Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS


Interview With Tony Blair, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Richard Shelby, Michael Beschloss, Hugh Sidey

Aired November 6, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, President Bush warns that Osama bin Laden wants evil weapons and tells allies, sympathy isn't enough. We have an exclusive one-on-one with British prime minister Tony Blair.

Then from Washington, Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of subcommittee on technology, terrorism, government information, and a member of the select intelligence panel. And also in D.C., the vice chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Shelby.

Plus, perspective from presidential historian Michael Beschloss in New York, and in Washington, Hugh Sidey, who writes the presidency column for "TIME" magazine. And later, opera star Denyce Graves sings "American Anthem."

KING: It's a pleasure to welcome to "LARRY KING LIVE" a return visit for the prime minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair. He comes to us from 10 Downing Street.

A lot of things to cover tonight, Mr. Prime Minister. But first, we knew how close you were to President Clinton. How has the friendship developed with President Bush?

BLAIR: I think, partly because of the tough situation we're in, you know, it's developed very fast and actually very well. And I have a huge respect for President Bush. I think he's performed magnificently during this crisis.

And it's really tough. It requires real qualities of leadership, and I believe he's shown them.

KING: Were you surprised at all?

BLAIR: No, I wasn't surprised. I mean, I've met him. Obviously, we spent some time together at Camp David, which was very useful because we really got to know each other there.

And then we did a summit in Italy, the G-7, G-8 summit, where we spent a couple of days together. You know, so the relationship was developing.

But I really have found, since the 11th of September events, that he's been someone that it's been a real pleasure to work with -- very, very focused, very determined and, you know, someone who genuinely involves other people, you know, listens carefully, but takes the decisions and takes them well.

KING: You're going to meet with him again tomorrow. Do you talk frequently?

BLAIR: Yes, we do. We talk, I guess, well, at the moment, several times a week by telephone. And you know, it's necessary, the whole time, with something like this, to keep closely in contact with key allies and partners so that we're working things through together, because one of the almost unique features of this crisis is how many different facets it's got.

I mean, you've got the situation in Afghanistan. You've got the war against terrorism more generally. You've got humanitarian issues. You've got issues to do with international relations, relations of the Arab world between Europe and American. You know, all of that has to be dealt with.

You know, therefore, it's important that we stay closely in touch, and we do.

KING: This morning, the president met with President Chirac, and out of that meeting, he said, he pledged to keep relentless military pressure on Osama bin Laden. He also said, "This is an evil man; I wouldn't put it past him to develop evil weapons, to try to harm civilization as we know it." Do you share that view?

BLAIR: Absolutely, I mean, there's no doubt at all, as I constantly say to people, if they could have killed not 6,000 innocent people but 60,000 or even 600,000, they would. And therefore, you know, when people ask us why we are pursuing this action in Afghanistan and this action against terrorism, I say, just go back to what happened on the 11th of September. Remember how we felt. Remember what we thought about it. Remember the grief and the agony of people.

And then realize that these people would do it again -- and worse -- if they could, and therefore, we have no alternative but to take the action we're doing and see it through till the end.

KING: Where were you that day?

BLAIR: I was literally just about to give a speech. In fact, I was about to address our trade union congress. And it's one of those events, obviously, where you will never forget where you were and what you were doing at the time.

And I just watched with a sense of shock and disbelief, frankly.

KING: Did you know that there were that many Britishers (sic) in that building?

BLAIR: We didn't know, Larry, for sure. But I mean, it was obvious, because it was a major financial center, there would be British people there. And in fact, the numbers of British people killed make it the worst terrorist instant, in terms of British people, that there's been. KING: All right, now, some other bases. Last week, you visited Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and the Gaza Strip. Last weekend, you hosted talks with European leaders from Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands. How is the coalition going?

BLAIR: Well, I think it's very strong. In fact, I think it's remarkably strong, and you can see that from the pledge by Germany today, for example, of troops, by the fact that the French president was there with President Bush in solidarity today in Washington. Certainly I found a real understanding of the need for action against international terrorism, outrage of what had happened on the 11th of September and, with the European leaders that I met here on Downing Street on Sunday night, a total determination that we would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the U.S. in seeing this thing through.

