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Aired November 15, 2001 - 04:30   ET


MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM for Thursday. I'm Michael McManus.

The commanders of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan consider a new strategy, bombing may now focus more on cave complexes and pockets of Taliban resistance, places where Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders may be hiding. The announcement comes after the opposition Northern Alliance seized control of the Afghan capital, Kabul. U.S. officials say Jalalabad is also largely under the control of anti- Taliban forces, as is the airport in Kandahar.

In the U.S., Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who toured ground zero for the first time Wednesday, said the Bush administration is satisfied with the progress of the war, but the fight against terrorism is far from over.


DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: We still have a ways to go. And I can understand, when things are happening that aren't visible and aren't something that we can remark on, I can understand the impatience. But the pressure's been on from the beginning. The pressure is still on today, and the pressure's going to have to stay on, not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere, because the terrorist networks are spread across the globe. And it is, needless to say, gratifying to see the Taliban fleeing, and the people of Afghanistan getting their country back.


MCMANUS: For a broader glimpse of the U.S. battle plan, we go to our own Joel Hochmuth.


JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sweeping advances by Northern Alliance forces come at a critical time for U.S. officials who have been trying to maintain American support for the war on terrorism. It was just last week press briefings like this were full of reporters who seemed skeptical that things in Afghanistan were not going as planned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUESTION: Particularly, what does the president make of the public debate over whether or not General Franks is carrying out the war in an appropriate manner and at an appropriate pace?

QUESTION: Did the president -- do the...


QUESTION: I'm sorry, did the prime minister mention anything about the pace of the war slacking?

QUESTION: Another newspaper article in which the Indian prime minister described the military effort as slacking.


HOCHMUTH: Now with the recent developments, the mood has changed.


QUESTION: About this time last week, you were getting skeptical questions and skeptical critiques about the conduct of the war.

RUMSFELD: There is the understatement of the afternoon.


QUESTION: Yes, well here we are a week later, approximately, and we've seen the events that have unfolded. Do you want to re-answer that question?

RUMSFELD: That pressure, when you can't see it, it's frustrating for people. And that's where all those questions came from. And I understand that. And when you see some event, then someone says, well, maybe that pressure is working a little bit. And I think that pressure is working.


HOCHMUTH: After all, it was only five weeks ago that President Bush ordered air strikes on targets in Afghanistan.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime.


HOCHMUTH: Clearly those strikes have taken their toll.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GENERAL JOHN JUMPER, AIR FORCE CHIEF OF STAFF: We've done a great job with air power, starting slowly at first, and then picking up with accuracy as we got people on the ground to actually designate the targets for us, we got more and more accurate. So I think it's a combination of the -- of the people on the ground, the special forces on the ground and the -- and the air power becoming more and more accurate, and more and more focused, that's got this thing rolling for us.


HOCHMUTH: The Pentagon says one reason the Taliban is on the run is that from the beginning they've been unable to reinforce their troops in northern Afghanistan. Military planners say that's a direct result of strategy in the first few days to take out as many Taliban transport planes and helicopters as possible. Still, any operation like this is unpredictable.


JUMPER: When you first go into a place, you never know what to expect. When we got there, we were able to take out their sophisticated defenses rather early. And since then, we've been able to do pretty much what we want, Larry.


HOCHMUTH: While the speed of the Northern Alliance's advance may have caught many outsiders by surprise, that's not necessarily the case inside Afghanistan.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour's reporting from Kabul.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Basically what has happened in this country over the last decade of fighting -- it's a momentum kind of thing. There's been very little actual battles for cities. And we've seen that when the Taliban swept up from the south starting in Kandahar in '94, then coming up to various other cities and eventually coming up to Kabul in '96. The opposition sort of melted away. Either they were being bought off, or they realized that they had to move back in order to fight another day. And that is what seems to be happening this time in reverse.


HOCHMUTH: But still unclear, whether the current retreat by the Taliban is out of desperation or out of design, and no one in Washington is claiming victory. In fact, the Pentagon stresses there's still a long way to go before reaching it's ultimate goal: hunting down Osama bin Laden and bringing him to justice.

We get more now on the search for the suspected terrorist and his al-Qaeda network from CNN's Joie Chen and military analyst, retired Major General Don Shepperd. (END VIDEOTAPE)


JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: And the key to the mission is still finding Osama bin Laden and putting a stop to activities of the terror network. That clearly isn't easy. On the one hand, bin Laden has made himself visible on occasion when he has wanted to. We've seen the videotapes that he has put out from anonymous locations.

