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Moammar Gadhafi Dead; Interview With Arizona Sen. John McCain; Interview With Sen. Feinstein; Interview With Sen. Kirk

Aired October 20, 2011 - 18:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight: The Libyan dictator Gadhafi dies a bloody, violent death and the people he ruled by force for four decades celebrate it as a fitting good riddance.

We now have -- and CNN is about to air this for the first time -- video in from Misrata that shows the blooded body of Moammar Gadhafi, this video quite graphic and extremely disturbing. If you have young children in the room, you might want them to turn away and it may not be appropriate for all viewers.

Is this video, we will show it to you right now, several fighters are seen surrounding the corpse, shouting slogans.

What you hear there, shouts of Allahu akbar, or God is great, while others say -- quote -- "The blood of the martyrs will not be in vain." The camera then tilts down, you see it there, the head of Gadhafi. Wounds on his face, including a gunshot wound in the forehead.

As officials of the new Libyan government have said, the dictator died of a bullet wound to the head. At the White House, President Obama urges the new Libya to move quickly toward democracy and suggests he deserves some credit for Gadhafi's demise.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our brave pilots have flown in Libya's skies. Our sailors have provided support off Libya's shores. And our leadership at NATO has helped guide our coalition. Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives, and our NATO mission will soon come to an end.


KING: I'm John King in Washington.

We'd like to welcome our viewers not only here in the United States but around the world tonight as we learn new details and consider the fallout of tonight's breaking news, the death of Moammar Gadhafi.

There are many important unanswered questions tonight, including just how did Gadhafi die. Did his ruthless son Saif die with him? Questions about the impact of this historic moment on Libya and the rest of the fast changing Middle East and North Africa. Consider this image, now wildly popular online across the Arab world. Red X's crossing out the deposed dictators of Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya, with Syria's Assad and Yemen's Saleh waiting his turn.

In Gadhafi's case, the moment of truth after two months on the run, and here's what we know about his final minutes. We must warn you, again, some of these images are quite gruesome. Footage aired on the Arab networks Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya purports to show a wounded but still live Gadhafi being dragged around Sirte, his hometown, by armed men.

There's also this powerful but also haunting image, Gadhafi's corpse, a gunshot wound to the side of the head. The transitional government announced the death and labeled today Libya's -- quote -- "real day of liberation."

CNN's Dan Rivers in Tripoli tonight, and, Dan, what can you tell us as the reporting continues to flow in on Moammar Gadhafi's final moments?

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the NTC are putting out their side of the story, claiming that Gadhafi, as you saw in that footage you just showed there, John, that he was alive when they first captured him, injured, but alive. They say he was shot in the arm, but alive.

They were trying to take him to hospital when he was -- the vehicle that he was in was caught in the crossfire between pro- and anti-Gadhafi forces, and at that point it was -- he was shot through the head, we don't know who by, but caught in the crossfire, they say, and died shortly before he arrived at the hospital.

They are desperate to contradict the other reports circulating and speculation here that he may have been executed by some of these NTC forces. There were earlier reports suggesting that some of the forces had shot him with his own golden gun. They are putting out this story saying, no, he was caught in the crossfire, they were trying to take him to hospital, they wanted him alive, but he died before he got to hospital, having been shot in the head by a stray bullet -- John.

KING: Dan, help our viewers understand the significance of the government rushing to try to get that story out, in the sense that you see celebrations in the street. I assume many Libyans are happy the dictator's dead, regardless of the circumstances.

But there are some in Libya and around the world who wanted him brought to justice. I assume there are still some in Libya who support him and would view an execution as a gross offense by the new government.

RIVERS: That's right. I think, you know, there are several points here, that the new government has been criticized severely with the way it's been treating detainees, much more low-level detainees, but nevertheless, Amnesty, and Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups have come out and criticized the way they have been dealing with detainees.

If it then transpired that their own forces had executed the most prized detainee of all, Colonel Gadhafi, that would be a further blow to them. But also you're right. There are people here who we have spoken to tonight who wanted to see Gadhafi on trial. They wanted to hear him held to account and answer the questions about the brutal treatment that he meted out on this country for 42 years.

Now their chance of justice, of trying to explain and cross- examine Gadhafi has been taken away. The NTC claim it was sheer misfortune, other reports that were circulating earlier suggesting that he was deliberately killed by the NTC.

KING: Critical reporting from Dan Rivers live in Tripoli tonight.

Dan, thank you so much. We will check back with Dan as developments warrant.

