CNN BREAKING NEWS
America's Response; Rumsfeld Gives Press Briefing
Aired October 7, 2001 - 12:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: couple of other quick items here: Several Muslim leaders within Pakistan are denouncing the U.S. and British attacks, calling them brutal and unwarranted. They called on Muslims to extend full support to their Afghan brothers. That coming out of Muslim leaders in Pakistan. And the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Selam Zaef Sunday condemned the United States attacks as a terrorist attack, quote, "We tried our best to resolve the solution, but the power-drunk United States took the way of arrogance. It will be responsible for the killing of poor and innocent people in Afghanistan."
That from the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan. Pakistan is the only country that continues to have formal diplomatic relations with the Taliban regime on its border in Afghanistan. I know this being a Sunday, a lot of you are coming in periodically. Let me catch you up on a couple of details as we go.
The shot you see, the green shot to my right, is a camera location of ours about 40 miles to the north of Kabul, the Afghan capital. We look down at it, as I'm sure you do a lot, to see what we see. We see occasional flashes of light. But again, this is nothing like what we saw in Baghdad in those early hours of the Persian Gulf War a decade ago. That doesn't necessarily tell us that this is not an ongoing effort. In fact, we believe it is, it just tells us that we are not seeing a lot of tracer fire coming back.
Christiane Amanpour in Islamabad has been working her contacts. Christiane, are you picking up bits and pieces of Pakistani reaction?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, reaction from inside Afghanistan, again, our sources there reached by phone say there is another wave of attacks under way on Kandahar, and they are speculating that it may be around Mullah Omar's house, which is, as you know, he is the supreme leader of the Taliban movement.
So that is just what we have heard from Kandahar in the last few moments, another round of attacks on Kandahar. Earlier we had heard from both Kandahar, and close to jalalabad, talking about attacks in the last hour or so, in Kandahar, reached by telephone at, or by radio at the airport there, saying the command center had been hit, the radar station had been hit.
Also in Jalalabad, sources there saying that they believed a target south of the city had been hit, that may have been the airport, but a subsequent call to Jalalabad suggests that it may have been an al Qaeda base, according to a highly placed military source inside Afghanistan. It may have been an al Qaeda base around Jalalabad that had been hit.
On the humanitarian issue, we are hearing, again from Kandahar, that people have been fleeing in the wake of these attacks, trying to flee out of the city. Of course, in the last few days, Mular Omar, the Taliban leader, had been urging people to come back, saying that the United States was not going to attack.
You know that over the few weeks many Afghans, thousands of Afghans, had left cities, gone either to the countryside or come to the borders with Pakistan. So that is what we are hearing, the latest from inside Afghanistan. As for here in Pakistan, we understand that the airspace is still open here, indicating that there are no overflights, military overflights of Pakistan. That, as I say is speculation. All I can tell you is that it is open, the airspace.
Also, the cabinet is meeting, and we apparently are going to have a statement either from the foreign minister or the foreign minister spokesman in about 20 minutes from now. One other note of vast importance, given the public reaction here, Prime Minister Tony Blair very, very clear, about the humanitarian dimension of this, going out of his way to say that quote, "We are doing all that we humanly can to avoid casualties," and that a big concern in this region every time we talk to anybody here, many people insist that if there is to be retaliation against the terrorists and the training camps, that there must not be attacks on Afghan civilians.
And public reaction here suggesting that if there was widespread attacks or civilian casualties, that would vastly impact public opinion in this region. We understand from military analysts that any attacks would avoid civilian infrastructure: roads, bridges and other things that we have seen being hit in other military actions, for instance, Kosovo, the Gulf War and other such things -- Aaron.
BROWN: That is always the plan. This military business is an imperfect science, but that is the plan, to go after specific military targets, to go after command and control centers, to go after anti- aircraft sites, to go after terrorist bases or what's left of them.
It is hard to imagine that whoever occupied those bases are still hanging around, but that is the plan. But as we know from other battles and other times, these things always don't go according to form. These attacks started a couple hours ago, now. We have some pictures from al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera is a major television network in Middle East. It is seen by much of the Arab world. These are pictures that they shot for us. We have an exclusive relationship with them. We will be passing along not only the pictures that they have, in some respects these are, we believe, just outside Kabul, they have some access that right now -- perhaps no one else has. They also give us a very good idea of what is being told to the Islamic world while this going on. So they benefit us in a number of ways. Again these are taped pictures outside of Kabul. You can see some tracer fire going up. General Wes Clark is here, too. General, I assume you can see a monitor here, as we go to live back to our live picture, that camera to the north of Kabul, did you see anything in the Al Jazeera shots that from your eye, your experienced eye that would be helpful to us here?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.): You can see this string of tracers going up from probably 23 millimeter canon. That would indicate that they believed that the aircraft is low enough to shoot down. Sounds like a cruise missile, if it is any of our manned aircraft they are going to be too high for that antiaircraft small caliber canon to effect.
And this would be a very precise set of strikes. We are obviously going to take great care to avoid civilian casualties, so you are not going to hear continuous rumble of fire. It will be pinpoint, precise, and it should have a very good impact.
BROWN: Walk us through a couple things if you will. We have talked about a number of specific cities that these attack has been launched against. Why don't you, in a sense, or two, the importance of each location.
CLARK: Well, we know in Kabul of course that is the capital of Afghanistan, and that is where traditionally, the command and control headquarters has been. There has also been an alternate command post which the Taliban occupied for some time in their spiritual center of Kandahar.
There are airbases and other facilities that were there originally in Afghanistan. They were improved by the Soviets and presumably these were all occupied in one form or another by the Taliban armed forces today.
BROWN: And Jalalabad to the North of Kabul, correct?
CLARK: It is.
BROWN: And its importance, beyond it is a fairly decent sized city, is the terrorist base issue?