Before September 11, residents of Kabul said they had sometimes seen what is believed to be his convoy of burgundy-colored sport utility vehicles in the streets of the capital city. And in the past, intelligence apparently had intercepted some of the satellite phone conversations. But as of late, he's made himself much more scarce.

Joining us again this afternoon, retired Air Force Major General Don Shepperd, with us to talk a little bit about this search for Osama bin Laden.

A quick review of the some of the places that might be a good hiding spot, if you're Osama bin Laden.

RETIRED MAJOR GEN. DON SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the Taliban now -- one of their last strongholds was Kandahar. And, of course, there are many hiding places north in the mountains here.

And reportedly, they are heading for the mountains, retreating to the mountains, retreating also to the west. All of these are likely places. In addition, he has a lot of sympathizers in Pakistan over in this area across from Quetta, even across from Jalalabad. So he could go out of the country -- also mountains up here to the north of Kabul, also to the northeast of the Kunduz-Taloqan area up here and north of Jalalabad.

There are a lot of places to hide in Afghanistan, a country slightly smaller than the size of Texas.

CHEN: When we talk about the possibility of him going and using the caves that he is said to have, tunnels, caves, this sort of apparatus -- we have some illustration of trying to locate someone in the course of finding -- going through the many clouds overhead and moving into Afghanistan.

Talk to us about the challenges of getting to a location like this.

SHEPPERD: Well, look at the rugged country. And then these caves are not what you think of as your mother's cave. These are well-constructed, fortified bunkers, if you will, that you go into a cave entrance, but then they have many turns and twists.

This is, for instance a sleeping area. We're showing mats on the floor here with their weapons nearby -- and, of course, perhaps food into the same area. We will be going into this deeper perhaps tomorrow, showing some of the other things. But these are most difficult to find. And once you find the entrance, you still have to get into the rest of cave and find out where the rest of that cave is. So this is no small deal.

The country is full of the old karez irrigation tunnels, which are natural, and then these bunkers and caves that are specifically constructed for people to hide and fight from.

CHEN: And we know that part of the reason people suspect that Osama bin Laden might have these sort of facilities availability is because A, he has so much money, and his family comes from this engineering -- he's an engineer by background. So he might have the technological expertise to have had something like this built for him.

I wonder if you can talk briefly about the notion of weaponry being able to reach a location like that. We talk about bunker- busting bombs being able to dive down to the earth and find a target. But in a case of these cave networks, I mean, those are twists and turns. I'm not sure a really smart bomb is that smart.

SHEPPERD: Human intelligence is very important. What is in the cave? Where is it? And where does it go once you get past the entrance?

You have got bunker-buster bombs, but you have got to get them in the right room to kill what's in there or to blow up what's in there. So you can't just bomb the whole Rocky Mountains, if you will, or all this mountain range up here. You have got to find the cave entrance -- and then intelligence about what goes on underneath. We have bombs that will get into certain areas in certain places under the right conditions. But it's very, very difficult. Underground stuff is most difficult.

CHEN: We have also talked about the possibility -- and it has been said that some of the Taliban forces have moved out into the areas out in the southwest, so in the desert areas as well. It would seem to me that is a big flat area; it would be fairly easy to find somebody down there.

SHEPPERD: That's good news. It's easy to find people. The problem is, how do you know whether they are friendly or enemy? Remember, they all drive the same type of vehicles. They all have the same type of equipment. It's captured, or really reissued Soviet equipment, or resupplied Soviet equipment in the case of the Northern Alliance.

So you have to have people on the ground giving you good intelligence about the disposition of friendly forces and then identifying the enemy forces. You can't just go out there and shoot something because it's a tank or a truck.

CHEN: But in terms of being able to spot it, say, from the air, without putting additional, say, U.S. forces on the ground, being able to spot it from the air, certainly that seems like it would be a lot easier.

SHEPPERD: It makes it a lot easier in open country, but you have got radars that can look without hindrance of mountains. You've got all sorts of sensors that can get in there and look. And we are getting in a smaller, smaller area our of sensors. So they are smaller areas to look and try to find things, in this case, al Qaeda and bin Laden.

The other important thing is, once you get bin Laden and the al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the war is not over. The Pentagon, the secretary of defense, the president have said that over and over.

