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Aired November 16, 2001 - 04:30   ET



A new threat from the Taliban's supreme leader Mullah Omar. In an interview with the BBC, he says -- quote -- "The current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause and that is the destruction of America." Amidst the latest threat, Taliban leaders appear to be losing more ground. Northern Alliance commanders battled thousands of Taliban troops Thursday in Konduz. U.S. officials say there has also been fighting in the areas in Baghram and Kandahar. In light of the recent gains, U.S. commanders say the bombing campaign will become more focused.


GENERAL THOMAS FRANKS, COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF CENTRAL COMMAND: Targets that we have been after, as you know, have changed. Initially we wanted to set conditions so we bombed a lot of the tactical capability. As we had completed that work, essentially, we began to target the formations of the Taliban that were essentially propping up Mullah Omar and that regime. As that -- as that continues to decline and becomes much more fractured, then we simply have more capability to focus on the alligators.


MCMANUS: For a closer look at the air war, we go to the CNN War Room with Joie Chen and retired Air Force General Don Shepperd.


MAJOR GENERAL DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Now we've talked about the Navy, we've talked about the Marines, we've talked about the specials forces at length.

JOIE CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All to support the folks on the ground?

SHEPPERD: Yes, it is indeed. And we're going to tell the Air Force story here.

We started off on the ground, but now we're going into the space. This is the Air Force Space Warriors -- LEO, Low Earth Orbit, and GEO, Geosynchronous Earth Orbit, satellites. They provide communications, intelligence, weather, navigation. Almost everything we do today in warfare depends upon space. They're never seen, but they are indeed space heroes.

After we get the space out of the way, we now begin to move forces, and the key to moving forces is our tankers and our airlift capability. Lots is moved by air. The light stuff is moved by air and troops while heavy stuff goes on the ships. We see the C-17 taking off. After it takes off, we refuel the C-17s, the airlift. We also have C-5s and C-141s. We move the forces to the theater by air. And in addition, we are moving fighters with the tankers as well. Airlift and tanker capability being key to the projection of power. Global reach and global power is what all this is about, and later on, we'll get to the global reconnaissance strike capability.

Now we see some of the global power being applied. Again, tankers being key. B-52 and B-2 bombers, B-2 on the left, B-52 on the right, going to targets halfway around the world on long, long missions. And basically, they're now en route to their targets. And they'll separate from the tankers and they will head for their targets, in this case, in Afghanistan. And they're going to drop smart weapons that are enabled by space, satellite-guided weapons as well as other weapons, all part of the big Air Force picture here.

Now after the bombers (INAUDIBLE), we're going to go into special operations. We've talked about the AC-130 Spooky and Spector gunships before. We've seen them on further -- on future -- on past animations, but now we see them operating. We saw them going in south of Kandahar and dropping troops out of the back on 130s. This is what special operations do. In addition to that, they do many, many other things as well. We've talked about the helicopters before. They're not shown here.

Now we're going to get to humanitarian airlift provided by the Air Force. Dropping humanitarian packets out of the back of a C-17, escorted by F-15 fighters on long, long missions. Again, enabled by tankers and dropping those humanitarian packets.

Now and once we drop them, we've got to tell people where they are and we have a way to tell people where they are and back to special operations again. We've got the commando solo operation that basically broadcasts and drops leaflets, along with other airplanes that drop leaflets, to help the people on the ground find the humanitarian food that we're dropping.

In addition to that, we go a little bit further on special operations and we had the BLU-82 Daisy Cutter bomb before that drops out of the back of a C-130. It's a concussion weapon -- a standard. It basically puts out particles that are then ignited in the air, much like a grain silo, if you will, producing a huge concussion effect that affects troops on the ground. And it's been used at least a couple times that we know about on this particular -- in this military operation over there.

Now after that happens, we go on further and we get to the fighters. These are ground-based fighters, F-16s and F-15s. We have been told simply that they're ground-base fighters coming from somewhere. They are also refueled several times and refueled many times. They fire missiles. They also drop smart weapons, satellite- guided weapons, laser-guided weapons. They can carry the weapons that get inside of tunnels. So this is the fighter capability of the Air Force.

