CNN Larry King Live - Transcript
Thursday, January 19, 2006
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KING: Let's get some legislative response to this with two outstanding members of the United States Senate. They are Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, he's in Columbia. He serves on Senate Armed Services. And, in Washington, Senator Evan Bayh, Indiana Democrat, he serves on Select Armed Services and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Senator Graham, what do you make of all this?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, I guess he's trying to send messages to different groups, I guess Zarqawi and those guys probably encouraged he's still alive.
But the thing that strikes me most about the tape is that we're often accused, I think rightfully so, in not understanding the root cause of terrorism or our enemy. I don't think he understands us very well. To suggest a truce to the American people just shows how disconnected he is from who we are and what our purpose is.
KING: Senator Bayh, in essence is he, we asked the panel this, is he winning this war?
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA, ARMED SERVICES, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEES: No, Larry, I don't think he is. He's obviously still very dangerous. He's killed people in the last year in Madrid and London. Obviously he killed thousands here.
But, as one of your guests previously indicated, their ability to carry out spectacular large-scale attacks has been significantly degraded. So, they were chased out of their safe haven in Afghanistan.
He is in all likelihood hiding in a cave someplace in the remote areas of Pakistan. He's capable of causing death and violence, obviously scaring many people in our country but I don't think that ultimately he is winning.
KING: How seriously do you take this threat, Senator Graham? GRAHAM: Well, I think you have to take everything that he says and does seriously but he has been diminished in terms of his leadership abilities but I could tell you this for sure, Larry, if we got up tomorrow and the paper read that bin Laden captured or killed, it would make us feel better but it really is not going to change the fundamental dynamic we're dealing with because Zarqawi is a bigger problem than bin Laden right now.
KING: Do you agree, Senator Bayh?
BAYH: I do. Osama bin Laden is no longer exerting operational control over al Qaeda. There are now many al Qaedas around the world carrying out these attacks but he remains an inspirational figure. He needs to be removed for that reason and also, Larry, for the basic reason of simple justice.
This man needs to be brought to justice to prove that no one can do, perpetrate the kind of crimes he has perpetrated and get away with it, so he's not exerting control but it's still important that we get him.
KING: Senator Graham, if perception is reality, he still is perceived as the world terrorist is he not?
GRAHAM: Absolutely. When you mention terrorism what's the first person that comes to mind, bin Laden. He represents that segment of humanity that really needs to be dealt with. He represents the worst in who we are in terms of religion and tolerance.
And, Evan's right, if it takes forever we need to put all the resources available to our country to bring him to justice to show the world that people like him can be brought to justice. But he represents the worst in humanity and I'm optimistic that people in the Muslim and Arab world over time will reject what he preaches.
KING: Is the failure to get him, Senator Bayh, a failure?
BAYH: Well, obviously we would like to have gotten him long before now but he is in a very remote part of the world. I just got back from the border area in Afghanistan and then went to Pakistan and it is mountainous. It is remote. The tribes there are harboring him.
So, of course it's a disappointment we haven't gotten him but I believe that eventually, Larry, he will be brought to justice and we also need to continue to deal with the roots of this problem, which is giving across that part of the world these alienated young people a positive alternative to radical jihad and suicidal terror. That in the long run is what will allow us to defeat Osama bin Laden.
KING: Does it disturb you, Senator Graham that apparently he still remains one of the more popular figures worldwide?
GRAHAM: Beyond belief. His popularity in Pakistan, for instance, is amazingly strong. I guess he represents resistance more than he represents a lack of humanity and maybe one day we can turn the tide because bin Laden's world is a very terrible world for women. It's a terrible world for people who want to embrace God on different terms. It's not the way to go for the Muslim or the Arab world. It really does bother me that so many people throughout the world could see him as a positive figure when, in fact, he has nothing to offer but the worst of humanity and maybe one day, as Evan said, we can change that. I hope so.
KING: Why do you think, Senator Bayh that he is so popular?
BAYH: Larry, it can only be a failure to understand what the man truly represents and who he truly is. I mean look at Iraq. He's sponsoring killing of Muslim versus Muslim. He's trying to start a religious war within his own religion. He kills women, children, innocent civilians without remorse.
How could anyone who looks at this record possibly find him to be an inspirational figure? I think the answer lies in the fact that there are these young people across the Islamic world who have no economic future, no political participation.
They've been instilled with a radical interpretation of their own religion and they have gone to him out of in some ways desperation and hopelessness. And that's why it's when we stand for freedom, economic, political and religious that we give them a positive alternative to bin Laden-ism.
KING: You remain optimistic, Senator Graham?
GRAHAM: I do in the sense that 11 million people turned out to vote in Iraq with signs on the walls saying "If you vote, you die" yet the Iraqi people are joining the army. They're becoming judges. They're becoming lawyers. They're wanting to be policemen. They're fighting Zarqawi. They're taking the terrorists on head on.
So, I'm optimistic that the people in Iraq show that it's possible to go a better way and I hope the people in the region will reject the Iranian president's call to break the world apart. So, I'm optimistic that good people in that part of the world are going to overcome evil. We just need to be more supportive and somehow better connect.
KING: And you, Senator Bayh, are you optimistic as is Senator Graham?
BAYH: Larry, I'm optimistic but I also think it's important that we be realistic. This problem that has given rise to bin Laden, and Lindsey mentions the president of Iran who is a scary individual and that is a whole other problem we need to deal with seriously as they seek nuclear weapons, I am optimistic but this is going to take some time to deal with.
We've got to be strong. We've got to be persistent and we've got to gather the world with us because we stand for the forces of freedom and a better future. Someone like bin Laden wants to take us back to the dark ages. The president of Iran envisions an apocalypse. That can't be the future of America or the rest of the world and we need to be in this for the long haul.
KING: Thank you both very much, Senators Lindsey Graham and Evan Bayh, two outstanding members of the United States Senate.
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