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Anthrax Scare

Aired October 15, 2001 - 21:00   ET



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just talked to Leader Daschle, and his office received a letter, and it had anthrax in it.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the anthrax scare hits Capitol Hill, and how worried should you be?

Joining us from Washington, the surgeon general of the United States, Dr. David Satcher. From New York, a personal story of anthrax anxiety from journalist Judith Miller, co-author of the best-selling book "Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War." Back in D.C., Senator Dianne Feinstein, members of the Select Intelligence Committee, and chairman of the Subcommittee on Technology and Terrorism. And with her, Senator Jon Kyl, also on the Select Intelligence panel, and he is the ranking Republican on the Technology and Terrorist (sic) Subcommittee.

From the latest on the ground, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tayseer Allouni of Al Jazeera, and from Dana, Qatar, a senior producer for Al Jazeera, Dana Suyyagh. Plus, an exclusive interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union. All next with your phone calls on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with the 16th surgeon general in the history of the United States, Dr. David Satcher. He comes to us from Washington. We'll start immediately with the story of the moment.

What do you make of this story of the 7-month-old baby at ABC News, Doctor?

DR. DAVID SATCHER, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Larry, I -- there is good news and bad news here, of course. I think the good news is that the child seems to be doing well and that an event which apparently started 19 or 20 days ago has not resulted in other people being apparently infected yet. So, that's good news.

We know that anthrax is not contagious, it doesn't spread from person-to-person, but we also know that we have the ability, using antibiotics, to prevent the development in people who are exposed.

So it sounds like the system there in New York City is on top this.

Obviously, I think there are ways we can continue to improve. The earlier the public health system is brought into the picture, the better it's going to be able to respond and the more effective it's going to be.

So I think we have to continue to work together. People have to continue to maintain a high level of alertness and be on guard with all of the things we have talked about in terms of what we can do to protect ourselves and others in terms how we treat suspicious mail and things like that.

But I think we have to continue to work together. There is no need for panic here, but there is a need for vigilance.

KING: Doctor -- Dr. Satcher, I was told, when inquiring about my own baby, he said Cipro can't be given to babies. They take another kind of antibiotic. Is that effective against this skin type of anthrax?

SATCHER: Well, you know, it's interesting: We like to begin with Cipro because of what we know about its effectiveness. And even though Cipro may not have been approved for babies -- and I think that's probably what you heard, because it's very difficult to test a drug like that for babies -- still you often want to begin with the drug that's most likely to be successful, but later on often you would change to another drug that is safer.


SATCHER: So even though it's not approved by FDA for that use it can be used by physicians.

KING: And what do you make of the situation with Senator Daschle on Capitol Hill today?

SATCHER: Well, it's very difficult. I mean, I think the pattern continues. Obviously, the idea here is to get a lot of publicity around these exposures. So whoever -- and I'm sure that there may be more than one person -- whoever is involved with this is targeting these attacks to high-profile people. And it therefore is intended to create a certain level of panic in the country.

I think we're doing well as a nation. We need to stay the course. We need to continue to do those things that we know are effective. We have a very strong public health infrastructure that's getting stronger. We need to make sure that people are informed as to what they can do to minimize the risk. And I think Senator Daschle did a great job in his discussion today about things that people can do to minimize the spread of this anthrax.

KING: Dr. Satcher, every day it seems that officials tell us not to worry and not to panic, and it also seems every day there's another story. How do we balance these two? I know that Mayor Giuliani said that New York has millions of people (sic) of mail a day and they only get a strange occasional case. But how do you deal with it when you're hearing of it on a daily basis?

SATCHER: I think, Larry, that it is appropriate to be concerned and I think it's appropriate to be on high alert. We've asked the public health system to be on high alert. I view the general public as a part of that system, and if the general public is not informed and aware and alert to what's going on around them, paying careful attention to things like hand washing and careful cooking of food, handling anything suspicious very carefully -- for example, as the CDC has said, if you receive an envelope that's suspicious, you don't know where it from, it's unusual in terms of its bulkiness or the number of stamps, the handwriting, then be careful about opening that. If you open an envelope and you see powder, cover it as rapidly as possible so as to minimize the exposure, try to close that area off, and call in the people who are specifically trained to handle these situations.

I think that's just being alert. That's just playing as a member of the team.

KING: Dr. Satcher, the president is going to ask for $1.5 billion to fight bioterrorism, and the study done last year but released today by the American College of Emergency Physicians, they say the nation is ill-equipped to handle a widespread biological disaster. Do you agree with that report?