Now we get into ISR, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance, capability. This starts with the Global Hawk. It operates up 6,500 feet and above on long, long missions. All of these intelligence mechanisms basically look down at the ground to try to find troops and material on the ground.

This is the U-2, it has not only cameras but synthetic apperature radars that look to the ground. Many of these systems, this one and others that we'll show have synthetic apperature radar and some of the others we'll show have MTI, or Moving Target Indicator, that keeps track of moving targets on the ground.

This, again, is all enable -- the things we're going to show now are enabled by tankers that refuel them. But we have basically the AWACs and we have the J-STARs coming up here and the rivet joint (ph) that listen for signals, that watch for moving targets on the ground, that relay information to AWACs that controls the air war. So again, this is the Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance and command and control that causes it all to happen. And, of course, in the end, here what we're trying to do with all of these things, this being again the J-STARs, it looks for moving targets.

What we're trying to do with all of these things is affect the war on the ground. We get down closer to the ground with the Predator, which is a long endurance, medium altitude. We've also armed some of these things that we've heard and so we're looking now again more specifically in smaller areas for troops and things on the ground and all of this is the Air Force way of war. It can go to war by itself; it can support the ground forces. It has global power, global reach and global reconnaissance strike, and we're proud to tell the Air Force story.


MCMANUS: Every year the Department of Defense spends billions on simulation technology to train its troops.

So we sent CNN's Bruce Burkhardt to visit STRICOM, the Army's headquarters for simulation development. Here we take a look at the latest technology being used to get U.S. troops ready to fly a helicopter, locate a chemical spill, fight off an ambush, fire an artillery gun or even train their sense of smell.


BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One of the lessons of modern warfare is that most casualties occur in the earliest battles. Experience there improves your odds down the road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000. BURKHARDT: So U.S. military training has been geared to simulating those early battles, getting them under your belt in a virtual battlefield before you ever hit the real thing.

MICHAEL MACEDONIA, CHIEF SCIENTIST, STRICOM: We can make people sweat. We can put people under stress.

BURKHARDT: Michael Macedonia is chief scientist for the Army's STRICOM: Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command. From an office park in Orlando, Florida and surrounded by the high-tech companies that they do business with, STRICOM spends roughly a billion dollars a year on developing and acquiring gadgets that they believe make for a better soldier. Familiar with the game Laser Tag? It was invented here.

DAVE BRUNET, PROJECT DIRECTOR: We are in an ambush-type position. We'll drop artillery on them. And then we open fire. This is a desert mountain terrain. This is very similar to what you would see in Afghanistan right now.

BURKHARDT: Not just Afghanistan, the computer that controls this exercise can generate 14 different types of terrains and 178 battlefield scenarios. It helps if, beforehand, you know how to load your ammunition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good thing the country's defense is not in my hands.

BURKHARDT: Total immersion in an experience. That's what the goal is in these simulations. This helicopter simulator is not intended to teach you how to fly. It teaches you how to fly and fight at the same time.

Just about every element of battle can be replicated here.

We do this as a two-man operation?


BURKHARDT: This is a crew training simulator for a large piece of artillery called the A-6 Paladin. The three-man crew can rehearse their routine repeatedly without actually firing off costly artillery rounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see red, charred (ph) bag in.

BURKHARDT: Since this is a closed environment and its not possible to see out, there's little difference between simulation and the real thing. All details are the same, even the recoil of the gun.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, so you see the pupils are dilating with the light.

BURKHARDT: A mannequin that breathes and has vital signs for training medics. And over here, a machine that generates smells. Sometimes virtual reality is virtually awful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one is rancid meat.

BURKHARDT: Are you serious?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is dead bodies.

BURKHARDT: Oh man, that's horrible.

But most of the time, it's just games, serious games. With this trainer, chemical and biological emergency response teams can practice wherever they want to: inside a plane, or on the streets of New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact is is we can build a database of anyplace in the world and immerse that soldier in that location.

BURKHARDT: In that terrain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In that terrain.

BURKHARDT: Though there is no substitute for the horror of the battlefield, the U.S. military clearly believes this kind of training can lessen that horror.

Bruce Burkhardt, CNN, Orlando.


