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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Iraq Fighting Provokes Senate Passions; Bush, Cheney Set to Face 9/11 Commission
Aired April 28, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. I'm Paula Zahn.
Tonight, the latest fighting in Iraq raises some very important questions about the war and provokes passions in the Senate.
ZAHN (voice-over): Can this really be called a cease-fire? In Fallujah, stubborn insurgents skirmish and draw pounding attacks. Are Marines ready to launch an all-out urban assault?
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our military commanders will take whatever action is necessary to secure Fallujah on behalf of the Iraqi people.
ZAHN: A new poll ask Iraqis, are you better off now than with Saddam? The results may startle you.
The president and the vice president get ready for tough questions. How will they handle tomorrow's joint appearance in front of the 9/11 Commission?
The political brawl over who did what in Vietnam hits the Senate floor and things get ugly.
ZAHN: All that ahead tonight, but, first, here are some of the headlines you need to know right now.
U.S. forces in Iraq are digging in around Najaf, but hoping for a political solution to the standoff there. The dissident Shiite cleric controlling the southern city says his forces will carry out suicide attacks if necessary.
A Spanish court official says Spain has indicted a Moroccan man on charges of helping to plan 9/11. The Interior Ministry first sought Amer Azizi in connection with the March train bombings in Madrid, but has not charged him with that.
A bill pushed by the White House to permanently lower taxes for some married couples is going on to the Senate. The House passed it today 323-95.
We're putting the fighting in Fallujah "In Focus" tonight. Officially, the cease-fire remains in effect, but the fighting has gone on all day into the night. Tonight, an American AC-130 gunship has been pounding targets in the northeastern part of the city, hitting something flammable, possibly an ammunition dump. It is the same area where U.S. troops battled it out with insurgents earlier on in the day.
Marines say the fighting flared out after an American sniper team encircled the town's railway station, which insurgents had been using to plan attacks. Time now to get view from the Marines on the ground. We are joined on the phone by major T.V. Johnson, who is with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Fallujah.
Thank you very much for joining us, sir.
MAJ. T.V. JOHNSON, U.S. MARINES CORPS: Thanks for having me, Paula.
ZAHN: Is the cease-fire over, from your perspective?
JOHNSON: Not from our perspective.
We stopped offensive operations on the 9th of April. But apparently the bad guys out there didn't get that word. They've been attacking us in various ways. And certainly in doing what we do best, we certainly responded.
ZAHN: The insurgents have now been given more time to turn over their weapons. Do you have the expectation that they'll do so or more of the same?
JOHNSON: I have faith that we are going to sit down with some more folks, perhaps a bigger group of Iraqi sheiks who can maybe wield the influence necessary to influence those individuals that we're fighting with to lay down their arms, turn in their weapons. But that is certainly guarded optimism on my part.
ZAHN: Guarded optimism. So you do have a sliver of hope there?
JOHNSON: Of course. There is a new set of individuals are being introduced, a fairly large number, who may be able to exert or influence the folks with whom we're fighting out there.
ZAHN: And to your knowledge, have any weapons been turned over in the last 48 hours or so by the insurgents?
JOHNSON: None in the last 48 or I would say -- 72 hours.
ZAHN: Which has got to be a big disappointment.
JOHNSON: It is. And maybe that is just an indicator that the folks we were negotiating with did not have influence to get those weapons turned in.
ZAHN: But if the insurgents don't give up their fight, how long do you think it would be before the U.S. military along with its coalition partners would consider an all-out offensive move here? JOHNSON: I can't begin to speculate on that. That decision would certainly be made at a much higher pay grade than mine.
ZAHN: How much concern though is there about the potential of an all-out offensive move and the impact it might have on the hearts and minds of Iraqi citizens?
JOHNSON: It would be silly to say that we didn't have concerns and we're under no illusions about the danger associated with the Al Anbar Province.
It is widely known as a Sunni stronghold and Sunnis were quite loyal to Saddam Hussein. So we're under no illusions. We think that if we are ordered to go in there, we can target the folks who need targeting through our precision weapons, through disciplined fires, and eventually get in there and just gain a toehold or a foothold so we can show the folks, the good people in Fallujah, that we're all about coming in to help you rebuild. We're not about taking your homeland or taking your city. We have got millions of dollars literally to plow into Fallujah.
ZAHN: Well, we wish you good luck as you go about this very dangerous business that you've all been assigned to. Major T.V. Johnson, thank you for bringing us up to date from Camp Fallujah.
JOHNSON: Thanks for letting me on, Paula.
ZAHN: For more now on the fighting in Fallujah today, "Christian Science Monitor" reporter Scott Peterson joins us on the phone. He's been embedded with the Marines at Camp Fallujah for the past week.
