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Reaction to Presidential Address

Aired September 7, 2003 - 21:00   ET


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're rolling back the terrorist threat to civilization, not on the fringes of its influence, but at the heart of its power.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight the president addressing the nation, moments ago, with the progress report on Iraq and the war on terror, just days before the second anniversary of 9-11.

With us for immediate reaction to the speech, in Baghdad, Nic Robertson, CNN senior international correspondent; in London, Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent; back in Baghdad, "Newsweek" contributing editor Colin Soloway; in New York, Judith Miller, "New York Times" correspondent specializing in the Middle East and weapons of mass destruction; and in London, Matt McAllester, "Newsday" correspondent who was jailed for eight days in March by Saddam Hussein's regime. And later, Senator John Kyl, chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security; Senator Bob Graham, former chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee and one of those running for the Democratic president nomination; Congressman Christopher Shays of the Select Homeland Committee on Security; and Representative Ellen Tauscher, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

They're all next on this special Sunday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

We start with our opening panel in this first half-hour, Nic Robertson, Christiane Amanpour, Colin Soloway, Judith Miller and Matt McAllester.

Colin, we'll start with you, in London. What was your reaction to this speech tonight. Colin, I'm sorry, in Baghdad -- Colin Soloway, your reaction?

COLIN SOLOWAY, NEWSWEEK: No problem. I wish I was in London right now, actually.

I mean, I think there -- the speech was largely aimed at the American people, really, to again try and get support for the continuing effort here. I'm not sure there's a whole lot necessarily for Iraqis here or anyone else in the international community, frankly. You know, this sort of -- what I found interesting about it was almost complete absence of any discussion of weapons of mass destruction, which was, as you recall, essentially the casus belli for this war. The administration now has switched to new rhetoric of saying, well, we've got -- this is actually all part of the war on terror, as we were saying all along.

But, you know, I think, the questions that are being raised here, again, as Nic has pointed out earlier, that, well, you know, there wasn't actually a terrorism problem in Iraq before the Americans got here. Now that there is, now that clearly the Americans are effectively serving as a very, very big piece of big, big bait for terrorists here, you know, what are you going to do about it, and is the international community really willing to get involved in this at this point.

You know, I think it was largely a speech for domestic consumption.

KING: Judith Miller, what surprised you?

JUDITH MILLER, NEW YORK TIMES: I think once again the lack of emphasis on weapons of mass destruction.

In fact, Larry, what the president said was that Iraq possessed and used weapons of mass destruction, as in the past, which raises the question, what exactly are the Americans finding over there, and was the chief cause that he presented, the president presented, before the war, is that still -- is that still a casus belli or not.

KING: Christiane Amanpour, you're reaction, in London, to this speech tonight.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, you know, the last time the president appeared, on the aircraft carrier, he declared combat operations over for the most part.

This time he said that it is not the case, that Iraq is now the central front. In other words, the war continues.

But certainly, in his appeal to the international community it's a complete reversal of strategy. As you know, from disparaging the United Nations and wanting to go it alone, the U.S. administration, after four fairly disastrous months, now has to turn to the international community, and the real issue on the table is, how well will they be able to finesse a resolution this time in order to get what is vitally needed.

Anybody who has covered conflict and post-conflict knows that you have to have multinational peacekeepers and you have to have a huge number of those, because without security, there is no reconstruction, there is no civil society, there is no democracy-building and there is no end to the war on terror.

So that is going to be a very, very hard fight, to get the Europeans onboard, and to really get them and other countries around the world to produce some badly needed troops and to internationalize this effort.

Some are saying, over here, that the appeal to the United Nations may be a little too late, not that it's completely too late, but it should have happened right after the victory. That was when they could have got everybody onboard, perhaps. But they're still going to have to do a lot of work to get a much needed multinational force on board.

And then, of course, again, the president referring to the great tradition of what happened in post-World War II Germany and Japan. You remember, he promised Afghanistan, for instance, two years ago, the very same words, and there has not been that reality to match the rhetoric.

Now he's talking about $87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan. From what we hear, only $1 billion of that will go to Afghanistan. It's much needed. There's a huge amount of reconstruction work to be done and very, very much needed, because the president said in his speech that our enemies, quote, "thrive on the resentment of oppressed people."

Well, there's a lot of resentment going on in Iraq and in Afghanistan right now, as they see that there's not enough reconstruction, not enough security.