I mean, I think that people have really got hold of the fact that this was an action that took place -- the events of the 11th of September -- took place in the United States of America but was aimed at civilized values and the civilized world everywhere. And therefore, it's a fight for all of us.

And I'm under no illusion about this. This is not a fight that Britain could stay out of, even if we wanted to. It involves all of us and all people who believe in the same values of freedom and tolerance and respect for other people and a peaceful way of life. For all those reasons, it's important that we're involved.

And I think people understand that very clearly.

Now, of course, in certain parts of the Arab world and the Muslim world, there's a hesitation about the bombing campaign -- will we achieve our objectives and so on. All that's natural.

But I found no hesitation whatever on the essential issues of condemnation of the 11th of September and the need to take action.

KING: Is there a decline in support in Great Britain and other parts of Europe over the continuous bombing?

BLAIR: No, I think that what happens at certain stages of any conflict like this is that, before it begins, in the aftermath of the events that provoked the action, then there's a great deal of shock and anger and people want us to take action.

Then the action begins, and then -- you know, if I can be very frank with you about it -- people want very quick results. And people are obviously concerned because there is no easy way of fighting a war and taking military action. There's no way that you engage in conflict without difficult and harmful things happening.

And it's at this point in time that we need to steady people, we need to say, "Look, let's go back and go through the argument again as to why it's happening, why we have to do this, why we have to see it through and why we have to see through what is happening in Afghanistan," not just for the peace of mind of our own citizens but to free people in Afghanistan from one of the most wretched and despised and oppressive regimes anywhere in the world.

KING: It is not easy, though, to change the nature of people who want results yesterday, is it?

BLAIR: No, that's part of politics, I guess. But I mean, you know, for us, as people in positions of leadership, I think we've just got to explain patiently to people, "Yes, it can take time, but it's necessary to do." We don't end it until our objectives are met in full. It requires resolve and determination, and it also requires some understanding that we need to win, not just the military action, but to win people's minds as well. You know, we need to win, in a sense, the peace afterward, too.

We need to be making sure that, as a result of the action we've taken, the world -- not just our own countries -- but the world is a safer and a better place.

KING: Since war is war, as they say, do you agree with the president's decision to continue right on during Ramadan?

BLAIR: Yes, I do. And one thing is for sure: The Taliban won't stop during Ramadan, neither will bin Laden.

KING: Is this a conflict on, kind of, multiple fronts, where you can win militarily and lose diplomatically? Is this a thin line you're carrying?

BLAIR: Yes, I think, Larry, what is important is that we understand that the military action is one part of this. We've also got to take care with the humanitarian issues there in Afghanistan at the moment, which is why we're making a major effort out there, despite the obstruction the Taliban are giving rise to the entire time in the way that we're trying to get food into Afghanistan.

We also need to make sure that our diplomatic coalition is strong and secure, that we're helping countries like Pakistan that have taken a very brave decision and the right decision to back us during this.

I think we've also got to, you know, recast our relationships with some of the Arab and Muslim world, and I think there's an increasing recognition in that world that, for example, those people who are moderates and who follow the true spirit and religion of Islam have to take on the extremists that are trying to abuse Islam for political ends.

I think we've also got to address issues like the Middle East peace process, which is of the context for the way that much of the Arab world views this conflict.

So I think you're right. It's got to be -- obviously, the military action has got to be successful. We pursue it. We make sure it is successful.

But there is a whole wider set of dimensions to this that we need to take account of as well. KING: Are you going to ask the president to make more of the European countries involved in this? One British official told the Independent that the more people that are invited to partake, the more of a stake they have.

BLAIR: The president is already doing this, really. And I think you saw today, as I said earlier, with the announcement of the troops that Germany is committing, that the Europeans really have to -- in a sense, want to be involved.

Now, I mean, there's a limit to what people can do. The bulk of it, obviously, is carried by the U.S. That's as it's bound to be.

But I think there is a real desire on the part of other Europeans to be involved as much as possible. But it's something I know that the Americans take very seriously, and of course, you've got Europeans, many European countries involved in all aspects of planning.

KING: We'll be right back with Prime Minister Tony Blair from 10 Downing Street in London.

I'm Larry King. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Mr. Prime Minister, how much farther do we go with this? Do we go to Iraq? Do we expand?