Scott, Major Johnson just told us that the cease-fire is still in effect in spite the evidence of heavy firepower we see playing out on our television screens tonight. What do you make of it?
SCOTT PETERSON, "CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR": Well, I think the cease-fire concept is really -- is really no more than a construct.
Both sides are using it to say that negotiations are under way, that there are kind of diplomatic threads that are still worth pursuing. We have for example the joint police and U.S. Marine patrols which are due to begin by the end of this week, probably on Friday. That is supposed to happen. We also have got on the diplomatic front also a group of sheiks and tribal leaders from around Iraq who are gathering apparently tomorrow in Fallujah.
But, of course, it is not clear who they will talk to either on the American side or on the Iraqi side or if they will even talk to the Americans.
ZAHN: So the Marines say they are doing very specific targeting of their strikes. Is there any way to gauge the effectiveness of those strikes so far?
PETERSON: Well, so far there doesn't seem it be a way to quantify it. What we can say, however, is what they haven't been doing. And what they appear not to have been doing so far has been afflicting very many civilian casualties, nor have they been taking too many casualties on their own side. So I think by the measure for the Marines, they are actually doing quite well in the sense that they have knocked out specific groups of insurgents in recent days without kind of any casualties on their own side.
And by the same token, overnight, when we have this very remarkable shelling overnight and bombing of insurgent positions overnight that blew up a couple of weapons caches, that was really a critical example, I think, of sending a message to the insurgents. They know -- the Marines' intelligence seems to be getting better to the point where they know precisely where they need to drop these, you know, various type of weaponry.
That said, during the fighting today, which was really fierce, in a lot of ways, it was a lot more kind of hand-to-hand combat, if you will, not at all very much distance. The Marines resorted in one case to dropping at least one 500-pound bomb in order to clear out one set of insurgents. Now, that is certainly a very heavy weapon and also one of the least precise in the Marine arsenal.
ZAHN: Scott, you spend a fair amount of time not only talking with Marines, but Marines and their superiors. Is there an expectation that ultimately there will be some kind of large-scale offensive action in Fallujah?
PETERSON: I think that what is there is an expectation of is that that kind of all-out assault needs to be avoided at all costs. I think that the last few days have really shown to many of the commanders here, and I think also the message is getting through to Washington also, the political and military ramifications of going for it and basically entering Fallujah with what some commanders have called bone-crushing force.
They certainly know they can do that. But they certainly know that the price would be very high, and not just in blood, but in the kind of political anti-American sentiment that would be fanned and fueled by that kind of activity. So they are looking for ways to avoid that. And in the voice of -- in the words of one commander who I spoke to just in the last hour and a half, he said, destroying this city to save it is not an option.
ZAHN: Scott Peterson of "The Christian Science Monitor," thank you for your reporting tonight.
PETERSON: Thank you.
ZAHN: And as those attacks continue in Fallujah, a new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll finds Iraqis conflicted over the war and the way the U.S.-led coalition is running the country. Remarkably, the poll shows very difference between the views of men and women, young and old.
Among the findings, 71 percent of Iraqis see the U.S. as occupiers as opposed to liberators. That is up from 43 percent this time last year. The survey was conducted before the most recent round of violence in Fallujah.
Here to make us sense of the polls, Professor Fawaz Gerges, Mideast analyst at Sarah Lawrence College; and in Baltimore tonight, James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute.
Glad to have you both of you with us tonight.
Gentlemen, let's take look at one of the findings of the poll which really illustrates the daily struggle being experienced by Iraqis; 85 percent said U.S. forces are not trying at all or trying only a little to restore basic services; 67 percent said forces are not trying at all to keep Iraqis from being killed.
Fawaz, why do you think there is this widespread perception on the part of the Iraqis that the Americans aren't there to help them?
FAWAZ GERGES, SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE: I think, Paula, in the eyes of the Iraqis, there exists a huge gap between their expectations and the reality on the ground.
Many Iraqis believe that the most powerful nation in the world, the United States, should have been able to swiftly improve their basic services and transform their infrastructure.
ZAHN: You've got to concede, in some neighborhoods, the power grid is working better than it did before the war ever started.
GERGES: Those high expectations unfortunately crashed, crashed, at the rocks of reality, the reality that the Bush administration did not really appreciate the gravity the situation on the ground in Iraq.
That is, the economic sanctions in the 1980s did a great deal of harm to the infrastructure. The administration did not have a comprehensive plan for reconstruction, bureaucratic rigidity. And of course the administration dismantled several institutions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi security forces were basically sent home. So you have a major gap between Iraqis' expectations of what the United States could and should have done and the reality on the ground.
