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CNN Newsroom

Aired November 13, 2001 - 04:30   ET


SUSAN FREIDMAN, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM for Tuesday. I'm Susan Freidman.

MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: And I'm Michael McManus.

A Navy aircraft carrier heads to sea to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom. The USS John C. Stennis left San Diego Monday with 6,000 crewmembers on board.

FREIDMAN: The opposition Northern Alliance is claiming major victory in its march across Afghanistan. Anti-Taliban troops say they've captured western Afghan city of Herat. That could open a supply route for the Northern Alliance troops.

Joie Chen brings us up to date.


JOIE CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On how the ongoing U.S.-led military campaign has been going, there have been significant developments, even since just late last week. So we wanted to bring our viewers up to date on what has been happening and what significance it might pose to the future of the campaign.

Take a look, first, at this. Now these are the major cities of Afghanistan: Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat. Before the air campaign, all of these cities had been controlled by the Taliban and the Northern Alliance had controlled only about 10 percent of the total territory all across the entire country.

Now in the last three days, there have been indications of significant change in the Alliance's fortunes. Of greatest significance and what you have heard the most news about, Mazar-e- Sharif. A hard fought battle here, a key city to bring in additional supplies, extra forces, humanitarian aid into Afghanistan and to points south of Mazar-e-Sharif. And success here indicates that the Alliance's military commanders were able to put aside their differences to work together to win this. The previous effort they had made did fail. The Alliance's admission on that is that it was a case of bad coordination.

Also of significance, Taloqan, which is also another key city for the Alliance. It was once the seat of the main opposition military leader, the late, the assassinated, Ahmed Shah Massoud.

Konduz is also significant, although there's still some instability reported at this location. If there is control by the Alliance, it may not be very solid. But if Konduz does fall, rebels will hold pretty much all of northern Afghanistan.

Bamian, of course you may remember this city because of those Buddhist statues that were there, destroyed by the Taliban just some months ago.

And perhaps, perhaps Herat. Now the Alliance had claimed victory here. At first the Taliban denied it, but one Taliban spokesman acknowledges heavy fighting.

Also, we have received reports of Alliance forces moving on other towns in the southwest near the Iran border.

Of course it is very hard to get concrete information from these locations. There are indications, though, that some things have changed in Mazar-e-Sharif. According to reports by the Associated Press and the "Washington Post," women have, for the first time in the years since the Taliban took power here, been seen worshiping at the central mosque. The Associated Press says that music, which was banned by the Taliban, has been heard coming from stores and public places. Men are lining up at barber shops to have the Taliban required beards shaved off.

On the other hand, there are also reports and some sources have been telling CNN that there have been reports of reprisals as Alliance forces entered Mazar against any Taliban fighters who hadn't fled first.

Now control of the cities is important, but perhaps maybe even more significant, control of airfields that could open the way to more of the U.S.-led forces. Now these are the locations of some of the air bases now thought to be under Alliance control, more solidly, in some cases, then in others.

Shindand, which is just south of Herat, at one time, this was a major Soviet air base. But we know from a series of Pentagon pictures that we have been getting from the department -- the U.S. Department of Defense that this airport was extensively bombed during the air campaign. Shindand also is significant because this is as close as the Alliance may have come to the Taliban's seat of power, that would be Kandahar, as the Alliance has come to that seat of the Taliban's power.

Now there are two air bases outside Mazar-e-Sharif here, one military, one civilian, both of them in very good strategic positions for bringing in forces or for bringing in humanitarian assistance.

Also we note at Bamian, at Konduz also there are airfields. At Taloqan what once was a relatively insignificant airstrip was said to have recently been built up by the assassinated Alliance Commander Massoud. And at Bagrham, of course this was once a very important air center for the Soviets in their invasion of Afghanistan, it has been significantly damaged, though, by fighting between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, even before the U.S.-led air campaign. The Northern Alliance has now apparently rested control of Bagrham, but there is still lots of fighting in this area and that makes the area too unstable, at least for the moment, to make much use of. Still, Bagrham stands on the Northern Alliance's likely route to the prize it wants most of all and that, of course, is Kabul.

The latest reports have Northern Alliance forces very, very close to the city, within 5 to 10 kilometers, but the ability to take Kabul might be as much a political battle at this point as a military one. Just this weekend, the U.S. president joined the Pakistani President Musharraf in discouraging the Alliance forces from taking Kabul, warning that they did not want to see that happen until plans for a post-Taliban government were in place for the entire country.