So all of that is going to be carefully listened to.

KING: You wanted to say something -- Judith.

MILLER: Also, he just asserted, the president asserted that Iraq was the heart of this terror nexus. There was no attempt to present any evidence to that fact, even though many senators and congressmen on the intelligence committee say there was no evidence that Iraq was really part of this nexus of terror, especially with respect to al Qaeda, before the war.

KING: Nic Robertson, in Baghdad, if the purpose was to bring things up to date and to increase support from the American people, do you think it worked?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: It certainly may do that, it certainly has laid out where the administration thinks the central issues lie now, and that does essentially attempt to draw a line under the issues they originally went to war under. That is, that this is a war on terrorism.

I think from the Iraqi perspective, at least, the only thing in there that the Iraqi people can take any comfort in is the fact that more money may be spent on them in the near future. They have perhaps had some of their worst fears realized in this speech as well, and that is -- and they've been hearing it from U.S. commanders here -- terrorists are being drawn to Iraq.

One of the things the Iraqi people don't want to hear, don't want to see, is outside influence in their country, be it the United States or be it influences from terrorist organizations who they feared would be sponsored by perhaps or aided and abetted by other countries in the region.

So it does have a lot of -- a lot in it that the Iraqis are not going to like. Certainly, it may go a long way to help win the American people's support, the president in this mission, but the Iraqi people, a lot in there that's not very palatable for them.

KING: Matt McAllester, in London -- and by the way, Matt has a book coming out soon called "A Troubled Freedom: Dispatches from Saddam's Most Notorious Prison and Iraq's Quest for Peace."

What's your read on this speech -- Matt.

MATT MCALLESTER, NEWSDAY: I think it's timing is interesting, from the Iraqi perspective. This is five months after the war, and I've been there most of the year, and repeatedly, as Nic and Colin will know, people will say, "Where's the electricity? Where is the security?"

That's all they care about. And in this $87 billion, $66 billion is put aside for security, for intelligence, for military purposes. This is $21 billion left over for reconstruction, and that -- the Iraqis are going to be saying, possibly rightly, "Where was this planning, where was this money months ago? The war was foreseen months in advance and we wanted generators on our street corners, we wanted security, we wanted police." And I think they'll be troubled by the timing of this, coming so late.

KING: We will take a break and be back with more. We'll also include your phone calls. Our other panel will join us at the bottom of the hour. Judith Miller is with us throughout the hour.

You're watching a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


BUSH: In a series of raids and actions around the world, nearly 2/3 of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed and we continue on al Qaeda's trail. We've exposed terrorist front groups, seized terrorist accounts, taken new measures to protect our homeland and uncovered sleeper cells inside the United States.

And we acted in Iraq, where the former regime-sponsored terror possessed and used weapons of mass destruction and for 12 years defied the clear demands of the United Nations Security Council. Our coalition enforced these international demands in one of the swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history.


KING: Colin Soloway, in Baghdad, Secretary Powell said today that the United States didn't realize how rotten things were in Iraq. Do you agree with that?

SOLOWAY: Well, I think the administration has made the excuse of saying, well, we just didn't realize how bad it was, that the infrastructure was in bad shape, but in fact, I think the biggest problem here was in fact that there was infrastructure. There were ministries and the government was functioning here, but because the United States failed to provide security for any of the infrastructure here, particularly in Baghdad, the ministries, that when the Americans got here, the ministries were there, the offices were there, everything was functioning, the barracks were there, the police stations were there, and because the United States failed to provide security in this town and around the country, these buildings, these institutions were systematically looted and burned as well.

So when the Americans actually got around to saying, OK, well, let's get these ministries up and running, there was nothing left. There were no desks. There were no computers. In many cases, there weren't even pencils and paper for people to work with.

So I think a lot of the money that's going to be spent now -- money and time and effort that's being spent now, to get the sort of Iraqi government and ministries up and running, is money that would have been saved had the Americans actually, number one, planned for this operation better and actually provided security for these institutions.

I mean, the Oil Ministry was secured, but the Education Ministry, Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, none of this was secured. So I think we're paying the price, actually for the incompetence of the administration's planning for the entire post-war scenario.

KING: Judith, did we not except these uprisings to take place? Did we expect an easy liberation?

MILLER: I think they really did, and that accounted, in part, for the low number of soldiers.