ZAHN: But, James, in spite of the negative feelings toward the U.S. presence in Iraq, take a look at this next poll finding; 53 percent said they would feel less safe if the coalition left. Help us understand what some might view as completely contradictory feelings here.
JAMES ZOGBY, PRESIDENT, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: Well, there is contradictory feelings. Actually, there is deep ambivalence.
They're glad Saddam is gone, but they feel like they're now under occupation and they're not happy with it. And I think actually, this all goes back to the very roots of this conflict, how it began.
I did a television program one of the Arab cables that I have a program on that actually brought a student audience in the United States together with a student audience in Baghdad after the war back in May of last year. They raised then the issue of security. They raised then the issue of services. They then said why are you only protecting the petroleum ministry and everything else is being looted? You didn't come to liberate us. If you did, you would have paid attention.
And I think what we were hearing from Arabs throughout the region and hearing from people in Iraq at the time was, this wasn't just a military conflict. It really was from the beginning -- what are your plans for the people of Iraq? We had more than a year now solve this and frankly haven't paid the attention. The security situation has gotten out of control. It is very difficult, therefore, to do some of the work that needs to be done.
But, from the beginning, we didn't pay attention and we're paying the price in attitudes. Expectations -- Fawaz is right -- expectations were high. But we didn't pay attention to those and we're paying the price for
ZAHN: All right, let's go on to look at this next statistic. We mentioned 53 percent said they feel less safe if the U.S. got out of there. But 69 percent said their life and their family's lives would be in danger if they were actually seen to be cooperating with the coalition. Is there any way to reverse these numbers?
GERGES: Paula, what the numbers tell us, that American commanders, American military commanders in Iraq confirm this particular trend, and they say fewer and fewer Iraqis are willing to collaborate and work with the U.S.-led occupation.
And two points here. The first point, Paula, is that it seems insurgent attacks have been very successful in deterring many Iraqis to collaborate with the U.S.-led occupation. And the second point, as the poll shows, that is, support, public support for the American occupation has been eroding considerably and many Iraqis are dissatisfied and they are not willing to risk their lives and walk with the coalition forces.
ZAHN: Although let's close off with this number, James; 51 percent said that they're better off now than they were before the war. What a lot of American taxpayers are wondering, they understand I think the difficulty of daily life for Iraqis. On the other hand, I think maybe they're looking a sense of gratitude for getting rid of beastly dictators.
ZAHN: Are they the get it?
ZOGBY: Don't expect it anytime soon. In fact, the longer the occupation remains in its present form, I think the worst these numbers are going to become.
It is interesting that that number was there, but some of the other numbers in the poll, Paula, show that they're less satisfied with the services they're receiving. They're less satisfied with the security that they feel. In other words, there is a deep ambivalence. I don't think we have addressed correctly the ambivalence. They feel we're occupying them and they want a change in their daily life.
They want to see this window that we have opened lead them somewhere and they're not seeing it. I think that we did not have the plan in place. We have not been able to implement the plan that we had. We keep changing course. And, right now, people are frustrated and concerned. They're feeling less secure. At the same time, the dictator is gone. They're happy about that. But I think that we have to address some very specific questions and I don't think we're in a position to do it now.
ZAHN: All right, we're going to leave it there.
Thanks to Middle East analyst Fawaz Gerges, James Zogby of the Arab American institute.
ZAHN: You can get the full text of the Iraq poll results by going to CNN.com. You'll find tomorrow's portion of the poll there, too, as soon as it is released.
It is one of the most popular T.V. channels in the Middle East, but is Al-Jazeera covering the news or stirring up anti-American feeling? The U.S. says it is time for the channel to tone down its reporting.
John Kerry's military record and his stance on the war in Iraq inspire some ugly battles in the Senate today.
And they were the titans of Wall Street, saluted for their business marks. Were they visionaries or just plain greedy?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Americans don't like excuses. And perhaps they will know that a major Iraqi uprising might get triggered by invading Fallujah. and that is something they don't need on their hands now since the handover of power to the Iraqis is right around the corner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: A decidedly different view of the fighting in Fallujah from Al-Jazeera. The Arab news channel which is often critical of the U.S. is overwhelmingly popular in the Arab speaking world. The channel claims 35 million viewers every day. According to that, CNN/"USA Today" Gallup poll of Iraqis, it is the third most watched channel on any given week.
The poll also shows 35 percent of viewers think Al-Jazeera's coverage is unbiased. But the White House has a different view of things. Secretary of State Powell has told the government of Qatar, where the news channel is based, that its coverage fuels hatred of the U.S. Does Al-Jazeera slant its reporting or is it showing the Arab world what the U.S. doesn't want it to see?