SATCHER: Well, I think we have never seen a widespread biological disaster, so it's like playing a team that you've never played before. I think we have a public health infrastructure that's grown significantly in the last three years, especially with the stockpiles at CDC, with the health alert network that's developing between CDC and the states and the local health departments. But we have never seen a major attack, a biological attack. There has never been in the world a major anthrax attack. There have been attempts, so we haven't seen it. Hopefully, we never will. I think everybody has to be on alert to try to prevent that from happening.

But if it does happen, I think what we're trying to do is to make sure we have enough antibiotics to respond effectively. We know what they can do if they're delivered on time. CDC is prepared to deliver them on time. You have very strong local health departments in a place like New York City. There are some places where the local health department is not that strong.

So we have a right to be concerned. We have a right to continue to strengthen the public health infrastructure.

KING: A few more things. You were director of the CDC, right?

SATCHER: Yes, for almost five years. Yes.

KING: What is the role of the surgeon general in this process?

SATCHER: Well, the role of the surgeon general is two-fold. First, the surgeon general is responsible for communicating directly with the American people about issues related to their health and the health of their families. We often do that with reports from the surgeon general. But in a situation like this one, it's, the responsibility is to communicate on a regular basis.

The second role of the surgeon general is to command the Commission Corps. We have a corps of almost 6,000 public health professionals in the Commission Corps. They are physicians, nurses, veterinarians, research scientists and others. We sent several of them to New York City with the disaster that occurred there. We send them wherever there's an emergency threatening the lives of the American people. We work with the local health department.

So surgeon general commands the Commission Corps and the surgeon general communicates directly with the American people.

KING: Do you talk to the president a lot about this?

SATCHER: Well, Secretary Thompson is the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, and he talks directly with the president. By the way, Secretary Thompson, I think, is doing a great job of commanding not only the CDC and the surgeon general, but also NIH and FDA, where research and regulation of drugs take place. So the whole department is involved in this. And certainly, CDC is a critical player here with the surgeon general's role, to help with the communication and to command the Commission Corps.

KING: Thank you, Dr. Satcher.

SATCHER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: I'll call on you again, appreciate it. Dr. David Satcher, the surgeon general of the United States.

Judith Miller, senior writer at "The New York Times," author of a best-selling book, had quite a scare the other day, wrote a brilliant piece about it in Sunday's "New York Times." She's next. Don't go away.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I would say without equivocation our staff feels very confident about their circumstances, and they've been given assurance, as Dr. Ishold (ph) and Mr. Nichols (ph) have just noted, that there is no immediate danger for them, given the fact that we were able to respond as quickly and as -- as directly as we could.



KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Judith Miller, who has been helping us over the past five weeks report on this story, and who has written a best-selling book, way up on the list, "Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War." But now, she becomes part of the story herself with a scare herself.

So, Judith, take it from the top. What happened? JUDITH MILLER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, it was a Friday, which is always a busy day at "The New York Times," because you are closing not only your daily stories, but your weekend stories. And I was on the phone talking to my colleague about the story we were going to write that day. He was in Washington.

And I was going through the mail, kind of only paying attention to every kind of -- just seeing what the first sentence would say of the letter. And I wasn't really paying enough attention, because the one envelope that I opened had no return address. And it was postmarked Florida. That wouldn't have struck me as odd, but the lack of a return address might have.

But I opened it anyway because I was busy talking about the article. And out came this powder, a little bit on my face, on my hands, and on my clothes. And even that, Larry, did not alarm me. It is disconcerting, but it didn't alarm me until I got a call just then from someone who informed me about what had happened at NBC. And, at that point, I realized that the letter that I had gotten might actually be similar to the letter that had been sent to NBC. And that point, I became more concerned.

KING: What's the first thing you did?

MILLER: I called our security department. And I saw that my colleagues noticed that something was wrong, because I had kind of cried out. And I told them to stay away, because one of them had rushed to me. And I wanted her to take off my headset so that I didn't have to touch it. That is a very human reaction, to rush to the aid of a colleague. In a potential biological situation, it is the wrong reaction. And I think we all learned a great deal at "The New York Times" from this, fortunately, false alarm.

KING: What did it turn out to be?

MILLER: Well, we don't know yet exactly what it was. We do know that the preliminary testing suggests that it is not anthrax. And my initial instinct, when I smelled that smell, was baby powder. And I don't know whether we will be told exactly what it is, but I think what it is not is more important in that situation.