BLAIR: As we've said constantly, the military action is focused on Afghanistan. And we act throughout, as we have done in Afghanistan, on the basis of evidence.

But it's important that we realize there are, in a sense, really two phases to this. One is to make sure that we shut down that Osama bin Laden-Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan and prevent the regime from sheltering and aiding them, and then we deal with international terrorism in all its forms in different ways -- how it's financed; how they manage to acquire weapons; how they move across borders; how they operate. And this requires, again, close consultation and deliberation with allies and then a proper plan to deal with it.

KING: Biological: Are you concerned about it in Great Britain?

BLAIR: I think everyone is concerned. And it's a very difficult issue, this, because, from a government perspective, you've got to try and take all measures you can to guard against it. On the other hand, you don't want to alarm people.

And one of the things that's most important in these circumstances is that, insofar as possible, people lead normal lives. Part of the reason the terrorists act as they do is not just to cause devastation and death by particular terrorist acts; it's to create a climate of fear in which people are worried about going about their normal business. Then business itself suffers. People don't go out. They don't travel. And then the terrorist, almost quite apart from the actual terrorist act, gains some benefit for his aims as a result of those activities, or lack of activities, by people.

So, what's important, I think, is that, you know, yes, we take whatever measures we possibly can to guard against any of these threats, but that, insofar as possible, we lead normal lives, because that -- every day we're going out about our normal business, we're helping defeat the terrorists.

KING: Your foreign secretary calls bin Laden "paranoid and psychotic." That's in today's Times of London. If that's true, how do you fight someone like that?

BLAIR: Well, you defeat them. I mean, you can't negotiate with them. I mean, this is just a situation in which you've got somebody there who, as you can see from the video evidence that he puts out, his actual words -- this is a man who talks about killing all Jews; about, you know, eliminating the state of Israel; about killing Christians or Americans who oppose what he stands for. He talks about effectively making Taliban states of every Arab or Muslim country. You don't negotiate with that kind; you just defeat them.

KING: Since Al Qaeda...

BLAIR: ... the whole of the network.

KING: It's being said, Mr. Prime Minister, that Al Qaeda will do anything. Do you fear a nuclear entrance into this? Do you think they have access?

BLAIR: The truth is, we know perfectly well they will acquire whatever capability they have. We do not know they have such capability, but that is one reason, as some of us said right at the very outset, that we have to take action and shut the whole of that terrorist network down. I mean eliminate it, eradicate it.

KING: How about Muslims? I know that a poll in Great Britain of Muslims living in Great Britain are not in support -- 70 percent are not in support of the action. What do you say to Muslims around the world when one of their own is doing something but they're not?

BLAIR: Well, yes, it's difficult, partly because of the way sometimes this can be played in the media and partly because of the difficulties that Muslims have experienced.

But we've lived in Britain with terrorism, for example in Northern Ireland, over a long period of time. Now, when these terrorists commit a terrorist act, when, for example, a Protestant gunman goes out and kills a Catholic just because they're a Catholic, we don't call them Christian terrorists. Certainly, they don't represent the Christianity that I believe in.

And I think there is genuine sense of revulsion amongst the vast majority of Muslims -- even if they've hesitations about the bombing campaign -- there is a revulsion amongst the vast majority of what bin Laden has done and at what he represents.

And, you know, he no more represents the true spirit and teachings of the Koran than, as I say, the person who calls themselves a Protestant who goes out and kills a Catholic on the streets of Belfast.

So, you know, I think what we need to do in this situation is to work with the Muslim community, explain why it is we're taking this action. I mean, we're not taking this action against bin Laden or Al Qaeda because the people involved are Muslims. We're taking action against them because they're terrorists, and I think people understand that and get that when explain it them.

So, all the time, I think, Larry, at the same as we're taking the action, we go out, we communicate with people, we explain to them why it is we've got to do as we're doing and get rid of some of these misconceptions that bin Laden and others want to put forward.

KING: Many in the Arab world think the West is weighted too much in favor of Israel. What are your -- how do you respond to that -- in the conflict with the Palestinians?

BLAIR: I mean, I personally don't think that that is justified as a criticism, but I understand why the criticism is made.