If you recall, Larry, before the war, General Shinseki and Secretary Rumsfeld had an argument about how many soldiers were needed. Now, I was embedded for over four months with weapons of mass destruction hunters, and as we went through Iraq, we found ammunition facility after ammo facility, where there were mortars and shells and RPGs and everything stored, and we would leave those facilities unguarded simply because the unit soldiers told me, they didn't have the manpower to guard them.

And I said, "What's going to happen to all of this ammunition?" Well, now we know what's happening to it. Some of it's being used to kill American soldiers and others in Iraq.

KING: Christiane, did the coalition read it wrong?

AMANPOUR: Well, I think that is the general impression that certainly has been shown over the last five months. Quick, fairly -- in retrospect -- easy war, successful war, and a very unplanned or wrongly planned post-war.

And that's obviously why now they're doing some course correction. They're not going to stand up and say it as such, but that is clearly why that is happening. I mean, just look in Afghanistan, for instance, two years later. Afghanistan does have the benefit of a genuine international coalition that is working there, not just a few soldiers here and there but a real international coalition, each country taking on different tasks to try to rebuild that country.

The problem, of course, there is, and again it applies as well to Iraq, not enough post-war planning for the amount of aid, reconstruction, security building, that was absolutely necessary. And that's a problem in Afghanistan.

Two years after the war on terror started there first, the Taliban is reemerging in parts of the south and parts of the east, and that was not meant to happen two years after they were toppled by the United States.

KING: Nic Robertson, in your opinion, is it going to get worse before it gets better?

ROBERTSON: It certainly seems to be set to be so.

We've seen the situation get worse over the last few months. The attacks on troops increased, August the bloodiest month here, not only attacks on U.S. troops, but the numbers of civilians killed in those three major attacks -- the Jordanian embassy, the U.N. headquarters and the Holy Shrine in Najaf, south of Baghdad. The trajectory at the moment seems entirely in that direction.

Perhaps what's happening that's positive -- I spent some time recently on the border with troops there who are trying to interdict these foreign fighters, wood-be terrorists, coming into Iraq. They are making improvements. They are beginning to secure some of those border checkpoints, but it's the areas around the borders that aren't secure. They do need more troops there. More are on the way. Will it be enough, that's not clear.

The soldiers there tell me that they've arrested and fought foreign fighters. Some of them, they believe, have had al Qaeda training, and they've seen the attacks on them at the border posts there, the attacks in terms of sophistication, the number of attacks, they've seen those reduced. They know, they're convinced that these foreign fighters, al Qaeda-trained, are coming to Iraq to take them on, and that they know that they're catching some of them.

But the borders here are massive. They're not patrolled. There's not even razor wire along some sections of the border, so it's clear more people can come in. There's the potential for it to get worse.

KING: Matt McAllester, at the end of World War II, did Germans kill Americans? Did Japanese kill allies after the war ended? Did these things occur at the end of other wars?

MCALLESTER: Well, Iraq is a completely unique situation. It's a country that really has no friendly relations with anyone. We saw that with the United Nations bombing. That was the greatest example. It's not friendly -- there are elements, put it this way, within Iraq, that are hostile to Iran, Turkey, the entire Arab world, the United States, Europe, Russia. There is no easy fix. And that's what's so unique about Iraq in the post-war situation.

Whoever comes in -- and this is one of the problematic things with the internationalization of the conflict -- that may improve things, but it's not a quick fix. The United Nations was bombed. U.N. soldiers would become targets for those elements of the regime that are lingering on and Arab foreign fighters, if they're still there.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


BUSH: The triumph of democracy and tolerance in Iraq, in Afghanistan and beyond, would be a grave setback for international terrorism. The terrorists thrive on the support of tyrants and the resents of oppressed peoples. When tyrants fall and resentment gives way to hope, men and women in every culture reject the ideologies of terror and turn to pursuits of peace. Everywhere that freedom takes hold, terror will retreat.



KING: Let's see what some of the folks are thinking. Let's go to Tupelo, Mississippi -- hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry.

I'd like to ask a question. On September 13, 2001, President Bush made the statement, "Osama bin Laden, wanted dead or alive," but in tonight's speech, he did not even mention him. Is there a reason why?

KING: Judith Miller.

MILLER: Well, I think he didn't want to talk about what they would regard as the weaknesses of the postwar mission. I mean, not getting him, so far, is definitely a minus.