Now, as you just heard, how exactly did Gadhafi die? That's not entirely clear tonight. We do know the NATO alliance reports it fired on a pro-Gadhafi convoy trying to escape Sirte and it now appears Gadhafi was indeed in one of those vehicles and was likely wounded in that strike.

Let's get more now from our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence.

Chris, what are your sources at the Pentagon and NATO telling you tonight?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, a senior defense official confirms that a combined NATO strike did hit a pro- Gadhafi convoy earlier this morning.

They say it was a combination of French fighter jets and a Predator drone firing Hellfire missiles. Now, this was just part of more than 400 times that the allies have dropped ordnance on Libya during the last seven or eighth months during this campaign.

There's also been about 145 Predator drone strikes during this time. A NATO official confirmed to us that Moammar Gadhafi was not killed in part of any strike on the convoy, but that he was killed or died later, after being engaged with the rebels.

KING: And, Chris, one of the questions is the level of coordination. If there's a NATO strike on the convoy and the rebels show up moments later, and that's what happened, they found Gadhafi apparently hiding in a big tube, it looks like a tunnel, it's a drainage ditch off the side of a highway, and you see the pictures of that right there. That's where they found Moammar Gadhafi.

The question is coordination. Is the coordination that good? NATO says we're about to streak a convoy, the transitional forces should get out there? LAWRENCE: It's been extremely close for some time now. In fact, you know, there's been an ongoing battle with NATO continuing to insist that its mission was one of protecting civilians, not overthrowing a government.

And yet you did see very, very close close air support, coordination of targeting and strike missions between NATO forces and the rebels on the ground. This has been going on for some time now that NATO has been cooperating and coordinating with the rebels on the ground very closely.

KING: Chris Lawrence live for us tonight at the Pentagon with the breaking news -- Chris, thank you.

And tonight the NATO secretary-general says Libya can -- quote -- "turn over a new page" and he adds that with the fall of Gadhafi's strongholds Bani Walid and Sirte, the end of the NATO mission is close at hand.

So what next? U.S. Senator John McCain was an early advocate of using force to push Gadhafi from power and recently visited the country to confer with leaders of the transitional government.

Senator McCain live for us tonight from Capitol Hill.

Senator, I want to start with your information. You have heard reports, Gadhafi taken alive, then killed. You see the gunshot wound to the head when you look at those disturbing photos. The transitional government says caught in a crossfire. Have you heard any information that leads you to question that, to think that perhaps someone who took him into custody might have executed him?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't know, John.

But in pursuant to the conversation you just had, I would have liked to have seen him in the criminal court, because the guy has been guilty of numerous crimes, including the blood of Americans on his hands because of the bombing of Pan Am 103, the disco in Germany. You know, the list goes on and on. But I don't have any more information than you do on how he died, and I don't think anybody does either.

KING: I want to talk to you about the security situation and your recent visit there.


KING: But you just made a very important point. As we talk about it and report the details of the death of Gadhafi, it is very important to remember that for many people in this country and around the world, this is very personal, because of this man's crimes over the years.

I want to read you something. Brian Flynn, he's the brother of a Lockerbie victim, J.P. Flynn. He wrote this on today: "Rather than wanting to see the kind of freak show snuff film of Gadhafi that is worming its way through the Internet as I write this, I would have far preferred to watch him from a front-row seat in The Hague as he, in true Milosevic style, would have been made to answer for his countless, hideous crimes."

It is a shame, Senator, it is a shame -- no one's going to miss Moammar Gadhafi, but that people in his own country who were put to death and buried in mass graves, people around the world, whether it's Berlin, or Pan Am 103 who were killed by his terrorists will never get all of the answers.

MCCAIN: That's right.

And the more exposure that these kinds of people get at The Hague, the more lessons are learned and the more impression it makes on people. But it is what it is, and I would like to congratulate the administration.

They helped out enormously. I think that they deserve great credit. I think greater credit goes to our British and French allies, who really were leaders. I wish we had used the full weight of American airpower and we wouldn't have had so many casualties, but the fact is that this is another success for the Obama administration. And there was close coordination, as you mentioned, between NATO air and people on the ground, which weren't always Libyans.

KING: I want to ask you about the situation on the ground now.

Some 20,000 surface-to-air missiles unaccounted for, other weapons, including mustard gas that Gadhafi had promised to destroy, but he hadn't quite destroyed yet, what is your level of confidence with the transitional government in their efforts now, yesterday, today, and tomorrow to find that stuff and keep it out of the hand of the bad guys and their willingness to allow -- we have much more sophisticated technology, we have much more sophisticated intelligence operations.

Now that they don't -- quote -- "need us anymore" to take Gadhafi out, are you worried at all that they will not allow us to find that stuff?