CLARK: Yes, there are terrorist bases in many of these locations, here, and here. Of course the Pashtun area is in this region, so, this is also an area which has been traditionally very supportive of the Taliban plus its where probably Osama bin Laden would feel most secure. So we are not limited by the geography in these early sets of strikes. The cruise missiles have adequate range to cover anywhere in the country. They can come in from any angle, and they can come in at any time. Manned aircraft also have complete coverage of the area.
BROWN: The geography gets more complicated as the weather turns, and as you start talking about not air forces, but anyone who might go in on the ground. CLARK: It will be more difficult for troops on the ground. There is no question that geography is a major factor for the ground troops. At this stage, it is a laydown from the air.
BROWN: It is a lay down. Tell me what that means.
CLARK: We have been watching these targets, presumably for a long time. We have complete dominance of the skies from outer space, and high altitude observation. And so we plotted these attacks in with great precision and in great detail. Everything will be choreographed down to the split second: Routes, time zone targets, ingress, egress, everything to do with the aircraft, and the cruise missiles will have been carefully planned, rehearsed numerous times on computer war games, and it will flow like clock here.
BROWN: General, thanks. I want to talk more about that question the planning, as we go along this afternoon. The president has been on the phone to members of Congress, to foreign leaders as well. Major Garret is at the White House and he can he give us some detail on that -- Major.
MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, all very typical, the president calling all four congressional leaders. That would include House Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, and the Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, notifying them ahead of time of this military action.
The White House, throughout this crisis, has maintained very close relationships, very close contacts with Republican and Democratic leadership of the Congress not only on this front, but on all domestic fronts. Washington has seen a degree of unity and bipartisanship since September 11 that it has not seen in a very, very long while.
On the international front, CNN has confirmed the president also called Russian President Vladimir Putin to notify him of the imminent military strikes in Afghanistan. Mr. Putin has emerged as a key and vital component of the coalition against terrorism, and the president notifying him ahead of time as well.
BROWN: And just adding a sentence or two on to this question of congressional support, while in last week we saw some partisan differences about economic stimulus, about the right airport security plan, you know, who is on which payroll, since this began on the 11 of September, there has been unwavering support for the president no matter the party. And nothing that has happened since that day has changed that.
Obviously we are moving pretty quickly around the world here. The first official Taliban reaction now to the attacks, quote, "America will never achieve its goal." That coming from the Taliban, in Afghanistan.
Christiane Amanpour is in Islamabad -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Well, just to describe to you a little bit more about what we are hearing from our sources inside Afghanistan, specifically in Kandahar, I reported a few minutes ago about a second wave of attacks on Kandahar. They are being described as more intense and heavier than the first wave. The source says that he believes that one of the explosions at least was around a compound used by Mullah Omar, a compound that belonged to him. It is a fairly big compound. It is unlikely though that he would have been in there they say.
A military base, this source believes, in the city may also have been hit, and also there has been some anti-aircraft fire directed into the skies -- some, we are told, not a lot. The Taliban ambassador is being quoted by AP and other wire sources here and we are trying to get on the phone with him but predictably saying that this is now a terrorist attack by the United States.
We also have a statement from the JUI, one of the hardline Islamic parties here, whose leader today was put under house arrest saying this attack by United States is what they call justification for a jihad, a holy war, as they have been saying for the last four weeks and they are also calling for mass demonstrations tomorrow.
To reiterate, the Pakistani cabinet is meeting and we expect shortly to have a statement from the foreign minister or a spokesman -- Aaron.
BROWN: Thank you. We might make a couple of notes to our viewers, 10 1/2 hour difference -- I am sorry, 8 1/2 hour difference to Afghanistan, from the East Coast of the United States, and the State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert for Americans. Obviously that is not surprising, but it has been formally announced so Americans are told to use extreme caution if they are traveling abroad.
Extreme caution is what we always urge on Kamal Hyder who has been reporting for us from inside Afghanistan. We won't be any more specific than that. Kamal you have some detail on the second wave of attacks?
KAMAL HYDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Our people in Kandahar basically called us a few minutes ago, and they said that this the second wave of attacks was underway and they said this was much closer than the last one which was towards the airport, 30 kilometers away. But these explosions were extremely loud. There was some antiaircraft fire heard, and they said the intended targets were possibly the goal, headquarters in Kandahar and possibly the residence of the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar.
BROWN: And you are getting this by telephone, correct? So at least the phones are working?
BROWN: At least telephones are still working?
HYDER: Yes. In fact, basically, yes. They are still in communication. Don't forget this is from CNN office in Kandahar. BROWN: I understand that. Did they tell you -- did they give you any sense of panic in the city, of chaos in the city? Did they give you any sort of picture of what it is like to be in Kandahar, Afghanistan under American attack right now?
HYDER: Well, people in Kandahar have been putting up a very brave shoulder. They are -- a building there is more glass than anything else and they have been braving that and still staying on to the phone. They did report however and leaving the city, there was a bit of panic and that people were trying to get out of the city.
This is something that happened last night when there was a huge bomb explosion in which Mullah Omar was the target and even at that time there was panic and people tried to flee the city.
BROWN: Kamal, hang on. We will get back to you or you call us as you can. A reminder to the viewers, it is about 10:45 in the evening in Afghanistan now. There is still plenty of night here for the American and British forces to operate if they so choose to continue all night long.
This attack started at around 8:00 in any case, after it was dark. The picture you are looking at is coming from the north of Kabul. We have not seen much tracer fire since the early hours, the early hour of the attack. But we now believe a second wave of attacks is going on in Kandahar and might even be targeting the Taliban leader Mullah Omar's compound.
It's not a house as such but it's a set of buildings. I don't know if General Clark can hear me or not right now. General, on the cruise missile, can you almost literally program in the coordinates for a home and count on that missile to get there?
CLARK: Yes, you could. You may recall during the operation in Kosovo, we did in fact, strike at home of Serbian president Milosevic. It had a command bunker in the basement of it that a command and control center, and we did strike that house.
BROWN: They can be that specific?