CHEN: We have talked about the number of cities, particularly in the last day, two days, the number of cities that have changed hands, that have fallen from the Taliban either to the Northern Alliance or other anti-Taliban forces as well.

By area, you would think that a lot of country is covered. But, really, if the critical parts still are in Taliban control, then you still have a problem.

SHEPPERD: You do. There's going to be a lot of mopping up and consolidation here. Reportedly, Kandahar and Kunduz are the only two areas still in contention, if you will, with fighting going on in both areas. Even when the Taliban owns all of this area, they now have to control it. They have to bring government. They have to bring services. They have to bring the economy back. This is long-term problem. It is not just over when this initial military strikes are over.

CHEN: Major General Don Shepperd, our CNN military analyst, with his view and a little help in understanding, a little perspective of what is going on and what may lie ahead in Afghanistan.


MCMANUS: As the search for Osama bin Laden goes on, there is word today of more evidence against him. British leaders say a videotape made by bin Laden confirms his role in the terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Susan Candiotti has that story.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a speech to the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Tony Blair asserted the evidence against Osama bin Laden is more convincing than ever.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The intelligence material now leaves no doubt whatever of the guilt of Osama bin Laden and his associates.

CANDIOTTI: Without offering details about the latest evidence against the 19 allegedly responsible for September's attacks, the prime minister said authorities now have evidence linking the majority of the hijackers to al Qaeda. The prime minister also claims a senior bin Laden associate has admitted to have trained some of the hijackers -- that new evidence in hand, Mr. Blair says, since October 4. Blair saved his strongest comments to describe excerpts from an unbroadcast video of bin Laden taped, he said, on October 20, a tape in which the British prime minister says bin Laden takes responsibility for September 11.

BLAIR: And I quote: "If avenging the killing of our people is terrorism, let history be a witness that we are terrorists." Mr. Speaker, they are terrorists. And history will judge them as such.

CANDIOTTI: British officials insist they do not have the videotape, but have seen it. On its Web site, the British government publishes more excerpts.

Quote -- "Bush and Blair don't understand any language of force. Every time they kill us, we kill them, so the balance of terror can be achieved." And this: "The bad terror is what America and Israel are practicing against our people. And what we are practicing is the good terror."

A U.S. official read additional excerpts from the bin Laden tape to CNN. When he's asked if his prior public statements could be linked to September 11th, bin Laden says, "if you mean the instigation part, that's true, we did that." He described the September 11th attacks as "great by all measures."

Attorney General John Ashcroft says he has not seen the videotape either.

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I certainly don't need any additional evidence, knowing what I know about the -- about the operation and the -- and the tragedy of September 11.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): The attorney general may know plenty, but so far, the U.S. has kept what it knows about the operation secret.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Washington.


MCMANUS: The Taliban are said to be in total collapse and at the break point, according to U.S. and British authorities. Many Taliban forces and officials are on the run and some are scrambling to forge new alliances. Facing an uncertain future, some members of the Taliban are trying to ensure their political and personal survival.

The story now from CNN international correspondent Sheila MacVicar in Pakistan.


SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Afghan embassy in Islamabad, sullen guards were at the gate and a mood of uncertainty hung in the air. Business as usual, they insisted. The Taliban ambassador who had left in a hurry would be back.

The ambassador is in Afghanistan, insisted his deputy. He was recalled for consultations in Kandahar. When we caught up with the ambassador he was a long way from Kandahar. After a meandering 500- kilometer journey across northern Pakistan, we found him here in a restaurant at a meeting over lunch.

His lunch companion, an Afghan tribal chief. What is on the table are new alliances, the search for a way for Taliban officials, like the ambassador, and Taliban commanders to abandon their hard line leadership, avoid more bloodshed, and find a way to survive.

I don't know what the future is, says the ambassador. I'm going to go to Kandahar and see. The picture from Kandahar is anything but clear. This tribal chief told us of other meetings, delegations of Pashtun tribal leaders, now loyal to the exiled king traveling secretly into Afghanistan. We're waiting for the answer, he said. We are asking Taliban commanders to give us the date and time when they will defect. It is a slow process of talking and dealing and promising now made urgent.

At the border, the Taliban are still very visible, still patrolling the other side. There were lines of men returning from the war. Some were wounded. Some were young. Some seemed too old to have been in another battle. And their stories were as confused as the situation must be -- fighting, awaiting more war or not.

There are 40 or 50,000 Taliban in Kandahar, says this fighter, and they are ready to keep on fighting.