And what people need to know is that we are determined, if we possibly can, to move the Middle East peace process forward. I mean, it is a tragedy what is happening there. And, you know, as I saw myself when I was out in Israel and in the Gaza Strip last week, you know, it is a desperately serious situation, and it does overlay the whole of the relationship between the Arab world and the West. And so it's important that we deal with it in its own terms, but also for that reason, too.

KING: Now, what about the mass humanitarian crisis? We're going to have winter coming. We've got refugees. What's the world's responsibility?

BLAIR: The world's responsibility is to make sure that the money is there, which it is -- we've pledged something like $700 million worth of humanitarian help -- and the organization is there to deliver that aid. And, you know, the U.N. is putting a special effort into this. America, Britain, Europe, Japan, countries across the world are contributing to that.

And we've got to make sure that we do two things: First, to ensure that the refugees that are leaving Afghanistan or are by the borders of Afghanistan are properly fed and clothed. And then the second task, which I think in a sense is more difficult, is that we get the food and the humanitarian aid into Afghanistan.

And never forget one thing: Incidentally, there were 4.5 million refugees on the move in Afghanistan before the 11th of September. The humanitarian crisis may be more acute today, but it was there before the 11th of September. And there, in part, is the result of the oppression that the Taliban regime. So I think what we've got to do is make sure we're doing everything we can to get food and aid and help inside Afghanistan to the people that need it.

KING: Probably silly and frivolous, but maybe you want to respond. The foreign minister of Taliban wants to challenge you and Mr. Bush to come to a specified place and meet Mr. Omar and see who runs.


BLAIR: Well, that would be interesting.

KING: You said there's no negotiating with those people. Does that mean out and out you would not, if the Taliban offered, "Come sit down with us," no?

BLAIR: No, because they know what they've got to do. There's not a negotiation over it. They know perfectly well -- I mean, we said right from the very beginning that Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden responsible for the 11th of September. Now, you only have to listen to what bin Laden has said since the 11th of September to realize that. The Taliban know that perfectly well.

Indeed, our information is, Larry, that effectively the Taliban regime and the Al Qaeda network have virtually merged now. I mean, their forces are the same; probably their military structures are virtually the same. So, you know, there's no negotiating with them. They yield up the Al Qaeda terrorists, the network, bin Laden, and they could do it if they wanted to do it.

And, you know, when people ask us about the action that we've taken, we waited weeks from the 11th of September. Now, George Bush could have taken action straightaway, but he didn't. He waited to give them the chance to respond. We were going to behave in a decent and civilized way. We were going to wait and see whether they responded to the call to yield up the people responsible. And they've got no intention of doing that. And that's why we're in the conflict we're in. It's going to have to be sorted out in a way that it is being sorted out now.

KING: Post the Taliban, do you have your questions about the Northern Alliance or what kind of government's going to be there?

BLAIR: Well, that's a good point. I think the important thing is to make sure that it's a broadbased government. And that means including not merely the Northern Alliance, which tends to be very much from the tribes of the North, but also includes the Pashtun element, which is the majority element in Afghanistan.

Now, it's important we make sure, therefore, that in any post- Taliban Afghan government that we are, you know, bringing together all those various groupings. And that matters for all of us, it matters for stability in Afghanistan and in the region. And of course, it also matters because of the drug trade. I mean, 90 percent of the heroin on British streets comes from Afghanistan. So it matters, you know, for all sorts of different reasons.

KING: Two other quick things. Any significance to that, is that poppy you're wearing?

BLAIR: Yes, this is for Remembrance Day, where we remember the soldiers that gave their lives in the World War.

KING: And is this that day in England?

BLAIR: Not today. We build up to the day. We have a special service on Remembrance Sunday, which is this Sunday. And in the days leading up to it, then people tend to wear these poppies as a mark of respect, and they give it to nations and to the organizations that help and those people that are still the victims and living and their relatives and so on.

KING: And, finally...

BLAIR: It's a very, very moving occasion.

KING: And finally, is little Leo -- your little boy's a year now, right?

BLAIR: He's 18 months.

KING: Eighteen months. I got one that age and one two and a half. Are they going to grow up in a safe world?

BLAIR: I think they're going to grow up in a different world, and it's our job to make it safer for them.

And you know, what I always think about our children who are growing up is that they will have greater possibilities of wealth and in all the things that technology can give them and achieve for them, and yet, the world is also a more dangerous place because of nuclear weapons, because of environmental challenges and because problems in one part of the world very rarely stay in that part of the world anymore.