BROWN: And just to button up something you were talking about a moment ago, it has been just slightly less than a months since the attacks on New York and in Washington. Is that enough time -- well it is obviously enough time, time they launched the attack -- is that as much time as you would you like, to plan a military campaign as complicated as the one unfolding now?
CLARK: This is a very doctrinal campaign as we have seen thus far in all aspects of it. As long as we have the information, we can plan an operation like this fairly quickly. It is a matter of getting the forces into position and the forces were position and adequate time to do it.
I think we have had an enough time to do it. The question is how much intelligence is there's beyond the initial waves of strikes and how will we be able to update target base and collect more information during the course of campaign? And those are imponderables right now for the military planners. We will have work on that on a day-by-day basis.
BROWN: I assume the planners always want a little more time and they also understand that they don't always get what they want, and presumably they had enough at least to get going?
BROWN: Thank you. We will check back with you. Chris Burns in Northern Afghanistan around an area that is controlled by the NORTHERN ALLIANCE there -- Chris.
BURNS: Aaron, the latest we have heard here from the Northern Alliance command here is that the U.S. airstrike or the allies airstrikes have not only hit in the south but also in the north in three northern cities, very key cities including Takhar, Kunduz (ph) , and Mozari (ph) Sharif. Mozari Sharif is especially important to the Northern Alliance because that is a Taliban stronghold in the north.
If that city falls, then much of the north will fall to the Northern Alliance. That is what they have been fighting for on several fronts, fighting and pushing back -- at least they claim to be pushing back the Taliban along several front -- and today they said they had taken a provincial city on the way to Mozari Sharif.
Also in another province they say that they have surrounded that city. In the latest reports, the latest fighting was just before the air strikes began. It was between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. here. They say they fought Taliban sources near the city of Aibek in Samangan Province. They say that 180 fighters on the Taliban side surrendered. Very difficult for to us confirm from this end. It is a very remote region, extremely mountainous.
The fact that the Northern Alliance is reporting the coalition forces striking three key northern cities, it does imply and show that the Northern Alliance is working with Washington and vice versa in trying to destabilize and perhaps even topple the Taliban -- Aaron.
BROWN: Chris, thank you. Mazar-E Sharif, by the way, if we show a map is in the northernmost part of Afghanistan. This is Al Jazeera television, and we just want to hear what is going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Taliban is the supporter of the weak (ph), of the nation of Islam. This is a call for you during this critical time to distinguish between the believers and the liars. This is our call for you, as the nations of infidels have all united against the Muslims.
And before I start my speech to you, I would like to ask the American people which has government which is against a nation, all American people ask yourselves, why all of this hate against America and against Israel? Why all of this hatred in the hearts of Americans against America? The answer is very clear and very simple, that America has committed so many crimes against the nations of Muslims and terrible and nobody could bear.
America is the head of criminals by creating the Israel, this continuous crime for 50 years. The Muslim nation shall not accept this crime. It is your government which is sieging the people of Iraq and killing them. It is your government who is supporting the rotten government in our country.
All American people, your government is leading you to another lost -- losing war. Your government left afraid from Lebanon and from Somalia and from Afghan. And today, your government is leading you to another lost battle where you will lose your sons and your money. And let you know, American people, and let the whole world know that we shall never accept that the tragedy Andalucia would be repeated and Palestine.
We cannot accept that Palestine would become Jewish. And with regard to you Muslims, this is the day of question, this is a new raid (ph) against the few believers -- all against the Muslims of Medina. So we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the prophet (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and our youth, our clergymen, lovers of God and the prophet, this is a new battle, raid, similar to the great battles of Islam, the conqueror of Jerusalem, so hurry up to the dignities of life and the eternity of death.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Let the whole world know that we shall never accept that the tragedy of Andalucia (ph) would be repeated in Palestine. We cannot accept that Palestine will become Jewish.
And with regard to you, Muslims, this is the day of question. This is a new (UNINTELLIGIBLE) against you, all against the Muslims and Medina. So be like the followers of the prophet, peace be upon him, and all countrymen (ph), lovers of God and the prophet within, and a new battle, great battle, similar to the great battles of Islam, like the conqueror of Jerusalem. So, hurry up to the dignity of life and the eternity of death.
Thanks to God, he who God guides will never lose. And I believe that there's only one God. And I declare I believe there's no prophet but Hammed (ph).
This is America, God has sent one of the attacks by God and has attacked one of its best buildings. And this is America filled with fear from the north, south, east and west, thank God.
And what America is facing today is something very little of what we have tasted for decades. Our nation, since nearly 80 years is tasting this humility. Sons are killed, and nobody answers the call.
And when God has guided a bunch of Muslims to be at the forefront and destroyed America, a big destruction, I wish God would lift their position.
And when those people have defended and retaliated to what their brothers and sisters have suffered in Palestine and Lebanon, the whole world has been shouting.
And there are civilians, innocent children being killed every day in Iraq without any guilt, and we never hear anybody. We never hear any (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from the clergymen of the government (ph).
And every day we see the Israeli tanks going to Jeanine (ph), Ramallah, Beit Jalla and other lands of Islam. And, no, we never hear anybody objecting to that.
So when the swords came after eight years to America, then the whole world has been crying for those criminals who attacked. This is the least which could be said about them. They are people. They supported the murder against the victim, so God has given them back what they deserve.
I say the matter is very clear, so every Muslim after this, and after the officials in America, starting with the head of the infidels, Bush. And they came out with their men and equipment and they even encouraged even countries claiming to be Muslims against us. So, we run with our religion. They came out to fight Islam with the name of fighting terrorism.
People -- event of the world -- in Japan, hundreds of thousands of people got killed. This is not a war crime. Or in Iraq, what our -- who are being killed in Iraq. This is not a crime. And those, when they were attacked in my Nairobi, and Dar Es Salaam, Afghanistan, and Sudan were attacked.
I say these events have split the whole world into two camps: the camp of belief and the disbelief. So every Muslim shall take -- shall support his religion.
And now with the winds of change has blown up now, has come to the Arabian Peninsula.
