CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Rice Discusses Military Progress; Feinstein, Hagel Debate Congress' Role in War on Terrorism; Peres, Sha'ath Talk About Prospects for Mideast Peace
Aired November 11, 2001 - 12:00 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.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington and New York, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 9:30 p.m. in Kabul, Afghanistan, and 10:00 p.m. in Islamabad, Pakistan. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this special three-hour LATE EDITION.
We'll get to interview with the U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice shortly, but first, the latest developments in the war on terrorism.
BLITZER: And later in our program, very soon, we'll be speaking to the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah.
Meantime, no aide has been closer to President Bush during this crisis than his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. She is with him right now in New York.
Earlier today, I spoke with her about the progress of the military campaign in Afghanistan.
BLITZER: Dr. Rice, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.
And I want to get right to the game plan as fare as the U.S. is concerned with Northern Alliance taking Mazar-e Sharif. What do you hope happens next on the ground, inside Afghanistan?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, clearly Mazar-e Sharif was an important objective for the Northern Alliance, but I want to be very clear, Wolf, this is a different kind of battlefield -- it's quite fluid and events can change. And so, while it's good news, I think that we'll have to see how this unfolds.
Now, clearly, one of the advantages of Mazar-e Sharif is that it can be used for humanitarian supply. It would make a difference in getting food to the Afghan people and so we will be looking -- when it is secured -- to using it as a means to get humanitarian relief to the Afghan people. There are also other objectives -- I'm not going to talk about specifically what is going on on the ground -- but all of this is aimed at breaking the grip of the Taliban and shaking loose in a sense their support for the al Qaeda network.
And so the progress is being made, we're using our military power quite effectively to support Northern Alliance objectives but we have to keep in mind that all of this is to break the grip of the Taliban so that we can get after al Qaeda.
BLITZER: As you know the Northern Alliance is anxious to move on Kabul, the capitol. The president says that is not a good idea. Why isn't it a good idea? Wouldn't that break the Taliban and its grip over Afghanistan?
RICE: Well, in fact, members of the Northern Alliance have said that they understand that Kabul is going to have to be a city that represents what Afghanistan is going to be in the future and that is place that is representative of all the different elements of Afghan society.
And so, how Kabul precisely plays out we will see. But I think everyone believes that the future here-a stable Afghanistan, one that has a government that can be representative of the very broad patchwork that is Afghan society -- will have to have a Kabul in which all are invested, not just the Northern Alliance.
BLITZER: Will the U.S. set up a military base, an air base, some military operations, in Mazar-e Sharif?
RICE: We are not in a position right now to discuss specific plans. The important thing is to recognize that Mazar-e Sharif can be secured. That it provides very good connectivity to Uzbekistan, it provides opportunities to deal with the population in Northern Afghanistan -- a population that is very much at risk right now on the humanitarian side.
BLITZER: Most analysts say that if the U.S. and its allies were to take Kandahar in the south -- the stronghold of the Taliban -- that would effectively go very far towards breaking the Taliban. How does that prospect look?
RICE: Well, we're just going to be very systematic here Wolf, in trying to marry our military power, which after all, was not initially intended for this kind of war in Afghanistan. And I think it's fair to say that the military has been more and more adaptive at using that significant military power to support the ground objectives of the opposition. That is still unfolding. The president has said it's a different kind of war and it's not running from a kind of fixed script, we're looking at conditions on the ground and taking advantage of them.
BLITZER: Some human rights activists have expressed concern that the Northern Alliance could seek revenge, commit atrocities against some of its enemies in Afghanistan, perhaps with the U.S. on the sidelines or perhaps even with U.S. tacit support. How concerned are you about those concerns?
RICE: Well, the importance of behavior by the Northern Alliance that supports the long-term outcome here, which is a stable Afghanistan that can be representative, has been a matter of discussion with Northern Alliance commanders.
And it's not just the United States that wants very much to see anything that happens in the military action and in the post-military action supportive of the long-term peace in Afghanistan. All of Afghanistan's neighbors and near-neighbors are giving the same message to the Northern Alliance and to other elements that might be anti- Taliban elements and that is that this has to be a broad-based effort and it cannot begin with any acts of revenge.
BLITZER: The Pakistani journalist, Ahmed Rashid who has written a book on the Taliban, writes in today's "New York Times" the following: "The most critical element in the next 48 hours is to ensure a civilian administration in Mazar that includes all four ethnic groups...it cannot be seen as a warlord administration in Mazar, but a microcosm of what an alternative to the Taliban can be." Is that realistic?
RICE: Well, I think what is realistic is to have a very strong vision of what Afghanistan is going to look like in the future and that has to be a broad-based government that represents the various ethnic elements in Afghanistan. Nothing else will work in Afghanistan.
And clearly any steps that are taken in the interim on the way to that vision need to reflect that vision. And I think it is very clear to the Northern Alliance, as it is to the Pashtun, as it is the various neighbors and near-neighbors of Afghanistan, that the only way that this is going to be stable in the long term is if that government is broad-based.
Now that said, the U.N. is working very hard. We had a discussion with Mr. Brahimi yesterday, the U.N. special representative, and he is working very hard with Afghanistan's neighbors and with the various Afghan elements to bring about that result.
BLITZER: Do you have any better idea today than you did a month or two ago where Osama bin Laden is?
RICE: Well, we certainly know that he is on the move and we know that we have disruptive enough that he is on the move. The United States is going to patient about this. We understand that this is, as the president has said on a number of occasions, a little bit like hunting, you have to keep after it and we will. We really do believe that the longer we are there, the better our intelligence, the better our contacts, the better information we are going to have, but we're going to be patient and however long it takes we'll find him.
BLITZER: You saw this interview he granted a Pakistani journalist in which he says that he would use nuclear and chemical weapons if the United States used those against him. Do you first of all believe he has those capabilities?
RICE: We are taking seriously his desire to have those capabilities. He has said that it's a religious duty to have weapons of mass destruction capabilities so we're taking it very seriously. We have no credible evidence that he has them at this point and time but we're not going to take any chances. It makes even more urgent the shaking out of the Taliban, the shaking out the al Qaeda network and we're going to work to do precisely that.
BLITZER: Do you think he had the capability to send anthrax- laced letters?
RICE: Well, I don't think we can put anything past him in that regard but the anthrax issue is being investigated. There are multiple possibilities for the origins of that anthrax threat and so we are looking at that.
But I think the important thing here is that our entire strategy is to go after al Qaeda, to go after the Taliban, because these are very, very bad people and if they acquire anything, we have no doubt that they would try to use it.
BLITZER: The $1 billion that the president promised Pakistan, President Musharraf, yesterday, does that include lifting the embargo on F-16's and other sophisticated military equipment?
RICE: The package yesterday does not include lifting the embargo on F-16's or other military equipment. There are some military spare parts in this package, but the bulk of this package is aimed at helping the Pakistani people.
The $600 million in budget support is for education, for health, we believe that the stability of Pakistan that we're helping with border security and other elements can really best be reinforced by a Pakistani economy that's working well.
The Pakistanis have a good program with the IMF. The IMF believes that they are working very hard at that program and our support is really to support the people of Pakistan in their education and in their health and in other ways.
BLITZER: Any plans on letting Pakistan take delivery of those F- 16s?
RICE: There are no plans at this time to do that.
BLITZER: The Weekly Standard has an article in the new issue in which the authors William Kristol and Robert Kagan write this: "Rice recently told a visiting diplomat that the administration would deal with Iraq `at the right time' and that `we don't need a smoking gun' before taking action." Is that right?
RICE: Well, first of all, Iraq has been a problem for American security, for security in the region, for the security of its neighbors and not to mention its own people, since well before the Gulf War. And it should be no surprise to anyone that we continue to watch and monitor Iraq, that we believe that it's a threat.
This is by the way the only regime that actually has used weapons of mass destruction in recent memory, chemical weapons against its own people. So it should not be surprising that this is a regime that we watch very closely and should it threaten our interests, we are perfectly willing to deal with it and that was the case before September 11 and it continues to be the case today.
BLITZER: That meeting that Mohammed Atta, the suspected ring leader of the September 11 attacks, had with an Iraq intelligence official in Prague. Is that enough of a smoking gun to suggest that the Iraqis were working hand-in-glove with al Qaeda?
RICE: We're not quite certain what to make of that particular report. But we don't really need a link to September 11 to know that Saddam Hussein is dangerous.
We've known that Saddam Hussein is dangerous to his people, to his neighbors and to the international community for a very long time. This is someone who threw out international inspectors because he wants to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
He's tried twice before to acquire nuclear weapons. That was the outcome of the understandings after the Israelis bombed Asiraq (ph) in 1981. It was what our forces found when they went into Iraq after the Gulf War. He continues to try to do it.
This is a very dangerous man, a very dangerous regime. And we don't have to link it to September 11 to know that he is dangerous.
BLITZER: In the president's U.N. speech he spoke on the Israeli- Palestinian situation. He said the following: "We are toward the day when two states, Israel and Palestine, live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders." The first time apparently that the president has used the word Palestine in discussing a future Palestinian state.
Some Israeli supporters already see that as giving the Palestinians to much a time when they say the Palestinians are engaged in terrorism against Israel.
RICE: The president and the secretary of state and all of us have been very engaged in a process -- ever since we've been in office -- of trying to bring the two parties together toward a vision of the future. And that vision of the future clearly includes a Palestinian state that can live in peace with its Israeli neighbor and Israel that should be secure within it's own borders.
Now getting there is a process and the administration has been engaged with the parties every day of its existence and trying to move them along on the Mitchell process, which after all is a road map to which they both agree.
Secretary Powell has met and talked with Prime Minister Sharon numerous times, practically every week, with Chairman Arafat practically every week. We believe that the secretary is trying to take advantage of the time here to meet with Chairman Arafat. So this is a process toward a vision and the president believes that once that vision is achieved it's going to be a much better place for Israel and for the people of Palestine.
BLITZER: And so there are still no plans for the president to meet directly during this current visit with Chairman Arafat.
RICE: No, there are no plans.
BLITZER: And do you want to just tell us briefly why if Israeli- Palestinian peace is so important why doesn't the president at least meet with the Palestinian authority?
RICE: Well, there is no important thing to the president than trying to bring peace in these troubled regions. But he believes very strongly that when he holds a meeting he wants to have it for some purpose, not just to hold a meeting, and he will hold a meeting I'm sure at an appropriate time.
He just doesn't think this is the appropriate time. I will just reiterate that Secretary Powell has meet with Chairman Arafat, the president has talked with him on the telephone, so there's no aversion here to Chairman Arafat, it's just a matter of when a meeting would be most useful.
BLITZER: Dr. Rice, thanks so much for joining us.
RICE: Thank you.
BLITZER: And just ahead, as the fighting intensifies on the front lines in Afghanistan, we'll talk with a key player on the ground -- the Northern Alliance foreign minister, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
The fighting continues to intensify on the front lines of Northern Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance is claiming some significant victories against the Taliban in northern and central Afghanistan after taking Mazar-e Sharif on Friday.
Joining us now from northern Afghanistan is Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. He's the Northern Alliance foreign minister.
Dr. Abdullah, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Give us the latest on the ground. Now that the Northern Alliance has taken Mazar-e Sharif, what else have you done in the northern and central parts of Afghanistan?
DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, NORTHERN ALLIANCE FOREIGN MINISTER: After capturing Mazar-e Sharif, other provinces in northern Afghanistan, like Samangan, Jowzjan, Sar-i Pol and Faryab. And later on, this last evening and today, four provinces -- Taloqan in northeastern Afghanistan, Bamiyan in central Afghanistan, Ghor in northeastern Afghanistan, as well as Badghis were captured.
Aside from that, lots of districts in northern and central Afghanistan have been liberated from the Taliban forces since last night.
BLITZER: Are the Taliban forces simply giving up, running away, or are you defeating them in battle and taking prisoners?
ABDULLAH: The situation is different. Of course there were fierce battles before capturing of Mazar-e Sharif city for five consecutive days in the mountainous areas south of Mazar-e Sharif. And for example, once again last night, when we started our operation against Taloqan there was fierce fightings. But in some areas there have been less resistance by the Taliban forces. It changes from one areas to another.
Fighting, severe fighting took place today in capturing of Ghor as well. This is the situation.
BLITZER: You may have heard Dr. Condoleezza Rice on this program just a few minutes ago echo what President Bush said yesterday, that they do not want -- repeat, do not want -- the Northern Alliance to take Kabul, the capital. Are you OK with that? Are you going to stay away from Kabul, your forces?
ABDULLAH: In that regard, we have expressed our opinion. Of course, capturing Kabul, it's not just a military situation. There is a political importance and significance to it as well.