So, I guess, they've got the challenge to live out and grow up in a far better world than the world that we grew up in. But it's our job to try and make it safer and more secure for them, and that's what this is about now.

KING: Always nice seeing you. Nice having you with us, as always.

BLAIR: Thank you very much, Larry.

KING: The prime minister of Great Britain, Tony Blair. I'm Larry King. We will be right back.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. The Associated Press is estimating that Mark Warner will the new governor of Virginia. That will be a replacing a Republican, that is estimate. And CNN is estimating that Jim McGreevey will be the new governor of New Jersey. That will also be a Democrat replacing a Republican. The New York mayoral race still too close to call.

We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, in Washington, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senator Richard Shelby. They are both key members of the United States Senate.

Senator Feinstein, any comments on the remarks of Prime Minister Blair?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I think they are terrific remarks. I think Great Britain has been just as good as you can get. I think the solidarity, I think the staying power, the drive, the motivation, that the prime minister has put toward this effort has been amazing.

Today Senator Shelby and the members of our committee, intelligence, met with the intelligence committee of great Britain, and it is a very special relationship. I think he expressed the cause, simply, and deliberately, and I'm 100 percent in agreement.

KING: Senator Shelby, your thoughts.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL), SEL. INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: My thoughts are these: One, we have a unique relationship with the U.K., Great Britain. Tony Blair has been a steadfast spokesman for Britain, and also for the joint interests that we share.

Diane and I both serve on the Intelligence Committee and we have a unique relationship, in that field, with the British and it goes back many, many years. And it manifests itself in many other ways.

KING: All right, Senator Feinstein, your subcommittee had a hearing today, titled "Germs, Toxins, and Terror, the New Threat to America."

I want to show you a clip here of you questioning Tim Caruso of the FBI -- watch.


FEINSTEIN: How many labs handle anthrax in the United States?

TIM CARUSO, DEP. ASST. DIR., COUNTER TERRORIS, FBI: We do not know that at this time.

FEINSTEIN: You don't know that?

CARUSO: No, we do not. We are pressing hard to determine...

FEINSTEIN: Could you possibly tell me why do you not know that?

CARUSO: The research -- the research capabilities of -- of thousands of researchers is...

FEINSTEIN: That is my point.

CARUSO: ... is something that we are just continuing to run down. I know it is an unsatisfactory answer, and unsatisfying to us as well.


KING: Was it unsatisfactory to you, Senator Feinstein?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think so. I think the state of the art of legislation is that this has been a very laid-back country when it comes to these things.

And frankly we have permitted a lot of things to go on, thinking we would never come to this day. Well, we are at this day, now. And the fact of the matter is that there are, according to later testimony, from the head of the microbiology association, Dr. Atlas, there are at least 500 labs in this country handling deadly toxins and pathogens.

And in my view, and I have legislation which I will introduce tomorrow, to do this, it should be illegal for an individual to possess 40 of these deadly pathogens. And a lab should be certified, should be registered as carrying out legitimate work. People working in the lab should have their backgrounds checked so that this kind of thing can't happen.

What's happened is, and what we heard today was that the FBI, at this stage, does not know where this anthrax came from.

KING: Senator Shelby, does that mean that there is more we don't know than we know?

SHELBY: I believe that to be true. I want to commend Senator Feinstein, Larry, for her leadership in this area. She asked a question, that you just showed on national television, and got a very unsatisfactory answer, because the man was honest; he didn't know. But we should know.

We should know what things are about, where they are, how deadly they are, whose got them in their possession. And I believe we will, and I hope that she will pursue her legislation, because I would certainly join with her to help her pass that in the Senate. It is good legislation.

KING: Senator Feinstein, what do you make of the president's statement today about bin Laden, that this could lead even to other types of weapons -- weapons of mass distructio?

FEINSTEIN: Well, of course, that has been the fear. Clearly, you have a group that doesn't care how many people they kill or how they do it. And so the nuclear alternative is always out there. The question is do we have enough people who understand this, who are willing to prevent this from happening. And that means people of all different faiths, all different religions, all different nationalities really coming together, I think, in an unprecedented way.

The bottom line, though, is we have to stop this from happening because it is a possibility no matter how remote, at this very minute.