KING: Were you put on antibiotics?

MILLER: Yes, I was, and 30 of my colleagues around me, as a precautionary measure. And we were told to stay on it until the final tests get back to us, which should be in a couple of days. I can tell you, Larry, it is a lot easier to cover this area than to actually be a part of the story. And I...

KING: I'll bet.

MILLER: This was a very unusual situation for me.

KING: Is the building now back to normal? They cleared it out for a while, didn't they? MILLER: Yes. We were able to, of course, proceed with our work by the end of the day. Part of the building is still -- part of the newsroom is not exactly open as yet. But we hope that that will be rectified very soon.

KING: What do you make of this, Judith? First, the story of this -- suddenly, here, we got tonight ABC, a baby, NBC, Senator Daschle, Judith Miller with maybe baby powder. What's going on?

MILLER: Well, I think that someone or some group is trying to engage in bioterrorism.

In bioterrorism, you don't necessarily have to kill a lot of people. You just have to spread terror. And that is what whoever is doing this is trying to do. And I think part of the obligation I feel is to help people understand what's going on, and to let you know that you shouldn't panic if this happens to you, and that whatever it is inside that letter can be treated with antibiotics. And you will be safe. And if we all kind of watch our mail a little more carefully and be careful and attentive, I think this period of anxiety will pass, just as other threats to us have passed.

KING: You wrote yesterday -- writing about the paper's response: "Had 'The Times" planned for such an emergency, I would have been isolated from my colleagues, the potentially deadly letter as well. But like most organizations, we have not conducted any drills for biological or chemical attack. Maybe there was anthrax in my letter or maybe there wasn't. It almost doesn't matter. What did matter was, this was an inexpensive way to spread maximum terror without having to solve the technical challenge of spreading the disease widely."

In other words, if you can accomplish the feeling of terror, the perception is reality.

MILLER: That's right. And that is when the terrorist wins. And that is why, before September 11, when these hoaxes, as they were called, occurred -- and they did occur in New York -- we did not report them. We ignored them. And that way, there wasn't the kind of publicity and attention to them that might encourage copycats.

Now, after September 11, obviously, that is not possible. And that helps whoever is doing this.

KING: So this is a catch-22. The person doing it wants to see the story on television. And television and print is going to run the story because it is a story.

MILLER: Exactly. Exactly.

And so, at some point, this kind of cycle has to break. And I think it will when...

KING: When what?

MILLER: .. most news organizations start, as they are now doing, screening their mail. And just as we learned how to combat the threat of package bombs and mail bombs, we will learn how to deal with this.

I mean, the amazing thing about writing my book and learning what my colleagues and I had to learn in order to write our book is that there is so much you can do to protect yourself and the country against this form of terrorism. So, ultimately, I have learned a lot both from my own experience on Friday and from spending the past three years learning about biological weapons.

KING: And have written a terrific book.

A basically simple question: Is anthrax easy to deliver?

MILLER: No, it is not easy to deliver or we would see even more of this.

I mean, the fact of the matter is, to get anthrax spores to aerosolize -- that is, to evaporate into the air -- and to spray over someone, as talcum powder does, you have to have extremely small particles, sizes one to five microns, which is very, very tiny. And that turns out to be quite difficult to do, fortunately.

Now, the know-how is spreading. And we always have to worry about the former Soviet scientists and others who know how to do this, make sure that they don't link up with people like Osama bin Laden, who would like to have such weapons. But I think the fact that this is technically more difficult than people understand is actually another cause for not panicking in this situation. I think most of what we are going to see will be false alarms. And that is, fortunately, very good for all of us.

KING: Should we be concerned that Iraq may be able to do that?

MILLER: I have always been concerned about Iraq. I share the concern about Iraq's biological weapons program. I found it very curious indeed that Saddam Hussein was willing to give up information about his nuclear program and his chemical program, but not the biological weapons.

He had anthrax, botulinum toxin, other agents, perhaps, as well. And he fought very, very hard to keep weapons inspectors out and to safeguard that technology. So it is something I am concerned about.

KING: Mikhail Gorbachev is going to be with us toward end of the program. We taped it a little earlier this afternoon. And he said that Russia is doing all it can to get rid of its biological weaponry. Do you accept?