It's true that the president could point to an amazingly swift military victory, but since then we now have two American soldiers a day, roughly, dying, and the victory that seemed so overwhelming then is less impressive now.

KING: To Bucksport, Maine -- hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry.

My question is, what has happened to all the money that the United States found in Iraq that Saddam Hussein left behind? And why can't it be used for the reconstruction of Iraq?

KING: Colin Soloway, do you know?

SOLOWAY: Well, there is, I believe, about $1.7 billion in cash that was recovered in Iraq, and actually a lot of cash in Iraq, then also cash in frozen funds belonging to Saddam Hussein and belonging to the regime.

That money is being spent, but, you know, $1.7 billion, $2 billion, that's a drop in the bucket compared to what Iraq needs. So the money has been spent but, frankly, that money, by the end of the year, that money is gone. It's probably, in effect, it's already been spent. So there's a lot more money required here.

I think the initial estimates for just restoring basic services up to what people need at the bare minimum right now in electricity and water and utilities, I think Bechtel's estimate was about $16 billion. To really get it up to where it ought to be, about $30 billion.

KING: Christiane, how do you explain Saddam Hussein's still being around without being found?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, it's hard to explain, I'm not there, but the fact of the matter is, Saddam Hussein is still around. Osama bin Laden is still around. Mullah Omar is still around.

I mean, these things are facts according to most of the intelligence people come back with, so the question is how to negate their influence and how to really try to corral them. I mean, Saddam Hussein clearly has some kind of loyalist clique that he's hanging out with somewhere in Iraq, presumably. Osama bin Laden -- different reports put him either in the mountainous region of Afghanistan or Pakistan. It's hard to get a real lock on which intelligence is right.

And as for Mullah Omar, who is the head of the Taliban, he's busy sending out leaflets, signing papers, calling on Taliban and disaffected Afghans to rise up against the centrally-backed government, the U.S.-backed government.

There is a lot of work still to be done, and while we heard a lot about getting all of those dead or alive over the last several years, now the focus is sort of being taken off of them, perhaps for understandable reasons, by the administration. But the fact that they're not dealt with leaves a legacy for those who may be afraid of them in Afghanistan or Iraq and for those who want to coalesce around the cause.

KING: Nic Robertson, is morale -- how is morale?

ROBERTSON: Well, I've found that -- I've been away for a month and I've come back, and I've talked to a number of troops. Morale does seem to be good with those I've talked to. They see the mission that they have to do, they know they're going to be here for a long time. The question in their minds is, is it going to be 12 months, is it going to be 13 months.

They're thinking about when they can go home. They would like to put their feet up and have a cold beer, but they get up everyday. I've been out with them on patrols and missions since I've been back, and they go about it to the best of their abilities.

Morale, which seemed so low back in the summer, has definitely picked up. That's been my impression since I've come back -- Larry.

KING: And what about the feeling, Matt McAllester, the British toward their prime minister? Is that changing at all?

MCALLESTER: Well, Tony Blair is becoming in an increasingly difficult situation.

The Hutton Inquiry, which is in recess at the moment but will begin again soon, revealed last week some surprising facts for the British government. The intelligence -- there was great dissent within the British intelligence community about the preparation of this well-known dossier that Blair presented to the British public before the war in Iraq.

There was great discomfort, it seems, within the community, the intelligence community, about what one intelligence officer referred to as "the merchants of spin" and the implication was at No. 10 Downing Street.

If the Hutton Inquiry were to come up with some very strong recommendations or language, it could cause great damage to the Blair government, and possibly, but unlikely, his resignation, and I wonder if there would be waves across the Atlantic.

KING: Bloomfield (ph), Connecticut -- hello.


I'd like to commend the journalists for going over to Iraq, and I'd like to know how safe they feel while they're in that country. And I'd also like to know their perceptions of -- with the technology that we supposedly have, that they brag about, how they can find a nickel in our houses these days, you know, with these amazing satellites, how is it -- and I know you've partially addressed this -- that they cannot find a 6'5'' terrorist that they're actively pursuing.

KING: We've got -- I've got a time problem here, so, Nic, you want to handle it? Are you in danger?

ROBERTSON: Yes, we're concerned about it, and certainly I think over the summer months we've seen the risk to foreign workers, the risk to troops here, go up, and I think certainly journalists are aware of that risk.