Let's ask Hafez Al-Mirazi. He is the Washington bureau chief of Al-Jazeera television. And Matthew Felling, media director of the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs. They both join us from Washington tonight.
ZAHN: Mr. Al-Mirazi, I'm going to start with you this evening.
The U.S. State Department is saying, among everything, among other things, that your reporting is grossly inaccurate and cites these examples, one, that the U.S. reportedly is using cluster bombs in heavily populated areas, reports that the U.S. is purposefully attacking mosques and reports that children have been killed and women cut to pieces in Fallujah. What -do you -- how you to respond to the government's claims?
HAFEZ AL-MIRAZI, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, AL-JAZEERA: Well, first of all, of course, you have to get the whole context in which these things have been said or allegedly been said on Al-Jazeera, whether Iraqis or residents of Fallujah told our reporters on camera their account of what they think is going on over there or our reporters did in their own used that and talked about that.
Using of cluster weapons, I don't think that U.S. military officials would deny using cluster weapons. But whether the U.S. is deliberately killing civilians, I doubt it very much that we would go to that extent. U.S. using weapons in residential areas, U.N. secretary-general just today warned against using such weapons and military in residential areas in Fallujah.
But, unfortunately, the whole thing, Paula, and the concern for me is not about what Al-Jazeera would have and what the disagreement with. We could always open a dialogue with the U.S. government, Al- Jazeera executives.
The problem is for the U.S. government to take a page from Arab authoritarian regimes and do the same, talk to the government of Qatar in order to crack down an independent and free media in the same time while the U.S. government is promoting democracy and freedom in the Arab world.
ZAHN: Let's come back to that point. But, first, let Mr. Felling react to your denials that some of that coverage was skewed.
On the issue of Cluster bombs, Matthew, the truth, the U.S. government vehemently denies that it uses cluster bombs in heavily populated areas.
MATTHEW FELLING, CENTER FOR MEDIA & PUBLIC AFFAIRS: True.
And just to take one step back, it is a little bit disturbing that I have to participate on this, because, for the last two years, ever since 9/11, I've been a defender of Al-Jazeera, because while they might not practice what we consider capital-J. journalism in the United States, they do -- they have to date done a very good job of, if they run a videotape from Osama bin Laden, they will also run an uninterrupted press conference from Donald Rumsfeld.
So I do tip my hat off to them for that. But when it comes to Colin Powell -- and we're not talking about Rumsfeld here. We're talking about Colin Powell, who is respected around the world. He said that he wanted this network to reevaluate how it is saying the news. He isn't asking for censorship.
And I think that what Powell was actually saying is,if you're going to discuss cluster bombs and if you're going discuss the slicing up of children, why not give us some actual truth, instead of what the gentleman said? He's basically talking to men on the street, which makes Al-Jazeera the equivalent of the Drudge Report. And that's embarrassing.
ZAHN: Yes, what about that, Mr. Al-Mirazi? We all know that we interview people on the scene in various kinds of reporting situations. And we don't go with the information until you have two or throw confirmations of the piece of information. I know you said that some of the stuff is taken out of context.
AL-MIRAZI: When Al-Jazeera puts footage of civilian casualties in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq, I don't think that anybody is denying the authenticity of this footage of civilian casualty.
I don't even see CNN carrying the same kind of footage of civilian casualty. But we in many chances and always on a daily basis we make sure that we will get the U.S. military point of view, the U.S. point of view. General Kimmitt, Ambassador Paul Bremer has been on Al-Jazeera less than two days ago. And we are sure open to any kind of correction.
If the U.S. say, no, that is not true, we will immediately put a U.S. spokesman on air to say that.
ZAHN: OK, Matthew Felling, you say it is not your understanding that the U.S. government wants to tell the Al-Jazeera reporters what to say. What is it, then, you think they need to improve?
FELLING: Well, I think that they need to improve their news- gathering techniques.
I think that they need to actually have facts. And if they do think -- believe that these things happened, then they can find pieces of a cluster bomb on the streets of Fallujah. And they can -- they will -- they have shown no hesitancy to show very graphic footage. And if we are shooting civilians on purpose, I'm sure they have footage of that.
But they have not come out with it. And he says that they are not trying to push people's buttons. On CNN, the promotional materials are always pictures of the Capitol. They're always pictures of Aaron Brown or Paula Zahn. But on Al-Jazeera, when they lead into a television show, they will lead with just-months old footage of bodies in the streets.
ZAHN: So what you're saying is, you accuse them of being intentionally inflammatory?
FELLING: Oh, yes.
ZAHN: To turn public opinion against Americans?
FELLING: Yes, I do not think that when we discussed the Afghanistan war, we led off every news segment with the visual of the planes hitting the Pentagon or the planes hitting the World Trade Center.