MILLER: I think Russia is doing many things to get rid of it. But the one important thing that Russia could do is to open up its military labs to international scientists, to foreign scientists, to be more open about what's going on in those facilities, because a country that cheated on the biological weapons treaty in the way that that one did I think has a very special obligation to reassure people now that it is no longer engaged in such heinous activity.

This is -- it is really incumbent now upon Russia to prove to the world that it wants to be part of the solution, rather than the problem. And I don't think they have done enough quite yet to establish that confidence in the rest of the world.

KING: We asked Dr. Satcher about the American College of Emergency Physicians' annual meeting report. It's going to be published, released today that the nation is ill-equipped to handle a widespread biological disaster. The government keeps saying we are prepared. Where do you come down?

MILLER: Well, I think we are underprepared. I think that is not just a kind of happy medium or unhappy medium, Larry. I think it is the fact.

The Clinton administration did a great deal. They started down the road of civil defense and preparedness. They did not do enough. But they started to train doctors, nurses and pharmacists to recognize these disease. We have seen, from what's happened in New York, that anthrax is not easy to identify and diagnosis.

And we need better diagnostic equipment. We don't have that yet. We need better vaccines and more of them. We don't have that yet. I think that Tommy Thompson has done a great deal to expedite the civil defense. But he himself kind of, I think, sent a message that was perhaps overly optimistic when he said that we are prepared. We are not.

On the other hand, can we expect a full-fledged biological incident involving mass casualties and mass terror? I don't think so. I think what we have seen from the anthrax incident so far is that this is going to be fairly localized and involve relatively few people, and that means that we will have enough vaccine at the moment.

KING: Two distinguished senators are going to join us. We're going to keep Judith Miller, who has comments and may have some questions of them as well. They're senators Feinstein and Kyl.

As we go to break, the president discusses the possibility of bin Laden being involved in this.


BUSH: There may be some possible link. We have no hard data yet. But it's clear that Mr. Bin Laden is a man who's an evil man. He and his spokesmen are openly bragging about how they hope to inflict more pain on our country.

So we -- we're watching every, every piece of evidence. We're making sure that we connect any dots that we have to find out who's doing this.

And I wouldn't put it past him, but we don't have hard evidence yet.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Remaining with us is Judith Miller, author of the runaway best-seller "Germs," co-author, with two excellent journalists working with her, all with "The New York Times." Joining us now in Washington, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, member of the Select Intelligence Committee and chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information. Also in Washington, Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, member of the Select Intelligence Committee, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee subcommittee as well, same subcommittee that Ms. Feinstein chairs.

Senator Feinstein, what do you make of what Judith Miller has just said in regard to how prepared we are or are not?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Oh, I happen to agree with her. I don't think we're nearly as prepared as we should be. Having said that, I think we really have to be stout-hearted. I think this is a time for everyone to be alert.

The one thing that concerns me is that all of the press in a sense drives a kind of fear, which of course is what the purpose of the terrorists really is. And I don't think we ought to succumb to that. I think we ought to be angry. I think we ought to be very militant in going about our work and keeping things going, and I wouldn't give one inch to them.

I agree with Judith that the suspicions appear that there is some link between these four anthrax events. And Senator Kyl -- and I'm sure he'll talk about this in a minute -- and I have been working for some years now, on this subcommittee and holding hearings. And I think we want to take strong action to -- to prevent our nation from continuing as the sieve that it is today.

We held a hearing on Friday and learned that 16 out of the 19 terrorists responsible for the World Trade Center demolition actually had legitimate visas to come into this country. So we need to repair our structure.

KING: Senator Kyl, would you agree, and then, by the way, Judith, you can have a question, if you wish, as well?

MILLER: Thank you.

KING: Senator Kyl.

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: Larry, I totally agree. As Senator Feinstein said, we've been holding hearings now for seven years on this subject in one way or another warning of the possibility of a biological or chemical kind of attack, as well as other kinds of terrorist attacks on the United States. And it is also true that there are many things that we as a government could do to prevent this kind of thing.

Of the 19 terrorists responsible for the events on September 11, for example, as Senator Feinstein said, there are six that the Immigration & Naturalization Service has no record of. They probably came into the country illegally.

But others presumably came here legally. Some stayed here illegally, however. There was one student, Hani Hanjour, enrolled in a language course that he never bothered to attend.

And so, we need a way to track the people who we invite to come into this country to make sure that they are here legally and lawfully, doing what they said they were going to do when they got their visa granted to them. And for those who aren't here properly or in order to screen those who aren't properly have the means to do that.