And to America, I stay to it and to its people this: I swear by God the Great, America will never dream nor those who live in America will never taste security and safety unless we feel security and safety in our land and in Palestine.
BROWN: That from Al Jazeera television. Al Jazeera saying that it was shot sometime today. When today would be an interesting question to know the answer to. It looked to be daylight to us. Having said that, that is a remarkably chilling several minutes. Osama Bin Laden, this person we have seen pictures of here and there, but almost never heard. He said at one point Americans are tasting today what we, speaking of his view of the Muslim world, what we have tasted for decades.
He called on Muslims around the world. He said this is a battle of believers and non believers and called on Muslims around the world to join the fight and then he said at the end, in one of those moments that really does send chills up your spine, "Americans will never feel or face safety and security unless we," speaking of his people, "unless we and the Palestinians feel safe and secure as well." Again, al Jezeera television saying that was shot sometime today. We don't know what time. We don't know if it was before attacks. It looked like daylight to us, that might have been the lighting, we are not sure. We didn't see the kinds of shadows we would have expected to see as well. Peter Bergen who works with us, knows bin Laden, has written about bin Laden. Extraordinary moment, Peter?
PETER BERGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You just heard a voice from United States most implacable enemy. But none of those words were words he hasn't said before. Both he and his aide Amin Al Zuari (ph) who we first heard from reiterated the common litany of complaints they have always had against the United States.
I thought it was very interesting that we heard first from Amin Al Zuari, a man we know little about except that -- and has kept very much in the shadows but who is coming forward much more publicly now. He is widely regarded by U.S. intelligence officials and by Saudi sources and Saudi journalists as being really the brains of the operation. Amin Al Zuari, an older man than bin Laden about ten years.
BROWN: This is the guy sitting to the right with the glasses?
BROWN: So that we can orient viewers as we go, here. I apologize for interrupting.
BERGEN: No problem. So he. the fact that Amin Al Zuari started talking first reiterated Al Qaeda's complaints against America I thought was significant. He is the man who has really radicalized bin Laden and has been a professional revolutionary since the 1970s. Bin Laden went on to say something he said in the past about the embassy bombings in Africa. He used the same formula. He said we want to give Americans something of what the Muslims have tasted.
He made the same observations about the World Trade Center attack. So it goes with a lot of the statements they have said in the past. Clearly we are hearing from America's most implacable enemy and somebody who is not intimidated by these attacks. Obviously somebody who has been planning this for some time.
BROWN: I agree. it's nothing we haven't heard before, but in the context of what is going on and what has gone on, the whole thing I thought was chilling. Thank you, Peter. Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon. And we might add here we should get a Pentagon briefing perhaps with the half hour. Jamie do you have something to pass along now?
MCINTYRE: Some new details about what is going on now with these ongoing strikes. Pentagon sources tell CNN that these strikes will include attacks from long-range U.S. bombers flying out of Whiteman Airforce Base in Missouri.
Also, B-1 and B-52 bombers both flying out of the British base of Diego Garcia using sometimes satellite guided munitions and sometimes carpet bombing against some of the positions including some training camps in Afghanistan. These attacks now I'm told will continue through the night probably another five hours of attacks.
This is a very substantial attack that is being mounted from the air both from sea launched cruise missiles carrier based aircraft and also now we are told long-range bombers, some flying from the United States. The B-2 using the J-Dam or joint direct attack munition which is guided by GPS, extremely accurate. We are also told that the B- 52's and B-1 may be involved in some carpet bombing, much as they did in operation Desert Fox for the B-1s and the B-52s in Kosovo, where also used to bomb fielded forces with carpet bombing.
In addition, Pentagon sources tell CNN that there will be at least one food drop during this mission to Afghan refugees, humanitarian daily rations, specially configured for relief effort, will be dropped from a C-17, to refugees in camps in Afghanistan. And those food drops will continue in the days to come. So it does look like this is a very substantial attack all from the air. There is no indication now that there will be any U.S. troops put in on the ground in Afghanistan.
BROWN: Jamie, a quick point here. Are you able to confirm from the Pentagon and this second wave of attacks on Kandahar?
MCINTYRE: I think we have been on the second wave. I think we are going to have waves all night. This is going to continue for the next four or five hours until dawn comes so expect a night of heavy bombing in Afghanistan.
BROWN: Jamie, thanks. We will get back to the Pentagon again, we expect the secretary of defense, perhaps the chairman of the joint chiefs as well to brief a little bit later. Christiane Amanpour in Islamabad -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: There has been a meeting of the cabinet and they have come out with a statement saying that Pakistan regrets the diplomatic efforts to meet the demands of the international community have not succeeded and that now military is now underway. The foreign ministry spokesman said that Pakistan had done whatever it could to convince the Taliban leadership of the gravity of the situation and to take the right decision on behalf of the Afghan people.
He went on to say it remains our hope that U.S. and allied action remains clearly targeted on the aims -- the military objectives identified in the fight on terrorism as identified by the U.N. resolutions and that care will be taken to minimize any damage and harm coming to the Afghan people. Also going on to say that they hope the operations will end soon and that a concerted international effort will be undertaken to promote reconstruction and national reconciliation and to help Afghanistan continue.
We also, just in terms of describing what you have been talking about, that Osama bin Laden tape, it look to us from those of us watching it here that it was shot in daylight. It looked very very professionally shot. This was no fly-by-night- small VHS camera. It looked like a very professional news release, if you like. And all the same things that have been Osama bin Laden's gripes in the past were repeated. Again, the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, the Iraqis suffering in Iraq, and he talked about U.S. support for what he called a corrupt regime in the region.
So this was very much what we have heard over and over again by Osama bin Laden. Notably he was in a combat jacket and there was an AK-47 gun nearby. He was, as you pointed out, an accompanied by Amin Al Zuari, who used to be the head of Islamic jihad from Egypt, also implicated in the assassination of Anwar Sadat and a very close ally and they say the military brains of the al Qaeda network.