We would rather -- prefer and it will be an ideal situation for us to have a broad agreement with different Afghan groups before entering Kabul. We do agree in that regard.
But what we do not agree is the accusations by President Musharraf about our forces. President Musharraf accused our forces in the period of '92 to '96 for what happened in Kabul. I have to make it clear that what happened in that period in Kabul was sponsored by Pakistani government. It was the policy of Pakistan, which created that situation and also helped the growing of the networks in terrorism in Afghanistan. We hope that that will not repeated.
And what is also a matter of concern for us that if, once again Afghanistan is looked at from the eyes of Pakistan, one should wait for another disaster. Afghanistan should be treated according to the realities of the ground.
BLITZER: Well, as you know, the Pakistanis say they are concerned about the Northern Alliance not only because of what they dispute, the history of Kabul and other towns -- they accuse you, your forces, of engaging in atrocities -- but they also say the Northern Alliance is large Tajik- and Uzbek-based, whereas much of the rest of Afghanistan, of course, is Pashtun. And there is few representatives of the Pashtun, the majority, the predominant ethnic group in Afghanistan in the Northern Alliance. That's why Pakistanis say, as well as the U.S., it's better for you to stay away from Kabul, at least for now .
ABDULLAH: I have to mention it once again, that two and a half months ago, Pakistan was portraying Taliban as the best option for Afghanistan and for the region. That shouldn't be forgotten.
And also, the United Front is already consisted of Pashtuns.
What we are asking for -- at this stage, of course, major areas in southern Afghanistan are under the Taliban control or terrorist organizations. The people of those areas cannot be represented in a government, as long as that area remains under the control of the Taliban and terrorist organizations.
Of course, Pashtuns should be given the fair chance of participation in any future government. There, we don't have any dispute with any other country. It is the reality of Afghanistan and it has to be considered.
There is a difference between choosing the destiny of Afghanistan by another country or giving the people of Afghanistan, the whole people of Afghanistan, a fair chance of living with each other in peace and giving them the right of self-determination.
BLITZER: Let me get back to Mazar-e Sharif, the strategic town in northern part of Afghanistan, which your forces now control. Is it your expectation that the U.S. will set up extensive military capabilities there, including an air base for both military purposes as well as humanitarian missions?
ABDULLAH: Of course, what is needed, a humanitarian mission for the people of Afghanistan and northern Afghanistan which, for so long, they suffered under the brutal rule of the Taliban in the terrorist organizations.
But the issue of major presence, of the downed forces, of the international alliance, this has not been discussed, so far.
BLITZER: Finally, Dr. Abdullah, will the Northern Alliance continue its military operations with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next week, November 17, actually, this coming week?
ABDULLAH: Of course, we would prefer -- the people of Afghanistan would prefer to see this campaign ended with the objectives achieved before the Ramadan. That's what we hope. But if it takes us fighting or defending the right of our people during Ramadan, we don't see any problem in it.
BLITZER:: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, thank you very much for joining us once again on LATE EDITION.
And just ahead, as the United States presses ahead with its military campaign, what new steps is the U.S. Congress taking in the war on terrorism? We'll talk with two leading senators, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Nebraska's Republican Chuck Hagel.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOTT: It will happen. The Taliban will be removed. The al Qaeda will be seized. We'll get at their leaders, and we'll get bin Laden. But it is not going to be like an Easter egg hunt. This is even more difficult than that. We are looking for the needle in the haystack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The U.S. Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott on the challenges of finding Osama bin Laden. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now are two of Senator Lott's colleagues: California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel. He serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
And let me begin with you, Senator Feinstein. You heard Dr. Abdullah Abdullah of the Northern Alliance give his assessment of what's going on rights now. The Bush administration asking the Northern Alliance, don't go into Kabul right now because that could cause all sorts of problems, the capital of Afghanistan.
Is this wise to restrain the group that effectively is the main U.S. ally on the ground in Afghanistan right now?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes, I have some concerns about it, to be honest.
But I think the important thing is to secure Mazar-e Sharif. Use it as a major humanitarian safe zone; be able to mount a kind of Marshall Plan for the people; avoid the starvation that everybody predicts during the winter.
And I think most importantly, begin to develop those people that should be our strongest ally, who are the women in Afghanistan who have been abused and put down and manacled, so to speak, over these past six, seven, eight years.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask you about your reservations. What, specifically, don't you like about the U.S. government's decision, the Bush administration's decision to hold the Northern Alliance away from Kabul?
FEINSTEIN: Well, because when they have momentum going, I think they ought to continue with that momentum.
At the same time, I'm concerned we do not have many troops on the ground. We just have our special operations units in there. And I'm concerned that Taliban can turn around and come around from the back end, and that could be another problem.
BLITZER: Let me ask Senator Hagel, are you concerned about that as well, this restraint on the Northern Alliance?
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: No, I'm not. I think we have to recognize first, Wolf, that we are making this up as we go along. No road map.
BLITZER: You mean the U.S. government?
HAGEL: Of course. The entire consequence of September 11, we've never been faced with anything like this.
But specifically to your question in Afghanistan, we are having to feel our way along. As the president has said, this is going to require a coalition which we have been very successful at not only putting together but holding that coalition. The diplomatic, the humanitarian, the military, the economic dynamics of this are ones of precision, not just mass brute force.
This is a delicate procedure. I think you need to take your time, do this right, understand there are consequences for whatever we do every step of the way.
And we need to get it right this time with the coalition government, because the question must always be asked what comes next? Why are we fighting this war? What are we doing? What's the point?
The point is, first of all, obviously, to deal with the immediacy of the problem. But, most importantly, is get a government in Afghanistan that has the support of the coalition people, but most importantly, the people in Afghanistan.
So, I think the administration is handling this just right.
FEINSTEIN: Let me just respond to that. You can't get a government until you win this thing. I mean, these aren't people that are going to turn around and love thy neighbor tomorrow. These are forces that have been at odds, terrible odds, for years and years and years. The leader of the Northern Alliance was just assassinated by the Taliban.
So, that it's going to take, first of all, I think a military victory; secondly, securing the area; thirdly, calming everybody down; and then working to create the tribal conference and the ability, over time, to put together the coalition.
I mean, I don't believe that there's going to be an operative coalition. Within the next month or so, we're going into the winter. It is very important, in my view, to secure your military gains, secure areas, guarantee the well-being of people, throughout the winter months right now. The politics will follow.
BLITZER: Are you concerned that you don't trust the Northern Alliance? Is that your hesitation in giving them free reign to just do whatever they want to do, as far as the capital Kabul is concerned?
HAGEL: Well, Reagan had a very accurate way to say that: Trust but verify. We are dealing with a set of circumstances and dynamics that we don't fully appreciate for many reasons over there. These are dynamics that go back many, many years, long before we ever became interested in that area.
We need to do this with, as I said, some surgical precision.
Dianne's right. Yes, we have to win a war. I think we are winning that war. Every piece of evidence that I've seen is that we're making good progress there.
But let's do this right. And let's don't do it in a way so that we have to come back and redo something, and we didn't anticipate consequences.
This is imperfect, this is imprecise, we know that. But we can do this in a way that we can win the war -- of course we must do that, militarily, in order to secure the area. But again the focus has to be on some stability over there, so that, after we have been able to achieve this, we've got a coalition government that will hold. That's what's going to be most important here for the years to come.
FEINSTEIN: I don't think you're going to have the stability unless you've got a force in there to guarantee it, at least for a period of time.
And I think history bears that out. And we saw it happen in Bosnia, in Kosovo. You have to put the hands on. You have to see that the people are taken care of. You have to maintain that there's no looting, that there's no rape of women, that kind of thing, for a period of time.
BLITZER: Atrocities, of course, a well-known feature...
FEINSTEIN: That's right.
BLITZER: ... in Afghanistan over many years.
But what you're suggesting, what I hear you suggesting perhaps -- Senator Hagel, correct me if I'm wrong, and you're a veteran -- this will require the United States and its largely European or Australian or Japanese coalition partners going in on the ground instead, if you're going to restrain the Northern Alliance.
HAGEL: No, I don't think that's the case at all. Let's look first of all at our Muslim-government friends and allies in this area: Turkey, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan.
BLITZER: But are they ready to commit ground troops to go in there?
HAGEL: No, that isn't where I think we leap to immediately. We leap to immediately, as what we are doing now, is structuring this, so that we have the united coalition understanding what the mission is, so that, whatever our military options that will be required to be used here, they are in place. We have many options and many military possibilities here.
So far, we -- at least from the intelligence we have, we've made progress. Let's don't overreach here. Let's be very careful how we do this.
BLITZER: We're getting some pictures, and I want to tell our viewers -- we're getting pictures as well right now of some fighting that's going on just north of Kabul. If we could put that up, we'll show our viewers what's going on.
Senators, you can look it over here in the monitor, some CNN exclusive pictures north of Kabul. Fighting going on, U.S. airstrikes. These are nightscope pictures. Some troop movements over on the front lines.
If you take a look at the situation over these -- been now five weeks today since the start of these airstrikes, and the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, are you at all frustrated about how it's going along, Senator Feinstein?
FEINSTEIN: No. I think this breakthrough has been a very impressive breakthrough.
BLITZER: The takeover of Mazar-e Sharif?
FEINSTEIN: Yes, that's right.
And I think the British commandos, I think the special operations, I think the better targeting -- I have some real questions as to why we haven't hit some supposed chemical-weapons factories.
BLITZER: Why haven't...
FEINSTEIN: I don't know why, and I'm going to try and find out. I don't know why right now.
BLITZER: You're a member of the Intelligence Committee. Do you have answer to that question?
BLITZER: Because the U.S. intelligence community, at least according to today's "New York Times," suspects there are certain factories facilities, fertilizer plants, whatever, where they could be developing chemical or biological weaponry, the al Qaeda, the Taliban, but for some reason the U.S. is not hitting those facilities.
HAGEL: Well, all I could say is that I don't have all the facts, I don't have all the details. There are very few who do. And, again, I think we need to allow those charged with the responsibility for conducting this war and carrying this out, in consultation with the Congress, and they are, let them have that flexibility to be able to do that.
I think Rumsfeld and his people are doing an excellent job, I think Powell on the diplomatic front. All the pieces are falling into place. And let them do it. And I don't think we need to get underneath the fifth layer of, why aren't we doing this or that.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to stand by. We have a lot more to talk about. Senators Hagel and Feinstein, stay with us.
When we return, we'll continue our conversation about America's new war abroad, as well as here in the United States on the home front.
And as we go to break, we show you a live picture of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial here in Washington on this Veterans Day in the United States, 2001. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: When we return, we'll continue our conversation about America's new war abroad, as well as here on the homefront.
We'll also be taking your phone calls for Senators Diane Feinstein and Chuck Hagel.
And Diane Feinstein's office in the Senate, traces of anthrax. We'll ask her about that.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: America is engaged in a long and difficult struggle. In a key moment in our history, an important moment in the history of freedom, members of the National Guard reserve are answering their country's call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush on Friday announcing that the number of National Guard troops at U.S. airports would be increased to help protect travelers during the upcoming holiday season.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We're continuing our conversation now with Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, California, and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.
Let's go to a caller from Georgia. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Yes. Wolf, excellent program.
I would like to ask the senators, President Bush has been in office just about year. What kind of grades would you give the president on his domestic and foreign policy, after nearly a year in office?
BLITZER: All right. Senator Hagel?.
HAGEL: I think on the domestic side, I'd would give him a B. On foreign policy, I'd give him an A.
BLITZER: Senator Feinstein?
FEINSTEIN: I think I'm about there, too. I think his legacy is going to be this war on terrorism. I think the way he is doing it is really effective. I was very impressed with his speech before the United Nations General Assembly. I thought he minced no words laid it out very squarely, very directly of. He has been focused on it.
I think the domestic policy -- and I agree with Chuck, a B. And between our two parties, we have you know, I think a difference of opinion on the stimulus package...
BLITZER: And there are some serious differences on that.
FEINSTEIN: ... and in some of the environmental aspects.
BLITZER: Let me get to that in a moment.
But let me ask you, Senator Feinstein, over the past day or so, they discovered traces of anthrax in your Senate Hart Office Building. What is going on?
FEINSTEIN: Well, what's going on is that they had about 300 samples, and, of those, I gather, three offices found some contamination. There are trace levels. I can't be specific on how great the trace levels are.
I got my staff together yesterday at my home. Senate physician came out. You know, we have a lot of young people, and they've been just wonderful. And they could ask whatever questions they wanted to ask.
But the basic advice was, do nothing that you haven't done already. Those that are on the 60-day Cipro -- my judiciary councils, for example, because they were at a place of direct contamination, are on a 60-day Cipro program, but the rest of us are not. I think we have eight people or six people or eight people that are on...