A lot more that we could do to make our country safe.

KING: Judith, do you have a question for the senators?

MILLER: Well, I think I'd like to ask both of them whether or not they think the Congress has spent enough money, because something that the Clinton administration kept complaining about was that their requests kept getting cut on Capitol Hill. Is that a fair criticism?


KING: Senator Feinstein, do you want to go first?

FEINSTEIN: Again, it depends on what request you're talking about. I mean, we have doubled Border Patrol. We have shown that in fact we can enforce our borders. The southwest border is much less porous than it was when I came to the Senate. We have a very porous northern border. And we have a system that has basically been open to virtually anyone to come to our country. This is one of the problems.

I mean, Jon and I have been talking. We have a visa waiver program that from 29 countries, 23 million people a year come in with their visa waived. Nobody knows whether they go home or whether they stay. We have about 7 million who are in the nonimmigrant category: tourists, students, green cards. And about 4 million of them disappear. And then we have about 300 million people going back-and- forth across borders.

So in terms of making the country work to be protective against these kinds of things, we have a way to go. And I want to thank you, Jon. I misspoke. It actually was 13 out of the 19 terrorists that had valid visas.

KING: Senator, do you take precautions yourself?

FEINSTEIN: Do I -- Jon, do you want to answer that?

KING: Yes, do you watch -- Senator Kyl. Senator Kyl and then -- do you watch your mail, Senator Kyl? Do you have a gas mask at home? Do you have Cipro on hand?

KYL: No, and I think, Larry, it's an important point that you raise with your question. As a country, we need to be prepared, and our first responders need to have the equipment on-hand, our medical people have to have the vaccines, all of the things to quickly treat people that might be affected. But as individuals, we probably have a better chance of being struck by lightning or hit by a car, God forbid, than we do being the victim of one of these terrorist attacks.

And so no, a gas mask, for example, is not indicated. You wouldn't get the right kind to protect you against -- and you wouldn't wear it all the time anyway.

Yes, we have protocols in our congressional offices on the opening of mail. Fortunately, we were able to catch something today, Senator Daschle's staff was, and you just hope this works.

All Americans can use simple precautions, for example, in opening their mail, in reporting anything suspicious to law enforcement. We can all play a part in this. We have to be careful as individuals.

But as Senator Feinstein said, we shouldn't disrupt the way we lead our lives simply because of this general threat.

KING: Let me get a call. Great Springs, Virginia, hello. Great Springs, are you there?

CALLER: Are you there?

KING: Great Springs, are you there?

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Hi. I have a two-part question for Judith.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: The first part is, can we do away with junk mail? The second part is, how can anthrax, can it be transferred through money?

KING: Through money. Judith.

MILLER: Well, junk mail, I think, may be a little bit difficult to have opened after what's happened with all of these incidents. I would think that that might be something that would, an industry that would be in serious trouble after the past couple of weeks now.

KING: And can you transmit through a dollar bill?

MILLER: Well, if you coat something with anthrax and people touch it, theoretically, I suppose you could, yes. But...

KING: Do...

MILLER: ... it wouldn't -- it wouldn't be -- you'd have to have it fairly recently.

I mean, you couldn't -- these things -- this is really hard to do, OK? KING: Yes. It ain't easy.

MILLER: And I think the listener ought to listen to that. It is not easy to make this.

KING: Detroit, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I have a few questions for Judith Miller


KING: Do you want to speak up?

CALLER: ... regarding the letter that she received.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I'm wondering if the letter was handwritten, if it was written on a computer. What was the size of the envelope? And what was the content of letter? What did it say?

MILLER: Well, the letter was handwritten. And there was no return address. And there were misspellings. It was a threatening letter. And "The Times" has decided that I should only tell you that it contained a threat to the Sears Tower and to President Bush. It was a crude letter. That is all I can say.

KING: All right, how seriously, Senator Feinstein, should we take a letter like that?

FEINSTEIN: Oh, I would take things...

KING: All precautions, double precautions?

FEINSTEIN: I would take threats seriously in this day and age.

Again, I don't think you change what you are doing. I know my office, we get -- well, last week we had 22,000 pieces of mail. I come from a big state. A lot of people write. About 4,700 were original letters. So each one is being right now opened with great caution. The Senate is taking some precautions in terms of screening mail before the individual Senate offices get it.

