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CNN Newsroom for December 7, 2001

Aired December 7, 2001 - 04:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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

Taliban leaders strike a deal to surrender Kandahar, their last major stronghold. The agreement was struck Thursday with the future leader of Afghanistan's interim government, Hamid Karzai. It calls for Taliban fighters to turn over their weapons and withdraw from the southern Afghan city. In return, the Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, could be allowed to - quote - "live in dignity." The Bush administration, however, says it will not accept amnesty for Omar.


DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I am not going to get into us and answer with respect to one individual. I -- obviously, he has been the principal person who has been harboring the al Qaeda network in that country. He does not deserve the medal of freedom.


FREIDMAN: A special operations airman was honored with a Purple Heart Thursday. The staff sergeant, whose name has not been released because of security concerns, received his medal during a ceremony in Florida. He was injured in Afghanistan during a bombing incident in a Taliban prison uprising. That uprising also claimed the life of CIA officer Mike Spann. A memorial service was held for Spann Thursday in Winfield, Alabama. He'll be buried Monday in Arlington National Cemetery.

Three Green Berets were killed Wednesday in a friendly fire accident near Kandahar, along with five Afghan opposition fighters. Eighteen other anti-Taliban troops were injured, as were 20 other Americans who are being treated at a military hospital in Germany.

For more on that, we go to CNN's Bettina Luescher, followed by a report from Nic Robertson on the wounded Taliban fighters.


BETTINA LUESCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The C-141 arrived at Ramstein Air Base from Oman. Onboard, the first of the wounded U.S. soldiers injured in the friendly fire incident north of Kandahar in Afghanistan. The solider was carried out of the plane on a stretcher and brought in to a waiting ambulance for the short ride to Landstuhl and the U.S. military's largest hospital in Europe. It has state-of-the-art equipment and specialists on staff who routinely treat injured U.S. troops and American civilians before they can be flown back home to the United States.

The hospital described the soldier's injuries as very serious without releasing further details or identifying him. Doctors are examining and treating his wounds. It is not certain how long he will have to stay in Landstuhl.

(on camera): U.S. military officials say doctors here are preparing for more casualties of the friendly fire incident in Afghanistan, and they hope to send some of them home to the United States as soon as possible.

Bettina Luescher, CNN, Landstuhl, Germany.



(voice-over): A picture of confusion, but a picture nonetheless. Injured men being moved out of a Pakistani hospital. Earlier, we'd been forbidden from videotaping those injured in an overnight bombing raid across the border in Afghanistan.

The man who brought the wounded to the hospital claims they are not Taliban. Discretely, however, hospital officials disclose he and the young men with him are.

Hamdullah (ph), who has all the appearance of a young Taliban fighter, says last night at 7:00, the planes came and bombed our car. There were no Taliban and no Osama supporters. Some people were injured and one was killed. The others with him say they were traveling to the border when hit by the bomb.

From his hospital bed, Mirza Khan (ph) says he is not a Taliban, but he, too, was traveling to the border in a car when it was bombed. Many were injured, he says. Taliban or not, U.S. bombing raids are getting closer to the Pakistan border, apparently increasing pressure on the last Taliban strongholds in southeastern Afghanistan. For security reasons, Islamic relief officials are the only ones able to help refugees on the Afghan side of the border. They confirm the proximity of bombing, but they add...

AHMAD MANIN, REFUGEE CAMP MANAGER: Everything seems to be normal. And the camps are running fine and well. And the whole status is calm, I think.

ROBERTSON: On the Pakistan side of the border, Western relief officials, waiting for security to improve before they can cross in to Afghanistan, fear that bombing now will make their job harder later. ARTSEN ZONDER GRENZEN, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: These bombings not only have severe causalities amongst the population, but it will also seriously hamper all aid efforts that will come from by international organizations.


ROBERTSON (on camera): Though the U.S.-led bombing campaign to oust the Taliban from their spiritual heartland could now be supported by U.S. Marine ground offensives, will likely aid anti-Taliban fighters who, until recently, appeared to have become bogged down outside the hard line Islamic militia's capital.

Nic Robertson, CNN, on the Afghan-Pakistan border.


FREIDMAN: Post-Taliban Kabul is presenting just about everyone in the Afghan capital with new freedoms. Women now unveiled with hopes of education, children with a future of possibilities, some as simple as going to the zoo, as our Jason Bellini will tell us in a minute. Even businesses have new options, booksellers being among them. Books, which were previously banned in the Afghan capital, are now sold openly.

CNN's Jim Clancy reports.


JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a well-worn street corner of the capital, the stalls of booksellers beckon passersby with collections of books. It's not that they were shut down during the Taliban years. It's that they were never able to sell everything that was published.