BLITZER: So you're not taking the antibiotics?.
FEINSTEIN: No. No.
BLITZER: And there's no need for you do that. FEINSTEIN: There's no need.
Now, the big issue out there is, what do they do now, and how do they decontaminate the offices? And that's something that I'm very concerned about, because this chlorine dioxide, I think, is an unknown gas. And how they would use it and how they would flush out the building, we don't know much about. So that's a concern.
BLITZER: Senator Hagel, the other two offices of your colleagues, where they did find the small trace amounts of anthrax, Senator Larry Craig of Idaho, Senator Bob Graham of Florida.
As far as your offices are concerned on Capitol Hill, they're all free of anthrax?
HAGEL: As far as we know. We're in the Russell Senate Office Building, and that is the one physically furthest away from, as you all know, from the Hart Building. So, I think we're fine.
I am the landlord to three of our colleagues. Senator Nelson from Nebraska and Senators Roberts and Lugar, are all sharing different rooms and space. So I know it is tough for you all, who have to have to work out...
FEINSTEIN: I want to just thank Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. She's has given us her two conference rooms and so, we have people up there.
But I also -- I want to say, I spent Friday afternoon at the FBI. And all the impounded mail is in Ohio, and on Monday, they will begin to go through it. I would not be at all surprised if there isn't another letter or maybe two more letters. I think...
BLITZER: Have those letters already been sanitized, though?
FEINSTEIN: ... the cross-contamination...
BLITZER: Have they been irradiated?
FEINSTEIN: No, they have not. They're going to begin -- as I understand it, they begin to do that on Monday and go through them.
So I suspect -- and I don't know this for sure, but -- that they will wait till they go through the letters to see if there is more major anthrax down there.
BLITZER: On what basis do you suspect there are maybe one or two other letters that have anthrax?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I think, I do on the amount of contamination, frankly, that I've seen.
BLITZER: You don't think one letter could have done...
FEINSTEIN: That's just my judgment. I've got nothing to back it up. But if somebody asked me, would I hazard a guess that there was, the answer, clearly, is yes.
BLITZER: Do you have the specific understanding, Senator Hagel, as to the sophistication of this anthrax that was discovered in the letter to the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle? Was it a run-of- the-mill kind of anthrax or was it highly sophisticated with additives that makes it much more powerful and dangerous?
HAGEL: Well, from what we know -- and I can only speak for myself in the briefings that I have gotten, and Dianne may have received other briefings -- this was not your run-of-the-mill bathtub mixture. Whoever did this was very sophisticated, had a very sophisticated knowledge of chemicals and what to do and how to do it.
Now, beyond that, as you saw over the weekend, the FBI laid out a profile on who they think might be behind this. They talked about a man and all of the other variations of that makeup. But they don't know. We still don't know.
BLITZER: Does it point to domestic, a loner, an individual, a Ted Kaczynski-type of individual, or Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, for example?
FEINSTEIN: Well, Friday when I was at the FBI, I learned a couple of things. One, for the first time, I learned from them that it is possible to make this highly milled anthrax in an apartment setting. That someone who has the background, has the equipment, can carry it out.
Their belief, meaning the FBI's belief, is that this is somebody that does have this background, that is a loner, that could have milled this in an apartment.
The other thing that I learned that I didn't know is that there are at least 22,000 labs -- public, private, university, college, veterinary labs, et cetera -- that could have deadly agents in them. And this was a big surprise to me.
BLITZER: In the United States?
FEINSTEIN: In the United States alone. In our subcommittee, when we had the hearing, what they testified to was that there are about 500 such labs. To find out that there are 22,000, pointed out 5,000 alone in New York and the state of Washington, I found this just to be an incredible number.
And of course, they're not really certified. All of the people haven't had background checks. You don't know the kind of research that's going on.
And additionally, as Dr. Atlas, who is the head of the Society for Microbiology, pointed out, if a glass of water is half full and was full, you know a half of it's missing. But if just a half of a drop is missing, you don't necessarily know that. And that's what we're dealing with in this kind of microbiology.
BLITZER: And on that less-than-reassuring note, we have to leave it right there.
Senator Feinstein, good luck to you and the rest of your staff with the anthrax in your offices.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you .
BLITZER: Hope you get back into that room eventually.
FEINSTEIN: Thanks very much. I do too.
BLITZER: Senator Hagel, thanks for joining us.
HAGEL: Thank you.
BLITZER: And coming up, the second hour of LATE EDITION: What impact is the war on terrorism having on prospects for Israeli- Palestinian peace? We will hear from the Israeli foreign minister, Shimon Peres, and Palestinian Cabinet Minister Nabil Sha'ath.
Also, Hollywood's wartime role in our LATE EDITION roundtable.
It's all ahead in the next hour of LATE EDITION.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We'll talk with the Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in just a moment. But first, let's go to CNN's Katherine Callaway in Atlanta for a quick check of the latest developments.
BLITZER: And even as the United States is engaged in a military campaign in Afghanistan, President Bush is also trying to get Israeli- Palestinian peace negotiations back on track.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We're working toward a day when two states, Israel and Palestine, live peacefully together within secure and recognized borders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president speaking only yesterday in his address at the United Nations, referring to Palestine in that way for the first time as a potential state.
Today the Bush administration is meeting with members of the Israeli government about prospects for peace in the Middle East.
A short while ago, I spoke with a key player in those meetings, the Israeli foreign minister, Shimon Peres.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you very much for joining us.
I know you met earlier today with the Secretary of State Colin Powell. Did you ask him about the reference to two states that President Bush made in his general assembly speech about Israel and Palestine? Was that a source of concern to you?
SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, he told me before I ever asked, and it's not new to us. And actually we understand that this will be the result of the results (sic) of the negotiations, and we don't negate it.
BLITZER: So, in other words, what you are saying is Israel, also like the United States, now is ready to accept a new state called Palestine that would live along side Israel at some point down the road?
PERES: Yes, a non-military, peaceful, successful, independent Palestinian state. And we would like to see the Palestinians finally as a good neighbor and not just as an angry opponent.
BLITZER: So, there is really no serious difference on this issue of Palestinian state between your government -- you're the foreign minister and Ariel Sharon is the prime minister -- there is no serious difference between Israel and the United States, the Bush administration, on this issue?
PERES: Not really. I mean, it's a matter of graduation and timing, but time did its own task. And I believe a good majority of the Israelis, the prime minister included, me included, do support the permanent solution by having a peaceful Palestinian state.
BLITZER: As you know, some Israelis have expressed concern about President Bush's statements about a Palestinian state, saying that he was in effect rewarding the Palestinians for what they regard as their terrorism, and also because of the U.S. war against terrorism, trying to keep the coalition together.
Is that an issue, as far as you are concerned?
PERES: Not really. I think all of us consider President Bush as a serious and profound and stable friend. We don't have problems.
The problems were when the American administration has indicated that Israel must do whatever she can in order to lower the flames in the Middle East.
We are for it. But I think today everybody realized that more than this depends upon Israel, it really depends upon the Palestinian Authority. If they will be true to their words, and if they will really put all arms under a single control, we shall be in business.
We understand perfectly well the American policy. We support it a hundred percent. We think it's the right and only policy. We do not have any hesitations and any reservations. And in any possible way Israel can be of help, we shall gladly do so.
BLITZER: Is it a good idea, as far as you're concerned, that President Bush is not taking this opportunity when the Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat is in New York, that the president of the United States is still refusing to meet with Yasser Arafat?
PERES: I think the demand upon Yasser Arafat is to implement what he is saying. Because he took it up on himself to have a cease- fire, and the fire did not cease so there is a real reduction.
You know, if I want to tell you something people don't realize, when we talk about terror, we are referring to 30 to 40 incidents of terror every day. It's not something that happens once in a while.
And we are appreciative of the fact that now it went down, but Arafat is taking an unnecessary risk that he permits four independent dissident armed groups to shoot and fire and bomb. And each of them can kill his own policy, not only bring an end to the cease-fire.
The main thing today, in my judgment, concerning Arafat is to make it sure that the Palestinians have just one armed force, one police force. If they will have four, it will be hard for them to arrive to independence, to keep their own state.
You see, in every democracy, you have one democrat -- non- democratic institution, that is the army, or the police force, to defend democracy.
But if you have four armed groups, nobody is there to defend your land or your future or your freedom. And this is the immediate task, in our judgment, by Arafat, to outlaw the ones who are carrying illegally guns, who are shooting at children and women totally unnecessary, without any justification and without any adjournment.
PERES: I do believe the Palestinians themselves are tired to see it happening time and again, and not bringing any positive results.
BLITZER: You recently met with Chairman Arafat. Are you convinced that he is the real negotiating partner for your government right now, that he is sincere in his quest for peace?
PERES: Well, he is the elected leader. He has a declared policy. He did it in Oslo. He repeated it time and again.
And, you know, a leader must take risks. A leader is not just a pleasure that you can have it whenever you wish. And every leader has to take risks. The risk for his own people, not for us.
I am sure that, if Arafat will take the necessary steps and risks, he will be able to see his people moving ahead and not being torn to pieces by ambushes and foolish killings.
BLITZER: As you know, the Palestinians would like to see Israel withdraw from the West Bank, complete the withdrawal from Gaza, if you will, and take some sorts of gestures that would reassure the Palestinians that their state will in fact be an independent state.
Is your government prepared to make some gestures like that, right now, to the Palestinians?
PERES: I don't think that we can repeat what was done in Camp David, when President Clinton and former Prime Minister Barak has actually offered hundred percent of the West Bank and Gaza and part of Jerusalem. And it is very hard for the Israelis to understand why did actually the Palestinians reject it.
Look, the Palestinians don't need any bin Laden to get independence or to get rid of the occupation. We did it without bin Laden's and without terror vis-a-vis the Egyptians, vis-a-vis the Jordanians, we did it vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
By the way, if there remains a difference of 1 or 2 percent, does this justify to kill people, men and women, innocent people in New York? What does it help? Is that -- does this justify to kill children in Tel Aviv? Who needs a killer like him?
As a matter of fact, I believe terror is the only obstacle to reach an agreement between us and the Palestinians. Once they will get rid of this obstacles, I'm sure we can move ahead, and we can straighten out the territorial differences.
BLITZER: As you know, the Bush administration would like Israel to exercise what the State Department calls "restraint" during this time, especially as the U.S. is holding together this coalition including Muslim and Arab nations.
Did Secretary of State Powell ask you to exercise this kind of restraint in the face of terrorism that you're facing?
PERES: I think we have respected the American call. As a matter of fact, our army has withdrawn already from most of the cities in the West Bank. There are still three cities that our army is there, and we hope to withdraw from there very soon.
We, like the United States, don't want to govern the future of the Palestinians or to run their daily life. We were able to do so because the Palestinians finally undertook upon them to control their security in each place, to put in jail the real troublemakers, and really to act for a cease-fire.
PERES: They did it already in six cities. And if they will do it in another three cities, I think the answer will be completed, and they didn't hear any complaints about it.
BLITZER: Mr. Peres, thank you so much for joining us.
PERES: Thank you.
BLITZER: And just ahead, while violence continues in the Middle East, President Bush is still refusing to meet with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. We'll talk to the Palestinian Cabinet Minister Nabil Sha'ath about that and overall prospects for peace when LATE EDITION returns.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
As the war in Afghanistan escalates, the conflict in the Middle East continues as well. The Bush administration right now is engaged in intense negotiations to try to achieve some sort of peace breakthrough in the region.
We're joined by a key player in those negotiations, Palestinian Cabinet Minister Nabil Sha'ath.
Mr. Sha'ath, thank you so much for joining us.
I know you just heard the interview that we taped earlier with the Israeli Foreign Minister Mr. Peres. He sounds as if he supports President Bush's idea for a future Palestinian state alongside Israel. I take it those were welcome words to you.
NABIL SHA'ATH, PALESTINIAN CABINET MINISTER: Well, it is welcome to hear it from President Bush. We have heard it from President Clinton, and this is now an affirmation of this administration's commitment on the state of Palestine. We like it. We think it's important.
But it's really a small first step. What we really need is to see a full policy statement by the United States, followed by engagement with us to bring back the peace process on track on the ground. And that is very important.
BLITZER: You probably heard the remarks of the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, earlier this week on Thursday, when she was explaining why President Bush is still refusing to sit down with the Palestinian Authority president, Yasser Arafat.
I want to play that sound bite for you, and get your reaction. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: It is extremely important to separate yourself from international terrorists. You cannot help us with al Qaeda and hug Hezbollah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Those are pretty strong words from Condoleezza Rice, in explaining why President Bush is not meeting with Chairman Arafat right now.