Here in Pakistan we have been talking to a lot of people and they very clearly distance themselves as Muslims do, many of them around the world from the kind of radicalism that has been espoused. And they clearly distance themselves from that kind of attack that took place on the United States.
So the implication that he speaking on behalf of the Muslims does not resonate with most of the Muslim people that we have spoken to -- Aaron.
BROWN: Christiane, thank you very much. I wonder, just one more quote or two from the bin Laden statement, if you will. He said at one point after listing literally 80 years of grievances, extending from Iraq in the near term to Palestine, Israel, long before it was Israel, in fact. They are the people talking about the Americans who supported the murder against victims so God, speaking now of the terrorist attacks in New York, now almost a month ago, God has given back to them what they deserve.
Matthew Chance is in Northern Afghanistan reporting on what he has been seeing. He has had a fairly good view of the fighting going on, if fighting is the right word of the attack -- Matthew.
CHANCE: That is right. I am just a few kilometers from the front line of the Taliban positions here with the Northern Alliance. There is about 20 kilometers, about 12 miles or so, from the outskirts of the Afghan capital Kabul.
I can tell you that according to commanders of the Northern Alliance the order has been given here to begin bombardment of Taliban positions, positions north of Kabul that is. In the last few minutes that bombardment got under way. Every few moments there is a big loud explosion, a whoosh of red light exploding on the horizon, onto the hillside about two kilometers from where I'm standing right now, my vantage point.
I can't actually see the outskirts of Kabul now. That is blocked by a mountain which essentially marks the boundary between the area under Taliban control and this area which is under anti-Taliban Northern Alliance opposition. Give you some more details about what commanders here on the ground from Northern Alliance are saying about U.S. and British attacks.
They say according to their intelligence coming out of the Taliban controlled areas, there have been at least seven locations around the Afghanistan targeted, including of course Kabul and Kandahar. But as well Mariz al Sharif in the north of the country, Jalalabad in the east, and a number of other locations across northern Afghanistan.
Now back to this artillery bombardment. It appears to have gone quiet for the moment, but that bombardment is pretty sporadic. They are working on the directors of their political leadership of the Northern Alliance and they say they are working in cooperation with the United States to decide how and when to proceed to their ultimate objective which is of course, Aaron, an advance on Kabul and the seizing of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Kabul itself.
BROWN: Matthew, thank you. Stand by a second again. We want to let viewers know that is eight and a half hours ahead of East Coast time so it is a little bit after 11:00 in Afghanistan now. Christiane Amanpour is in Islamabad, Pakistan on the border. Obviously a critical point now --Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Well here in the capital this is the center of all the diplomatic watching and the diplomatic affairs here. We have confirmed now from Pakistani sources saying that Pakistani airspace was used during and presumably is being used during the attacks on Afghanistan tonight.
We also have had a statement from the Taliban ambassador just within the last few moments here in Islamabad, saying that he acknowledges that attacks are underway on Kabul and a very short statement saying that the Taliban had repeatedly asked for talks with the United States but were refused. There have been delegations and missions sent from Pakistan to the Taliban leadership over the last couple of weeks which yielded nothing.
A quote by the ambassador here quoted by wire sources, we haven't confirmed yet, because he gave a very short statement saying he believed Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden are still alive -- Aaron.
BROWN: Thank you very much. I wonder if we can go to General Clark. General, going back to Jamie Mcintyre's reporting. Three things came to my mind. I am not surprised that these attacks would go on all night. The importance of these first hours both militarily and psychologically?
CLARK: It's important to do as much as you can as rapidly as possible because there is a shock effect from this that is above and beyond the physical damage to the targets. And so what the United States forces would obviously like to do is not only strike the targets but demoralize the Taliban leadership and all of the followers there.
BROWN: The significance if any of using American-based B-2 bombers? We talked about this when we were on the phone a little bit on Friday. These are very long flights.
CLARK: They are long flights. Crews are trained for it. The aircraft are capable of it and it is primarily for logistical reasons. The aircraft is best support from the United States, its home base. And this is has been the experience in Kosovo as well as here.
BROWN: Any particular reason why, given that it is a somewhat more challenging efforts on behalf of the crews, why use that plane in the early moments of this battle?
CLARK: It has a very, very fine targeting system, it...
BROWN: General, I'm sorry. I have to interrupt you. I hate doing it. The secretary of defense has just walked into the Pentagon. He is about to start his Briefing. He just got back in the country in Saturday. Donald Rumsfeld.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Today the president has turned to direct, overt military force to compliment the economic, humanitarian, financial and diplomatic activities which are already well under way.
The effect we hope to achieve through these raids, which together with our coalition partners we have initiated today, is to create conditions for sustained anti-terrorist and humanitarian relief operations in Afghanistan.
That requires that, among other things, we first remove the threat from air defenses and from Taliban aircraft. We also seek to raise the cost of doing business for foreign terrorists who have chosen Afghanistan from which to organize their activities, and for the oppressive Taliban regime that continues to tolerate terrorist presence in those portions of Afghanistan which they control.
The current military operations are focused on achieving several outcomes: To make clear to the Taliban leaders and their supporters that harboring terrorists is unacceptable and carries a price.
To acquire intelligence to facilitate intelligence to facilitate future operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban regime that harbors the terrorists.
To develop relationships with groups in Afghanistan that oppose the Taliban regime and the foreign terrorists that they support.
To make it increasingly difficult to use Afghanistan freely as a base of operation.
And to alter the military balance over time by denying to the Taliban the offensive systems that hamper the progress of the various opposition forces.
And to provide humanitarian relief to Afghans suffering truly oppressive living conditions under the Taliban regime.
I want to reiterate a point that President Bush has made often and that he made again today in his remarks. The United States has organized armed coalitions on several occasions since the Cold War for the purpose of denying hostile regimes the opportunity to oppress their own people and other people.
In Kuwait, in Northern Iraq, in Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo, the United States took action on behalf of Muslim populations against outside invaders and oppressive regimes. The same is true today.