"This was the list issued by the ministry of information and culture," this bookseller told us. A list that included 380 volumes on subjects ranging from history and literature to theology.

The booksellers in these stalls say they were subject to routine searches by the Taliban and were forced to hide all those volumes they knew were on the list or would meet with disapproval. If a banned book was found, the Taliban would burn it and booksellers themselves risked jail terms. Pictures of anything were taboo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was enough for Taliban to tear the book or to burn the book, as they did burn a lot of my books.

CLANCY: Shah Mohammed (ph) has collected more than 8,000 books on Afghanistan over the last 30 years, perhaps another 20,000 newspaper and magazine articles. A back stairwell in his shop in a Kabul hotel leads to the place where some of his valuable collection was hidden away during the last 10 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only Taliban were very tough with my business, also communists and also during Mujahedeen times, we suffered a lot.

CLANCY: To escape Taliban book burnings and the fires of rockets that blasted Kabul, Shah Mohammed hid the books with family, with friends, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, wherever they might be safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never found such a book on the birds of Afghanistan. This was printed in Denmark in 1959, and this was in French.

CLANCY: In French, English, Russian, all languages, but all about Afghanistan. "I do it for my country," he told us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As much as I suffered from my business was burned, I never became ready to sell these things. Keep them, yes, because I wished to have something for my country.

CLANCY: If peace comes, Shah Mohammed says he may make a kind of public library of these books, so Afghans and people from far away can come and study this nation's history and culture, it's religion and people. All of that, hidden away for far too long.

(on camera): But for the moment, the lifting of the Taliban restrictions has been a mixed blessing at best for the booksellers. In these difficult economic times, people simply are not buying books. As one man lamented, what they are buying is television sets and satellite dishes.

Jim Clancy, CNN, Kabul.



JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sitting on their neighbor's sofa, Abdul and Friman see what they're missing. They don't have satellite TV of their own. They're like many other Afghans. They can't afford it but also can't look away. Some who should only windowshop find a way to purchase the freedom the Taliban denied them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) They cannot do anything but they were buyings things, TVs, radios for enjoyment.

BELLINI: The item most in demand? Digital satellite receivers. The most powerful link you can buy to the brave new world.

Right here, all that high-tech meets low tech. All around the city, we see people making these satellite dishes -- to go with the $200 receivers -- out of tin cans and scrap metal.

I wanted to meet people who's bought them, to find out whether they really work and to see how they're changing Afghans' lives.

My satellite scavenger search took me first to Nassir's house. His family bought one just a week ago.

You weren't able to watch TV before you got this? NASSIR: No.

BELLINI: It's not working at the moment, though. No electricity. But he and his brothers say when the power is on, they're glued to the TV.

What's your favorite cartoon?


NASSIR: Mouse and cat.

BELLINI: Mouse and cat? That's Tom and Jerry. Of course. All right. Hand me the camera.

Up on the roof, the family has a second dish. More dishes mean more channels.

Has it changed what what you do everyday?

"During the Taliban we had lots of time to play with toys," Jial tells me. "Now we've got TV. We've got freedom."

The camera is coming down. You ready? There you go. You got it?

I went next to an apartment complex. The people here are less wealthy than the ones I met before. Still, several balconies sprout dishes.

We can come up? OK.

Saleyha says she is sorry to disappoint me, but she has no idea how to turn on the family TV. They got the dish last week. Her daughter knows how to work it, and the picture is not bad. Saleyha tells me that a few of her neighbors already asked if they could run a line to her dish.

She's not particularly concerned about the images her children might see on TV. She says, "the Westerners on TV can do whatever they want. We Afghans will still do as we want."

Her neighbor, Friman, says he wishes his parents would get satellite TV as well. Some of the other kids have it, and talk about TV shows all the time.

Abdulaziz, another neighbor, dropped by to watch.

If you had $200 right now, is that what you would buy?

ABDULAZIZ: "I'd go to the bazaar immediately and get this," he answers. "Then I could sit like this all the time."

It's not only about entertainment. Freedom is more fully realized here with a TV. Jason Bellini. CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.



JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Zoogoing never made the Taliban's list of forbidden vices. But the zookeeper, Shar Aqa omar, says children didn't come in the last five years. He says parents knew the Taliban wanted children to study the koran, not waste time looking at animals.

Professors at the local university gathered donations, so Shar Aqa could feed these otherwise forgotten creatures. Now, at breakfast time, Shar Aqa attracts an audience.

The main reason I wanted to come here to the Kabul zoo was I wondered how animals -- which are of course oblivious to politics, and they don't choose sides -- how they have been affected by the turmoil this country has been in.