SHA'ATH: Well, I have seen her, actually, in a good meeting after she made these statements. And she tried to explain, really. I think that particular statement is erroneous in all counts. Yasser Arafat has condemned international terror and, in fact, been effective in the Arab and Muslim world in making real opposition to bin Laden and refusing absolutely his use of Palestine as pretext to hijack our cause.
And, secondly, I think Dr. Rice was wrong once again when she talked about Hezbollah, which is a Lebanese party in Lebanon that has fought for the independence and the end of Israeli occupation of the south of Lebanon, and it's not a Palestinian organization altogether.
Nevertheless, I think there really is no need for such strong words. There is a need for putting the peace process on course and doing our best to end Israeli occupation and move back toward the peace process.
BLITZER: Well, I think what you are suggesting was what the administration, the Bush administration, has done now in the past week or two, bring in this list of what the State Department regards as terrorist organizations, not just the al Qaeda organization, but now they have included the Hezbollah -- which you are right, is a Lebanese-based organization which has support from Syria and from Iran -- as well as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hamas as well, which is more of a Palestinian organization.
What they're saying is these organizations, their funds should be withheld, they should be frozen, because they're no different than these other terrorists groups that they've put on that list.
SHA'ATH: Well, I don't really want to argue that point. I think, again, there is a mix-up. I mean, these organizations have nothing to do a global, international sort of action. They are purely acting on our territory, in Palestine and Israel, and they have really become active only after the confrontation with Israel escalated and the increasing occupation of the area that were agreed to to be freed by the Israelis, the Israelis have reoccupied.
We may have serious differences with them on tactics, and we have made that very clear. But that is totally different from what we are talking about when we address international terror and the global necessity of facing it.
BLITZER: No, but when they go ahead and claim credit for, for example, bombing a pizzeria in Jerusalem or a discotheque in Tel Aviv, that is certainly seen by the Israelis of course, by the United States government, as international terrorism.
SHA'ATH: Well, the word "international" here is really amiss. But anyway, we have condemned these two operations in particular.
I would like to see the United States condemn some of the operation the Israeli army conducts that resulted in the killing of more than 500 Palestinian children over the last 12 months, and some of the terroristic operations that the settlers have been conducting and shooting of people and desecrating of areas and total uprooting of trees. There is this kind of Israel terrorism that has to be addressed, as well.
I think the best way is to forget the semantic differences here and head really to the implementation of the Tenet plan and the Mitchell Plan, which require the two parties to do, in parallel and in reciprocity, an end to their military confrontation that will lead us back to negotiations. I think that is what's important.
And the United States needs to give the Palestinians the kind of feeling of understanding and support. We are just struggling for our freedom from occupation and our independence and a real equal peace with the Israelis -- setting, what President Bush has said yesterday, two states side by side in peace, the state of Palestine and the secure state of Israel.
BLITZER: In your meetings with Dr. Rice and with Secretary Powell, have they told you what they expect from Chairman Arafat in order to set the stage for a meeting with President Bush?
SHA'ATH: Well, I understand what is required so that the United States engages more actively. And we do have responsibilities. We are not in any way running away from these responsibilities.
But what I tried to explain and I hope I have been able to communicate, is that Israel requires our Palestinian police -- Mr. Shimon Peres talks about four police forces -- the only police force we have got, which really could be able to stop violence and respect the cease-fire, has been heavily targeted by the Israelis. All of our police stations have been destroyed. Our police communication and our police transportation, all have been targeted.
Our policemen are not allowed by Israel to move from one town to the other, from one village to the other. And our prisons have been targeted with rockets and destruction. Our prison in Nablus, we lost prison wards and guards after the shelling by the Israelis.
If our police for is to do its duty, then it needs really the ability to move and to be able to perform these duties.
And we need the Israelis also to end their blockade, to empower President Arafat by reciprocity so that he can go to his people and say, "We're not facing any more an invasion and occupation. We are back to the peace process." That's the best word that can really bring about enthusiastic support from the Palestinian people to their leader.
BLITZER: Mr. Sha'ath, I know these have been busy days for you. I want to thank you very much for taking some time out to join us on LATE EDITION. Thank you, and good luck to you.
SHA'ATH: Thank you.
BLITZER: And up next, the Bush administration opens a new front in the way against terrorism. This time it's Hollywood. We'll talk to two key players in that effort when LATE EDITION returns. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
President Bush's political adviser Karl Rove and other administration officials are meeting with Hollywood executives in California today to talk about the ways television and the film industry can assist in the war on terrorism.
Earlier today, I spoke with two participants, Mark McKinnon, a Bush Media adviser, and Bryce Zabel, the chief executive officer of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
BLITZER: Mark McKinnon and Bryce Zabel, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it, just before this big meeting you're having out there.
Let me begin with you, Mark. Tell us precisely what President Bush wants Hollywood to do in this war on terrorism?
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER BUSH MEDIA ADVISER: Well, we want to make one thing very clear, and that is that this is not a government- directed effort. It may be Washington-inspired.
But since September 11, we've have had an incredible outpouring of support from the Hollywood community, people who want to help, and we'd like for them to be able to help, if and where it's appropriate.
So there's been a dialogue established. And a couple of weeks ago, we had an initial meeting. This is a follow-up meeting to talk about some specific ideas. But it's really a brainstorming session, where we'll lay out thoughts. We expect to hear some thoughts from the creative and entertainment community.
But it's, really, as Bryce here said, this is really kind of a band of brothers. It's not Big Brother. This is not intended to be any sort of a propaganda machine. We're not dictating anything to anybody, but we really welcome the support.
BLITZER: Well, let me go to Bryce and ask him, specifically, the letter that the White House faxed to several of you, major Hollywood executives, among other things, it said this: It said, "The anticipated outcome of the meeting would be an initial plan encompassing several substantive ways we can lend support to our nation's cause."
What do you see -- how do you see the role that Hollywood will play in this war on terrorism?
BRYCE ZABEL, ACADEMY OF TELEVISION ARTS AND SCIENCES: Well, Wolf, I was at that first meeting a few weeks ago, and I think there was some frustration in that there was a desire to feel more of a sense of whatever the mission was going to be, whatever specifics would be. So we look forward to hearing from Karl Rove today about some of his thoughts.
I think, actually, a lot of what we're talking about is going to be driven by the spirit of volunteerism.
You probably know I have just gotten through staging the Emmys after three tries. We opened up the Emmys with a trumpeter playing "God Bless America" and the American flag. Karl Rove or Mark here didn't call us and ask us to do that. We did that because we thought it was the appropriate choice.
So I think we'll be talking about some of the things that might work and might not work for the various parties.
MCKINNON: If I could just jump in. A lot of what we're trying do is create a dialogue, and so that, when people want to help, they know who to call in government and government knows who to call in Hollywood.
A good example was when Bryce was dealing with the Emmys, and it was initially an idea that we might let the military installation to do that. So Bryce knew who to call and we knew who to call to help try and get that done. As it happened, we didn't choose that option, but at least we know who to talk to.
BLITZER: But is the...
ZABEL: That's going to be very important in future.
BLITZER: Let me ask both of you, is the message that you're trying to get out a message to influence domestic American public opinion or to influence the international community, including people in the Muslim world and the Arab world out there?
Let me begin with you, Mark. Who is your target audience right now?
MCKINNON: Well, one thing that we recognize is that the Hollywood community is a huge pipeline of the world. And, you know, our greatest export is entertainment in this country, and Hollywood is our greatest exporter.
But there's an international audience, there's a domestic audience. There are various audiences that we're looking at, and that's a lot of what our discussion will be about today.
We're obviously interested in enhancing our public support and maintaining that public support domestically, but we also want to make sure that democracies in Europe know what our message is and that we continue to define what this war is about, why we're fighting, who we're fighting, and also to do what we can in other countries, as well.
BLITZER: Is that is your understanding, Bryce, as well?
ZABEL: Well, I think, actually, the answer is probably both.
Obviously, the American public doesn't lack for communications. We are the most communicated-with population in world history. So in terms of just getting information to public, that's being done right now through CNN and all the other media outlets out there.
The question would be, every day the Hollywood community puts messages out, through film and television, and I think we should probably all take a look what those messages mean to the world and talk about whether, included in that mix, are some that are, perhaps, more explanatory of what the American message really is at this time.
I will say this, Wolf. I represent 11,000 people in the academy who range from directors and writers all the way down to hair dressers and costume designers. And I've received a number of phone calls and e-mails from people who say, what can I do to help, how can I be involved in doing anything to help my country get their message out to the rest of the world or even to the rest of Americans?
BLITZER: You know, Mark, Jack Valenti, who is the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, was CNN earlier in the week. He saw the role of Hollywood in this war in a specific way. I want you to listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK VALENTI, HEAD OF THE MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION: What I'm saying to you is the power of the movie and the movie star to impress people, to entice them, in their alluring manner, can be very helpful in trying to persuade them that we are not their enemy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, clearly, his message out there was to the Muslim world, the Arab world, people around the world, who may not see the situation as clear-cut as most Americans of course do.
MCKINNON: Well, no question about it. I mean, to the extent, as Jack said, we -- you know, the things that we often talk about in American media are about freedom and democracy and tolerance. And it's no wonder that some of those closest aides want to shut down and keep out American media.
The reason they want to do this is they don't want to show their people what they don't have. And what they don't have is freedom. What they don't have is tolerance. What they don't have is multiple religious experiences available to their culture. So that's why they want to shut it out, and that's why we want to get it in.
ZABEL: Wolf, if I could react to what Jack said, for a moment. Jack represents the film industry, and I think he's got the right message, but it's a larger message than that.
The television industry has certainly shown that it is a quick reaction force, if nothing else. Following the September 11 atrocities, it took exactly four days for the television industry to get the Tribute to Heroes on the air and to roadblock it across all the networks and other cable outlets to respond quickly to that. Obviously, that ability is going to be important in the future, as well. And also, if you think about it, television programs are as widely distributed as are films, and they can be turned around faster. Take a look at what Aaron Sorkin did with the West Wing in his episode not so long ago.
So I think it's really going to be a mixture of media.
MCKINNON: Yes. I think there's no -- it's really been -- it's been a real inspiration what the entertainment community has done to date.
And it's interesting, as you look back historically, in fact, what happened in World War II is, the entertainment community was way out ahead of the government. They came out several years before there were really significant government programs.
So, the entertainment community is already flourishing, as far as this effort goes.
ZABEL: And in fact President Bush's own grandfather led the way.
MCKINNON: That's right.
BLITZER: There were some very creative public service announcements that Mayor Giuliani released in New York City earlier this week. You probably saw them. They've received wide publicity, already using some well-known personalities. Let me play a quick snippet of some of those PSAs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WALTERS: (SINGING)
WALTERS: I could do something from "Cats."
DIRECTOR: That's nice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODY ALLEN, DIRECTOR: You're not going to believe this, that was the first time I put on ice skates in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Everyone has a New York dream. Come find yours.
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK CITY: The New York miracle, be a part of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Bryce, are you planning on doing a lot of those PSAs but on a bigger scale now? Is that what you think the White House would like you to do?
ZABEL: Well, I'm sure the PSAs may be part of it, but frankly, if the government wants PSAs, they can commission them, as they've done for tobacco ads -- or anti-tobacco ads.
I mean, I sat down this week, and knowing about this meeting, and generated some ideas of my own, just to stimulate discussion about features and television series and Internet examples and specials and so forth, and I came up with about 20 ideas, just yesterday.
So I think that we're really talking about a broad spectrum of things that goes away beyond PSAs or short films or anything.
MCKINNON: Yes, that's a great example. I mean, there is such a spectrum of entertainment options out there. And we're looking forward to -- we have some ideas of our own that Karl will lay out. But as Bryce just said, these are the people who do this for a living, these are the guys who understand real creative content. And if Bryce can think of 20 ideas just yesterday, imagine what this room of titans of this industry can think of, you know, in a month.
BLITZER: All right. Looks like a new alliance is being forged, the Bush White House and Hollywood, who would have thought? But let's see what happens. Good luck in your meetings out in Hollywood today.
Appreciate both of you joining us.
MCKINNON: Thank you.
BLITZER: And from Hollywood to ground zero in New York City. I want to show you a live picture of a ceremony that's taking place right now at ground zero, what once was, of course, the site of the World Trade Center.
The actor Ron Silver is reading some 86 names of countries and regions, people who were lost from those countries and regions during the attack at the World Trade Center.
Let's listen in briefly.
RON SILVER, ACTOR: Australia, Austria.
BLITZER: Ron Silver, the actor, reading the names alphabetically of some 86 countries...
SILVER: Chile, China.
BLITZER: ... and regions that lost individuals at the World Trade Center bombing on September 11. President Bush -- you can see his back -- there with other world leaders. They are not expected to speak. A ceremony underscoring the international nature...