Everyone in Kandahar is very worried, says this truck driver, the Taliban are guarding everything.

And late this afternoon, at that border, we found the ambassador again, going to Afghanistan to see.

Sheila MacVicar, CNN, Quetta, Pakistan.


MCMANUS: The Red Cross has been under fire since it publicly acknowledged all money collected for the Liberty Fund would not go to September 11 victims and families. This week, in a remarkable turnabout, the Red Cross reversed itself.

Hillary Lane reports on the latest twist.


HILLARY LANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Red in the face, the American Red Cross is making apologies and changes.

HAROLD DECKER, INTERIM CEO, RED CROSS: We deeply regret that our actions over the past eight weeks have not been as sharply focused as America wants and the victims of this tragedy deserve.

LANE: The charity now says all of the $543 million donated to its Liberty Fund will flow to victims of the September 11 attacks.


DR. BERNADINE HEALY, FORMER PRESIDENT & CEO, RED CROSS: In this time of need, the American Red Cross is profoundly grateful.


LANE: This campaign of highly visible public service announcements featuring President Bernadine Healy and celebrities had led donors to believe that all of the money was going to victims of the attacks. But last month, Healy was forced out as questions mounted over whether the Red Cross was using those donations to bolster its coffers.

So far, the Red Cross has helped 25,000 families, spending $137 million to date. It has stopped soliciting new contributions and is even offering to refund money to angry donors.

(on camera): While the Red Cross has been at the center of criticism from victims, their families and from elected officials, the anger has stretched to many of the charities involved, as those in need have complained it's been too difficult to access the money.

(voice-over): Last week, Congress began hearings.

ELIZABETH MCLAUGHLIN, WIDOW: I don't think contributors to the various September 11 funds thought that their donations would be caught up in so much red tape.

LANE: Some families said having to approach charities one by one made them feel like beggars. By the end of the month, those in need should be able to fill out one application and register in one database shared by nearly all of the 200 charities providing September 11 assistance, an approach spearheaded by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who had harshly criticized the Red Cross and is now praising it.

ELIOT SPITZER, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Why it took this long to get here, I don't know. But I applaud them for reaching the right decision, because it will vindicate the public's trust in the Red Cross. It will vindicate the public's belief that the money that was given will go to benefit victims of September 11. And that is exactly what should happen.

LANE: The Red Cross plans to disburse half of the Liberty Fund by year-end, and then, lessons learned, in January detail how the remaining money will be spent.

Hillary Lane, for CNN, New York.


ANNOUNCER: Teachers, make the most of CNN NEWSROOM with our free daily classroom guide to the program. There you'll find a rundown of each day's show so you choose just the program segment that fits your lesson plan. Plus there are discussion questions and activities and the guide highlights key people, places and news terms. Each day find hot links to other online resources and previews of upcoming desk segments.

It's all at this Web address where you can also sign up to have the guide automatically e-mailed directly to you each day. It's easy. It's free. It's your curriculum connection to the news. After all, the news never stops and neither does learning.

MCMANUS: When you look at images of the World Trade Center site, it's hard to think about anything other than death and destruction. There is much sadness among the rubble at ground zero, but there's also a newfound kindness among people that work there. People at and around the site are bonding, and in some cases, finding more than just friendship.

Miles O'Brien explains.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just few blocks from ground zero at Nino's Restaurant, they're still nourishing the police and firefighters assigned to the pile, with a steady stream of free meals and the constant buzz of warm banter. It is an oasis, and as it turns out, a place to find love. As Carmen Sabonovich (ph) discovered. She's volunteered here for two months now, and has been asked out 10 times. She used to have a hard time meeting men.

CARMEN SABONOVICH, VOLUNTEER: I was one of those two months ago. It's very hard to find a really nice guy. In here, there are so many of them. It's, like, hard to pick and choose.

O'BRIEN: And there is volunteer Paul Synowitz (ph).

PAUL SYNOWITZ, VOLUNTEER: There is one officer on a traffic beat who I think likes me, a little bit.

O'BRIEN: It's even turning hardened corrections officers into regular Alan Aldas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have a tragedy of such, a lot of people have a tendency to let their guard down and be a little bit more -- what's the word I'm looking for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their heart opens up. The heart opens up more, and is looking for, you know, good things to come to you.

O'BRIEN: But why here? Why now? Well, take a look at the young ladies serving food. Alan Arbertina (ph) certainly has.