MCCAIN: I'm not worried at all. They're very grateful to us, John.

This is our chance, not only to send in people to secure these weapons so that they don't fall into the wrong hands, although apparently there's already a substantial amount missing, but the best thing we could do right now is to announce that we are helping the Libyans care for their wounded.

They have some 30,000 wounded. We could say we're flying some of them to Landstuhl, the most severely wounded, our military hospital in Germany. We could send a hospital ship to sit there in the harbor in Tripoli and help care for these wounded. They're overwhelmed, their health care facilities, by all of these wounded. Remember, it's a small country.

Then we have got to get the militias under the control of the Transitional National Council government. They are not now -- and this is a very critical time to get that to happen, and then I guess also we have to make sure that the abuses won't take place of the detainees and that the Geneva Conventions are adhered to in the prisons.

KING: You had very kind words for the president of the United States just moments ago about the administration's role in this. I know you wish it were more aggressive early on. But that was very kind of you.

I want you to listen here to the president today, because as we watch this, in the wake of Tunisia, in the wake of Egypt, now Gadhafi is not only out of power, but dead, the question is, what message does this send to Saleh in Yemen, Assad in Syria? Listen to the president of the United States.


OBAMA: For the region, today's events prove once more that the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end. Across the Arab world, citizens have stood up to claim their rights. Youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship. And those leaders who try to deny their human dignity will not succeed.


KING: Any evidence that this could topple Assad? Any evidence that Iran, which many say is even stronger in the region today than a few months ago, will be influenced by this?

MCCAIN: I think every nation in the world is influenced by it. I think it's -- we should take the word Arab out of spring. I think Putin is a little less comfortable in his position today.

I think that the Chinese even are less comfortable. I think something is sweeping the globe. And we may not be left completely untouched, because there is great dissatisfaction out there. By the way, I'm not predicting anything more than what we may be seeing today.

But, look, people, thanks to social networking, thanks to a whole lot of -- the breeze of liberty and freedom is blowing around the world, and I think that it's one of the greatest and most transitional times in the history of the world, and we should be proud to lead it and to help.

In the case of Syria, look, Assad has got to go, but I don't know how you can intervene any more than we are in providing the kind of moral support and other support that is needed. Each country and each one of these revolutions is different and has to be treated differently as well.

KING: And if there's someone around the world, an activist in Syria, maybe an activist in Iran who says, why not my country, and the NATO alliance just helped in Libya, is this a template for the future? And what are the barriers, what are the red lines that you can't cross?

MCCAIN: Well, it is a template for the future. But the question is, is, what do you do next?

I'm very worried about Egypt. We have not seen a lot of the progress that you want to see, although I still think they can succeed. Elections are coming up in Tunisia. Let's see what happens there. I'm optimistic there.

In Libya, they have never known any kind of government, other than what they have experienced under Gadhafi. And there's tribal divisions and all that. And so we need to come in and help them establish the building blocks of democracy. There are NGOs that helped out a lot in the former Soviet Union after the Berlin Wall fell.

So there's a lot of help we could give them from technical side. And, by the way, Libya's a very wealthy country, and so it's not as if they're going to need financial assistance. So we can play a role of assistance. And I think that America, I know for a fact, from being in both Benghazi and Tripoli, they like America, they appreciate the United States of America, and they want to be like us.

But -- so let's not squander the opportunity. Let's help them out.

KING: Important words from Senator John McCain on Capitol Hill tonight on this breaking news.

Senator, thank you for your time.

MCCAIN: Thank you, John.

KING: And up next, much more on this breaking news story, including new details on the hunt for Gadhafi.

And here's the former Libyan leader in his own words talking about democracy, if you believe that, spoken in 2009 at the United Nations.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): Democracy's not for the rich or for the one who terrorizes. So, for the one who is more powerful us, they should have democracy. No. The higher (INAUDIBLE) should be the all nations at equal footing.



KING: To too many here in the United States and around the world, the death of Moammar Gadhafi is personal. At the White House today President Obama reflected on Americans killed in a Berlin disco bombed by the Libyan agents under Gadhafi's rule as well as those killed on Pan Am 103. And across the Atlantic, the British prime minister, David Cameron, sounded a similar note, also noting that Libya once supplied chemical weapons, chemical explosives to the IRA.

Let's take a closer look at Gadhafi's four decades in power. If you come over here and play this out, it was back in September 1969, 1969, Richard Nixon was the president of the United States, Gadhafi launched a coup and took control of the country. Then, in April 1986, this is when that disco bombing happened in a Berlin nightclub, killing three Americans, injuring 299 others. Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States then. Listen to this.


RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This mad dog of the Middle East has a goal of a world revolution, Muslim fundamentalist revolution.


KING: Mad dog of the Middle East. That was Ronald Reagan back then. Then we fast-forward here. December 22, 1988, that is Flight 103, Lockerbie, 270 people killed. You see the devastation of the flight there.

Then, in 2009, Moammar Gadhafi was trying to make amends with the world. He visited the United States for the first time. In 2003, he had decided he would give up his nuclear weapons program. He was allowed to visit the United Nations and he gave one of his legendary rambling speeches.


GADHAFI (through translator): Democracy's not for the rich or for the one who terrorizes. So, for the one who is more powerful us, they should have democracy. No.


KING: Gadhafi talking in his words that everyone should have democracy, something that, of course, never, ever happened in Libya. Make that go away. We will bring this down. My apologies for that.

In March 2011, of course, the beginning of Operation Odyssey Dawn. That was the operation to remove Gadhafi from power, United States and NATO forces participating in that. And it was today, October 20, 2011, the history books will record Moammar Gadhafi killed.

What is his legacy? And what now for Libya and the region?

Joining us, CNN national security contributor, former Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend, and former NATO ambassador, Harvard Professor Nicholas Burns, and Barak Barfi, who has been reported extensively from Libya. He's a research fellow with the New America Foundation. Fran, I want to talk you first as someone who has been across from Moammar Gadhafi, who has met the man. The world will not miss him. But what is missing now that he will not be brought to justice? Tell us a little bit more about just who he was.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: I think, John, many people have said, this was not a rational man to have a negotiation with. It was a very difficult conversation to have with him.

And he had a very definite view of the world that was -- could at times completely uninformed by the actual facts and reality. Look, this is a man who so closely held power that it causes a vacuum. The NTC will now have to rise to that occasion. But there will be tribal differences, there will be those pro-Gadhafi loyalists who will melt into the population and you hope they don't come back, but you can't be certain of it.

We did see an insurgency that formed in Iraq after Saddam was captured. And then, of course, there's the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. That had been an affiliate of the al Qaeda organization and you worry that extremists will try to infiltrate Libya to take advantage of the vacuum left after Gadhafi's gone.

And so Libya faces great challenges. It's a terrific success today and it really -- this is an opportunity for the Libyan people to have the democratic form of government that they have wanted. But they will have real challenges as they go forward.

KING: And Barak Barfi, you have reported extensively from Libya. If you read many of your articles you have some skepticism that the NTC, the Transitional Council, is up to the task. Have they made progress? Are they better prepared now than they were when you first started reporting on this crisis?

BARAK BARFI, RESEARCH FELLOW, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Well, John, as you know, I was in Libya for six months, and they have made some progress.

But the problem is they just don't have discipline over these military units. As we saw early on in your video, it's not at all clear how Gadhafi died, whether he died in custody or if he died from his wounds suffered from the battlefield.

And that's a big problem that the NTC has moving forward. It's going to have to impose discipline. But the real problem here that the NTC has in society I think that there's three factions in society. There's a die-hard Gadhafi loyalist that we saw fight to the death in Bani Walid and Sirte. There are the Libyan nationalists who appreciated Gadhafi because he got rid of Western influence and he defied the West and then there are fence sitters who are unsure of this revolution.

And the NTC needs to win over the support of the second and third groups and not alienate too much the first group, and that's their big problems moving forward, John. KING: And, Nick Burns, what about the world here? There was a lot of criticism of the Obama administration, people saying the president was leading from behind, that he let the British and the French and others take the lead in NATO. Vice President Biden today saying NATO got it just right here and the U.S. played exactly the right role.

Is there a lesson going forward or was this an isolated one-time incident?

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: John, I think it might have been an isolate incident.

I think NATO, the United States, particularly Britain and France, as Senator McCain suggested, ought to feel vindicated. They made the right decision to go into Libya. Without the NATO air effort there would be no victory by the rebel alliance against the Gadhafi forces, Gadhafi would still be in power.

I think President Obama ought to feel vindicated. But what made NATO go in? There were three factors. You remember this. There was the fact that the Arab League invited NATO to go in, intervene in the internal affairs of an Arab state, that the United Nations Security Council blessed the operation. There was the third, the imminent siege of Benghazi.

All of those combined to force the United States, the United Kingdom and France to put NATO into that situation. None of those conditions will be present in Syria, none are present in Bahrain, none are present in Yemen. So I don't think that we can look at Libya as a template for what's going to happen down the road as the next Arab regime is under threat, and certainly Gadhafi and certainly Saleh in Yemen are on the ropes right now. Either one of them can fall within a matter months -- excuse me -- not Gadhafi, but Assad in Syria.