SILVER: Colombia, the Czech Republic.
BLITZER: ... of the attack on September 11.
We'll have more of this ceremony later. We're going to take a quick break. We'll also speak to a former Clinton administration official who met some two dozen times with Taliban officials. Stay with us.
SILVER: Dominica, Dominican Republic.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now from London to discuss the diplomatic aspect of this war on terrorism is Karl Inderfurth. He was the assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs during the Clinton administration; had many personal dealings with Taliban during his tenure. He's now a senior adviser with the Nuclear Threat Reduction Campaign.
Mr. Inderfurth, welcome to LATE EDITION, and thanks for joining us.
Tell our viewers during, what -- you spent four years as a top State Department official -- how many times did you meet with the Taliban?
KARL INDERFURTH, FORMER CLINTON ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN: Well, Wolf, the Clinton administration made a strong effort to engage the Taliban to discuss our concerns about a whole range of issues including providing safe haven for terrorists, ending the civil war, which has paid such a terrible price in Afghanistan, also addressing their human rights record including their treatment of women and girls, as well as narcotics. So we had a very full agenda with the Taliban.
And I guess over a period of three years, I met with Taliban officials 15 to 20 times in a variety of places, including Washington, including New York, Islamabad, a trip to Kabul, Afghanistan, as well as Tashkent.
So we made a very strong effort to speak with them. Unfortunately, they seemed to be unpersuadable about our concerns.
BLITZER: I know that after the 1998 bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa, you tried to convince them to hand over, not necessarily to the United States but to someone, Osama bin Laden, but they steadfastly refused. Why?
INDERFURTH: Well, this was, as you said, the East Africa bombings in August of '98, and by February of '99, we had conclusive evidence of bin Laden's involvement. He was indicted.
Along with our head of counterterrorism, Michael Sheehan, I went to Islamabad, and we asked for a high-level representative of the Taliban to meet us there. And a representative, Mullah Jalio (ph) came from Kandahar.
And we told him we had this evidence. In fact, we gave him a copy of the full indictment, and Ambassador Sheehan went over that with him. We told him, that the Taliban needed to expel bin Laden so that he could be brought to justice.
And more importantly, perhaps, we said we had reason to believe that bin Laden was continuing to plot further acts of terrorism, and that henceforth we would hold the Taliban responsible if that occurred. That by providing them safe haven, they were now culpable. This is something that President Bush made very clear after September 11.
What we heard from them was evasion, unfortunately. And I believe the reason that we did not get an answer that we wanted to hear was the connection between Mullah Omar and bin Laden was very close.
BLITZER: And do you look back on all those efforts to get Osama bin Laden and see, obviously, what the United States says he did on September 11, and say to yourself, was there anything else the Clinton administration could have done, should have done, during those years that could have prevented that terrorist attack September 11?
INDERFURTH: Well, of course, we all wish that more could have been done. But this was a concerted effort by administration not only diplomatically, which was what I was involved in, but we had intelligence assets working on this. We had other efforts under way, including to internationalize the issue by going to the United Nations Security Council with two resolutions in October of 1999, placing sanctions on the Taliban because of bin Laden, and then again in December of 2000, a second resolution.
But again, I think the problem was Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden; that Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban had concluded that bin Laden was more important to him because he supported the establishment of a pure Islamic state; because he was providing the Taliban with fighters, the so-called Arab Afghans; and, because he was providing financial resources.
So I think that even though some Taliban officials told me that bin Laden was a problem for them and for Afghanistan, at the end of day, I do not believe that Mullah Omar was going to cut that tie to Osama bin Laden.
BLITZER: I know in your current job you spend a lot of time worrying about nuclear weapons, not only the former Soviet nuclear arsenal, the Russian nuclear arsenal, but nuclear weapons around the world.
Osama bin Laden seemed to say in this last interview he gave a Pakistani journalist, that he has access to nuclear weapons, chemical weapons. You studied that region for a long time. Do you think he does?
INDERFURTH: Well, I read that interview that he apparently he said that he may have a nuclear or chemical capability. I do not believe personally that that's the case, but I believe that he wants to acquire that, and I think that we have to take his determination quite seriously.
This could get much worse, and I think that's why the current military campaign and the effort to internationalize this issue with the coalition the administration's pursuing is the right one. These dangers will increase over time unless we do something about it now.
BLITZER: Karl Inderfurth, thanks for joining us. We'll have you back. We'll talk about the upcoming meeting between President Bush and President Putin. Unfortunately, we're all out of time right now.
And just ahead, as the post-September 11 bipartisanship between President Bush and congressional Democrats continues, is it still starting to fade? We'll go 'round the table on that and more with Steve Roberts, Susan Page and Rich Lowry. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Our LATE EDITION roundtable is standing by. We have a lot to talk with them. We will right after this commercial break. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
Time now for our LATE EDITION roundtable. Joining me: Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today"; Steve Roberts, contributing editor for "U.S. News and World Report"; and Rich Lowry, editor of the "National Review."
Steve, the president gave a speech in Atlanta Thursday night on homeland security. How did he do?
STEVE ROBERTS, "U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT": I think he's done very well in this series of speeches this week, in terms of refining and redefining this mission. They'd a bad week the week before. The message was starting to get a little fuzzy.
But it's almost as if we have two presidents at this moment. We have a war president who continues to be effective and clear and reaching out to Democrats, reaching out to the country. And we have this domestic president who is pushing through an economic stimulus package. That's a partisan Republican package that is not going to work. We've got him pushing through an airline security bill that is against what the Senate did, 100 to nothing.
He's playing partisan politics at home. I think it's a big mistake. But as a world leader, he's doing very well.
BLITZER: Rich, big mistake?
RICH LOWRY, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, back on the speeches, I thought the Atlanta speech was a little pointless. I thought the language was very pedestrian. I am not sure why he needed a primetime forum to give that speech.
BLITZER: He had a good closing line, though.
LOWRY: The closing line was the best part of that speech. And that should be the informal slogan of this war -- "Let's roll" -- because that's the first time Americans struck back, and it was within about an hour, hour and a half of the attacks.
The U.N. address, though, yesterday, I thought was really tremendous. It was exceptionally strong, very tough, and had a message for two parts of the international community, in particular. One is the scoundrels and laggards who call themselves our allies -- Saudi Arabia and others. He said, "Look, words are not enough."
And he also have a very strong message for Saddam Hussein an Iraq and Yasser Arafat others, the other potential targets in this war, where Bush is very clear: No national aspiration, no remembered wrong can justify murdering innocents.
BLITZER: Just to nail down this business about "let's roll," are you suggesting that he knew that the next day the Northern Alliance, with U.S. support, was going to take Mazar-e Sharif, and that's why he said "Let's roll"?
LOWRY: No, I don't think we ever quite know what the Northern Alliance is going to do, and that's going to be a problem in weeks ahead. The squabbling is going to begin within a week or so.
I mean, there's going to be an internal battle over who's going to actually control Mazar-e Sharif on the ground. And also this Kabul situation, when they get near there, is going to be also very dicey.
BLITZER: So what kind of grades are you giving the president?
SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Well, you know, it kind of goes to the division, that Steve talked about.
Bush has clearly found a message and a mission with the war abroad, but not so much with the war at home, and that -- I thought the real problem with his speech in Atlanta was he didn't have any answers on the anthrax concern. I mean, we don't know.
BLITZER: But there are no answers.
PAGE: Well, there are no answers, so that's not very reassuring. BLITZER: But when Rudy Giuliani used to, you know, give the people of New York responses and say, "I don't know" and that was effective.
BLITZER: The worst thing that they can do is give answers that are not necessarily true.
PAGE: Well, you don't want them to give answers that aren't true, but you'd like to feel like they had a little better handle on it.
And I think that it's also true that he's not talking very much about the economy, and that that's the issue that will matter the most to people down the road.
ROBERTS: Look, in the last month, 17 people have gotten anthrax, 415,000 people have lost their jobs. Now, which is a more important figure, in terms of the politics of this country? I don't think it's even close.
And I think he's going to have to pay a lot more attention to the economy. And he is doing it in the wrong way, because he is focusing on the whole issue of giving tax breaks to big corporations. It is not the way to stimulate the economy. And I think he's got to remember what did his father in. What did his father in was the economy in 1992.
LOWRY: Well, his father was raising taxes, and Bush wants to do the opposite. I really -- I have criticisms of President Bush at home, as well, but my criticism is different: I don't think he's been engaged enough.
And I think the election results this week were very worrisome for Republicans. They have a extremely popular wartime president -- 90 percent approval ratings -- but it's not clear it matters at all politically in the domestic sphere.
One, because the president doesn't appear to be willing to spend his capital on anything. He's going to lose the stimulus fight. He's going to probably lose the fight over airport security. And the war doesn't really cut as issue, because it's universally popular.
So you have a party suffering in a weird way from having an extremely popular wartime president.
PAGE: You know, it was an example of "all politics is local," the election we saw on Tuesday. There didn't seem to be a big national message in it.
And bad news for the Republicans, too, in that the tax message, which they reverted to in Virginia, didn't work. And I wonder if that's an issue that's kind of played up the stream, and not one that the Republicans can count on in the future. LOWRY: Well, it didn't work, partly, because the Democrats were very careful not to expose themself on that. Both Warner and McGreevey went a long way to saying, "We are not going to raise taxes," in order to take that issue off the table.
ROBERTS: Look, there's a lot of truth to the Republican argument that one of the reasons why the Democrats won in Virginia and New Jersey is they ran on, largely, Republican messages. They have learned that that is the way you win the state house is...
BLITZER: And the Democrat in New York City ran largely -- the Republican in New York ran on largely Democratic messages. Is that what you're saying?
ROBERTS: And he's a former Democrat. Of course, well, the city is five-to-one Democratic.
PAGE: And he spent $60 million, which didn't hurt.
ROBERTS: I think there was a warning sign for the Republicans. The governorships have been a very important source of strength for the Republican Party in recent years. Democrats now at a high watermark -- 21 governorships, with the possibility of winning more.
But there was a warning sign for the Democrats, too, and that was that the Republican in New York, even though he was sort of a quasi- Republican...
BLITZER: Michael Bloomberg.
ROBERTS: Bloomberg, won 50 percent of the Hispanic vote. He did much better among black voters than was expected. And the Hispanic vote is going to be increasingly an important part of this politics.
Someone told me in the White House, adviser to the White House, George Bush and his political people wake up every day trying to figure out how they can increase their share of the Hispanic vote, and this is good news for the Republicans.
BLITZER: Why didn't the president go out and campaign for the Republican gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and in Virginia? Those are important states.
LOWRY: Sure they are. I don't think they did New Jersey, because they thought it was a lost cause all along, which probably was the right judgment.
BLITZER: But Schundler was the great hope of so many conservative Republicans.
LOWRY: Yes, sure. Well, the story of our lives, unfortunately, on the right.
LOWRY: Schundler, a very impressive and talented guy. Suffers a little bit from Jack Kemp disease. He doesn't know when to stop talking. He doesn't have enough message discipline.
But when it comes to Virginia, I think Bush could have made a difference, going across the river, and it was mistake for him not to do that. And he just thought it was beneath him. You know, he has a war to run, so why bother with these politics?
Also Jim Gilmore, head of the RNC, bears a lot of blame for what happened in Virginia. Both the budget impasse while he was governor was a huge issue for Mark Warner and also he had this personal rivalry with Earley.
BLITZER: So, Susan, is this a wake-up call for the Republicans for next year's Senate and House races?
PAGE: You know, I think -- well, just to go back to why Bush didn't campaign, I don't think it ever got quite close enough in Virginia to make that argument really effectively.
And it would have cost Bush something to do that, which will also be true next year, if we're still in this war, which we think we'll be and he still wants united support. It costs you something to go out and make a partisan argument in a partisan race. So that's a calculation that will be continue to be a complicated one for the president.
I think the biggest lesson for next year's election is one that's good for Republicans, which is redistricting really worked for state legislative races in Virginia. It didn't get a lot of attention, but it bodes well for House races in several big states -- Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan.
BLITZER: If you -- go ahead. You were going to say?
ROBERTS: I also think that the other factor that works against Republicans is that they have done so well in recent years, that they have a lot of seats to defend. And that works for the Democratic -- in terms of Democrats.
And look, we all know the historic trend. The first bi-election of a president's term, the opposition tends to do very well.
But I keep come back to this point about the economy. In the end, people were going to vote their pocketbooks. If George Bush is president a year from now, Republicans seem to be in control of this government and people are still out of work and the economy still is slumping, that's going to be the most dominant factor.
PAGE: And that's certainly what we found in the USA Today-CNN Gallup poll in this past week, which is that people say they will be very patient about the war. Two-thirds of the American public say they're willing to supports this war effort for five years or more, if that's what it takes -- not nearly so patient on economic issues and much more anxious to see results quickly.