MCMANUS: As the Northern Alliance pushes forward, concern mounts in Pakistan. Many Pakistanis are focused on the issues of debt and humanitarian relief. President Bush met this weekend with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf who has expressed his support for the war against terrorism but also concern for the people in his country.

Two reports now on the nation's economic woes beginning with CNN's Bill Delaney.


BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten time zones from New York City, the shopping mall known simply as Supermarket in the Pakistani capital Islamabad where the day after President Pervez Musharraf's New York speech at the United Nations and extensive talks with President George W. Bush, it was still money at Supermarket Mall doing the real talking.

Momen Kahn (ph), in a good month, makes $50, helping support an extended family of 22 people. New world attention paid to Pakistan, he asks what difference it makes to a poor man. "What matters," he says, "what President Musharraf comes back with."

While at a nearby leather shop, as pundits discussed Musharraf's visit to New York, the proprietor, Stephen Monsor (ph), said the president wasn't on his mind, only that the foreign businessmen he caters to had all pulled out of Islamabad.

Pakistan's now promised a billion dollars in U.S. aid for backing the U.S.-anti-terror coalition. No one at Supermarket Mall expected that to pay their bills.

(on camera): To average Pakistanis, shifting GO political alliances register mostly as glimpses of the country's president on television, on the front pages of newspapers somewhere overseas with other powers that be. A change in the political weather, few here expect to change their lives anytime soon.

(voice-over): Aid and Pakistan's new world prominence welcomed without illusion.

IFFAT MALIK, POLITICAL ANALYST: Pride and the kind of satisfaction and a sort of secret happiness that you know we are receiving all this attention, but and this is -- you know it's very big but that is also mixed with a high degree of cynicism and skepticism about the motives.

DELANEY: Pakistanis seem to know what's always available for a song is talk.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Islamabad.



REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not exactly Wall Street but in Pashawar's currency market, large fortunes have been made and lost -- literally large, in bundles of Afghanistan's currency, the afghanis. One dollar currently buys around 4,700. This trading market in Pakistan, not far from the Afghan border, is the place that drives the value of Afghanistan's currency.

(on camera): As of midday here, the Afghan currency has been shooting up on rumors that the Northern Alliance has taken the western city of Herat. On Friday, after the Northern Alliance took the city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the Afghan currency also shot up here.

(voice-over): There's also the complicating factor that some versions of the afghanis, with different serial numbers and colors, are only recognized in Northern Alliance-controlled territories.

(on camera): If you got to Kabul today and you want to buy something, you can use this one but you cannot use this one?

(voice-over): People here can also trade afghanis futures, gambling on Afghanistan's political fate.

Currency trader Zergaze (ph), who says he came from Kabul last month with sacks of cash, predicts the afghanis will get stronger in the long run.

"If the Taliban falls," he says, "then the international community will pour a lot of aid into Afghanistan."

But Gulam Rasule (ph), who says he's been trading since age 15, disagrees. He believes the afghanis is a bad bet for the long term, because it will eventually have to be replaced with a new currency. As he points out, since the Taliban came to power, the afghanis has been printed outside Afghanistan in Russia without much supervision or planning over how much gets printed.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Pashawar, Pakistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MCMANUS: On the Pakistan border with Afghanistan, the land is treacherous. Mountains converge with the desert creating temperature extremes and vicious sandstorms. But there is something else American troops must contend with as they set up base camps, the region is home to warlords, gun runners, drug cartels and tribal outlaws.

Carol Lin brings us into this desolate but dangerous place.


CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The famous Bugti hospitality comes at the end of the barrel of a gun. We were escorted by a convoy of heavily armed guards to ensure safe passage into territory where tribal warfare still rages in a raw countryside of rugged mountains and unpaved roads, where Pakistan's largest and oldest tribe, the Bugtis, the road to law and order can be just as wild.

Dera Bugti is the heart of the Bugti Tribe where Madar Bugti is on trial for murder, but Pakistani police or a judge will never hear the case. The prosecution of defense will rest on Madar's walk over a bed of hot coals.

"If he is innocent, spare him," a senior tribesman prays to Allah. "If he is guilty, burn his feet." Seven agonizing steps. The crowd shouts "save him, save him," as they dunk his feet in cold water. Madar and the tribe now wait to see if any telltale blisters grow.