MCMANUS: Earlier this year, Saira Shah gave us a shocking view of life under the Taliban in "Beneath the Veil." Now she returns to Afghanistan to see what has changed for Afghans since the war on terrorism began. In this excerpt from her new documentary, "Unholy War," Shah reaches the front lines for a look at the war firsthand. She talks with Northern Alliance soldiers, including a 15-year-old fighter, who share their opinions on the war and their hopes for peace.


SAIRA SHAH, JOURNALIST (voice-over): The front-line fighters couldn't be more different to the exhausted men we saw six months ago. They've been given new spirit by the Allied bombing of their enemy. But the Taliban aren't beaten yet.


SHAH (on camera): They can't fire from that position because if they did there would be an enormous amount of smoke. The Taliban would know where their gun was and would fire back at it.

(voice-over): In the trenches, we found Machmud Issa (ph), he said he was 15. He looked younger. He's been fighting for two years.

MACHMUD ISSA, ANTI-TALIBAN SOLDIER, AGE 15 (through translator): I've seen fighting, tanks firing, rockets going off. There's people, corpses without hands or without heads. So what? (MUSIC)

SHAH (voice-over): Even though he fights for the Northern Alliance, this man sees their thoughts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Northern Alliance's wail will (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when they capture Kabul. God forbid that the Northern Alliance should ever return to the anarchy and lawlessness brought, which it brought about, when the communist government fell. Then, every street of the capital was in the control of a different commander. Some commanders may not support peace, because they fight for money. When there is no war, they have no income; therefore, they want war to continue.



MCMANUS: The United States says a multinational military force may have to be sent to Afghanistan soon to secure the capital while a search for a political solution continues. Among the countries named to contribute troops for the force, Indonesia, which says it's only waiting a request from the United Nations.

CNN's Maria Ressa has the details.


MARIA RESSA, CNN JAKARTA BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population, says it's ready to send troops to Afghanistan as part of a U.N. peacekeeping force. The government says the offer was first made to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell during the APEC meetings last month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In essence, Indonesia is ready to be part of the United Nations (INAUDIBLE) in solving the problems in Afghanistan.

RESSA: President Megawati Sukarnoputri has taken a cautious stand on the ongoing U.S.-led campaign, supporting its war on terrorism but demanding U.S. strikes stop during the holy month of Ramadan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are one of the biggest Muslim countries in the world and Afghanistan is a Muslim country is. We have many Muslim brothers there who want peace. Like us, they want peace.

RESSA: The U.S. says it prefers a Muslim-led force, but calling on the Indonesian military would be another compromise in Washington's efforts to form a coalition in the war against terrorism. The last major deployment of U.N. peacekeepers was in East Timor in 1999. The target then were militia groups trained and supported by the Indonesian military. The U.S. suspended all military assistance then and enacted the Layhe (ph) Amendment which stops U.S. support for the Indonesian military until certain reforms are made.

RALPH BOYCE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO INDONESIA: The Layhe language which prohibits the provision of either foreign military financing or international military training assistance until a number of conditions are met, many of which date from the East Timor situation, and which involve accountability and refugee repatriation and a number of other as yet unresolved issues.

RESSA: Still, military relations have improved since Mrs. Megawati's visit to Washington mid-September. The U.S. announced several cooperation agreements, including a lifting of its embargo on commercial sales of non-lethal equipment.

(on camera): For Indonesia, sending peacekeepers is a positive step, reinforcing its ties with the Muslim world. At the same time, the move would demonstrate active support for the United States in its war on terrorism.

Maria Ressa, CNN, Jakarta.


MCMANUS: The aid workers detained for months by the Taliban are free now. They were brought to safety Thursday. All eight, including two Americans, returned to their embassies, some for reunions and early Thanksgiving celebrations with their families.

CNN's Jim Clancy has more on their ordeal and their rescue.


JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For now, the simple joy of freedom.

MERCER: Hello! Love you! We're glad we're free!

QUESTION: What's your feeling?

MERCER: Great! It's so wonderful. We're so excited that we're free.

CLANCY: Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry, like their six fellow captives, were finally set free when opposition forces broke down their prison cells. According to German George Taubmann, the final chapter was the most terrifying of their ordeal.