A number of the hotels, buildings we live in, we're very concerned about the security. We're aware that perhaps some of these hotels are some of the softer targets, and we've seen people target them, and certainly we've heard a lot written in statements from some of these groups, and there are seven different groups that have claimed responsibility for some of the actions here over the summer.

We certainly heard them target journalists as well in some of their speeches, some of the rhetoric. So, yes, people are concerned.

KING: We thank Nic Robertson, Christiane Amanpour, Colin Soloway and Matt McAllester for spending this half-hour with us. Judith Miller remains. And when we come back, we'll be joined by Senators Kyl and Graham and Congressman Shays and Tauscher.

This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


BUSH: There is more at work in these attacks than blind rage. The terrorists have a strategic goal. They want us to leave Iraq before our work is done. They want to shake the will of the civilized world. In the past, the terrorists have cited the examples of Beirut and Somalia, claiming that if you inflict harm on Americans, we will run from a challenge. In this, they are mistaken.



KING: Welcome back to this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Following the president's address tonight Wolf Blitzer with you at the top of the hour.

Judith Miller remains with us. She's the Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent of the "New York Times," writes about national security, and wrote the best-selling book "Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret war." That, by the way, is now out in trade paperback.

Joining us in Washington, always good to see him Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security; Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.

In Des Moines is Democratic Senator Bob Graham of Florida, the former chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, a member of the National Security Caucus and a candidate for his party's nomination for the presidency. He, by the way, voted against the resolution to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

In Stamford, Connecticut is Congressman Chris Shays, Republican of Connecticut, member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security and Vice Chairman of the Budget Committee.

And, in San Francisco, is Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, Democrat of California, member of the Armed Services and a member of the Democratic Caucus Task Force on Homeland Security.

We'll start with Senator Kyl. What did you make of the president's address?

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZ., CHMN. SUBCOMMITTEE ON TERRORISM: I thought it was an important address at this critical time almost two years after September 11. I went to what the president said right after September 11 two years ago when he called upon the American people to have patience and perseverance.

He said this will be expensive. It will take a long time. It will be costly and we should resist the American impulse to hurry up and get a job over with and move on to the next thing.

The American people have been supportive of that point of view. Some of the pundits I know would like to have almost instant victory it seems but I think that was the key to the president's message tonight and the other key point was better to take the fight to the enemy in places like Afghanistan and Iraq than have to deal with them here at home.

KING: Senator Graham your thoughts.

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLA., FMR. CHMN. SELECT INTELL. CMTE.: My thoughts are that the president refused to face up to the priorities that we've got to set. He's talking about spending $87 billion in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That's more than the federal government will spend on education this year. That's twice as much as the federal government will spend on our roads, bridges, highways and public transit system.

So, the president is clearly making a judgment that it is more important for us to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan than it is to deal with the very serious problems that we have in the United States.

The president also didn't discuss who was going to pay for this. During the first Gulf War, almost all of the costs, some $80 billion, was paid by international parties, particularly such as Japan.

Today, we're getting virtually no support from outside American taxpayers and within the American taxpayers is this generation going to pay for it or are we going to add this to the national debt and ask our grandchildren to pay for this occupation?

KING: Congressman Shays is that a good point?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONN., SEL. HOMELAND SECURITY CMTE.: I mean there are a lot of good points. I thought your columnist to start were extraordinarily negative about what's happened in Iraq. I mean, you know, during the post World War II period if CNN had covered that I think you'd probably have the same kinds of stories.

The bottom line is the president made it clear that we're in it for the long haul and I strongly disagree with Senator Graham. He is being honest and up front about what we have to do to win and I can't believe anyone thinks we have any desire to fail in Iraq. It is going to take $87 billion next year to do what we have to do. That's an honest presentation and I'm happy he's finally come up with a number as high as it is.

KING: And, Congresswoman Tauscher your thoughts?

REP. ELLEN TAUSCHER (D), CALIF., ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, I'm disappointed that the president really didn't address the issues of the imminent threat or weapons of mass destruction and I also think it's important that we understand that we have really a big coalition that we've got to build here.

When we go to the U.N. it's going to be vitally important for us to be sure that we not only internationalize the coalition but that we regionalize the coalition.

We need some of those secular Muslim states like Turkey and Pakistan to be able to diversify the faces that are helping to stand up the new Iraq nation and I hope that we will be able to get a U.N. resolution more quickly than we were able to before and one that really builds on a coalition of the capable not just a coalition of the willing.