We stand with those Afghans who are being repressed by a regime that abuses the very people it purports to lead, and that harbors terrorists who have attacked and killed thousands of innocents around the world of all religions, of all races and of all nationalities.
While our raids today focus on the Taliban and the foreign terrorists in Afghanistan, our aim remains much broader. Our objective is to defeat those who use terrorism and those who house or support them.
The world stands united in this effort. It is not about a religion or an individual terrorist or a country. Our partners in this effort represent nations and peoples of all cultures, all religions and all races. We share the belief that terrorism is a cancer on the human condition, and we intend to oppose it wherever it is.
The operation today involved a variety of weapon systems, and it originated from a number of separate locations. We used land and sea- based aircraft, surface ships and submarines, and we employed a variety of weapons to achieve our objectives.
As President Bush mentioned in his statement, dozens of countries contributed in specific ways to this mission, including transit and landing rights, basing opportunities and intelligence support.
In this mission, we are particularly grateful for the direct military involvement of the forces of Great Britain.
To achieve the outcomes we seek, it is important to go after air defense and Taliban aircraft. We need the freedom to operate on the ground and in the air. And the target selected, if successfully destroyed, should permit an increasing degree of freedom over time.
We have also targeted command facilities for those forces that we know support terrorist elements within Afghanistan and critical terrorist sites.
President Bush has repeatedly emphasized that we will hold accountable any who help terrorists, as well as the terrorists themselves.
Before I take your questions, let me say that to say that these attacks are in any way against Afghanistan or the Afghan people, is flat wrong.
We support the Afghan people against the Al Qaeda, a foreign presence on their land, and against the Taliban regime that supports them.
What took place today and what will be taking place in the period ahead is a part of the measured and broad and sustained effort that the president announced shortly after the attacks on September 11.
General Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will make a few remarks before we respond to questions.
MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
I know you have many questions to ask, so I'll keep my comments brief.
The secretary said today our forces have begun the initial part of military operations in the war against terrorism. About 15 land- based bombers, some 25 strike aircraft from carriers, and U.S. and British ships and submarines launching approximately 50 tomahawk missiles have struck targets, terrorist targets in Afghanistan.
The first target was hit at approximately 12:30 Eastern Standard Time, and operations continue as we speak.
As the secretary said, these efforts are designed to disrupt and destroy terrorist activities in Afghanistan and to set the conditions for future military action as well as to bring much-needed food and medical aid to the people of Afghanistan.
I want to remind you that while today's operations are visible, many other operations may not be so visible. But visible or not, our friends and enemies should understand that all instruments of our national power, as well as those of our friends and allies around the world, are being brought to bear on this global menace.
We are in the early stages of ongoing combat operations, and our outstanding men and women in uniform are performing just as they've been trained to do, and that is to say, superbly.
With that, ladies and gentlemen, we're ready to take your questions.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, might I ask without -- I know you don't want to give too many details, especially early on. You said 15 land- based bombers, approximately 15. Could you tell us whether B-1s, B- 52s and B-2s were used in this?
RUMSFELD: They were.
QUESTION: B-2s were used. And did you have -- we're told you had a broad range of targets. Did you hit airbases? Did you attack Taliban jets and airbases?
RUMSFELD: Well, as I indicated in my remarks, it is certainly necessary, if one is going to engage in humanitarian activities that involve the air or the ground, that one would not want to try to do that as long as the Taliban had aircraft or air defense systems that could pose a threat to U.S. personnel.
QUESTION: Just one -- I'm sorry, just one brief follow-up. Did the B-2s -- were they flying roundtrip from the United States? Because they had been on the Kosovo operations. MYERS: Yes. Yes, they flew from the continental the United States.
RUMSFELD: Yes, they were.
QUESTION: Can you tell us how extensive the humanitarian effort has been thus far? And how many C-17s' worth of various type of refugee food and blankets and medicine are you dropping? Is there some way to quantify it?
RUMSFELD: It started, oh, 20 or 30 minutes ago. And it's just in its beginning stages.
QUESTION: Can you give us some description of how many tons of food and medicine you're trying to deliver?
RUMSFELD: Well, we could. As I say, it's in the beginning stages and this is a first day. The first day was something like 37,000 rations, as I recall.
RUMSFELD: 37,500. But whether or not that will all get delivered is something we won't know for a few hours.
QUESTION: It includes more than just food, is that correct?
RUMSFELD: It does. Includes some medicines and that type of thing.
QUESTION: General Myers, can you give us a sense of the weapons being dropped by the bombers? The secretary said this is not an attack against the Afghan people; that would be flat wrong to say. That presupposes we're using precision-guided weapons to avoid casualties. All three of those bombers you mentioned can drop these JDAM satellite bombs.
Is that the sort of ordnance being dropped today?
MYERS: We are using -- or essentially have at hand all our conventional munitions. But you're right that the majority of them are precision weapons, but not exclusively, because some targets -- we try to match targets and weapons and their effects.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you said and General Myers said that the raids have been ongoing now for about two and a half hours. But using 50 TLAMs, one would assume that there is an end to this initial phase.
Can you tell us if this initial phase is going to go on much longer? Or is it, for all intents and purposes, over as of this point, sir?
RUMSFELD: It is not yet over.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, was Osama bin Laden targeted in this raid? And can you give us, understanding that it's still early, any preliminary assessment of how successful these attacks have been?
RUMSFELD: No, it's far too early to try to measure success.
And the answer is no with respect to him. This is not about a single individual. It's about an entire terrorist network and multiple terrorist networks across the globe.
We would not have actual reports on the success of the various attacks for some time.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are the airdrops that have, you say, just begun, will that be a continuous operation, or is this a one-time effort?
RUMSFELD: The president's approach to this is that it will be continuous, but that it will be broadly based and it will be economic and political and diplomatic, as well as military overt and covert.
And the fact that one sees a cruise missile on television at one moment and does not another moment ought not to suggest that the pressure and the president's approach to this is anything but continuous. It is continuous.