BLITZER: We have to leave it right there. Susan, Rich -- Steve, welcome back. ROBERTS: Thank you.
BLITZER: You weren't feeling well last week. You're feeling fine right now.
Coming up next, the third hour of LATE EDITION. We'll take your phone calls for our military and terrorism experts, as well as reporters covering the war on terrorism. LATE EDITION continues right after this.
BLITZER: This is the third hour of LATE EDITION, "Target: Terrorism."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We cannot know every turn this battle with take, yet we know our cause is just and our ultimate victory is assured.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A Taliban stronghold falls to the Northern Alliance.
Is the tide turning in America's new war? We'll take your questions and phone calls for our military and terrorism analysts, and our reporters covering the conflict from around the globe.
Plus, terrorism expert Peter Bergen talks about his new book on Osama bin Laden: "Holy War, Incorporated."
And Bruce Morton has the "Last Word" on the 11th day of the 11th month, marking Veterans Day during wartime.
Welcome back. This hour of LATE EDITION belongs to you. We'll be taking your questions about military operations as well as terrorism. You can also ask our panel of reporters what they're finding out as they cover the war against terrorism.
We'll get to all of that in just a moment, but first once again here is Katherine Callaway in Atlanta with quick check of the hour's headlines.
BLITZER: Joining us now to talk about the military escalation in Afghanistan are two of CNN's military analysts, both retired generals, David Grange -- he's here in Washington -- and major general retired Donald Shepperd -- he's here in Washington as well.
Generals, thanks for joining us.
And let me begin with this whole Mazar-e Sharif.
General Grange, give us the perspective, some sense of perspective. How significant is this development, the Northern Alliance forces allied with the U.S. taking this strategic town in the northern part of Afghanistan?
GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes.
First of all, psychologically it has a tremendous impact just on morale of the Northern Alliance, and I think it has a lot of influence on the bordering nations like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, just to see a victory, because people are kind of on the fence line which way they should go, depending on these fights went.
It's the first land bridge. It'll really speed up the movement of logistical supplies, both for the war effort and for humanitarian assistance, very key position.
BLITZER: It looks, Gen. Shepperd, as if other towns are now falling to the Northern Alliance as well, if we heard Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance, earlier in this program saying they're moving along and the Taliban forces are moving out.
MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It appears so, Wolf, but caution, this is very early. These gains have to be consolidated. They have to be defended. They may be reattacked, there may be some pushes and shoves back and forth, some defections and re-defections, and we have to be very careful, because this stretches, this capture of extra territory that stretches 15,000 soldiers, if that's indeed the number, very thin.
So, this is early in the game, many miles to go.
BLITZER: And, General Grange, I want to put up on our screen, a map of Afghanistan showing some of other towns where the next action could be. And we take a look at this map, you see Mazar-e Sharif up in the north, but Herat in the west, Kandahar in the south, Jalalabad in the east, and Kabul, of course, the capital. A lot of people don't realize Mazar-e Sharif is a relatively big city -- 250,000, to 300,000 people in Afghanistan. It's the size of Texas, that's a pretty big piece of geography.
GRANGE: Very big. And just like General Shepperd said though, if they don't lock up the resistance and they re-disperse throughout the rugged terrain, after taking down Mazar-e Sharif, and some of the other outlying towns, they're going to tie up tremendous numbers of soldier to protect their lines of communication, the city itself, so they really have to do some extensive mop-up operations.
Now, what was interesting when President Musharraf and our president spoke the other day about not going into Kabul. So what does that mean? Does that mean now the effort goes into Kandahar? Herat? Where does effort go? And how do you then get you out hard- core Taliban, if they don't want a joint tribal coalition government?
BLITZER: Tough question. General Shepperd, what are the answers tot those tough questions?
SHEPPERD: Well, a couple things to add to that. We've heard about the road to Mondolay (ph), well you've got the road to Kabul now from Mazar-e Sharif all the way down. There are three key towns. Reportedly, those three key towns have already been captured by the Northern Alliance.
There is also the Salang Pass which is important as a road for resupply of the Kabul area. And then you've got the Bagram air bases at the end of the Panjshir Valley there. All of those are important things that have to be captured and dealt with.
So, the question is what's going to happen in Kabul? And it appears there is going to be a hold out, a siege perhaps, of Kabul, but until a political coalition is in place, probably not moving into the capital, is what appears right now.
BLITZER: That's a political decision that's made at the highest levels, General Grange, here in Washington. You know, today is Veterans Day. Do military officers, military personnel on the ground see these kind of political decisions being made, saying, by the White House in effect, saying that reminds us, some of those officers will say what happened during Vietnam.
GRANGE: Well, in this case, I believe that the government still has objectives they want to take down. I think, Kabul is a political compromise with the president of Pakistan. It's a necessary requirement that I think has to be accomplished. However, pressure has to be put somewhere else if that's the case on Kandahar, or somewhere else to get the Taliban, the hard-core Taliban, to capitulate. A tough decision. You cannot separate though military and politics during war. They go together. It's a give and take. There has to be some type of integrated effort to accomplish missions.
BLITZER: I want you both of you to listen to a current general, Peter Pace, the joint chief vice chairman, said earlier in the week about the nature of this war that's going on. Some of the weird situations that the U.S. has found itself involved in. Listen to this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS VICE CHAIRMAN: I have had one or more of your American service members who are in harm's way over there reporting back about cavalry charges. And this is opposition forces riding horse back into combat against tanks and armored personnel carriers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: When was the last time, General Shepperd, that that kind of situation developed -- tanks, armored personnel carriers, and horses?
SHEPPERD: I don't think either Dave Grange or I have been on horses for quite a while. This is a different war. But every war is different, has its own considerations. Dave wisely pointed several days ago that you had the Taliban sitting in defensive positions for a long time. And now, not only are they taking the initiative, but they are switching to new equipment, being resupplied with green recruits and what have you, and switching to the offense and taking ground. That's a whole new deal, and then trying to integrate it with air power at the same time -- very, very complicated. So, this is indeed a special war with special considerations.
BLITZER: That's why your special ops guys are involved in it.
Let's take a caller from Poland. Go ahead with your question. Never mind. We don't have that caller from Poland.
But this special operations, the nature of this whole operation, is the U.S., the special operations forces, and you were once one of them, are they prepared for this kind of environment, this kind of situation? We've heard an awful lot about those caves in Afghanistan.
SHEPPERD: Sure, this is a perfect environment for special forces. It's unconventional warfare. They are trained for this type of fighting. Take the horses. I would not want to be on a horse charging a machine gun position, I can assure you.
However, you have to respect the right or their culture. This Genghis Khan mentality of why they are on horses. You just direct those horses and those riders to a different type of objective. You don't tell them to give up the horses and jump on a armored personnel carrier. That's what special forces do. They work that out, the cultural requirements of warfare, and those types of environments.
BLITZER: Is there a stage being set, General Shepperd, for what many anticipate eventually will have happen, a much more robust ground assault by U.S. troops, conventional infantry going in and getting the job done in Afghanistan?
SHEPPERD: Well, the Taliban has to worry about that. But the only person who knows the answer to that, or one of few that know answer to that, is General Franks. He's the commander in chief. He now has a ring of bases around Afghanistan from which he can bring in larger numbers of U.S. forces and apply them if he so desires. Also, you've got the ships to the south and the Arabian Sea with Marines onboard.
So, the Taliban has to worry, not only about the Northern Alliance, but about the U.S. and other coalition members bringing in forces. This is not a question of if the Taliban is going to go, it's when they're going to go, and General Franks will decided that.
BLITZER: You probably saw the exchange that our military affairs correspondent, Jamie McIntyre had with General Franks at the Pentagon earlier this week. I want to play it for our viewers and get your reaction, General Grange. Listen to this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Comparison is constantly made to Norman Schwarzkopf and the Gulf War, and with all due respect, sir, what you hear is Tommy Franks is no Norman Schwarzkopf. Your response? GENERAL THOMAS FRANKS, COMMANDER, OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM: Well, I suppose I'd begin sort of at the end by acknowledging that Tommy Franks is no Norman Schwarzkopf.
MCINTYRE: Nor visa versa.
FRANKS: Nor visa versa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You saw the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld weighing in and defending his central commander, the architect of this plan.
GRANGE: Sure. And he should. He should defend his commanders and support them, whatever they need to accomplish their mission. You can't compare these two kinds of commanders. You can't compare the two times of war. When General Schwarzkopf started the Desert Storm we had a half a million soldiers on the ground.
Right now we're working with an indigenous forces, with a few special ops and then some conventional forces up north in Uzbekistan. It's a little different set up. Can't compare it.
BLITZER: And two very different personalities.
GRANGE: And they always will be. But they're trained on the same doctrine though.
BLITZER: It's sort of unfair to General Franks, to have to be compared to General Schwarzkopf.
SHEPPERD: It's very unfair. I wouldn't want to be compared to General Schwartzkopf. Again, this is a special war. We should judge General Franks after it's over from a historical standpoint. He's the commander in chief. We need to support him. And sure, we can offer suggestions and what you have you, but the responsibility, not only the military action, but keeping the coalition together, keeping the politicians from all countries happy, that's a difficult position. And so far, a month into this, it appears to me that things are going pretty well.
BLITZER: All right. Just to be precise, five weeks today.
BLITZER: Generals, stand by. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back your phone calls for our military analysts. We leave you now with a picture as we go to this break of the Vietnam War Memorial, today, on Veterans' Day here in the United States.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We are continuing our conversation an taking your phone calls for CNN military analysts, General David Grange, General Donald Shepperd, both retired from U.S. military, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, respectively.
Let's talk a little bit about the next steps, what U.S. military personnel should be gearing up for now five weeks, beginning week six of this military campaign.
GRANGE: Well, blare you talking about military personnel in theater or back here?
BLITZER: All over the place.
GRANGE: Well, in theater they have some specific missions that they're focused on. Back here in the United State, they will be gearing up for whatever their tasks are for the type of organization they're a part of. And they will continue probably very rigorous training regiment at this time, until they're alerted to go somewhere.
BLITZER: And there have been a lot troops that have been alerted already, and not only that, General Shepperd, a lot of National Guard and Reservists -- 50,000 already have been activated. That's expected to go to three times that number -- 150,000 pretty soon, which is what, one out of every 10 National Guard and Reserve troop in the United States.
SHEPPERD: Indeed, we have been warned that this is going to be big and this is going to be wide and it's going to be long.
I am not sure all of that has sunk in yet. Everybody is thinking Afghanistan and they're thinking hurry up and what have you. But this is going to be a long time I will -- so there are going to be a lot of people involved before we're through.
BLITZER: All right, let's take a caller from Maryland. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: In view of the slowness and difficulty in forming a coalition government under the former King Zahir Shah, can the military wait indefinitely before taking Kabul? And for that matter, can they deny the United Front a key role in a future Afghan government?
BLITZER: That's a good question. Two good questions.
General Grange, do you want to handle it?
GRANGE: No, they cannot deny the United Front being a part of the government. They have to be a part of the government just like the Pashtun ethnic group has to be a part of this future government.
The military, to go into Kabul or not, is to be decided the political decision the other day that they would not enter the city, but eventually someone will have to enter the city if a hardcore force disagrees with the coalition and will not leave. Someone will have to go in and change that.
BLITZER: What about that, General, General Shepperd? Can the U.S. rely -- I guess that's the key question -- on the Northern Alliance to be the key ally right now.
SHEPPERD: Well, it's the only game in town. You have no choice right now and it appears it's working pretty well so far with many miles to go.
But I detect from the caller's question also a little impatience there. Don't be too quick to rush into the middle of a big town and get killed. There's lot of streets and lots of alleys and lots of fighting to be done.
It may be well to consolidate everything that you have gained, stand outside, gain strength while the Taliban crumbles and more supplies are being cut off while they're being attacked. Let's give this time to work out, but not worry yet about when the coalition will take over.
BLITZER: All right, let's take another caller from Florida. Go ahead, please, with your question.
CALLER: Good day, Wolf. My question is, do the generals feel that the media is reporting this from the right angle? I mean myself, the questions all seem to come from a negative point of view from the media, you know, instead of a positive point of view and boosting the American morale.
BLITZER: All right, that's a fair question and I have to tell you I get a lot of em-mails from our viewers, people complaining to me, "Why are you asking those tough questions, and you're putting the U.S. military in a tough spot?"
What's the answer to that?
GRANGE: Well, in the absence of positive reporting, then there are going to be some negative questions. That's just what happens when dealing with the media and the military.
But there are going to be questions on why it hasn't gone faster compared from one war to another war. That just happens I think during all different types of conflicts that we've been in. And it's just something that the Department of Defense has to deal with. And you're going to get those questions. I don't like at them as negative as much as just, hey, people want to know.