But I think the thing that concerns me the most is that this kind of terror is successful in putting fear into Americans. And that is what it is designed to do. And we cannot let it succeed. I am very hopeful that they will be able to find the strain of anthrax, that they will be able to trace it, that we will be able to get some results as to who the perpetrators are. And I have got to believe at this stage that there is some connection between all of these.

KING: Senator Kyl, are you going to give the president the money he wants?

KYL: Absolutely. We have already passed one bill. We have given him authorization. We will undoubtedly give him all of the money and all of the authority -- at least, I hope we give him the authority he asked for. We have now got, in both the House and Senate, an anti-terrorism legal package that the attorney general requested. We just have to work out the differences between those two bodies. And I'm very hopeful that we will act quickly on this.

Remember, we will continue to live with some degree of fear for what has occurred already, and a lot of things we probably haven't seen yet, until we are able to get these terrorists. And that means we can't rest until we are done.

KING: All right.

Judith, unlike a war, which has a VE Day, a VJ Day, an Armistice Day, is this ever going to end? I mean, there is always a threat, right?

MILLER: Well, I think, Larry, we will never totally eliminate the threat of terrorism.

But I think this current campaign, this war against terror, will end, but it will take a long, long time, as President Bush has said. And Americans must not only be resolute; I think they have to be patient. And they can't expect quick fixes, because, after Osama bin Laden and his associates are taken care of and hopefully brought to justice, there will be the much harder work of rooting out the kinds of cells that may or may not be responsible for sending such letters. I think we don't yet know who is doing this.

KING: Judith, I am going to ask you to remain with us for a couple of minutes. We are going to talk to folks at Al Jazeera in Iraq -- rather, in Pakistan. And I want to get your thoughts with regard to the way they are handling the press. They are, of course, in Afghanistan.

And we will thank Senators Kyl and Feinstein and tell you that we will be inviting them back, as they have been on top of this scene and covering stuff like this for a long time.

As we go to break, here is Senator Daschle today. Watch.


DASCHLE: It is very important to me -- I have talked to Senator Lott, to many of my colleagues -- the Senate and this institution will not stop. We will not cease our business. We will continue to work. I'm confident that we can put in place practices that will minimize the exposure to any danger our staff may have to endure.




DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: One has to keep in mind the basic. And the basic is that thousands of people were killed in the United States by terrorist attacks. More are threatened every day. And any time that the Department of Defense is engaged, from the air or on the ground, we have to know that there are going to be people hurt.

Overwhelming, they will be people who we intend to hurt. On occasion, there will be people hurt that one wished had not been. I don't think there is any way in the world to avoid that.


KING: A new name that has burst upon the scene worldwide is Al Jazeera. It is a broadcast network seen throughout the Mideast. And we welcome from Doha, Qatar: Dana Suyyagh.

Am I pronouncing that right, Dana -- Suyyagh?


KING: OK. And Judith Miller remains with us from New York. We are unable to connect with Kabul. So we apologize for that. But we are going to hold Dana with us. And Dana is a senior producer.

Condoleezza Rice did an interview with your network. Is that correct?

SUYYAGH: Yes, she did -- tonight, actually, a few hours ago.

KING: What did she say that you think might strike home in your region of the world?

SUYYAGH: I think she particularly spoke to our region of the world today, because this is first time that any American official has given us an interview since we were accused of being biased -- or somewhat biased by the American administration.

She spoke mainly about her concerns as far public perception here in the Middle East would be of the American war on terror, as it calls it. She also spoke a little about Iraq and the need to allow the public -- the international investigators back into Iraq. She said the eyes still remain on Iraq at this point. She also spoke a little about the Palestinian issue and addressed Arab concerns about that.

KING: Your network broadcasts -- it takes a view that anything that comes in, you put on, right? If it comes in from bin Laden, you put it on. If it comes in from the Taliban, you put it on -- it if comes in from the northern areas of Afghanistan. Is that role of your network: to express the views of all?

SUYYAGH: We try to have a balancing act, yes. We try and put every view out there possible on the air, yes. We do. We do.

KING: Judith Miller of "The New York Times" is with us. And she is in New York.

Now, Judith, there's been a lot of complaints about this network putting stuff on. Where do you come down? Should we be listening to the other side?

MILLER: Well, of course we should.

But I would have a question for Dana...

KING: Sure.

MILLER: ... which is, we are told that your network not only broadcast Osama bin Laden's speech after the American bombings of Afghanistan started, but that you got that tape several hours before, several hours earlier, before the bombing began, and you did not put it on the air. You were under instructions, we were told, to wait until the American bombing began. Is that so? And if so, why did you permit yourself to be used in that way?