"The police don't offer justice," the Bugti chief security officer says. "Here, if someone is guilty, it'll show when he walks on fire. We'll decide in 24 hours." And it is this man who will decide, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the tribe's chief, who is father, protector, judge and jury for 187,000 Bugti tribes people who worship him.

They are spread out over a vast territory, too wild for the Pakistani government, which long ago ceded control.

NAWAB AKBAR KHAN BUGTI, BUGTI TRIBAL CHIEF: Because the overwhelming majority of the people follow those laws and rules and all that. So the government, if they go against it, it's just like striking a brick wall.

LIN: Just try telling a Bugti warrior that Pakistan says he's got to turn over his automatic rifle or face life in prison. It doesn't happen here on Main Street, where Bugti tribesmen use their weapons for moving livestock or just being one of the gang.

Tribal custom allows them to openly violate Pakistan's anti gun law. In Dera Bugti, laws are made on this concrete island in the Bugti courtyard, where the council of elders honor Nawab Bugti and meet to decide everything from whether the local adulteress should hang herself -- as is tribal custom -- to whether her family should just shoot her dead, to ending feuds between local clans. The real action takes place oddly in this backyard garage, where Nawab's grandson handles civil disputes. Like these two parties, fighting over title to some land. There is no call to order in this court. Finally Bahram Bugti tells both parties to "sit down and shut up." Decisions made are as binding as life or death.

BUGTI: No, they can't refuse.

LIN: What if they refuse? What happens?

BUGTI: They refuse, then they can't be here, then they are to leave because everybody will gather around to kick them out.

LIN: And so what of the fate of Madar Bugti, the man accused of murder? He is brought to Nawab Bugti as night falls and the chief rules on the evidence. Guilty, because the coals burned Madar's soles, Nawab has ruled, the dead victim's family can decide later whether to take Madar's land and money or kill him. He pleads for mercy now, but gets none.

Carol Lin, CNN, Dera Bugti, Pakistan.


MCMANUS: When the military response to terrorism began, support was high. Many countries committed to help. Nations, once enemies, started embracing each other as allies. A new pride was born as citizens embraced their nation's resolve and waived their flags.

CNN reporter Peter Humi reports that worldwide camaraderie within certain countries has started to waver.


PETER HUMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ceremonies honoring the dead of wars past held in capitals across Europe, a tribute, also, to the victims of the terrorist attacks on the United States and of the present war being waged thousands of miles to the east.

In Rome, a show of support for Washington and its stated aim of smashing the al Qaeda terrorist network. But just a few blocks away, a rally protesting the U.S.-led military attacks in Afghanistan. Making war on civilians, demonstrators said, was not the way to defeat terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think it's necessary to destroy everything but just the terrorists and nothing else.

HUMI: The protest, evidence of a shift in public opinion, a shift that is being seen across Europe.

(on camera): In France, for example, just a week after the start of the U.S. aerial assaults against the Taliban, 65 percent of those questioned by the Ipsos Polling Company favored the strikes.

(voice-over): Less than a month later, the same polling company reports support has dropped to 17 percent.

PIERRE GIACOMETTI, MANAGING DIRECTOR, IPSOS: People have some interrogation (ph) concerning the efficiency of the war -- the Arean War (ph) in Afghanistan. In some survey, they are more insufficient to approve some terrorist -- attacks directly against the al Qaeda groups.

HUMI: And even in Britain, a staunch supporter of the Alliance, only one-third of those polled by the Morey Organization believe the air strikes against the Taliban have been successful so far. Still, more than 65 percent continue to support military action.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrorism is a thing that we have to live with and I've lived with for quite a long time now. And I think somebody has got to put a stop to it, otherwise, we will never be safe.

HUMI: Yet images of Afghan civilian casualties and the failure to eliminate Osama bin Laden have disillusioned many Europeans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think bombarding, the way they do it, I don't think that's the right way. I don't think they will get the results they want to get.

HUMI: Nevertheless, major west European leaders continue to rally around the United States. Their citizens, too; although with increasing reservations about the means being currently used in Afghanistan.

Peter Humi, CNN, Paris.


MCMANUS: It's been one important meeting after another for President Bush, now he and Russian President Vladimir Putin are kicking off a highly anticipated summit. The big question hanging over the meeting is whether the two leaders can agree on missile defense. Both sides are expected to announce big cuts in their huge nuclear arsenals.

Colleen McEdwards has a preview.


COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Russian president confident and positive ahead of his trip to Crawford, Texas. It is his personal relationship with President Bush, he says, that helped convince him that a compromise can be reached on the 1972 Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty as long as the U.S. agrees to reduce nuclear warheads as well.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We believe it is correct and appropriate to deal with defensive weapons and offensive weapons at the same time. They are the same side of the same coin.


MCEDWARDS: Both countries have an excess of long-range nuclear missiles. The U.S. has more than it thinks it needs. Russia has more than it can afford to keep. Mr. Putin says he's still waiting for details, but numbers have already been discussed in public, a limit of 2,000 long-range warheads or even less. Each side now has between 6,000 and 7,000.


PUTIN (through translator): After the options are offered, the political leaders must make the choice, and I am very optimistic there will be a compromise.


MCEDWARDS: It is a compromise that Dr. Sergei Rogov says could lead to criticism from Russians who fear a cozy relationship with the United States will compromise security. But he says it's a risk worth taking to move Russia closer to the West economically and politically.

DR. SERGEI ROGOV, U.S. AND CANADA STUDIES INST.: It's not going to happen overnight, but the Crawford Summit could be the turning point in the history of Russian-American relations for years.

MCEDWARDS (on camera): And it could be a turning point in the way the world's two biggest nuclear powers approach national security. No longer talking about how many missiles they need to feel safe together in the world but instead, talking about how few.

Colleen McEdwards, CNN, Moscow.


FREIDMAN: Journalists around the world are covering the war on terrorism. For news crews in Afghanistan, doing their job is difficult and dangerous. Exactly how hard is it? Mark Phillips gives us a bird's eye view from behind the camera.


MARK PHILLIPS, CNN CAMERAMAN (voice-over): This would be the start of a seven-day trip from Khoja Bahaudin to Jebal Saash.

(on camera): OK, we've taped CNN to the top of the roof so the Americans don't bomb us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, good idea, actually.

PHILLIPS: But seeing the way that Brent has done it, they're apt to probably bomb us out of bad taste.

(voice-over): A trip where we would have to transport five tons of television equipment and food for the CNN crew in Jebal Saash before the winter would close the Angiman Pass (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he find?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is his -- this is what the Americans...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the MRE wrapper, yes.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): The American food drops had found a dual purpose. After the food had been eaten, the MREs were used as school bags for the local kids.

(on camera): You should see this bridge, it's a very old bridge. It's only wood . There's a five-ton truck going across it. That's the NBC truck, we're hoping it'll fall first and we're testing the bridge with it.

(voice-over): There is little in the way of paved roads in Afghanistan. After 20 years of war, most of the roads are dirt, or in this case, a riverbed.

We're rafting in a jeep.


We are rafting in a jeep.

(on camera): There you go, there is my lunch, something with mushrooms.


(voice-over): The trek continues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The trek continues.

PHILLIPS: This is incredible. I mean...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a pilgrimage.

PHILLIPS (on camera): The trucks are passing by with barely a foot or two of clearance and at least a hundred foot, maybe more, drop into the canyon. The drop, that gorge where the river runs.

(voice-over): I have to show this because they won't believe me otherwise, (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's true, they won't.

PHILLIPS: They wont' believe me. This is us and there's the guys, the drivers, everybody.

BRAD SIMCOX, CNN ENGINEER: Well we have a very rough spot here about a 50 degrees angle. They're trying to get up in these big trucks and these jeeps. But as you can see, it's kind of rough right here. So far we've gotten five five-ton trucks up it. One guy almost slid off the side, and now they're bringing up four more vehicles. PHILLIPS (on camera): This is day number, which day are we?


PHILLIPS: Day five. Only three more days to go. And, as you can see, the roads are getting smoother.

(voice-over): Negotiating the armed checkpoints was just one problem.

EDDIE MALOUF, SATELLITE ENGINEER: We're coming up to the Angiman Pass, which is supposedly the highest pass we will be crossing. And along the way, we encountered numerous bridges. Those are like homemade kit bridges. I have no idea how our truck -- five-ton truck passed over this.


MALOUF: We're at the summit here, 14,665 feet the last reading. It's a bit difficult to breathe, but we've made it. From here on, it's supposedly all downhill. We don't care if it snows now because we're over the hump. And this is the NBC driver honking. He's a bit anxious to leave.

(voice-over): After seven days we arrive to a warm welcome.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wires -- full of wires.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) wires. You can't print wires, can you, Jero?