KING: And, Nick, to you first. I want to go quickly through our group.

Senator McCain says he's confident this new government will make the right choices in a region where they could strike an alliance with Iran, they could strike an alliance with Assad. Nick Burns, you first.

Are you confident they will instead say NATO, the United States stood by us, we will plant our feet with them?

BURNS: I'm not confident. I think this group will try to be friendly with the United States and Europe, but it's a very loose alliance of rival militia groups. And the first order of business is going to be can they disband many of those armed groups, can they get them under control, and can they begin to heal some of the tribal divisions?

There's euphoria today in Libya, but the task of building a new Libya is going to be every bit s difficult as driving the dictator out. KING: Barak Barfi, all that oil, all those weapons, if I'm a radical jihadist, I know al Qaeda has been weakened but I would be looking at an opening there, right?

BARFI: Definitely. If you look at Libya's neighbors, specifically Algeria and Mali, we see al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and they're looking to gain control of those weapons. And not only there, but we're also looking at movement of weapons to Gaza through Egypt. While I was in Egypt in a city, in the city of (INAUDIBLE) there were a lot of checkpoints there because the people are afraid of these weapons.

So there's going to be a proliferation of these weapons throughout the region, John.

KING: Fran Townsend will be back with us in a bit.

Barak Barfi, thank you, Nick Burns as well.

Still to come, what was the role of the U.S. spies and drones in the death of Gadhafi? The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee joins us fresh from a classified briefing on Gadhafi's death.

But, next, tonight's "Truth." Do the candidates who want to take President Obama's job have anything to apologize now that Gadhafi is dead?


KING: Tonight's "Truth" is a lesson learned every four years, often the hard way. It's risky for presidential candidates to talk tough or to draw sharp lines when it comes to foreign policy, especially in fluid, unpredictable situations like Libya and the broader Arab spring.

Take leading Republican candidate Mitt Romney, for example. Today, it's very black and white.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The world is a better place with Gadhafi gone.


KING: But back in March, the former Massachusetts governor suggested President Obama took too long to authorize the U.S. military role in Libya. A month later, though, he suggested Mr. Obama's approach was -- quote -- "underdeliberated."

And then in August, there was this:


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our involvement in Libya was marked by inadequate clarity of purpose before we began the mission, and then mission muddled during the operation and ongoing confusion as to our role in the future.


KING: Now truth is, is it fair to just point out Romney's drift on Libya? He has plenty of company among the Republican candidates.

Former Utah governor, Jon Huntsman, calls Gadhafi's death "positive news for freedom-loving people everywhere," but he says that is no way a retreat from this.


JON HUNTSMAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I look at Libya. There's no defined national security goal. There's no defined national security strategy at play. There's no defined exit strategy. I say what are we doing?


KING: Tonight Texas governor Rick Perry also said good riddance to Gadhafi and called on the United States to, quote, "work closely with Libya to ensure the transition is successful." While he didn't seem to think Libya mattered all that much just a month ago.


GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans don't want to see their young men and women going into foreign countries without a clear reason that American interests are at stake. And they want to see not only a clear entrance. They want to see a clear exit strategy, as well.


KING: Another Republican candidate, Michele Bachmann, today agrees that, quote, "the world is a better place without Gadhafi." But a few months ago, well, she wasn't so agreeable, saying the president was absolutely wrong in his decision on Libya.

Well, at the White House the incumbents seemed eager, more than eager to address his foreign policy critics.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've taken out al Qaeda leaders, and we've put them on the path to defeat. We're winding down the war in Iraq and have begun a transition in Afghanistan. Now working with -- in Libya with friends and allies, we've demonstrated what collective action can achieve in the 21st century.


KING: All is fair in love and in politics. But as his Republican rivals learn the hard truth that foreign policy debates can get messy, there are some important lessons for President Obama, as well.

First, the economy, not foreign policy will be the defining election issue here in the United States. And lastly, truth is President Obama should have some empathy when others suffer some campaign contortions on foreign policy.

Remember candidate Obama, promising to meet with the leaders of Iran and North Korea in his first year in office, or his iron-clad promise to close Guantanamo Bay in that very first year, as well?

The hardest foreign policy truth is always learned by the winner. Being president is a lot more complicated and a lot more consequential than running for president.

Up next, a quick look at today's other headlines, including how your computer may have helped one company turn a more than $5 billion profit in just three months.