I think that that is just pushing button and that that doesn't lead the people to think with their head when they're watching the news. It just gets them angry and it gets them very suggestive when it's dangerous, especially when we're trying to win hearts and minds over there.
ZAHN: We're going to end the debate there. Matthew Felling, Hafez Al-Mirazi, thank you for both
ZAHN: We have unfortunately got to take a commercial break. Let me see if we can come back to you on the other side. We have got to take a break here.
Coming up, children confronting the reality of war. We're going to hear what life is like for the sons and daughters of Americans fighting in Iraq.
And the president and vice president face the 9/11 Commission tomorrow. I'll talk with a woman who lost her mother on 9/11 about what she would ask the president.
ZAHN: As the U.S. casualty count rises in Iraq, so too does the anxiety among American families whose loved ones are serving in the war zone. Just ask their children.
Thelma Gutierrez looks at the emotional toll on kids in the crossfire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father, Staff Sergeant Kapp Blue (ph), went to Afghanistan, Iraq. And how he's going to back to Iraq for a second time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father is Staff Sergeant Jesse Fuentes (ph). He's going to Iraq soon for the second time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad's name is Brathel (ph) Higgins. He's in Iraq right now.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're fathers sacrificing for their country. Their children will tell you they're sacrificing, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He missed all of our birthdays.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was not there for my birthday or Christmas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or mine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel we're sacrificing because we're risking our fathers' lives and they can't let us go through all this stuff without them helping us. They should at least try to help support us.
GUTIERREZ: We talked with sons and daughters at the Camp Pendleton Marine base in Oceanside, California.
(on camera): When is the last time that you saw your father?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably last month.
GUTIERREZ: Do you remember when he said to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you guys a lot. I'll miss you.
GUTIERREZ (voice-over): For the most part, their days are normal. They play like other kids.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to do your spelling words
GUTIERREZ: And they have homework.
But children of the military cannot escape a nagging reality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I always think that he might get killed.
GUTIERREZ: A horrible thought that never goes away.
NICOLE HIGGINS, MOTHER: It used to be, my kids never worried about the news. Sometimes, they come and they come in and they actually sit down and watch the news, only because they know where their daddy is.
GUTIERREZ: What are your thoughts when you watch the news?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To make sure that my dad -- my dad doesn't get hit or shot like that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard that a couple of dads died in Iraq.
JASMINE FUENTES, 13 YEARS OLD: It is hard when you concentrate at school because it is like you're worrying about your dad.
GUTIERREZ: It is tough on mom, too.
SHEILA KEPLER, MOTHER: It is not easy. It is really hard.
GUTIERREZ: Sheila Kepler says the war has taken an emotional toll on her kids. They've changed.
S. KEPLER: They whine that the two little ones, they cry a lot and they can't sleep and they're just moody and the older one is mouthy. They get out of control.
CHRIS KEPLER, 13 YEARS OLD: It is hard because he's not there to support us and try to teach us things we need to do, like -- you need a father role model. Without a father role model, life is incomplete.
GUTIERREZ: What does it feel like when your dad is away?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It feels like almost I'm alone.
GUTIERREZ: And so until their fathers come home for good, they say this is what they hang on to.
C. KEPLER: I look at a picture and you know last time you saw him may be the last time you ever see him.
GUTIERREZ: Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Oceanside, California.
ZAHN: Criticism of Senator John Kerry sparks a war of words in the Senate. Is partisan politics spinning out of control?
They were tops in the world of power and money, lots of it. We'll going to look back at four CEOs who made the '90s roar.
And tomorrow from the war in Iraq, the race for the White House, we'll be talking with former presidential candidate General Wesley Clark.
ZAHN: We're back. Here are some of headlines you need to know at the bottom of the hour. U.S. retaliatory attacks on rebel targets in Fallujah, Iraq continue. An AC-130 gunship showered flames and sparks tonight as it hit an area where rebels fought American troops earlier today.
The Supreme Court has heard arguments on whether the president can designate American citizens suspected of terrorism enemy combatants and detain them indefinitely without charge or trial. Some justices were skeptical of the White House, lawyers claim that the constitution gives the president that power as commander in chief.
And the judge in the Kobe Bryant sex assault trial expects the NBA star to enter a plea at the next hearing of the case, that is scheduled for may 10th through the 12th. If a plea is entered then, by law, the trial has to take place by no later than November.
The increasingly hostile presidential campaign spilled on to the Senate floor today. In unusually strident language, one Democratic Senator went off members of the Bush administration who have questioned John Kerry's military credentials. And then a Republican attacked Kerry for his war in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MAJORITY WHIP: If Senator Kerry, in particular, believes he has a solution to the difficult challenges facing our troops, and diplomats in Iraq, let him offer his plan. Let's see the Kerry plan on Iraq, rather than simply second guessing and criticizing.
SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG, (D) NEW JERSEY: We know who the chicken hawks are. They talk tough on national defense and military issues. They cast dispersion on others, when it was their turn to serve, where were they? A.W.O.L. That's where they were. And now the chicken hawks are cackling about Senator John Kerry. And the lead chicken hawk against Senator Kerry is the vice president of the United States. Vice president Cheney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: So why is the Senate getting mired in presidential politics? Let's ask the men at the center of today's sparring match, Senators Frank Lautenberg and Mitch McConnell join us from the Senate gallery. Welcome to both of you.
Senator McConnell, why did you think it was necessary to inject yourself into this presidential campaign mudslinging?
MCCONNELL: Well, I don't know it is mudslinging to talk about the records of the two candidates. And what I was simply asking the question, if Senator Kerry has a problem with the war in Iraq, I know he had some problems with it, he voted first to authorize the resolution and then voted against funding for the troops to fight the war, what is his plan in Iraq? I think he ought to lay it out for the American people.
ZAHN: Senator Lautenberg, your staff members tell us you were on a mission today. You came armed with your -- even your own graphics to display before your fellow colleagues in the Senate. Do you think the Senate chambers are the appropriate place to have these kinds of debates?
LAUTENBERG: I think the Senate chamber is absolutely an appropriate place. As long as it is being driven into the public debate. And that's what we have been hearing lately is how discredited John Kerry's background and character should be. And I'm sick and tired of that.
I stood up to defend not my friend John Kerry so much, but as a good Senator, as someone who is running for the presidency of the United States, and I didn't want to see his character assailed while these people who are so bold in their criticism of the conduct of these two brave men are sitting there unwilling to have done their share when it was their time to do so.
MCCONNELL: Paula, if I may...
ZAHN: What about that?
MCCONNELL: If I may reply, no one is attacking the president hasn't, the vice president hasn't, no one in the the Senate has attacked Senator Kerry's war record, that isn't not the issue. So did President Bush.
The issue is, what is his voting record. And he has voted against a number of weapons systems over the years that are extremely important to fighting this war. And more recently in the fall of 2000, voted to authorize the president to conduct the war in Iraq and then later voted not to fund the soldiers who were fighting it.
Those are his votes, those are issue. That is not a personal attack, but a legitimate debate about one of the most important issues confronting the country today and that's the war in Iraq.
ZAHN: First, let's talk about the voting record here. Making the accusation that John Kerry voted down some defense systems. Isn't it true that Mr. Cheney also wanted cut out of the budget?
LAUTENBERG: Yes, I think that's absolutely true. And the fact of the matter is that if you isolate part of a vote and you say, well, he voted against supporting our troops, John Kerry who volunteered for hazardous duty and pulled one of his crewmen out of the waters, the man was drowning, he was the only who to jump in and save him, and then they wanted to talk about what he's voted against?
Listen, he voted for the war. And John Kerry, as I sit here, has never voted against supporting our troops. And I don't care how many assertions of that kind insinuations are made. John Kerry has...
ZAHN: What about the second vote that Senator McConnell brought up. The $87 billion expense.
MCCONNELL: It is a fact that John Kerry vote against the $87 billion supplemental upon when which the soldiers operating in Iraq right now. I'm not saying it is an unpatriotic thing. I'm just saying he voted against it. And the war in Iraq is an extraordinarily important issue. ZAHN: We have to leave it there this evening. Thank you, both, for joining us.
MCCONNELL: Thank you.
LAUTENBERG: Thank you.
ZAHN: Appreciate it.
No cameras, no microphones, to oath when president and vice president Cheney answer questions about 9/11. We'll find out how they are getting ready.
And Jack Welch may be the most successful CEO ever. But his personal life is another story. Tales of success and excess from a new become on some top executives who once ruled Wall Street.
ZAHN: Tomorrow morning in the oval office the 9/11 commission will question President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Senior White House correspondent John King joins us now with a look at how the president and the vice president have been getting ready for that. Good evening, John.
JOHN KING, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Paula. A high stakes day tomorrow in great drama. We're told over the past several days both men, President Bush and Vice President Cheney have set aside several hours of time for preparation. Among the thins they looked at, intelligence reports from the summer of 2001, just before the attacks. We also were told that they have looked at the testimony of other witnesses to the 9/11 Commission including the highly critical testimony of this white house from former counterterrorisms czar, Richard Clarke. In the president's case, he met with the National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Chief of Staff Andy Card with him throughout the day on 9/11 and with lawyer, White House Counsel Albert Gonzales, reviewing what happened that day and what he knew before that tragic day.