KING: Senator Shelby, are they going to come together -- you going to come together with the House over the aviation security law? We don't have one now.


Two different votes.

SHELBY: Larry, I hope we will.

I know there are some differences, what the House passed, what the Senate passed. But they are going to conference and I believe what we need to do is -- most conferences end up doing -- is put our differences aside, compromise where we can, and do what's best for the security of the American people. And if we do this, we are going to get a bill and it will be a good one.

KING: Do you -- are you optimistic that that will happen?

SHELBY: I'm hopeful, Larry. I think it will happen. Now will it happen tomorrow or next week? Will it be post-Thanksgiving? I'm not sure yet.

But I believe the American people are going to demand it. They should demand it. And I believe that the Congress ultimately is going to respond to it with a strong bill.

KING: We are going to take a break and come back.

By the way, Minority Leader Trent Lott will be one of our guests tomorrow night. And still to come, Hugh Sidey (ph) and Michael Beschloss (ph) will be with us.

You are watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be back with Senators Feinstein and Shelby and maybe a phone call or two as well. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Al Qaeda operates in more than 60 nations, including some in central and eastern Europe. These terrorist groups seek to destabilize entire nations and regions. They are seeking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Given the means, our enemies would be a threat to every nation and eventually to civilization itself.



KING: We're back with Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama.

We go to Valliant, Oklahoma -- hello.

CALLER: Hello, I want to know if the American people seriously understand the consequences we'll face when bin Laden is finally captured or killed because terrorism in America and abroad is surely bound to double or triple. You know, what's our plan?

KING: Senator Feinstein, do you think it will get worse when bin Laden is gone?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I'm not so sure. Of course it could and it could not and that's one of the unknowns out there.

That doesn't mean you don't fight the fight because not to fight the fight is to ensure that it is going to happen again. I think the bin Laden/al Qaeda commitment is really to wipe out our way of life as we know it today. And they've attacked us, we haven't attacked them. So we are responding. I don't think we have a choice but to do this.

My one hope is that, somewhere along the line, the women of Afghanistan, frankly who I think are one of our greatest allies, who have suffered tremendous abuse at the hands of the Taliban -- real brutality -- will be able to come to our defense. I hope we'll be able to create the kind of safe zone that is necessary to get the kind of aid and humanitarian and food stuff aid into that country, as quickly as we possibly can.

And I think that can go a long way in the Islamic world with really carrying out our intent, in other words, this is not a battle against Islam. This is a battle against terrorism and we show you by our deeds.

KING: Senator Shelby, you want you to comment?

SHELBY: Yes, I do, Larry.

I agree with Dianne. I believe that when you are attacked like we were attacked in America by these terrorist groups, that we not only have to respond in kind, we've got to go farther. We've got to destroy these groups because just sure as we don't -- if we didn't respond, we will be hit again and again and again and we will live in fear. We can win this war and I believe we are going to, but we've got to have the resolve. We've got to have the staying power. And I believe the American people are going to back the leadership of this nation, of President Bush.

Larry: Santa Fe -- thank you. Santa Fe, New Mexico -- hello.

CALLER: Yes, I wanted to direct my question to Senator Feinstein. Senator, since our -- I'm sorry -- since our behavior abroad, which has been very shortsighted and irresponsible, has contributed at least in part to this current situation, how do you think or how would you like to see our foreign policy abroad change?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I think this: I think there is a side of the United States which is an arrogant side. And I think we need to be conscious of that. I think we need to look into our own heart and mentality as we handle other people.

I think things that we have done with the United Nations, I think with the Kyoto Protocol, I think that sometimes we tend to exert our will and not take into consideration other countries. I would hope that would change with this. And I think we are on the verge of that kind of change. I think the solidarity that we have experienced from a wide spectrum of nations, that are prepared to stand with us at a time of our need, really should establish, hopefully, a new kind of foreign policy.

There is one other thing I would like to say. We give much less to countries in need today than we did after World War II. Less than a tenth of a percent of our budget goes to humanitarian assistance across the world. I think this should change in light of the world, because the breeding ground for backwardness and for terrorism is always in poor, underdeveloped countries. And we can change that and I think we should.

KING: Senator Shelby, what do you expect to hear from the president on Thursday night when he talks about homeland security?