QUESTION: The humanitarian part, I was referring to the airdrops, is that going to be continuous?
RUMSFELD: I don't know quite what "continuous" means. 24-hour days, 7 days week? No, unlikely. On the other hand, once there is an opportunity to begin the humanitarian effort on the ground, I suppose it could be characterized as continuous.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you give us any idea whether or not this is, I know it's still ongoing, but is this essentially a one-day operation, this phase? Or should we expect there will be more activity tomorrow?
And the second part, will the United States impose essentially a no-fly zone over Afghanistan, as it did over Bosnia and Iraq in the past?
RUMSFELD: I think that, rather than trying to characterize what the United States is going to do on any given day in advance, that I would prefer to say that this effort will continue in a variety of different ways over a sustained period of time, and that we intend to pursue it until such time as we are satisfied that those terrorists networks don't exist, that they have been destroyed.
QUESTION: No-fly zone?
RUMSFELD: I don't know that I want to characterize it as that. Although, certainly, one would think that if one of your early objectives is to deal with their aircraft and their air defense system, it very likely would reduce the number of Taliban aircraft flying around over Afghanistan, I would hope, yes.
QUESTION: Have you seen any response so far from the Taliban military? Have they flown or have they launched anything?
RUMSFELD: Too early, too early to know.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Taliban has basically boasted that Osama bin Laden is still alive as well as Mullah Mohammed Omar. What would say to them about that sort of a boast?
RUMSFELD: Well, that Taliban, since the beginning of this, have rejected every suggestion, request or demand made by the United States of America and the coalition partners.
RUMSFELD: They have established themselves as being firmly connected to Al Qaeda and the foreign presence in their country. They have made a choice. And I don't know that there is anything to say beyond that, that they are what they are, and they are bringing great harm to Afghan people.
QUESTION: Can you say anything about the Northern Alliance? Was this coordinated with them? And are they picking up any ground as a result of this, or are they linking up with U.S. forces? Can you give us any sense of what's going on on the ground?
RUMSFELD: Sure. There are a number of elements on the ground in Afghanistan, Afghan people, in the Northern Alliance, in the tribes in the south, even some within Taliban, that do not favor Omar and do not favor the Al Qaeda and would wish they were no longer in their country.
Certainly, our interest is to strengthen those forces that are opposed to Al Qaeda and opposed to the Taliban leadership that is so intimately connected to them, and to strengthen all of those forces so that they will have better opportunities to prevail and to deal with what, obviously, is a regime that is enormously harmful to the Afghan people and poses threats to people all across this globe, including the United States of America.
QUESTION: It's been said many times from the podium that there just aren't that many targets in Afghanistan. Apparently, you've found some. Can you explain that?
And also, can you address what seems to be somewhat of an anomaly in this mission -- the idea that you're fighting your way in in order to drop humanitarian relief on people? And if the people -- if the places where you're dropping relief, if you're getting shot at there, are you not essentially dropping relief on the enemy?
RUMSFELD: Well, first, with respect to the targets, I think I've said repeatedly from this podium that there are not a lot of high- value targets. I've pointed out that the Taliban and the Al Qaeda do not have armies, navies and air forces. And that's clear, they don't.
I've therefore characterized this conflict, this campaign, this so-called war, as being notably different from others.
And it means that what we have to do is exactly what I said in my earlier remarks. We have to create the conditions for a sustained effort that will assist those forces in the country that are opposed to Taliban and opposed to Al Qaeda. And we have to do it in a variety of different ways.
RUMSFELD: We have to dry up their bank accounts. We have to bring political, diplomatic pressure to bear on them. We have to bring economic pressure to bear.
And to the extent we can, use overt as well as covert activities to improve target information, to gather intelligence that will enable us to be more precise in what we do, and to force people to move and change what they're doing, to raise the cost of what they're doing, to attempt to reduce the number of people around the globe who support them and finance them. All of that helps.
The fact is, in this battle against terrorism there is no silver bullet. There is no single thing that is going to suddenly make that threat disappear. Ultimately, they're going to collapse from within, and they're going to collapse from within because of the full combination of all of the resources from all of the countries that are brought to bear on these networks. And that is what will constitute victory.
QUESTION: General Myers, are ground troops...
QUESTION: Will you be providing arms and air cover to the opposition forces to strengthen them?
MYERS: As I say, I don't think -- our goal is to make them more successful. Getting into exactly how we'll do that I think I'll defer.
QUESTION: Do you plan to send U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan?
QUESTION: You said a moment ago, you spoke of multiple terrorists networks in multiple countries. Is this phase of the operation going to involve strikes in some other places other than Afghanistan?
RUMSFELD: As you know, we've had a policy here, at least during my tenure, where we don't discuss ongoing operation and we don't discuss intelligence matters.
QUESTION: Do you plan to put U.S. ground troops in Yugoslavia?
QUESTION: Would you please describe the Taliban anti-aircraft system (OFF-MIKE) surface-to-air missiles? And have any of the American aircraft been damaged or brought down?
RUMSFELD: We have no information that any American aircraft has been damaged or brought down at this moment, at least prior to the time I walked in here. There is -- as I believe Dick Myers has pointed out, they do have a limited number of surface-to-air missiles and they have more than a limited number of man-operated, man-mobile surface-to-air missiles.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could you give us a sense of how many targets you've hit?
RUMSFELD: There's no way to discuss the outcome of this operation.
QUESTION: Are U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan now? And more broadly, could you illuminate at all the so-called less visible side of this operation?
RUMSFELD: Not really. If we wanted it to be overt, we would have discussed it.
QUESTION: And the question about the ground forces, please?
QUESTION: My first part was, on the ground -- are there U.S. forces on the ground now?
RUMSFELD: If we had -- how to phrase this so that it's perfectly clear again. We have not -- I need a...
MYERS: More than one operation.
RUMSFELD: Yes. I mean, we've got, we've got -- I'm disinclined to talk about things that are in process. And if we had significant numbers of U.S. military on the ground, it would have been known by now.