The animals live like many Afghan children: unaware of what's going on while a determined parent struggles to provide for them. "I keep working without pay because I serve my people and my country," he says. "This poor country has spent lots of money for building this zoo. And besides, if I didn't go there, what else would I do?"

Life may be getting better for Shar Aqa's animals, but some show signs of scars: physical and emotional.

Why does his nose look so funny?

"Small children coming to the zoo have injured his nose using sticks," he replies. "We don't have the medicine and equipment we need to fix it." The monkeys, at first glance, are enormously entertaining.

The monkey has the fuzzy thing that goes on the end of my microphone. He's teasing me with it.

But then I realized their reactions are a sign of trauma from violence, from taunting, from neglect.

"When you see the lion from the fence, please try not to throw stones at him," Shar Aqa tells these children. He likes to be out of his cave in this weather. But if you hit him, he will never come back to see you."

The children know the lion's story. He once killed a man. The victim's brother got revenge by hurling a grenade at the lion. It blinded him.

Why aren't you afraid of the lion?

"If you touch the lion's body, it understands that something is being brought to him," Shar Aqa says. "This lion is used to us. He won't hurt us."

The lion trusts because he has to. His master trusts others will help him to keep these animals alive. But like the lion, Shar Aqa can't see what lies ahead for his zoo or his country.

Jason Bellini, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


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.

FREIDMAN: It was exactly 60 years ago today that Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack, which claimed more than 2,300 U.S. military lives, led to the United States' entry into World War II. Like the attacks of September 11, Pearl Harbor had a lasting impact on Americans, and even today inspires memorials. One such memorial was created by students at the Washington State Elementary School. It's a veteran's quilt made in honor of those who have died and fought for America.

CNN's Student Bureau reporter Patrick Mar has that story.


PATRICK MAR, CNN STUDENT BUREAU (voice-over): An old American flag and now a great piece of art. Elementary school teacher Laurel Hendrix was 13 when her mother bought the Stars and Stripes from a California thrift store. Tagged to one corner of the flag was a note with a date on which the seamstress began to sew the flag, December 7, 1941, the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Since this year marks the 60th anniversary of the fateful attack on American soil, Laurel decided to have her students create a quilt out of the flag to honor veterans and their families.

LAUREL HENDRIX, TEACHER: So when I came across the flag, I thought well this would be a good opportunity to teach some history and to teach about Veteran's Day, which is something that we're really encouraged to do as teachers. And I thought this would be a really good way for kids to join in (ph).

MAR: Behind each of the 80 squares there lies a story of sacrifice and courage, a tribute to an American hero. Little did Laurel know the quilt would eventually mean even more.

(on camera): Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Laurel's quilt began to take on a new meaning. It became a symbol of hope in a time of uncertainties, bringing together the local community to honor its veterans. (voice-over): Students, parents and relatives gathered to honor those represented on the quilt. As Laurel says, the quilt has helped people reconnect and bond with loved ones in the wake of a tragedy.

HENDRIX: ... with their uncles. And I've heard many stories from parents about how they got in touch with long-lost relatives they hadn't talked to in years. And so now people are calling and getting together with, over the holidays, people that they've never seen before and people that they haven't seen in years and years. And I think it's really helped to bring families together.

MAR: Second grader Evan DeVries is proud of his uncle who he represented on his square. This project, Evan says, has given him the chance to learn about his uncle's experiences in the Army.

EVAN DEVRIES, SECOND GRADER: My uncle, he told me what he did for his country. And if he could go back to the Army, he would.

MAR: A project begun by one patriot and now finished by 80 students, this quilt has brought so much happiness to the people of two generations, two generations stitched together by a love of country that the fabrics of time cannot separate.

From Lynnwood, Washington, Patrick Mar, CNN Student Bureau.


FREIDMAN: The year 2001 is rapidly coming to a close. Over the next three Fridays, we're going to take a look back at the big stories that made it a year no one will quickly forget. Of course we'll look at the terrorists attacks on September 11 and then the American-led response. But first, we want to examine the maturing of President George W. Bush.

As our Joel Hochmuth reports, no one could have predicted the events that would eventually define his presidency.


JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John F. Kennedy once wrote, "Great crises produce great men and great deeds of courage." History will be the ultimate judge, but so far the presidency of George W. Bush has met its great crisis head on. In the wake of September 11, the nation's commander-in-chief is conveying a sense of purpose and confidence even critics are commending.