SHELBY: I'm hoping we are going to hear some good things, but I believe that the president's approach has been very measured. It has been telling the American people that this is going to be a long haul, that there are dangers in America, that we are working to respond to those, that we are not going to change our way of life. We are going to win this war.

And a lot of us have been meeting with Governor Tom Ridge. I believe that was a great appointment and I believe that he is going to provide the leadership in that area that we are going to need in America.

KING: Senator Shelby, also the FBI withdrew its warnings about bridges in California and western bridges in western states, saying not deemed credible. Do you think that Governor Davis made a mistake in issuing that public warning?

SHELBY: Well, I'm not going to criticize the governor of any state where he thought that he ought to warn the people of his state regarding something that was told to him about bridges, that could endanger the lives of a lot of people, because I think, what he was trying to do, he was trying to let the people know, give them the benefit of the doubt, just like a lot -- the attorney general and others have warned the American people.

KING: Thank you very much, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, and California respective -- of California, Alabama respectively, and, of course they we will be returning -- they will return often. The famed historian Michael Beschloss (ph) and "TIME" magazine endless Hugh Sidey, who has covered presidency seemingly forever. We will discuss the presidency of George Bush next. Don't go away.


KING: We discussed it with Prime Minister Blair, let's discuss it with two eminent American journalists. In New York, Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, bestselling author. His new book is, "Reaching for Glory, more of the Johnson White House tapes." -- just got my copy! -- 1964 to '65, brilliant work.

And in Washington, Hugh Sidey of "TIME" magazine, the Washington contributor author of "The Presidency Column."

Mr. Beschloss, your assessment of President George W. Bush.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, you know, Larry, sometimes it is a terrible thing, but it really sometimes takes a crisis to see what a president is made of. And we are seeing a very different George W. Bush from the one that we saw earlier this year.

Reminds me a little bit of harry truman, someone who had little foreign policy experience, a machine politician. Yet if Truman hadn't been president, he wouldn't have been there to create this strategy that won the Cold War. I think also true of Ronald Reagan, who once again, had very little international experience. But, had Reagan not been president in 1980s the Cold War might have gone on.

KING: Hugh Sidey, you have covered presidents a long, long time. Does this one surprise you?

HUGH SIDEY, "TIME" magazine: No. It really doesn't. You know, speaking of Harry Truman, Michael, he also said men don't change over the age of 50, we just see them clearer. And I think this event has helped crystalize who George W. Bush is, not only in his mind, but in our minds.

And we see that. Another thing Truman said, I believe, was that there is nothing new under the sun, it is just what we don't know. And we didn't see these parts of George W. Bush. He is a war president now. He has devoted himself, his entire office, everything to it. And that is a remarkable thing in history, I think, as Michael, you know better than I, it changes the whole world.

KING: Will you agree with that, Michael, he has become a wartime president and is that something we were not able to see because -- we were not able to see it?

BESCHLOSS: Absolutely. Hugh is totally right, which is that we see sides of these presidents in a crisis that we never saw before. One thing very important about George W. Bush that we knew before, but now we value, this is someone who, when he speaks, you know he is speaking from his gut and his heart.

When you hear him talk the way that he did to Congress, just after the attack, or probably will be talking on Thursday night, this not a president where you are thinking, who wrote the speech, who is the pollster, what is sort of. the spin. This someone who is speaking very directly. And that has a big impact on whether Americans are going to believe that he means what he says. And even more than that, what our enemies think.

KING: Hugh, what do you make of the relationship with Vice President Cheney, and the second part, the fact that Cheney has been kept low key?

SIDEY: Well, he -- these are different times, but Cheney is around, he is just in the background. I think he plays it the way he wants to play it. I don't think he has been buried under the mountain there in Virginia or any places, too long anyway. But these are extraordinary times. There is security problems.

And as a matter of fact, Larry, I commend you. Your natural genius came out again tonight, the message, not only from Tony Blair, but from the senators was, if we don't fight this war and win it now, the next terrorist act may take 50,000 people or 5 million people. You know, there was fear in this town back in the Cuban missile crisis. And it should be again.

This is terribly important and so I'm all for taking precautions. Let's not expose these people to anything more, and I think Cheney is just as strong as ever back there. He is a remarkable public servant.