Plus, insight into what the United States expects now Libya's new government should do. We'll talk to the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Also, Gadhafi's complicated relationship with American presidents, including the first President Bush in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

George Bush senior, the father, when he addressed the matter with Libya, he resorted to the united nations and never resorted to the means of.


KING: Welcome back. Here's the latest news you need to know right now.

In the past hour, a magnitude 3.9 earthquake rattled California's bay area. The quake was centered about two miles from Berkeley.

United States Senate getting ready to vote tonight on a portion of the president's jobs bill, provides the portion they're voting on provides more money for teachers and first responders. Now, while that vote could come tonight, it's the United States Senate, after all. It might slip to tomorrow.

This afternoon, Microsoft reported a quarterly profit of $5.7 billion. Record sales of more than $17 billion powered by the company's business productivity and server software.

"The New York Times" reports that six years after his stroke, the former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, responds to some requests, even though he remains in a coma-like state, and despite being fed intravenously, has put on weight. In Spain today, the Basque separatist group ETA announced what it calls the definitive cessation of its armed activity. That group blamed for hundreds of deaths in its decades-long fight for an independent Basque state.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" coming up at the top of the hour. Erin is here with a preview. Hi, there.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there, John.

Well, of course, we're going to be talking about the Libyan story of the day. Well, Libya, as you know, has a lot of oil. In fact, it has the largest reserves of light sweet crude oil on earth. And of course, that's the oil our refineries want.

We're going to get to the bottom line of what Libya means for America, and we're going to talk about a big idea, John. You're talking about the jobs bill passing. Well, there was an unusual alliance today between a Democrat and a Republican with a really novel way to fix housing. They put a bill forth. We're going to be talking with Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer about that.

We'll see you in a few minutes. John, back to you.

KING: Cooperation, what a concept.

BURNETT: Right. Who thought?

KING: Erin, we'll see you in just a few minutes. Thanks.

And up next here, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says she's worried about the Gadhafi regime's missing weapons, including thousands of surface-to-air missiles.



KING: More new information now on the death of the Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi and the role the United States played in helping to flush him out of hiding. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is the chairwoman for Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. She joins us now fresh from a classified briefing on the Libyan developments.

Senator, let me just start right there. What did you learn about any role the United States might have played in finding Gadhafi and flushing him out of the hiding?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), CHAIR, SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: We learned nothing about the specifics of what happened to Gadhafi.

I think it's pretty clear, candidly, that he's dead, and I think now there's an opportunity for Libya to move forward, to put all this behind them, to show that they can make a real contribution to the world as a stable country with real democratic values.

KING: NATO has said that it was involved in firing at a convoy, and it believes Gadhafi was in that convoy and was wounded, and then the rebel fighters came along quickly and took him into custody. Any information at all on the coordination there?

FEINSTEIN: No, not -- not at this time.

KING: What is your concern going forward in the sense that -- I want you listen right here. This is Peter Bucard of Human Rights Watch. This is from about a month ago. He was touring Libya, and he said so many weapons are missing including very dangerous surface-to- air missiles. Let's listen.


PETER BUCARD, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: In every city we arrive, and the first thing to disappear are the surface-to-air missiles.

We're talking about some 20,000 missing surface-to-air missiles in all of Libya. And I've seen cars packed with them. They could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone.


KING: Senator, what is the latest intelligence on tracking those missiles down?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I actually have no intelligence on tracking those missiles down, except that I believe that report is very likely correct and that there are thousands of these missiles missing, that there are arms depots that have apparently been raided that were not well-guarded, and this is a problem. And I think that this new government of Libya is going to have to show responsibility up front and that, as a matter of first instance, they're going to have to see that weapons are secured, and weapons are off the street. And the reason prevails to develop a new government was it turns out to be a government by force, a government by threat, a government by the brandishment of weapons, that's not going to achieve anything.

KING: Well, let's break that down a little bit. You started off by saying you have no intelligence. Forgive me: that makes me a little bit nervous, maybe a little bit frightened, in the sense that is there no cooperation? Are there not U.S. intelligence assets on the ground looking for these missiles? Is the transitional government not making this a priority? Is the Obama administration and the other allies involved in NATO not making this enough of a priority if you have no information?

FEINSTEIN: Well, look, it's very new. The information will be put together. I'm sure, at some point we will be briefed.

You asked me what we were briefed on today, and it really is that there is some evidence that Gadhafi is dead. We don't know exactly what secured that death, but it will be -- it will be coming forward (AUDIO GAP) the gory details. Gadhafi is a man that will not be long mourned, not be long remembered. No one wants to replicate another Gadhafi.