REP. GARY ACKERMAN (D), NEW YORK: A lot of people I've been speaking to of late were very, very concerned as to whether or not the president was going to be up to the task. He seemed a bit tentative at first, and unsure of himself. He's shaken that all off. He's gotten up there, you know, he's a guy that I think none of us would be afraid of being in the foxhole with.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOCHMUTH: Perhaps the defining moment, his address to Congress and the nation nine days after the terrorist attacks in the U.S. In it he laid out in certain terms the American response.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.



SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D), SOUTH DAKOTA: I think the president rose to the occasion. He pulled us together. He talked about unity. He did so with a passion and a real strength that this country was looking for.



BUSH: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.



SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: The president really rose to the occasion.



BUSH: We will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail.



ACKERMAN: He hit a grand slam home run, right out of the park.



BUSH: May God grant us wisdom and may He watch over the United States of America.

Thank you.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT SCHULLER, EVANGELIST: Oh it was masterful. I think it is going to be historic. After that speech tonight, I looked at George W. Bush and said he is our president.


HOCHMUTH: Not everyone was saying that last January. When Governor Bush was sworn in as President Bush, many Democrats were still fuming about the bitterly contested election, one that was finally decided by the Supreme Court. Many supporters of Democrat Al Gore still felt the election had been stolen.

Mr. Bush's first major test in office was over his nomination for attorney general, former Missouri Senator John Ashcroft. This, at a time when partisan politics drove events in Washington. The Senate finally confirmed the staunch conservative, but only narrowly and only after a bruising battle.


SEN. TIM JOHNSON (D), SOUTH DAKOTA: If ever there was a nominee who has committed his years of public service to rejecting bipartisanship and moderation, it is Senator Ashcroft.


HOCHMUTH: It was a time when the administration was still searching for a cause for anything that could energize both Capitol Hill and the American people. Then, terrorism wasn't even on the map.


FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GALLUP POLL: Priorities for the Bush administration, here they are, the top four: education, Social Security, prosperity, which means the economy, and fixing health care. That's the big four.


HOCHMUTH: Out of those four, the economy would soon take center stage. Mr. Bush had high hopes his proposal for a $1.6 trillion tax cut over 10 years, the biggest in a generation, would be just what the country needed to keep from sliding into recession.


BUSH: Tax relief is right and tax relief is urgent. The long economic expansion that began almost 10 years ago is faltering. Lower interest rates will eventually help, but we cannot assume they will do the job all by themselves.


HOCHMUTH: Congress okayed $1.35 trillion of it. And when Mr. Bush signed it into law, it gave him a sense of victory early in his young presidency. The Democrats had a surprise victory of their own when Senator James Jeffords of Vermont announced he was bolting from the Republican Party and becoming an Independent. That defection gave the Democrats a 50-49 majority and leadership of committees currently chaired by the GOP. The power shift would complicate just about all of Mr. Bush's further agenda and leave critics on both sides of the aisle questioning the GOP leadership.

Then there was more bad news, polls showed Mr. Bush's approval rating slipping. Democrats and Republicans argued about the implications.


MARLA ROMASH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Here's a president who passes his signature tax cut.


ROMASH: Here's a president -- you guys were just bragging about all his victories and he's still dropping like a rock.

REP. JOE SCARBOROUGH (R), FLORIDA: Bill Clinton at this stage in his presidency, you know what his approval ratings were? Thirty-nine percent. Now why don't Democrats just admit George Bush is doing 15 points better than Bill Clinton was at this stage of the game?


HOCHMUTH: As the president's ratings were falling, the unemployment rate was climbing. By August, the jobless rate hit 4.9 percent, the highest level in four years.


BUSH: We've got a plan to get our economy moving so Americans can find work.


HOCHMUTH: Whether Mr. Bush would have inspired the nation over that issue alone, we'll never know. Four days later, terrorists struck in New York and Washington, D.C. and a shaken America had a more compelling reason to rally behind its leader. In the days that followed, the president's approval rating soared to 90 percent.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he has found a vision. Remember his father's problem with the vision thing? It's leading the fight for freedom over fear, as he puts it. It appears to be far more animating for his presidency and for himself than compassionate conservatism ever was. But a 90 percent approval rating has a danger, that is the president has defined this struggle as his personal mission and he's going to be held accountable for its outcome. Ninety percent can be fleeting. All he has to do is ask his father.


HOCHMUTH: Indeed there are tough challenges ahead. There is an anti-terror coalition to maintain and a decision to make about expanding the fight against terrorists beyond Afghanistan. And of course there are the tensions in the Middle East growing more volatile each day. Is the president up to the task? Chances are many Americans would answer that question differently today than just 11 short months ago.


FREIDMAN: is featuring more big headlines of this past year. Be sure to check that out. And while you're there, test your current event skills by taking their news quiz. Good luck and have a great weekend. We'll see you back here Monday.


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