KING: Hugh -- Michael, we know about patience and impatience. Do you expect the public support to continue ad infinitum?

BESCHLOSS: No, and that is one test of president's leadership. Even Franklin Roosevelt, the great war leader World War II, at certain points in 1944, when he was running for a fourth term might have lost because people were impatient. The same thing was true of Abraham Lincoln in 1864. He thought that he might not be reelected because people were wondering why the Union victory hadn't yet come.

But George W. Bush does have one advantage, and that is, we all know that this is an absolutely essential war, and that unless we fight it, we are going to be, every one of us, in great danger. And that is something that does tend to move public opinion.

KING: Hugh Sidey, we have no parallel for a domestic war as well, yet he has one. How well do you see him doing in that area?

SIDEY: Well, I think, you know, who knows? We are in unchartered waters here, Larry. There just isn't any question about it. All the other crises that I have covered in my 40 some years of this have all been of the traditional kind, where you can see the enemy, chart it, and basically the country was behind you.

There wasn't any homefront, I mean, by that battlefront at home. It was broad and we were untouched by it. I think he is up to it. So far he has proven that. I think so far we are going to have an ally in this. You see, a war is made up of many battles. And we are probably going to lose one or two along the way. Hopefully we will win most of them, but Mr. bin Laden probably will remind the American people or some of the others of his people -- the terrorists -- will remind Americans of what it is, and I think we can keep that spirit going.

KING: There were arguments that George Bush didn't have experience internationally, Michael. Is he changing that quickly?

BESCHLOSS: I think he has already changed it. Look at this as someone who, after the 11th of September, this is something presidents rarely have to do, he had to go from zero, not to 60, but to about 500, because, here this came this bullet out of the blue, he almost immediately had to decide how important is this threat? How do we respond to it? Do we go to war? What kind of war do we fight?

He did that very quickly, and the other thing, Larry, is that he has absolutely leveled with the American people from the very beginning. He said, this is what this war is going to involve, it may take some patience. That is something, too, that is going to make it somewhat easier for him to hold public support as this unfolds.

KING: Hard to believe, Hugh, that just one year ago tonight we were covering an election that didn't that end that night.

SIDEY: No, the way this world unfolds, Larry, you know as well as I do, we have been through many things together, and it is just amazing. But Michael brings up a marvelous thing. A successful president plays to his strengths.

Now George W. Bush is never going to be Franklin Roosevelt, or John Kennedy. you mentioned, that we had some questions about his international experience and that is absolutely right. But George W. Bush is honest. He is bold. He is courageous. He is not afraid to try new things. He has one of the best teams I have ever read about or known about, assembled around him. He is jealous of their prowess, and those qualities together in this time could be the biggest asset that we have in leadership.

KING: Thank you both very much. We will be calling on you both a lot. Michael Beschloss, terrific new book, "Reaching for Glory, the Johnson White House Tapes," and Hugh Sidey -- perennial Hugh Sidey -- of "Time" magazine.

When we come back, a wonderful talent, Denyce Graves -- wait until you hear her. We end every night on an upbeat musical note. You are not going to believe this, next. Don't go away.


KING: She has been called the next operatic superstar. She's joining us from New York -- Denyce Graves.

She sang at the inaugural of President Bush. She sang at the national prayer service. She's released a CD memorial containing songs "The American Anthem", "America The Beautiful" and "The Lord's Prayer." It is obtainable only through her Web site and proceeds go to the Liberty Disaster Relief Fund. And you can get that at www.denycegraves -- and Denyce is spelled d-e-n-y-c-e --

She is going to sing "American Anthem." Why "American Anthem" tonight, Denyce.

DENYCE GRAVES, OPERA SINGER: I think it is so appropriate and it speaks to our responsibility as Americans.

KING: Here is a great talent -- enjoy. Denyce Graves and the "American Anthem."

GRAVES: Thank you.



KING: To learn more about upcoming guests, you can log onto our Web site at

Speaking of upcoming guests, tomorrow night it's Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott and our musical piece tomorrow will be offered by Bernadette Peters.

Now it's time for NEWSNIGHT with Aaron Brown. And guess what, there is other news. There are elections all over the country today, some key ones, some changes happening. Here's my man in New York with NEWSNIGHT: Aaron Brown -- Aaron.




Back to the top