exile -- or Senator Simpson suggested -- or some other way to disarm this person and change the regime short of war, then I would vote for it, but I'm not quite certain what that would be.

KING: Senator Mitchell -- I'm sorry, who was speaking?

MCGOVERN: I was just going to say if Al Simpson is raising money to get Saddam Hussein an exile, I'll put in a few bucks to get him to the North Poll.

KING: Senator Mitchell, you know your way around the U.N. Is it weakened in this process?

MITCHELL: I don't think so, Larry. The fact is, of course, that violation by Iraq of U.N. resolutions is now the central principle of the American case against Iraq. Everybody on your program was disgusted tonight and mentioned that.

So the reality is that the United Nations has not been diminished and I personally don't believe the predictions of irrelevance of the U.N. if they don't do precisely what we want to do.

I think it is important that they and we make a real effort to maintain the North Atlantic Alliance. In the great war which -- in which Senators McGovern and Dole fought so heroically, in the aftermath of that war, the North Atlantic Alliance was formed. It's the most successful, political ask military alliance in more than history, perhaps of all time and all of the participants benefit from it.

There's sort of a view in this country that we saved the French and rebuilt the Germans and we didn't get anything out of it. We got a lot out of it. Fifty years of stability since then. Expanding trade to the expansion of democracy and free marks around the world. And we're the principle beneficiaries of that.

So I think we've got to do a lot to maintain that alliance and I think continue to work through the U.N. is the proper course.

Larry, could I make one more comment? I think the administration also, I hope, will make an effort on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The reality is the that no matter what happens in Iraq, there will not be political stability in the Middle East until there is a just and peaceful resolution of that conflict and I hope that they are making parallel efforts now. I think all of the attention, unfortunately, is on Iraq for reasons that are understandable. But I think that there's a real opening in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I hope that the administration will pursue it because that's essential to stability in the region and very much in our interest as well.

KING: And, Senator Simpson, are you definitely predicting Algiers as the place you will go? You mentioned Algiers. Is that on target?

SIMPSON: Well, he might try Libya. You know, Reagan put a 2,000 pound bomb in his window one morning and we haven't heard much out of that guy. So he may go to Libya. The coastline is similar and he'll enjoy it.

KING: We're running out of time.

SIMPSON: It is really important to remember that it's not about oil. This is not about oil. I think that's critical. Time to get that argument off the table.

KING: Thank you very much. We'll calling on you again. This is an outstanding panel and next time we'll do it a little more in-depth. Thank you, Bob Dole, George Mitchell, Alan Simpson and George McGovern. Three outstanding Americans.

I'll come back and tell you more about tomorrow right after this.


KING: In the fit of honesty, I must dutifully report to you that our crack staff is still working on tomorrow night's show. You'll hear all about it all day tomorrow on CNN as to who the guests are and what the topic is.


Case; Current, Former Senators Talk About Iraq Policies, Global Protests>

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