PHILLIPS (on camera): I need you to joey up (ph) the truck. Can you -- can we ask them to joey up the trucks?

(voice-over): The drivers are paid and tipped.

(on camera): For both days. Thank you for keeping the truck on the road. Thanks for getting down here as quickly as possible. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's for him. If he doesn't share with him (INAUDIBLE).

PHILLIPS (voice-over): And the fresh supplies are stocked and checked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what have you got there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A green tea -- green tea.

(voice-over): Mark Phillips for CNN, northern Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FREIDMAN: For two months, people have worked tirelessly to clear the debris in and around ground zero. The cleanup could take up to a year. Fires still burn here and there, and the tremendous amount of ash and rubble is affecting something other than nearby buildings, plant life in the area is literally choking to death.

Beth Nissen explains.


BETH NISSEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The collapse of the Twin Towers sent two million tons of pulverized concrete and ash into the air, and into nearby apartments, onto streets, and into the gardens of the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy: 30 acres of lawns, plants and trees at the southern tip of Manhattan. Tens of thousands of plants, like this ivy, were encrusted with dust.

T. FLEISCHER, BATTERY PARK CITY PARKS CONCERVANCY CHIEF HORTICULTURIST: Well, what you see here is a lot of the debris that you saw on the plants. It's this dusty material, which is largely made up of gypsum and concrete.

NISSEN: Chief horticulturist T. Fleischer worried that the dust would choke the plants.

FLEISCHER: The leaves need oxygen, and so of course you need to have oxygen to the roots. This caked-on material, of course, doesn't allow oxygen to get to the roots.

NISSEN (on camera): How much of the plant life in the park looked like this?

FLEISCHER: I would say certainly about two thirds of the park was covered in this kind of debris.

NISSEN (voice-over): Conservancy staff members -- from the horticulturists to the secretaries -- went to work, cleaning the garden's 400 species of trees, shrubs and plants.

FLEISCHER: We picked out the major debris by hand and then got the rest up with rakes, and hoses sprinkling it down.

NISSEN: When damp, the dust formed a layer, like felt, that could be picked off mulch and topsoil in clumps and then discarded. Getting the fall-out off lawns was harder. Even after the debris was removed, dust coated every blade of grass. Workers tried to clean the grass with water, brooms, even industrial vacuum cleaners.

FLEISCHER: We tried vacuum cleaners, but it -- it didn't pick it up. So we basically came in with a sod-cutter, cut all the lawn, rolled it up, hauled it off and put down new sod.

NISSEN (on camera): So you rolled it up like a dirty carpet?

FLEISCHER: Yep. That's just about what we did. Yeah.

NISSEN: And laid a new carpet.

FLEISCHER: Yeah, exactly.

NISSEN: Within a month, workers had removed 125 tons of debris and dust-encrusted material. But the garden-keepers had deeper worries about the soil.

Park soil started out as landfill, excavated from the World Trade Center site. The soil was carefully enriched over the years, using only organic fertilizers and compost.

FLEISCHER: The soil looks really nice here.

NISSEN: The conservancy has done baseline tests to see if the dust from the pulverized buildings has upset the soil balance. The preliminary results: so far, no elevated levels of harmful heavy metals, lead, cobalt, arsenic, and no decrease in beneficial bacteria and fungi that help sustain the park.

Fleischer did a dirt-cheap test of his own. He looked for earthworms.

FLEISCHER: Because if there was anything really bad in that soil, invertebrates would be the first to be affected by that. And when you see these guys peeking out looking for air, well, that's a real sign of hope.

NISSEN: Hope is growing throughout the parks. In garden beds covered in ash just weeks ago, there are signs of new life. Just yards from ground zero, which still smolders, bamboo and crabapple trees do their leafy magic: clean the air.

Somehow, the gardens still bloom with salvia and spiderflowers, the last of the summer roses and the first of the winter holly. Even fragile plants have held up through the smoke and ash.

FLEISCHER: Certainly a garden to me is a metaphor of hope and of healing and health. The soil and the plants are healthy. Life is going on.

NISSEN: Beth Nissen, CNN, New York.


MCMANUS: Susan, those gardens look even more beautiful with those fall colors at full peak right now I believe.

FREIDMAN: That's right, it's just a gorgeous time of the year.

That's all we have time for today. I'm Susan Freidman.

MCMANUS: And I'm Michael McManus. We'll see you tomorrow.




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