BLITZER: General Shepperd, the news media -- and I'm of course a member of the news media, and I guess both of you now are members, sort of, of the news media as well -- but the news media, we really don't do a favor to the Pentagon by simply saying, yes, sir, gung ho, go with it. Don't they really want the news media to be aggressive in coming up with some hard-hitting stories, and perhaps coming up with some answers that they may not necessarily welcome?
SHEPPERD: Well, look, the job of the media is not to be a friend of the Pentagon, but to ask hard questions and let the public know what's going on and the truth come out.
This is not new. In every war we have this same debacle, if you will, in the beginning, about the media wanting to be close, the military not wanting anything said. It gets worked out over time.
I have great faith in the American people that, if you give them the information, they'll sort it out on their own. And the first thing -- we all criticize the media, depending on which side we're on -- the first thing when something happens, the first thing we do is turn on the radio, turn on the TV, to find out what happened. That's the media job, and the Pentagon will have to work this out over time. I'm sure it will be.
BLITZER: All right, we have another caller from South Carolina. Go ahead, please.
CALLER: Land mines are a major problem in Afghanistan according to the news reports I've seen. Do we have any technology or any techniques that we can clear land mines efficiently?
BLITZER: That's an excellent question.
General Grange, as you know, there are millions of land mines all over Afghanistan from the Soviet invasion, and what's been going on there for 20 or 30 years.
GRANGE: Yes. The land mine thing is a great question. It is a concern to all warriors, and ground warriors especially.
Technology is being improved as we sit here and talk today. Great advances have been made on the technological side, on how to find mines, and the types of mines. Especially those that are not made of metal. Those are made of plastic or wood, which are very difficult, especially the antipersonnel mines.
When we served in Bosnia, the mines were a definite problem. They constrained the peace support process that we were trying to execute over there. They are dangerous, they're tough. It is a part of warfare. And any operation has to consider where mines are before they maneuver. It's just...
BLITZER: Well, General Shepperd, are these teams going in there now with mine-clearing equipment?
SHEPPERD: They're not going in with mine-clearing equipment yet, but there's no silver bullet for mines, as Dave says.
I just got back from a trip to Vietnam last year, same thing. Not only mines, but unexploded ordnance, everywhere across the country, especially in the back country.
It's a dangerous thing. And you can go in and you can detect metal, but you can't detect a lot of the plastic things. And there's lots of metal going around that isn't mines. It's a problem that'll be with us for year. It's a terrible problem in every war.
BLITZER: Do the Taliban know where the mine fields are, but the U.S., if they went in, wouldn't necessarily know?
GRANGE: We would not know, except for some technological enhancements that we have to help find out, but we would rely, if we were on the ground, on the Northern Alliance, those tribes, to help us.
BLITZER: But would they know necessarily?
GRANGE: They would know a lot of it, because they put a lot of them in as well.
As towns changed hands, as people moved back across the line of contact, mine fields changed.
Western armies record mine fields. In this situation, they're not recorded. It's, who knows?
BLITZER: And there's no real silver bullet, is there? There's no equipment that, you know, high-tech gizmos that can immediately show you where those mine fields are?
SHEPPERD: We're working on high-tech gizmos. But, again, the best information comes from people on the ground.
On the other hand, you know, these concussion bombs that we've been dropping, the BLU-82, of which much has been made, we tried those in the Gulf to clear mine fields, and there's mixed results on those. Again, there is simply no silver bullet, always a danger to people on the ground.
BLITZER: General Shepperd, General Grange, both of your analysis is always right on, thanks for joining us.
GRANGE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Appreciate it.
And up next, two reporters who've interviewed Osama bin Laden, and later two CNN correspondents from the front-lines of this war on terrorism. They'll all be taking your questions and your phone calls when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now to talk about the war on Afghanistan are two journalists, who've actually spoken with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Islamabad. The Pakistan journalist, Hamid Mir, and here in Washington, CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen. He's the author of a brand new book "Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden."
Now, let me begin with you, Peter. This new book, the main thrust of your book, the main argument you make is what?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I think -- the reason I call it "Holy War, Inc." is, basically, bin Laden has aligned the most sort of medieval and retrograde reading of Jihad or holy war, with the most up-to-date technologies and artifacts of the 21st century.
For instance, when those men crashed airplanes in the World Trade Center, this was an organization that had enough people willing to martyr themselves or commit suicide in an act of attack against the World Trade Center. They saw that attack, literally, as act of worship. Yet, at the same time, they had the technical skills to fly commercial jets. And that's really the hallmark of the organization. Again and again and again, you see them using the most up-to-date technologies and techniques of the 21st century, yet hoping to really bring back the 7th century of the prophet Mohammed or at least an idealized version, in their own minds.
BLITZER: Hamid Mir, you just came back from Afghanistan, where you interviewed Osama bin Laden. How did you get this opportunity to speak with him directly during these difficult days?
HAMID MIR, PAKISTANI JOURNALIST: You see, this was not my first interview. This was my third interview with Osama bin Laden. I went to Jalalabad and I found out some Taliban commanders who are very close to him. And you must know that Osama bin Laden was expelled from Sudan in 1996. He came to Jalalabad directly, and those Taliban commanders were his hosts in 1996. So I requested them that I would like to meet him and I was trying to convince them.
Then they sent me to Kabul. And in Kabul, they handed me over to some Arabs. And that's how it materialized and I reached to Osama bin Laden. And you see they blindfolded me. They bundled me in a blanket and put me on the back seat of a jeep, and it was a five-hour, very difficult drive, so it was very difficult to reach him.
BLITZER: Peter, you and Peter Arnett, the former CNN reporter, spent time with Osama bin Laden a few years ago. Was that what they did to you, too, when you went for that interview? .
BERGEN: Well, what Hamid Mir just described, tracks very closely with what happened with us, which is that multiple vehicles at night, blindfolds, going through concentric rings of security. It was, obviously, in a slightly different area than where Hamid Mir appears to have met bin Laden, but it was a very similar kind of setup.
BLITZER: Hamid, what was different between the Osama bin Laden that you met in the past few days and the Osama bin Laden you met on earlier occasions?
MIR: Yes. This is very important question. Three years ago, when I met him, he was very much against all the Americans. But this time, he said that, "I am not only -- I am only against the American policies. I'm not against all the American people." Previously, he was not very careful. This time, he was extraordinarily careful. Previously, he was very soft spoken. This time, he was very hard- hitting, very confident, very (OFF-MIKE)
And the important thing, that previously I noticed that he don't have much knowledge about the outside world. He could not speak and understand English language, but this time, he was understanding my questions in English and even he was speaking some English. He told me that he has -- he read the book written by Mr. Yosef Bodansky, who is the chairman of American Congressional Committee on terrorism and he was telling me that this book is full of lies and blunders, I'm sorry to say it.
BLITZER: He's speaking about the book by Yosef Bodandsky, who is a staffer here in the U.S. Congress, wrote a book on Osama bin Laden. But what Hamid says, Peter, is that consistent with the Osama bin Laden that you saw, when were there?
BERGEN: Certainly, in 1997 he was speaking very softly, had a very mild-mannered tone. So that, Mr. Mir points out, is a much more confident bin Laden has emerged.
Secondly, he did understand some English in our interview. He didn't speak in English. But when certain questions were asked, he jumped at the question without getting it translated into Arabic. So even then, he was obviously understanding some English. He's never spent any significant time in the west. So, obviously, he's learned English perhaps in the past few years.
But a final thing. What Mr. Mir says tracks very closely with the videotape that was circulating this summer of bin Laden, a very energized and confident man, I think, we saw this summer on the videotape they made that circulated in the Middle East before the Trade Center attacks.
BLITZER: Do you have any idea, Hamid, where Osama bin Laden may be? You were blindfolded. You said they drove you around. But, did you get a sense at all of what part of country he was?
MIR: You see the place on which he gave me interview, that place was much colder than Kabul. And I was hearing some antiaircraft gun fighting. So, maybe the place was close to the war front and it was much colder than Kabul, so maybe it was in the north because Osama bin Laden was getting information about the situation in Mazar-e-Sharif after 15 minutes, 20 minutes. So maybe it was in the north.
BLITZER: Peter, we're going to take a quick break. But before we do, were you surprised that in these past few days, even as the U.S. air strikes have been continuing, Osama bin Laden found time to speak with Hamid Mir, this Pakistani journalists who's on our program right now?
BERGER: I am surprised. I mean it's an extraordinary journalistic coup. Because bin Laden is obviously, very concerned about his security. And yet, he's been able to do these videotaped statements that have come up on television. But, it would seem to me, a sign of confidence that he would allow somebody outside his inner circle to meet with him.
BLITZER: It's a pretty extraordinary development. All right. We're going to take a quick break. When we return, we will continue our conversation with Peter Bergen and Hamid Mir. We'll also bring in two CNN reporters that have been covering this story from day one. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We are continuing our conversation with CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir. And we're also joined by two CNN reporters on the ground. CNN Satinder Bindra, he's on the front lines of Northern Afghanistan and CNN senior White House Correspondent, John King. He's traveling with the president in New York today. John, very briefly, what has been reaction from the president and his top advisers to this interview that Hamid Mir had with Osama bin Laden?
JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: On the one hand, Wolf, they believe the claim that Osama bin Laden has nuclear weapons, which he expressed in that interview. They believe that claim to be exaggerated. On the other hand, they are seizing upon that interview as the president tries to make case here at United Nations that all nations around the world must join this fight. They are saying that certainly Mr. bin Laden wants nuclear weapons, biological and chemical weapons, that he says he has them. Mr. Bush using that now as a key tenant of his argument that all nations have a responsibility to join the fight. And indeed, his argument that the United States may have been the target two months ago, but any country around the world could be the next target.
BLITZER: Let me go back to Hamid Mir for a second.
Hamid, how exactly did the Osama bin Laden say to you that, you know, he would use nuclear and chemical weapons if the U.S. used them first.
What precisely was the context of that comment?
MIR: Actually, I put this question to him three years ago in Kandahar. I asked him that according to some reports published in different western newspapers, you are trying to posses chemical and nuclear weapons.
At that time he avoided by question. But this time, I repeated by question and he admitted, he said, "If United States of America is going to use these kinds of weapons against us, then we reserve the right to use these weapons against them." And he used the word "deterrent." So he said we will not use these weapons first, but if they are used against us, then we will respond back.
That was his response.
BLITZER: Satinder, you are up in northern Afghanistan. Give us the latest situation up there. What is happening right now as we speak?
SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as we speak right now, Northern Alliance troops are fanning out in the hills here, which are about four to five kilometers from us. They're going house to house trying to search for Taliban fighters who are trapped in this region.
Just earlier today, the Northern Alliance forces took a major Taliban position, called Kolpaka (ph) Hill. Another top general in this area, General Barilei (ph) is telling us some very strange stories. They say as Northern Alliance forces advanced towards some Taliban fighters, rather than being captured, these Taliban fighters who are mainly Arabs who are Chechnyans or also Pakistanis are, quote, "blowing themselves up," he said to us -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, let's take a caller from California. Go ahead, with your question for our panel please.
CALLER: This morning the ticker across the bottom of the screen indicated that the Pakistani had expelled an English journalist for uncovering a plot to sell weapons to the Taliban. And I'm concerned that we may be placing a bit too much trust in the Pakistani government.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask Hamid Amir, you're there in Islamabad. What kind of strength, political position is President Musharraf in right now in Pakistan, given some of the opposition to his support for this U.S. war against the Taliban?
MIR: You see, President Pervez Musharraf addressed the nation some weeks back and he explained his position that why he is going to cooperate with the American government. And at that time there was not a big opposition against him. But when President Bush used the word crusade then there was a lot of problem for President Pervez Musharraf. When the United States of American started supporting the Northern Alliance, then more problems arise for President Pervez Musharraf because Northern Alliance is always a
MIR: So President Perez Musharraf was trying this best to create an atmosphere in Pakistan through which he can cooperate with the Americans, but I think all of the problems were created by the American government for President Pervez Musharraf, but still he is trying his best to cooperate with the American government against the terrorism, and yes, there is a lot of reaction against his present policy, and a lot of people are coming in the roads. But still I think he is in control, and he can face all kind of problems within Pakistan.
BLITZER: John King, I know that you have been covering President Bush's talks with President Musharraf, which seem to have gone remarkable well -- a $1 billion in U.S. economic aid promised.
What a difference a year makes. You will of course remember, because you covered former President Clinton's meeting with President Musharraf almost exactly a year ago. It was very cold, very chilly. And now the relationship has totally changed, hasn't it.