GEORGE TAUBMANN, FREED HOSTAGE: There was already the troops coming in, and then the Taliban came in and took us away. And took us in a vehicle and wanted to take to us to Kandahar. And we knew if we end up in Kandahar, we would not return.

CLANCY: The captives said the feared being used as hostages, human shields by the Taliban, all flatly denied they ever tried to convert Muslims to Christianity, the charge that landed them in jail in August, and left the death penalty hanging over their heads.

As they were taken from Kabul, their captors halted in the town of Ghazni. Here they said gunfire was heard, and the Taliban vanished. TAUBMANN: The Alliance people came in. This was in Ghazni. Opened the prison, and we were free. And we got of the prison and we walked through the city, and the people came out of the houses. And they hugged us and greeted us. And they were all clapping.

CLANCY: It was only when the former captives reached Pakistan that we learned of the role they played in their own rescue. Unable to signal the U.S. special operations helicopter with the single small lamp they had, American Heather Mercer took off the head scarf the Taliban forced her to wear and lit it on fire. The other women followed.

And as the flames rose up, the helicopter came down to their rescue.

CLANCY (on camera): The former captives say they were never beaten but often feared for their lives. Some are already wondering if they might not go back to Afghanistan one day to continue their work. But for now, they are visiting with relatives, reuniting here in Pakistan's capital or talking with loved ones around the world by telephone. And, yes, they are savoring their freedom.

Jim Clancy, CNN, Islamabad.



ANNOUNCER: Germaine St. John from Laramie, Wyoming, asks: What is the function of the national security adviser?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Germaine, the national security adviser is the president's top assistant on military, intelligence and diplomatic matters. Under President Bush, it is Condoleezza Rice, and she keeps him updated day to day, sometimes minute to minute on what's going on, what's happening around the world that affects U.S. national security and what decisions he needs to make.

The national security adviser is outranked in the government by the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the vice president and others, but the job often accumulates tremendous power, because the adviser has constant access to the president. And in Washington, access often means power.

However, Dr. Rice will tell you her job is often simply to transmit to the president what his cabinet team is suggesting and to help coordinate the advice they give him. There is a national security council staff at the White House under Dr. Rice which prepares options for the president.


MCMANUS: Since the terrorist attacks two months ago, President Bush has been working to forge alliances and coalitions with leaders around the globe. This week, he played host to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two went to Mr. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas for a summit and while there, visited a school.


QUESTION: In what ways has this summit help bring Russia and U.S. closer together?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, first of all -- his question is, In what ways have the summit brought us together?

Well, in order for countries to come together, the first thing that must happen is leaders must make up their mind that they want this to happen. And the more I get to know President Putin, the more I get to see his heart and soul

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We in Russia have known for a long time that Texas is the most important state in the United States.



MCMANUS: Fun in the heart of Texas.

Busy playing host to international leaders, Mr. Bush has gained a new reputation as a multilateralist, which is someone with many sides or involving more than one point of view. But is multilateralism his real goal?

CNN's Bill Schneider tries to answer that question.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Remember the old days when critics called President Bush a filthy unilateralist? The Anti-Ballistic Treaty? Who needs it?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need to discard all the relics of the Cold War. A treaty, for example, that has codified hatred and distrust called the ABM Treaty.

SCHNEIDER: A global warming treaty? What's in it for us?

BUSH: I felt the Kyoto treaty was unrealistic. It was not based upon science.

SCHNEIDER: Nation-building? Not on my watch.

BUSH: If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we are going to have a serious problem coming down the road.

SCHNEIDER: That was then. This is now. Now, meet Mr. Multilateral. Here is President Bush with the president of Nigeria and with the prime minister of India. Here is one of Bush and the president of South Africa, and one with the president of Colombia.

Two years ago, George W. Bush couldn't quite name the president of Pakistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you can name him?

BUSH: General -- I can name the general.


BUSH: General.

SCHNEIDER: Now they are the best of friends. President Bush has even offered to help him solve the Kashmir problem.

BUSH: My country will do what we can to bring parties together.

SCHNEIDER: It looks like quite a transformation. Or is it?