One of great controversies, of course, is the vice president and the vice president will be questioned together some critics saying they made that deal with the commission so they can keep their story straight, the president's attorney says not so. He says the critics need to view this as a fact finding session. Not some courtroom drama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERTO GONZALEZ, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, again people look at this in terms of what is unusual, what is usual. This is not a criminal investigation. This is not someone that, you know, before a grand jury. The purpose of these private sessions is for the president and the vice president to provide information to the commission and that's what they're going to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: All 10 members are expected to be on hand. A few staff members to take notes as well. Paula, the session will be held in the Oval Office and extraordinary setting on this extraordinary day no set timetable. Though, most White House officials expect the session to go two, two and a half hours. It begins 9:30 in the morning.
ZAHN: And there is pressure coming from family members of victims of 9/11 that would like to see documents or some kind of transcript of what the president says tomorrow. And historians also say it would be invaluable as a record. Do you think you'll ever see a reason why the White House would make this public?
KING: There would be no transcript, no stenographer in the room and no recording. Some of the comments will be characterized in the report. Whether they are direct quoted still remains to be seen. The White House say, this is the best deal the commission could get. It would be a dangerous legal precedent if there was a transcript. It also says much of the discussion, Paula, will be about highly classified intelligence.
ZAHN: All right. John King, thanks so much for the update from the White House tonight.
KING: Thank you very much.
ZAHN: You can be certain families of the victims of 9/11 will be watching closely for news on whether president and vice presidents say tomorrow. Joining us now from Palo Alto, California, is Carie Lemack. She lost her mother on 9/11 and is the co-founder of Families of September 11th.
Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
CARIE LEMACK, CO-FOUNDER, FAMILIES OF SEPTEMBER 11TH: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: First of all, what question do you think is the key question that should be asked of President Bush tomorrow?
LEMACK: There are a lot of questions to be asked. I'm very grateful and thankful that President Bush and vice president Cheney have removed the time limit for their conversation with the commission members. I think that's fantastic. I think first and foremost what I am really concerned about is what is President Bush's plan for making America safer? We had a report come out just last week from the FAA that came through the subcommittee of aviation in the House that American airports are not any safer than they were the day my mom was in a plane and hijacked. I'm curious. We have seen there a lot of changes yet to be made. 2 percent of cargo is checked in America instead of all the cargo coming in to the United States. We have heard that the CIA and FBI are still having some trouble talking with each other sharing information. We see that they're the same people and the same jobs that they were on September 11th, in control. I'm wondering President Bush what changes are you going to make to ensure that we have the right systems in place to protect Americans? ZAHN: When the president testifies tomorrow, it will not be under oath, it will not be in public. That was the case when Bill Clinton testified as well, and Al Gore. Does that bother you at all?
LEMACK: I think this president has told us he has nothing to hide. And I think the best way you can do that is to come out and shed light on what he knows and what he did. I think that he can show America that he has nothing hide by coming forward and speaking publicly.
ZAHN: But Bill Clinton and Al Gore also did not testify in public. Nor under oath.
LEMACK: That's true. I would welcome them to come public as well. They also testified separately in this case that president and vice president have chosen to go together against the commission's wishes. I would employ all of them to become public. Because the only way to make America safer is if we know what problems we had. If you can't shed light on the problems, there is no way to fix them.
ZAHN: In closing to tonight, Carie, I guess one of the things I've been struck by as I watch 9/11 family members react to the 9/11 Commission hearings is how they come at this from so many different angles and so much partisanship has been exposed. Were you surprised by that?
LEMACK: I think if I learned anything in the two and a half years since my mother was murdered, it is everybody grieves differently. And you can't judge their grief, and you can't predict what their grief will entail. I think deep down inside, everybody wants to make sure this will not happen again. That is not a partisan issue at all. We might come at it in different I was. But everybody wants to know what were the problems and how can we fix it? What are the answers so we can make sure our pain is not transferred on to another set of terrorism victims' families.
ZAHN: Carie Lemack, thank you for joining us tonight.
LEMACK: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: Dennis Kozlowski was one of the capitalist kings of the '90s, but that was before corruption crack down hit Wall Street. The changing fortunes of celebrity CEO's, next.
ZAHN: Lately the abbreviation of CEO has come to stand for more than chief executive officer. It turned into shorthand for the men and women at the center of headline grabbing cases of corporate fraud and greed. A new book looks at the legacies of four of America's most lionized CEOs. In a moment we'll meet the author.