QUESTION: Do you plan to send troops, Mr. Secretary?
QUESTION: The decision to continue airdrops, is that predicated on some level of confidence that you've taken out at least some of that air defense threat?
RUMSFELD: We certainly would not be using airdrops in portions of the country where we were not satisfied that it would be safe for humanitarian relations. We don't discuss operational activities.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you have any -- can you tell us, is there any plans to send significant numbers of...
RUMSFELD: I answered that question before you asked it.
We do not discuss operations.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, much of the country is in the -- at least controlled now by the Taliban. Does that mean that -- and a lot of the -- most of the refugees actually are -- or internally displaced people are in those sections of the country.
Does that mean that those areas will not get the relief as quickly, that other non-Taliban-held areas will get it more quickly?
RUMSFELD: Well certainly non-Taliban areas would get it more quickly. QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can we define a little bit about the humanitarian airdrops? Are these going to be, for the most part, high-altitude airdrops? Going to use pallets and parachutes? Or just kick them out the way we did over Kosovo and Bosnia?
RUMSFELD: It's more like the latter, but greatly improved. We know the effectiveness of those airdrops was less than desired. So between now and then, they have been working with the deliver means to improve that. We think we can be fairly effective from high altitude. And we're targeting remote locations where it's difficult to get trucks in.
This has all been coordinated fairly well, very well with USAID.
QUESTION: Just a follow-up. You're not just kicking out the rations, though, by themselves. They're coming down via parachute or some means to the ground, or aren't they?
RUMSFELD: No, the delivery mode is pretty much like you described. A little more sophisticated than that. But it's not by parachute.
QUESTION: Is there a danger posed to the people on the ground that you are trying to help? As the humanitarian aid comes in, are you exposing them to fire? Or are these two operations wholly separate?
RUMSFELD: There is no risk to the people on the ground that would have an interest in receiving the humanitarian drops.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, were C-17s used to drop the humanitarian daily rations today? And if so, how many?
MYERS: There were two C-17's planned today to drop humanitarian rations.
QUESTION: And that was 100 percent of what was carrying the HDRs?
MYERS: For the first day, that's correct.
QUESTION: How can you drop at a high altitude? I mean, as a lay person -- without using parachutes and not destroy them?
RUMSFELD: Well, the system has been designed to do just that. And like I said, they have been testing ever since allied force stopped. Shortly after that, we began testing to make sure we could accurately deliver these, and that has been ongoing. We will be able to put them where we want to put them.
QUESTION: So that they...
QUESTION: General, don't they have precision radars that can map an area and drop it within a certain bull's eye? RUMSFELD: Well, let me just go back. We have high confidence we will be able to drop where they're intended, where Afghan citizens are. And there are several ways to do that. Absolutely.
QUESTION: As part of effort today, are you dropping leaflets? Have you begun radio broadcasts from Commando Solo and some of the other assets that you have that can do directive messages to the people who may not understand what you are doing?
QUESTION: Both of those?
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are you asking, sir, the Taliban to form a government or are you waiting for the total defeat of Taliban?
RUMSFELD: That really is the business of the Department of State. And what we are doing is we are attempting to help those and advantage those that oppose Taliban and that oppose Al Qaeda in that country in a variety of different ways.
And how that might evolve, and mean, what that might mean from standpoint of the future of Afghanistan, it seems to me is a good distance off. And it is not an issue that this department really is involved in.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are additional steps being taken to strengthen security in the United States in anticipation of some possible retaliation for this attack?
RUMSFELD: Well, most of the kinds of attacks that we have seen tend to have been planned months and months and months, in some cases years, in advance. So the idea that any attack that could occur now would conceivably characterize as in retaliation for something, I think, would be a misunderstanding of the situation.
RUMSFELD: The United States is, as President Bush has indicated, is on a state of heightened awareness. And the armed forces around the world are on a state of higher alert than is normal. The forces in the United States are on a higher alert than has been the normal pattern for our forces.
And the various organizations that deal with law enforcement in the United States, the FBI and state and local officials, are certainly aware that, as of September 11, we have to be sensitive to the possibility that there can be various types of terrorist attacks in our country.
And as a result, the president has marshaled a great many of the capabilities of the United States government, including the military, to assist in seeing that we do what is possible.
But the only way to deal with these terrorist threats is to go at them where they exist. You cannot defend at every place, at every time, against every conceivable, imaginable, even unimaginable, terrorist attack. And the only way to deal with it is to take the battle to where they are and to rout them out and to starve them out by seeing that those countries and those organizations and those non- governmental organizations and those individuals that are supporting and harboring and facilitating these networks stop doing it and find that there's a penalty for doing it.
QUESTION: Apparently, there were strikes in Kandahar and Kabul, and there's talk about the electricity system going down. Are you running the risk of being characterized as attacking the Afghan people rather than the military targets?
RUMSFELD: You know, in this world of ours, if you get up in the morning, you're running a risk of having someone lie and someone mischaracterize what it is you are doing.
What the United States of America is doing is exactly what I said. It is attempting to defend the United States, by taking this battle to the terrorists that have killed thousands of Americans and have threatened not just United States but regimes throughout the world, because they are determined to find ways to intimidate the rest of the world and to terrorize the rest of the world. And we are determined not to be terrorized.
Thank you very much.
BROWN: The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld at the end as steely as we can ever recall hearing him, "The United States government will take this battle to the terrorists." The secretary saying that is the only way to fight terrorism -- you can't defend every possible target everywhere in the world. There is only one way -- that is, "to go get them, to starve them out," to use his words.
He described this early attack as to create the conditions for a sustained anti-terrorist and humanitarian relief effort. And that relief effort is underway.
General Myers, the newly installed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, formerly confirming what we've been reporting to you that this involved both land-based and sea-based Cruise missiles, Tomahawk missiles, 15 land-based aircraft, 25 carrier-based aircraft. Also in the mix is two C-17s, which are being used to drop humanitarian aid where it can be most helpful.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com