And what is of importance is that we all look forward now and give the new government whatever support we can, and that government measures up. It's going to be a tremendous challenge to bring reason out of tumult. I hope they can do it. We want to help them do it. But they now have to step up, put their government together, take over, develop a constitution, develop the rule of law, and that's very important.

And it took the United States a long time to do it, so we need to provide whatever help we can to see that there is a stable and democratic Libya that emerges.

KING: You are among those who early on, during the conflict, even before Gadhafi fell from power two months ago, who said you're a little bit nervous. Some of those involved in trying to overthrow him had some ties to al Qaeda, that some of them might favor some radical Islamist operations inside Libya.

Are you convinced that either those elements have changed their ways or have been rooted out of the transitional government, or is that still a question mark?

FEINSTEIN: I take nothing for granted. I think to prove that you're right time, to prove that you can do it, to prove that you mean it, to prove that you want a stable, democratic Libya, and this is the time to show it. So we're going to see.

KING: And as we see, what happens? There was mustard gas. There's the surface-to-air missiles. There are many other weapons that were in those depots built up by Muammar Gadhafi that are giant question marks as to their whereabouts right now.

How do they prove to you, how do they prove to President Obama, how do they prove to NATO that they are willing to cooperate fully in that search? Do they have to have an open-ended commitment for NATO resources and U.S. resources on the ground in that hunt?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I see, I think, by their statements and by their actions. If their actions are filled with recrimination and violence that tells us one thing. If their actions are to sit down and work out a governmental structure, bring people together, find an element of reconciliation in the process and move on, that tells us a very positive thing.

You can't tell in the middle of battle, and battle has still been going on, and essentially, Gadhafi fell in one of the last instances of battle. Battles should now stop. Reconciliation should begin. A new nation should emerge. And leaders have to emerge to lead that nation.

KING: Diane Feinstein is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator, thank you for your time tonight.

FEINSTEIN: You're welcome, John. Thank you.


KING: And at the time of transition Senator Feinstein just spoke about, we wanted to reflect on what just happened in tonight's "Number," 1.1 billion with a "B," $1.1 billion. What does that represent? That represents how much the United States spent on the NATO -- on its part of the NATO operation.

You break that down this way. The NATO operation in place for 216 days. That's $5 million a day of American money, $5 million a day for 216 days.

Where did that money go? Well, those costs include this: daily military operations, the involvement of the troops and other -- other military personnel involved, the cost of all the munitions used and dropped on Libya, including things dropped from Predators, things fired from ships and the like. Also humanitarian assistance to Libya included in that $1.1 billion.

And the weapons that we used, more than 70 U.S. aircraft were involved in this operation. Early on many U.S. ships. But after the United States pulled back a bit, one Navy ship there for the duration, the Mesa Verde. More than 7,000 -- more than 7,700, in fact -- flights, sorties by American jets, military operations plus 145 Predator strikes. And that is up to today, one Predator strike involved in that convoy that Gadhafi was in this morning in Sirte.

That, the price to the American taxpayer part of this mission. Remember that number, $1.1 billion, and that's not final. We'll get you a final number.

Up next, a Republican senator who was recently in Libya tells us how he thinks -- how he thinks, in this transition, what could emerge as a strong, pro-U.S. ally.


KING: On the Senate floor today commenting on the death of Muammar Gadhafi, the Illinois Republican senator Mark Kirk, who recently visited Libya, predicted that country could now turn into, quote, "a new, very pro-U.S. ally in the Middle East."

Senator Kirk joins us now from Capitol Hill. Also, back with us CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend, who has been invited to Libya in the past as a guest.

Senator Kirk, I want to come to you first. You recently were there and tonight, there is a defining question, and I want get your take on this. The new transitional government says that Gadhafi was taken alive, and we've shown our viewers and we'll show them again -- these are graphic images and anyone with children in the room might want to turn them away.

He was taken alive, and then we see the video. It shows clearly, and you see it here, that he was shot in the head. He has a bullet wound in the forehead. The transitional government says they were driving him somewhere and a fight broke out between pro-Gadhafi and the transitional government forces, and he was in that. He was wounded in that cross fire. There are questions tonight as to whether he was executed.

Do you trust the transitional council's explanation?

SEN. MARK KIRK (R), ILLINOIS: I think it really doesn't matter. He gave no quarter to hundreds of Libyans that he killed. Human rights abuses OUT the ying-yang, including his wife pouring scalding water on their nanny, now recovering from third-degree burns in Malta. And so if he was killed at the hands of his own people, it's pretty much what he deserved.