KING: Judith, would you agree that the public still favors the president's actions in Iraq?

MILLER: The polls show that.

KING: Sixty percent of them.

MILLER: Sixty percent continue to give the president credibility on this and they're standing with him. The question I have is for how long and how many Americans will die until the security situation is really gotten a hold of.

And, in terms of the Congressmen and Senators who have just spoken I would ask them a question and that is it took a long time for the president to produce that number, $87 billion, would they have wanted that to - that number to be produced earlier? Do they feel that they weren't told up front how much this war was going to cost?

KING: And, Congressman Kyl, adding to the same question is that worth spending more on Iraq than on education let's say?

KYL: Larry, was the question to me?

KING: Yes.

KYL: The question is do we dare risk failure in this war on terrorism? There isn't anything more threatening to American citizens than the terrorists and it's going to take what it takes whatever that number is.

Defeat is not an option here. Pulling out is not an option and that's why you can compare it to all kinds of things but the reality is that the president has been candid with the American people when his experts came together and said after they add up all of the requirements this looks like this is what it's going to be. He needed to come to Congress to get that funding and he's done so this evening. You know, I have to agree with Congressman Shays about the negativity of the pundits. If all you ever saw on television about America were the number of murders and crimes committed and accidents and tragedies you'd have a pretty bleak view of our future and that's about all we're getting out of Iraq.

But, if you look at people like Ambassador Bremer who's in charge and the briefing that he's provided to us in the Congress and the other briefings that we've gotten, there's a much different picture that should give one optimism that this is going to work.

KING: Judith has a question.

MILLER: Senator Kyl, when do you declare victory? When do you think the United States can leave Iraq?

KYL: I think first of all we want to leave as soon as we possibly can when the Iraqis are ready to govern themselves and that should come once the security is accomplished, the economy is back to at least some degree of normality and the people of Iraq have decided who they want their leaders to be.

I don't know how long that would take but that's the point at which at least most of the international forces and the United States, I think, would want to leave.

KING: Senator Graham, do you think the public support will wane or remain high?

GRAHAM: Well, I think the American people support the American troops. They admire their valor. They admire the efficiency with which the war was won. Now the question is about the occupation.

I think the president deceived the American people when we went to war by overemphasizing the weapons of mass destruction which were available for immediate use. You notice none of that was talked about in his speech tonight.

I also think that the president has deceived the American people by inferring, not inferring, stating very explicitly that this was part of the war on terrorism and the fact is there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was part of September the 11th. There was scant evidence that there ever had been any relations between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

And the fact is that we abandoned the war on terror in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001 in order to get ready for the war in Iraq and therefore allowed al Qaeda, which was almost dismantled, to regroup, regenerate, and now carry out a series of very sophisticated terrorist attacks.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll be including your phone calls for our panel.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Wolf Blitzer will be with you at the top of the hour, our continuing coverage of the president's address tonight. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will soon submit to Congress a request for $87 billion. The request will cover ongoing military and intelligence operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, which we expect will cost $66 billion over the next year.

This budget request will also support our commitment to helping the Iraqi and Afghan people rebuild their own nations after decades of oppression and mismanagement.



KING: Before we take a call, Congressman Shays were you surprised to hear the president say they're going to ask for a new resolution in the U.N.?

SHAYS: No, I was very happy about that. I just came back from five days in Iraq and I was very concerned in some parts and extraordinarily hopeful in other ways.

The potential of Iraq it has a strong agricultural base. It does have an industrial base unlike Saudi Arabia but, like Saudi Arabia, it has incredible oil reserves and well educated people and it seems to me what we as Americans need to do now is know that, you know, failure is not an option.

What do we do? One of the things is we turn to the U.N. Another thing we do is we utilize Iraqi Americans who know what the 70 tribes how they think and act. We need more Arabic speakers there and we need money.

Money is ammunition as was pointed out by one general. It's ammunition in Iraq and we need to do those things and I don't know if you're going to want to worry about why we're there now because we're there. We got to figure out what we do better.

KING: Do you agree with that Congresswoman Tauscher?

TAUSCHER: I do, Larry, but I think that it's fundamental that we start to understand how we broaden the coalition not just of these small nations that are putting in 200, 300 people, but that we have a real coalition of the capable that can assure that we are going to not only bring them on but that we're going to get to bring them home.