KING: It has totally changed, Wolf, but we should also remember this is an alliance of necessity now, not an alliance of choice. The United States needs Pakistan's help in this battle. And Pakistan needs money, economic assistance from the United States. That is why we did see the dramatic announcement after yesterday's meeting that the United States would increase in direct cash infusion we are told, about $500 million, $1 billion total in aid. But U.S. officials also do tell us privately, there are still some worries, some ripples in this relationship. They believe some senior military officers are still pro-Taliban in their leanings. They believe there are some in the Pakistani intelligence service that still have dealings with the Taliban.
But overall they say, and especially, President Musharraf, they say the cooperation has been quite good. And they say they will do all they can in the short term to help the Musharraf government.
You heard President Bush yesterday commending President Musharraf for a commitment to return to democracy, but president gave no indication that he received any commitment on a timetable for that. The focus right now is the war. The United States has no choice but to have this relationship, and they do credit President Musharraf. They understand he's under very difficult circumstances back home.
BLITZER: All right, let's take another caller from Toronto, please go ahead.
CALLER: Hi there. Listen, I would like to talk about -- there's a sentiment in the Middle East and the Islamic world that there really has not been any conclusive evidence presented to the world body to link bin Laden and al Qaeda to the terrorist attack on September 11, aside from the fact that it is similar, the attack is similar to past al Qaeda operations.
And so my question, especially to Peter Bergen, is: what is the most conclusive evidence that does link that organization to the attack?
BERGEN: Well, I think it is a very puzzling aspect of this story that there isn't indictment against bin Laden in this attack. I mean, surely, if we're trying to persuade the world community, that would be a very high priority.
What appears to be the evidence so far is a number of cell-phone calls between al Qaeda operatives in Germany suggesting some link to the attack. Four of 19 of these hijackers trained in an Afghan camp related to al Qaeda. Bin Laden's own statements on the issue and -- the statements of bin Laden's spokesmen seem to pretty much take responsibility.
But nonetheless it's puzzling why there isn't more of a push to get an indictment out there. Surely that would help persuade world opinion.
BLITZER: Hamid Mir, since you're the last person that spoke with Osama bin Laden on this panel, at least right here, did he acknowledge to you, when you spoke to him the other day, that he and his al Qaeda organization were in fact responsible for the September 11 attacks in the United States?
MIR: You see, I put this question to him very aggressively, but he responded, he said that the American government has a list of the suspected people, and all of them are Muslims, and American government is claiming that they are hijackers, but Osama bin Laden said that, according to his information, they were not hijackers, they were just passengers, and the American government just included their names in the list of hijackers.
So he was saying that these people were not the hijackers, they were passengers. And he denied his involvement in the September 11 attacks, and he asked for the credible evidence. He said that United States of America is bombing Afghanistan without any credible evidence, and this is an act of terrorism against the Afghan people.
BLITZER: Satinder, while we have you in northern Afghanistan, we spoke earlier today with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance, who obviously is not very happy, at least he didn't give us the impression, with the Bush administration's edict that the Northern Alliance effectively not go into Kabul.
Do you think that order will be accepted by the Northern Alliance? And you're there with them right now.
BINDRA: Well, politically Dr. Abdullah is trying to, you know, tell the world and tell the American and other alliance forces that they won't go into Kabul, but, at a military level here, certainly a lot of commanders saying that they've won a string of victories just two days ago, and Northern Alliance forces controlled about 10 percent of the country, and now they control about 50 percent. And they're clearly looking towards Kabul.
We are hearing that some forces are indeed advancing towards Kabul. Also, they are looking at the western city of Herat, which is just close to the Iran border, and Kunduz.
So they want to make a clear sweep of the north and then clearly, at least in the military community here, the commanders are saying, well, there's no reason to leave out Kabul. So that's the feeling on the ground that I'm getting here, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right.
John King, give us a sense of what we can expect to see and hear from the president this coming week, as he gets ready to leave New York and presumably come back to Washington.
KING: Well, the president's major focus, Wolf, in the week ahead will be his summit meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, first in Washington, then some conversations at the Bush ranch in Texas. Obviously they will focus on the war in Afghanistan. They also hope, though, for breakthroughs on other important issues, the U.S. missile defense program, and either amendments or setting aside the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, an agreement on dramatic reductions in the nuclear arsenals of both countries.
On the point you were just making with Satinder, the Russians could be quite important, though. The United States believes it would be very harmful to the political efforts underway to build a post- Taliban government, a broad-based coalition, they believe it would be very harmful to those discussions if the Northern Alliance went into Kabul.
Now, right now the United States is blessing the Russian resupply of the Northern Alliance, and, if it became a problem, U.S. officials do not rule out their leverage on the Northern Alliance being trying to cut off their supply lines.
Right now they're obviously helping the Northern Alliance. They are encouraged by the Northern Alliance gains. But they do not want the Northern Alliance to go into Kabul. They have made that quite clear, and they say they do have some leverage, largely on the supply lines and the military advice lines, if they have to draw a tough line on that one.
BLITZER: All right. John King, I want to thank you.
KING: Thank you.
BLITZER: Yes, you got to catch a plane. We're going to have a lot more to talk about with the rest of our panel, though. When we come back, we'll continue our phone calls, our questions for our roundtable. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're taking your phone calls for Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir. He interviewed Osama bin Laden in recent days. CNN's Satinder Bindra, he's in Northern Afghanistan and CNN terrorism analyst Peter Berger, and he's the author of a brand new book "Holy War, Inc," just highly recommended.
Let's take a caller, from New York. Go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Yes. This is a question for Peter Bergen. In light of what you just said about Osama bin Laden's fighting a war of Jihad, based on the medieval concept with new technology. Might not this new interview that he just gave, be nothing more than a message to his cohorts that he's alive and well and that they should continue the fight?
BERGEN: Well, I think, clearly, that's one of outcomes. I mean, I think Hamid Mir did a -- I think, you know, getting this interview was a coup and the statements about nuclear and chemical weapons, while I'm not exactly sure what that means, since I don't think they have the ability to actually make these weapons, I think is a further indicator, here is somebody who is willing to use any technology in the service over his attacks against the west.
BLITZER: We have another caller from New York. Go ahead.
CALLER: Yes, hi. I'm wondering how exactly does Osama bin Laden communicate with his operatives throughout the world?
BLITZER: Well, let's ask...
CALLER: ... and do we know how much our bombings have affected his ability to communicate? BLITZER: Hamid Mir, how does Osama bin Laden communicate with his operatives, and the second part of the question is the U.S. bombings, how have they impacted on his ability to communicate?
MIR: You see, I don't have the exact information that how can -- how he communicates with his associates outside the Afghanistan. But I saw some (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the hands of his bodyguards and they were communicating with his colleagues within Afghanistan. So, I don't have exact information and that how can they communicate with their people outside the Afghanistan.
And to the second part of the question, I must say that there is a lot of damage in Afghanistan and a lot of casualties in Afghanistan, and I must say, that Taliban are under a lot of pressure and the outside world is not aware of about the exact position of areas, which are under the control of Afghanistan.
According to my information when I was in Kabul, I received information that there are more than 300 casualties for Taliban in Mazar-e Sharif. And when I came back to Pakistan, I read stories in international media there are only 95 casualties of Taliban soldiers in Mazar-e Sharif. So I think Taliban are receiving a lot of casualties and damages, but the outside world is not aware about these losses. But I must say, that their morale is very high. They are ready to face all kind of attacks from America.
BLITZER: Satinder Bindra, you are in northern Afghanistan, what's the morale like for the Northern Alliance? They must be pretty encouraged right now with the takeover of Mazar-e Sharif, but some analysts are already saying they may be stretched too thin. They may not be able to keep up such a wide supply line, if will you, if they continue to grab more land.
BINDRA: Yes, that is their major concern because even earlier they were having trouble to supply Mazar-e Sharif. Now, they want to go towards Herat, which is out in the west. They want to go towards Kabul. We have seen that they do not have much ammunition. Some of their soldiers don't have boots. This is wintertime. So clearly in terms of supplies and ammunitions, that'll be a major logistical headache.
But, one thing that I've noticed over the past one week is that their army is marching purely on morale. On Friday, when their forces took Mazar-e Sharif, they were pumped. And then we constantly keep hearing reports from battle lines coming that another position has been taken. And then you see their troops clap. You see their troops cheer.
So, the developments of today for instance, are very important in which Northern Alliance forces claim they have got the Taliban on the run. They have captured three major cities today itself. So, that's even surprised Northern Alliance commanders. As even Dr. Abdullah said he was quite surprised with the speed in which the campaign moved in 48 hours.
For instance even today when I was reporting, I was reporting attacks on Taloqan. I was reporting that attacks had started. In just two hours we were hearing that Taloqan had been taken. So, even reporting from the front line here, Wolf, we have been surprised at the speed with which the Northern Alliance forces have been moving forward.
Now, Taliban forces, one mustn't forget, have retaliated. The sometimes have crept back and recaptured the positions in the night. So, one cannot rule the Taliban trying to recapture some of their areas which they have lost to the Northern Alliance forces over the last two days. Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Satinder.
Peter, in your new book, "Holy War, Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden," you write this. And I want to put it up on our screen. You captured my imagination when I read it.
Will capturing or killing bin Laden spell the end of al Qaeda? There are others who would replace him. Behind him are the many thousands of members and affiliates of al Qaeda not only in Afghanistan but in 60 countries around the world. A hydra-headed monster.
That sounds, if you're a poster of Osama bin Laden, pretty ominous.
BERGEN: Well, I think getting rid of bin Laden and the top leadership would obviously impact and if you actually closed down the terrorism training camps in Afghanistan that would also impact. It's one thing that you have a generalized dislike of the west. It's another thing to learn how to handle high explosives or set up a cell. Nonetheless, the horse has sort of left the barn. Thousands of people have cycled through bin Laden's camps. They've gone to, according to President Bush, 60 other countries. So, it's something that's going to be with us for many years, Wolf.
BLITZER: Peter Bergen, I want to thank you. Hamid Mir in Islamabad, thank you very much for joining us. And Satinder Bindra in northern Afghanistan, thank you. Be careful over there as well. And just ahead, Bruce Morton's "Last Word."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So the 20th was a very bloody century. And now here we are in the first war of the 21st, a war which started just two months ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Will the war on terrorism finally be the one to end all wars? Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
On this Veterans Day in the United States, Bruce Morton shares some thoughts on war.
MORTON (voice-over): Veterans Day, Monday sales and all of that began life as Armistice Day, with a two minute silence at 11:00 a.m. to mark the moment, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the great war, as World War I was then called, ended. The war to end wars, people called it then -- wrong of course.
It was very bloody. At least nine million soldiers, draftees most of them, died. It was very stupid. Most of them died to push a line of trenches 50 yards this way or that. And few probably knew what the war was about. Now days, it's hard to think it was about anything, just happened like an earthquake.
And of course mankind went on and did much worse. World War II, the history books say, killed at 50 million soldiers and civilians. In a study about the American wars say it may have been twice as many.
Civilians died in huge numbers, Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, Jews and Gypsies in the concentration camps, ordinary civilians in cities like London and Coventry and Dresden and Berlin, and finally in the poison glow which destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Cold War -- maybe 21 million and then millions more coin Stalin's purges, 10 million maybe in the famine that came with the collectivization of agriculture in the Ukraine.
So the 20th was a very bloody century. And now here we are in the first war of the 21st, a war which started just two months ago.
Former President Bill Clinton, speaking at Georgetown, his old university, this past week, called this war a struggle for the soul of the new century. Between those, like Americans, he said, who believe we don't know everything but are groping, stumbling toward a better world for people, and those like the fanatic Muslims who join the terrorist groups and think the truth has been revealed to them, that those who are not like them ought to die.
You can explain the extremists or try to, of government, with a lot of poverty, poor education, a stagnant economy, and find it easier to point at some outside group -- the Israelis, the Americans and say -- it's their fault, may find it easier to do that than to improve things at home.
Fighting all of that will involve combat, but also Clinton said, an effort to make life better in poor place.
A long struggle surely, but hopefully with less bloodshed in this century than in the last.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce. Time now for a look on what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines here in the United States.
"TIME" magazine looks at Thanksgiving 2001. Next week American families will set their tables, count their blessings and discover how their lives have changed and how they haven't with a patriotic pumpkin pie no the cover.
"Newsweek" visits the new New York Rudy hands off to a billionaire and map of Manhattan in 2010, with the mayor and the mayor-elect on the cover.
And on the cover of "U.S. News and World Report," "Are you too scared to spend?"
And that's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, November 11. Please join us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern. And during the week, I will see you twice a day at 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. for two editions of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."
Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
We leave you now with some live pictures of the Vietnam War Memorial here in Washington, on this Memorial Day (sic).
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