Last weekend, 160 nations reached agreement on a treaty to prevent global warming. The U.S. was not one of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mark. And visual confirmation.

SCHNEIDER: The president is determined to go ahead with missile defense tests despite the ABM Treaty.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He is not prepared to permit the treaty to get in the way of doing that robust testing.

SCHNEIDER: He just hopes to keep the Russians from protesting.

BUSH: We will continue dialogue and discussions about the ABM Treaty.


MCMANUS: Thousands of children lost a parent in the terrorist attacks of September 11. It's hard to imagine loss so huge. Behind it are individual stories of sadness and survival.

CNN's Maria Hinojosa brings us the story of the Gomez family, one of the many families changed forever by the attacks.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 22 years, on the sixth floor of this lower east side Manhattan tenement, lived Jose Gomez and his four girls in an apartment tiny beyond words.

(on camera): And you actually have your -- you actually have your bathtub in the kitchen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. HINOJOSA: Can you show me? Oh my god.

(voice-over): Jose used to be the biggest presence in this apartment, six feet tall with his big job in a prestigious restaurant above the World Trade Center.

(on camera): What did it mean for you that your dad worked in the Trade Center?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was nice because you know that was like -- that one thing was like so famous and stuff like that, that my father works there, you know.

HINOJOSA: It was a big deal?


HINOJOSA: You were proud of him.

(voice-over): Now I was in the company of the family Jose left behind, his twin 13-year-old daughters, Joanna and Joanne, and his baby, 10-year-old Melissa, along with his wife, Blanca.

These women are all immigrants, Latinas, they weren't necessarily taught they could be strong. But they've lost their man and are being tested and tested hard.

So have you been crying a lot?


HINOJOSA (on camera): Does crying help you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that crying helps me because sometimes when I try to hold -- like not to cry, I feel like a pain like if it was in my heart.

HINOJOSA: So it's harder to stop yourself from crying.


HINOJOSA (voice-over): There isn't anywhere to go in this tiny apartment to escape the sadness. Blanca reveals the window that used to be her sanctuary, the skyline, the sounds of the street, but that's where she watched the towers and her life crumble before her eyes.

"I knew Jose's brother was with him," she tells me.

Her husband worked side by side with his brother, Enrique, who also died that day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father had plans for us (INAUDIBLE).

HINOJOSA: Jose always told the girls to study hard, become professionals, so maybe one day they could afford a place where everyone had their own room. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My two sisters slept there and I slept by myself.

HINOJOSA (on camera): And now what's changed?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now we've changed this so we can all sleep together.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because a lot has happened and everything, we want to always be together, you know.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): So now a candle flickers in a lonely room for poppy, and this tight circle of women opens ever so slightly to share their father's premonition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A week before, after all this happened, he told me that if he ever dies to keep playing music because he wanted to see us happy and he will be happy too.

HINOJOSA (on camera): And you think you're going to play some music?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't think so. It reminds me too much of him.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): In silence, the Gomez women, dressed in black, file down the six floors, picking their way through crowded Orchard Street where generations of immigrants have come to plant their dreams.

(on camera): What did your dad like about this neighborhood?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know, he knew like almost everybody around here.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): The girls hope to make a better life by studying hard in school, but from that same school, they, too, saw their world fall apart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we saw the second tower fall down and the other one was on fire. And it was all black.

HINOJOSA: But for a mother left without a husband, she reaches for the strength, the forca, she never thought she had, struggling against her will at times to move forward.

"When I feel like I'm going to crumble," she says, she tells herself to get up. She has to for her girls. "We will never forget," she tells them. "We will never forget him, but," she says, "we have to go on."

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MCMANUS: A strong family slowly healing, slowly getting on with life.

Well, in the spirit of coming holidays we bring you this, the star atop the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Children of New York City's firefighters, police and port authority officers revealed the 22-point star in a Thursday ceremony honoring New York City's fallen heroes.

A gigantic American flag banner was unfurled over the scaffolding around the tree. The banner will remain in place until the ceremonial tree lighting on the 28th.

And that's another week for NEWSROOM.

I'm Michael McManus. Have a great weekend. We will see you back here on Monday.




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