SUYYAGH: No, that was absolutely incorrect. We actually aired it -- the only person who saw it prior to our airing it was our correspondent in Kabul, who I understand we're unable to connect with at this moment.

But he did see it. He told us about it. We aired it. We saw it pretty much when everybody else saw it. He was aware of it. And we trust our correspondent to that point. But, no, we did not get it prior to that, no.


KING: Do you have another question for Dana? Go ahead.

MILLER: Do you call a people who blow themselves up on the West Bank and in Gaza and in Israel martyrs, because that's another thing we have heard about your network?

SUYYAGH: Yes, we do. We do. Only since...

MILLER: And do you think that's objective or...


MILLER: And do you think that's objective reporting? Did you call the people who blew the Twin Towers up martyrs?

SUYYAGH: No. We never called them martyrs. That is an act of terror. We go with international opinion on that one, yes.

MILLER: I see...

SUYYAGH: The West Bank is a different issue altogether.

MILLER: So terrorists who kill people, civilians in Israel, are martyrs, and terrorists who kill Americans are terrorists? Is that your news standard?

SUYYAGH: I'm sorry I didn't hear the last sentence.

MILLER: I said is that your news standard -- to distinguish between the people who kill Americans and people who kill Israelis -- one are martyrs and the other is terrorists?

SUYYAGH: No. We have a standing policy that people who are martyrs are people who give themselves for a cause.

What happened in New York and Washington, we believe, was causeless.

MILLER: Oh, I -- you don't think they had a cause even though your network has broadcast Osama bin Laden's appeal?

And his explanation of why he was doing it.

SUYYAGH: I'm sorry I can't...

KING: All right. We are having a difficulty here...

SUYYAGH: I really cannot hear you very well.

KING: Dana, I think what she's is trying to point out is -- do you make -- you equivocate between if an Israeli is killed and an American is killed -- if an Israeli is killed, it's a martyr. If an American is killed, it's a terrorist.

SUYYAGH: It's all in the cause. I think that's what we're trying to do, is differentiate between the causes.

We still think that the acts of New York and Washington were terror attacks because they were causeless.

KING: I see, so you look at it that way.

Now I understand we can check in quickly with Kabul with Tayseer Allouni. He is the correspondent.

Is he -- can you can hear us now, Mr. Allouni.

TAYSEER ALLOUNI, AL JAZEERA CORRESPONDENT (through translator): Yes, we can hear you, Larry. Go ahead.

KING: Can you tell us the latest from where you're at on any things that occurred today?

ALLOUNI (through translator): In the last 24 hours, there was air bombardment which included targets in the area surrounding the capital, Kabul, and inside the capital itself.

The airport was bombarded and one of the suburbs in the west of Kabul was bombarded. Another suburb in the north of the capital was bombarded. A military position north of Kabul was hit as well.

KING: And how have...

ALLOUNI (through translator): Later, the air raids ended about two to three hours ago. The main results we can tell you about, is because of the these air raids is cut off the electricity power completely from Kabul. (CROSSTALK)

KING: I've got to interrupt you because we have a time problem here. But Kabul is without electricity tonight.

Dana, we'll be calling on you again. We'll be calling again with Kabul. We're sorry we had to go to that so late.

And, Judith Miller, we don't know what to say about what you had go through, but you continue on top of the reporting scene and your book is amazing. And we thank you for being with us and look forward to your return.

MILLER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Judith Miller.

When we come back, the former president of Russia, the former chairman of the Soviet Union and the Nobel Prize winner, Mikhail Gorbachev, is next.

Don't go away.


KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE the former president of Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Nobel Prize winner, a frequent guest on this program. It's always good to see him.

Mr. President, what can you tell us about Russia and the manufacture of anthrax and this whole question of this new method of war that we fear so much in the West? How involved is Russia in this?

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, FORMER PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Well, in response to this, I can say this: Certainly the fact that anthrax has appeared must be another attempt by terrorists to impact the situation and to destabilize the country and to start panic. I think that we must not yield to panic, we must work together and interact within this coalition. Our nations should interact.

As regards the situation with respect to the manufacture of anthrax and of chemical weapons, I would like to refer to today's statement by Russian officials, the minister of public health and another official in charge of chemical weapons, it's very important what they both said, that there are no programs for the development of biological weapons in Russia, there is only research for medical purposes, similar to ones that are under way in some other countries. But all of this is undergoing rigorous control, and recent checks have confirmed this. This is the statement of the Russian public health officials.