We've got to have a plan, which we clearly didn't have at the end of the military conflict of how we're going to turn this over to the Iraqi people and I don't think the president really addressed tonight why we didn't have a plan and why it took so long. I've had a resolution in the House since March to go to the U.N. Why is it taking us five months to figure out that we needed to broaden this coalition of not only getting killed but to pay for the reconstruction?

KING: St. Louis, we go to calls, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry, I have two points quickly, $87 billion does not help the American worker who is out of work or the family provide food for their family. We must stop wasting money in foreign countries and support the American family and tighten our security in our own country; two, Taliban and al Qaeda, why is the American troops in Afghanistan not destroying the poppy fields that fund these terrorist cells?

KING: Senator Kyl?

KYL: Well on the last point I totally agree with the caller. We ought to be more aggressive in doing that. Apparently, we've given that job over to the Brits but it's not being done and it should be done.

And, of course, to the first point it's always the dilemma you have when you're faced with an enemy, with a war. You've got to do everything you can to defeat that enemy and that you also have to provide for your people at home.

I think the president is trying very hard to help bring the economy back. At the same time, he understands that nothing really matters if we can't defeat these terrorists and so it's a balancing act but we're doing our very best to try to achieve it.

KING: Do you think, Judith, there could be growing public sentiment against this idea of not doing enough here with people out of work and supporting people elsewhere?

MILLER: Well, I think the Democratic presidential candidates are certainly going to try and make that case.

KING: Do you think that could kick in?

MILLER: I think it could depending on how insecure the situation in Iraq remains. That's the real issue. If Americans continue to die in Iraq, I think it could be a vulnerability.

KING: So, events will determine it.

MILLER: Events will determine it.

KING: Litchfield Park, Arizona, hello.

CALLER: Hi, good evening. I was wondering if your guests could clarify what $87 billion is by putting it in context that the average American can understand like how much is an F-16 or how much is an aircraft carrier?

KING: Senator Graham, how much is $87 billion?

GRAHAM: Well, as I said earlier Larry, $87 billion is twice as much as we're going to spend this year to repair our bridges, our highways, our public transit systems and build new transportation systems. It's about what we spend every year on education to help fund No School Left Behind and other programs like that which are already inadequately funded.

And we have about a $15 billion to $20 billion gap between what the Congress established as necessary for homeland security in areas like first responders, police, fire, emergency medical, and our seaport protection. So, we're going to spend $87 billion in Iraq when we're $15 billion to $20 billion short in defending ourselves?

SHAYS: You know, Larry, but it's one-tenth of probably what September 11, 2001 cost us and that's the perspective you need to put it in. The Marshall Plan was supported by about 20 percent of the American people because politicians said we fought a war in Europe, what are we doing helping them now?

We helped ourselves by helping Europe. We are going to help ourselves by helping to clean up the Middle East which, if we don't, is going to be a cesspool forever.

GRAHAM: Well, that's the argument that the president is making is that this is now the center stage of the war on terror. I think that there is no evidence to support that statement.

In fact, in my judgment the fact that we've taken our eye off al Qaeda in Afghanistan, we've never laid a glove on Hezbollah in Syria, we continue to turn our backs on countries such as Syria and Saudi Arabia that have been providing to terrorists, that's where the real battle on terrorism is going to be won.

SHAYS: But the reason why al Qaeda is going to Iraq is they know if we succeed we doom them. They know this is where the battle is and that's why they're trying so hard to have us fail. That's why Iran's trying so hard to have us fail. I can't emphasize how strongly I personally believe we've got to succeed here and we've got to do whatever it takes.

KING: Let me get a break and be back with...

TAUSCHER: One of the reasons...

KING: I'm sorry, go ahead Congresswoman.

TAUSCHER: One of the reasons why Iraq has become this fulcrum for all of the foreign nationals and the terrorists and the al Qaeda folks is because of the western face on the soldier that's there and that's why it's vitally important that we broaden this coalition, not only for the Muslim countries like Turkey and Pakistan but that we make sure that this is a regional effort and we get the other countries directly benefited.

KING: Let me take a break and we'll be back with our remaining moments, get a few more calls in. Don't go away.