KING: Do you think that is true, Fran, in this case? I don't think anyone is going to cry any tears for Muammar Gadhafi, no matter how he died, except for maybe his own family members.

But in the sense of the credibility of this new government as it tries to start up, the tribal factions and disputes within Libya. Isn't it important for this new government to get it right from the beginning?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: John, I don't disagree with Senator Kirk that there's not going to be tears shed, but they do have to now form a government and institute the rule of law, and they've got to have the credibility with the Libyan people to do that.

Look, I don't think anybody ought to be spending a whole lot of time trying to figure out what happened, because I don't think it matters. But I do think going forward, if there is a sense that he was treated in a way that it is in violation of human rights not consistent with the rule of law, after all, the transitional government wants to be something better than Gadhafi was and wants to be something better and more credible in the eyes of the Libyan people, obviously, than Muammar Gadhafi.

KING: Another key test there, Kirk, and you were just there, so I want your perspective. You just heard Senator Feinstein, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, say she doesn't have any intelligence yet on the search for these 20,000 surface-to-air missiles. There are other dangerous weapons. There was mustard gas left over.

Are you confident and did you talk to the transitional government about allowing U.S. intelligence assets and military assets and maybe from global partners, as well, to get in there and find that stuff before it ends up in the wrong hands?

KIRK: I did, and there were two stories, one with regard to the chemical weapons stockpile of Gadhafi that I think we have a very good handle on its security and where it is. And because the Libyan rebel government is so pro-U.S. they're working with us well.

But on the case of handheld surface-to-air missiles, in the collapse of the Gadhafi army, his vast arsenal of Soviet weapons was looted, now in the hands of dozens of militias. And this is a big problem for the United States, which is why Secretary of State Clinton outlined a program to buy back or gain jurisdiction of those weapons before they become a worldwide threat to civil aircraft.

KING: Fran, knowing the tribal factions and the tribal rivalries and distrust, how likely are these people to say, "Oh, fine. We'll give them back, get some money from the United States" Or will they want to keep them, whether for civil strife within the country or perhaps to sell on the open market where they might get more?

TOWNSEND: You know, John, the United States government has a long history and lots of experience with these buyback programs for surface-to-air missiles with only mixed success. I mean, one of the places this was a real concern was in Afghanistan, and we know that we've suffered at the hands of these sorts of weapons.

And so I expect the buyback program is a good approach, but we can't kid ourselves that it is the 100 percent solution. Once they are out, this become a real nightmare for all air assets, both civil and military.

KING: Senator Kirk, at this very delicate moment, as this new government tries to get up and running, tries to earn the credibility -- the trust and credibility of its own people as well as the world, what is the single most important thing the United States should do tomorrow?

KIRK: No. 1, to help the Libyan government unify its military so the 24 separate militias in Tripoli don't break out into sectarian warfare, ruining the tremendous gain that we've given. And No. 2, to help elections quickly so that this technocratic, academic government of Jalil and Jibril win elections and we don't see the rise of an Islamic party.

KING: And Senator, I want to stick with you. Any fears on your part that in six months we'll be having an Egypt conversation, saying where's the progress?

KIRK: We could. I think the big problem in the Middle East is Egypt and three elections. We could see an Islamic government there by next April.

Indications are not in Libya, though. Overwhelming support for the United States and the rebel government. I think they should trigger early elections to lock in their current popularity.

KING: Fran, as we wind down the hour, as someone who has been in the room with Muammar Gadhafi, he is dead tonight. I think "good riddance" is the answer from most of the world. How will you remember this heinous man, I'll use that term?

TOWNSEND: You know, John, it was the -- your -- my interaction with him really made clear in my mind that he was completely narcissistic and completely self-absorbed. He didn't care about his people. He didn't seem to care about the country, the infrastructure.

And it was really striking to me that a leader could be so removed and so cold and callous to his own people. And so, look, that's what I took away from it. He was not a rational negotiator. He wasn't a rational leader and frankly, he was most of the time not tied to reality.

KING: And Senator, in closing, are you convinced now that he is dead, that anyone who stood with him is gone, they will fade away? Or will this new government still have problems with pro-Gadhafi people?

KIRK: No, I think he's gone. And when I was in Tripoli, there was an enormous fear that somehow he could make a comeback.

I think Jalil, the chairman, Jibril, the prime minister, they're all now reassured, and so they can focus 100 percent of their attention on building a new pro-American democracy.

KING: Senator Mark Kirk, appreciate your insights.

Fran Townsend, as well.

A big day in world history. Muammar Gadhafi is dead. That's all from us tonight. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now to take over -- Erin.