And another official who is in charge of the implementation of the convention on the destruction of chemical weapons has said the process of the destruction of chemical weapons is under way in Russia in accordance with the international convention that was adopted at the initiative of the 41st president of the United States, George Bush, supported by the Soviet Union in my time.

Most of the chemical weapons are in our two countries. The process of the destruction of chemical weapons is under way. It is too slow. Nations should cooperation, they should not spare the money to get rid of those weapons as soon as possible, pending that (ph) should be very rigorous control, and the officials of the Russian government have said that this control is assured in Russia.

KING: How do you assess the performance thus far of President Putin? How is he doing, in your opinion?

GORBACHEV (through translator): I must say that Putin, over these recent weeks after the monstrous attacks by terrorists against New York and Washington, took a very responsible stand, and he is sticking with that position. During his meetings with Chancellor Schroeder and the prime minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair, in his conversations with President Bush, he has reaffirmed that position, and that is definitely a position of solidarity and great responsibility in uniting our efforts in fighting terrorism.

As for the political situation in Russia, today the political situation is much better than it was a few years ago, and this is because of Putin's policies.

I think, Larry, it's very important now to emphasize the following. We should do all we can in order for the anti-terrorist coalition that has emerged after these monstrous crimes of the terrorists -- that this coalition, in addition to being a coalition of solidarity with the American people, and this is very important, with the people and government of the United States, that this should also be a coalition that unites the efforts of countries that until recently had differing positions on various international issues.

So we must do our best in order to make sure that this coalition is not broken, that it is strengthened and enhanced, and that we move toward a new international order. We wasted too much time after the end of the Cold War, and perhaps that is why we are seeing all of these things today.

So we must do all we can in order to preserve this coalition and to develop it further.

KING: What, Mr. President, is the role of Russia vis-a-vis the war against terrorism? Would Russia go so far as to send troops again to Afghanistan?

GORBACHEV (through translator): No, I think that the stand taken by the president of Russia is very clear on that, and he has done that in close contact and interaction with President Bush. There will be an exchange of intelligence. There will also be understanding and support for the transportation of humanitarian cargoes and there will be all kinds of coordination. And I believe that there will also be support and assistance to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

But direct participation in (inaudible) the president of Russia has said that will not happen. Russia will not participate in the (inaudible).

KING: Do you think this war can be won?

GORBACHEV (through translator): Well, you can strike against certain centers of terrorism and you can destroy the infrastructure of terrorism, but I believe that ultimately there has to be a political solution. And therefore everything must be done in order to force the Taliban regime to hand over the criminals so that they could be brought to justice. And in that sense, I fully support the demands of the U.S. administration.

KING: The United States wants to change the 1972 ABM Treaty. Do you disagree with that position?

GORBACHEV (through translator): Well, right now I would maybe put aside these issues because the context in which we are talking is different. Those who are now insisting on these issues, they are saying, "Well, that this means that you're renouncing this or that particular position."

Well, I'll speak in different terms. We are seeing that during these events that even a country like the United States, a very powerful country, has been unprotected and that it was not able to counter this. And so the question really is, are we right when we have been talking mostly about the missile problem, whereas the dangers are with international terrorist front, the drug business, AIDS and similar challenges that we are facing.

We are, in a way, in a different world, in a world of different challenges, while we are still looking at the world based on old positions. So I would now put aside these issues and I would certainly take advantage of the proposals that the president of Russia has put forward.

If I understand him correctly, if we interpret what he has said seriously, the proposals that he has been making over these weeks, after September the 11th, means that we must have a more definite cooperation in many areas. We should strengthen this coalition and make it a partnership and then, in a way, an alliance for common security. This is the most important thing. Let us develop a strategy; we were wrong about strategy.

KING: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Always good to see you.

President Mikhail Gorbachev, the Nobel Prize winner, former president of Russia.

We'll be right back.


KING: We'll be back to tell you about tomorrow's guests. We've got an extraordinary close tonight. This rendition of this recording will be released tomorrow on an enhanced CD single. The proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross, Liberty Disaster Relief Fund. It was recorded in 1975 by Elvis Presley. Listen.



KING: Tomorrow night, Secretary of the Navy Gordon England. Aaron Brown is back in New York and he's next.




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