BUSH: Fellow citizens, we've been tested these past 24 months and the dangers have not passed yet Americans are responding with courage and confidence. We accept the duties of our generation. We are active and resolute in our own defense. We are serving in freedom's cause and that is the cause of all mankind.



KING: Mullica Hill, New Jersey, hello.

CALLER: Yes. I'd like to know why we never hear about the number of wounded U.S. soldiers.

KING: Do we know the answer to that, do you know Judith?

MILLER: Well, I think we do hear about them. Most newspapers now publish not only the dead but also the number of wounded in Iraq.

KING: I mean are people being wounded everyday too?

MILLER: Yes, there are people being wounded but there are pretty good health facilities now for them and excellent medical corps in the Army and many of the people who would have died in previous conflicts are being saved.

KING: Senator Kyl, are you optimistic about all this?

KYL: I am, Larry. First of all I do have confidence that the American people will stick with the president. As he said, they have the perseverance and I think we have the courage and this is the challenge of our generation just as previous generations have been challenged to fight for liberty.

And, this war is going to take time. It's going to take a lot of effort and I don't think that we can decide that it should be finished yesterday. There will be bumps in the road but the cause is critical to future generations. We've either got to defeat the terrorists where they are or face them on our own territory and I prefer the former option.

KING: Senator Graham are you pessimistic?

GRAHAM: No, I'm optimistic that we will win the war on terror. What I think we need to do is to stay on the war on terror to stay in Afghanistan, to stay in Yemen and Syria where the cesspools of terrorism exist, get a clear understanding of who our enemies and who our allies are.

There are a number of countries in the Middle East that need to be confronted by their actions. What we've missed is leadership. We had leadership, for instance, before World War II when Franklin Roosevelt told the American people what to expect in World War II, Abraham Lincoln before the Civil War.

The American people have not been prepared for the war, for the occupation, the consequences and our president tonight failed to tell us truthfully what we are doing in Iraq, what our exit strategy will be in Iraq and when will we restart the war on terror?

SHAYS: Larry.

KING: Let me get another call in, Honolulu, hello. Hold on, Chris, Honolulu, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I have a simple question.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Hi. I have a simple question. There was a big discussion regarding the funding for the rebuilding of Iraq. I think the question of the questions is who is controlling right now the oil reserves of Iraq? We know they're estimated about one-third of the reserves in the world are over there. Why not pay with these assets the rebuilding? Why should we pay, the ordinary taxpayer?

KING: Yes. Congressman Shays why doesn't oil pay for it?

SHAYS: Well, oil will pay for it as long as we can get the oil to the marketplace. I'd love to just comment about what Senator Graham said. You know, President Truman and President Lincoln were not viewed as being inspired leaders when they showed leadership. They were very unpopular during both wars. President Truman was very unpopular with what he did and he had...

KING: In Korea you mean?

SHAYS: In Korea, absolutely, and yet he showed the leadership and we now -- we now honor both presidents. So, I just have to say I get a little tired talking, hearing about this lack of leadership. The issue is people don't like the leadership he's showing because he's asking us to do some very difficult things.

KING: And Congressman Tauscher are you pessimistic?

TAUSCHER: No, I'm optimistic. I'm very proud of the work that our fighting men and women are doing but I do think that the leadership that Senator Graham is talking about and that Chris Shays appears to be worried about is one where the president today said that we'd have to sacrifice but he never said what we'd have to sacrifice.

He never made it clear what the $87 billion that he's now asking for for the reconstruction of Iraq, this first unfinished business of Afghanistan, what actually would that money be spent on here at home if we had it?

KING: We're out of time but, Judith, you expect we'll be there a long time?

MILLER: Well, I think we're going to be there for some time and the issue is will we be there and will it become a kind of presidential election issue.

KING: Will it be a big issue in the election?

MILLER: I think it almost certainly will be.

KING: Judith Millers, Senators Jon Kyl and Bob Graham and Congressman Chris Shays and Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher we thank them all for being with us. We thank our guests earlier as well.

CNN, of course, we're at the top of the scene continuing coverage and I'll come back in a couple of minutes to tell you about LARRY KING LIVE tomorrow night and what's coming next tonight. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night a fellow who knows the region pretty well, Peter Jennings of ABC News will be our special guest on LARRY KING LIVE.

Right now it's time for a special edition of "CNN SUNDAY NIGHT" and my good friend will be the host. There he is, always good to see him. Wolf Blitzer is next. Wolf, carry on.


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