ALAN ARBERTINA: There is a lot of attractive young ladies here. It's similar to like a USO in the service, I guess. I was in Vietnam, and I mean, it's the same feeling as when you are in the service.

O'BRIEN: The winds of war have always fanned the flames of romance. Anthropologist Helen Fisher says it's all in the chemistry.

HELEN FISHER, ANTHROPOLOGIST: When people are really on the line, and they've got to either run or protect themselves, this amps up levels of testosterone. Testosterone is associated with the sex drive. It's associated with attraction. And I think that in times of real danger is a time when you can really fall in love.

O'BRIEN (on camera): Even in best of times, New Yorkers complain this is a tough place to meet people and find romance. So it's no small irony that now, the worst of times, that may be changing for the better, and there are some who suggest it may be happening far beyond Manhattan.

(voice-over): Maybe love can conquer war. The real proof may come in nine months, give or take.

FISHER: You are going to see it all over America. I think we are going to see a minor Baby Boom.

O'BRIEN: But first things first.

Back at the frontlines, restaurant owner Nino Bardon (ph) is ready to cater to whatever may blossom here.

NINO BARDON, RESTAURANT OWNER: We have to put up a tent here for a wedding, no problem. We'll do it.

O'BRIEN: Miles O'Brien, CNN, New York.



LINDA BEERMANN, LINCOLN, NEBRASKA: I'm Linda Beermann from Lincoln, Nebraska. And my question is: When and by whom was the Pledge of Allegiance written?

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Linda, a Christian Socialist minister named Francis Bellamy wrote the pledge back in 1892. His version appeared in "The Youth's Companion," a family magazine kind of like "Reader's Digest," and it was meant for students to recite on Columbus Day.

CHILDREN: I pledge allegiance to the flag...

MORTON: Bellamy wrote, "I pledge allegiance to my flag, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

As a Socialist, he wanted to add equality, but he knew not everyone believed in equal rights for women and minorities.

In 1923 at a national flag conference, they dropped "my flag" and instead, inserted "the flag of the United States." Congress officially recognized the pledge in 1942 during World War II. The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that children could not be forced to recite it in school.

KEN RHOADES, BLAIR, NEBRASKA: My name is Ken Rhodes from Blair, Nebraska. And I was wondering when "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

MORTON: Ken Rhoades, you asked when they added the phrase "under God." That was in 1954 during Dwight Eisenhower's presidency and at the height of the Cold War.


MCMANUS: And finally, this season of uncertainty has brought many tests for students across America. One test is not to rush to judgment, especially if someone is of a different culture. At the University of Missouri, students are forcing themselves not to retreat from the notion of one America, and they are having success as they mix and mingle in an effort to gain understanding, as our CNN Student Bureau explains.



EDWARD MOODY, CNN STUDENT BUREAU: International food and culture night at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, is an opportunity to absorb the colorful tapestry of traditions among UMKC students. It's an invitation to celebrate and understand diversity.

HEATHER STINSTON, INTERNATIONAL STUDENT AFFAIRS: All you have to do is step in the other room and see all the people from all different nationalities serving each other, trying new foods, having the courage to walk up to a table and say, what's that, I've never tried that before, and trying that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People from all over the world are here gathered together. It's like no difference. You know everybody's talking to everybody. No -- everybody has a common language.

MOODY: During the celebration, students had the opportunity to talk about how their lives have changed since the terrorist attacks on September 11.

STINSTON: We are very used to being safe and we don't feel that safety anymore.

MAGNOLIA MONROY, AGE 23: I will be affected because there's going to be more discrimination towards immigrants and people from other countries.

BEENISH YUSUF, AGE 19: (INAUDIBLE) in many ways. You know it's going to be hard for us in the future to apply for jobs. Even now, people are going to look at us, do a double take at us, saying, OK, well, they're Muslim so they might be, you know, bad as well. So it's really hard for us, and it's going to get harder as the years go on so.

MOODY: How can we as a nation overcome those fears and bring unity to the country again?

VIDHI SHETA, AGE 19: It depends on you. You -- if you want, you can get along with anybody, you know, any color, any race.

STINSTON: A little bit of courage to find out what about somebody is different and what we can embrace and wonderful things about all people in the world.

MOODY: Reporting with Carlos Ramone (ph), I'm Edward Moody, CNN Student Bureau, Kansas City.



MCMANUS: Lessons not just for students but for all of us right now.

I'm Michael McManus. Thank you for joining us. See you tomorrow.




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