First we put the spotlight on the executives he profiles.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: Called the captain of capitalism Jack Welch spent 20 years as GE's CEO, transforming the $13 billion appliance and light bulb maker into a $480 million conglomerate. After he was done, Welch was worth more than $900 million. The lavish lifestyle he embraced as a CEO continued into retirement. The details became public when his second wife sued for divorce. GE was footing much of the bill for an $80,000 a month Manhattan apartment. VIP seats at sporting events. Membership at four country clubs even his dry cleaning.
Now his second marriage is over and so are most of the perks. Like his role model Welch, Dennis Kozlowski lived on the edge. Barons (ph) called him Tyco's Titan for putting a lean profitable machine. Then came his corporate corruption trial and the world learned there was nothing lean about the way Kozlowski lived. From his lavish mansions to that extravagant birthday party.
Meet Al Dunlap (ph), whose zeal for turning around companies was legendary. The mere announcement in 1996 of his takeover of flagging appliance company Sunbeam drove the stock up by 60 percent. Yet two years later Dunlap was ousted, thousands of Sunbeam workers were jobless, shareholders were out $4.4 billion and Sunbeam went bankrupt. The SEC accused Dunlap of cooking the books to show a profit. He agreed to pay a half a million dollar fine and paying $15 million to help settle a class action lawsuit against the company. Many say that barely made a dent in his estimated $100 million fortune.
Decorations and Revlon chairman Ron Perlman's New York office say it all. Happiness is positive cash flow. And no guts, no glory. Mottoes that have helped make this self-made mogul worth an estimated $8.5 billion. Yet his unlucky love life, four marriages and three divorces chopped away more than $90 million of that fortune.
Joining us now, the author of "Testosterone Inc., Tales of CEOs Gone Wild," Christopher Baron. Welcome. How many of these men we just mentioned are trying to sue you over some of the details in this book?
CHRISTOPHER BYRON, AUTHOR, "TESTOSTERONE, INC.": None yet, fortunately. None yet.
ZAHN: OK. Give us your headline...
BYRON: We hope it stays that way.
ZAHN: On Dennis Kozlowski.
BYRON: Serial womanizer.
ZAHN: That's nothing new. We heard that allegation for a while.
BYRON: Took the company money, spent it on women other than his wife, $2 million party in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for a girlfriend who wasn't at that that time married to him. They got married on the eve of the party. The headlines really don't tell you as much as the back story because this is like a life-long thing with all of these guys. It's a sense of entitlement.
ZAHN: Move on to Al Dunlap.
BYRON: Worst case of arrested development you can imagine. This is a guy who began adult life, essentially threatening to cannibalize his wife because he wondered what human flesh tasted like. Then went through his entire career threatening his employees the same way.
ZAHN: Ronald Perlman?
BYRON: Junk bond king of wall street. Got so distracted by chasing women that basically all the businesses he owned collapsed on him.
ZAHN: Mr. Perlman would not comment on this book. I should mention that Mr. Kozlowski, we tried to contact him and got no answer.
BYRON: He's an elusive guy these days.
ZAHN: On to Jack Welch, headline on his career.
BYRON: Jack Welch is probably the most complicated man of the group. When you get into the world of finance and financial engineering, he was the hero of the nineties and there was good reason for it. The question really is whether or not that was all there was to this man. He had a back story to his life that when you look at it more carefully you start to wonder is this the kind of a guy I want to be investing my money with.
ZAHN: This is what Jack Welch's attorney has said in response to some of what you have written in this book. "In all my years of practice and law, I've never have seen a publication that paid so little attention to the truth, based on my preliminary review. I now count 41 factual statements that are completely false."
ZAHN: Your response?
BYRON: Well, I guess he could have told us that when he first got a hold of these -- the manuscript before we...you know what he did, he looked at a copy of this thing that wasn't fact checked. He has not looked at the complete -- that statement that he made does not apply to this book. There are no errors in this book. I think he looked at a bootleg early draft of this thing. Maybe they got it from my garbage, I don't know.
ZAHN: Did you go out of your way? And I think this is the criticism of the book, just to overtly belittle all these men?
BYRON: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
ZAHN: You didn't find much positive in any of their careers.
BYRON: No, I didn't, you're right. You're right. I didn't. They didn't have any trouble. They covered that ground fine themselves. What we were looking for in this book is the missing connective tissue that they sort of left out of their profiles. And I think that the public had a right to know who these people are. And what this book does is it sort of fills in the missing notes to the symphony of these four men.
ZAHN: Thanks to Christopher Byron for stopping by tonight, author of "Testosterone, Inc." We're going to take a short break.
ZAHN: That wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thank you for being with us. Tomorrow, former presidential candidate Wesley Clark will join us. Plus coverage of the president's and vice president's 9/11 testimony. Hope you'll join us then. Have a great night. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next.
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