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CNN Newsroom

Aired December 10, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael McManus. And joining us this week is my colleague Sharon North.

SHARON NORTH, CO-HOST: Thanks, Michael.

MCMANUS: Welcome, Sharon.

NORTH: Thanks very much.

The Bush administration says it has even more evidence that Osama bin Laden was behind the September 11 terror attacks. Vice President Dick Cheney says the U.S. has obtained a 40-minute videotape in which bin Laden discusses the attack and says the damage to the World Trade Center was even greater than he expected.

MCMANUS: Yes, military officials believe they know in general where bin Laden is hiding. U.S. air strikes are targeting the mountains of eastern Afghanistan near Tora Bora. Meanwhile, in southern Afghanistan, the situation remains tense as rival anti- Taliban factions try to smooth out a power sharing deal.

More now on the political squabbling and uncertainty from CNN's Nic Robertson, followed by Tom Mintier.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chaos and confusion as tribal leaders and their government gather for a meeting to bring security to Kandahar. For a moment it all looks off when with egos bruised in the jostle for power, one group prepares to pull out before the start.

Finally with all the courtesy that is customary here, greetings are made, and under the chairmanship of the head of Afghanistan's new interim government, talks begin. But don't expect a quick solution.

HAMID KARZAI, INTERIM AFGHAN LEADER DESIGNATE (through translator): You will have for a while some chaos in Afghanistan. It's inevitable. We have to establish a fresh order. Until that comes, there will be here and then some difficulty. ROBERTSON: Kandahar's problem for now is that tribal commanders disagree who should have power in the city. However, they play down the potential for violence.

GUL AGHA SHERZAI, TRIBAL COMMANDER (through translator): We want to resolve the situation most through talks so there will not be any reason for the use of arms or violence.

ROBERTSON: If the number of people on the streets and the number of traders doing business are an indication of Kandaharis faith in that message, then all here may seen well. However, the abundance of armed men still roaming the streets, hints at violence that could be around the corner despite the best intentions of the country's new leader.

KARZAI (through translator): The kind of Afghanistan that we should make should be one that's not ruled by warlordism. Warlordism must finish. If it does not finish, Afghanistan will not be made. Terrorism will come back.

ROBERTSON: The day's meetings took place among the bomb damage ruins of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's sprawling housing complex, a remind for all here of what's at stake.

If a symbol of the end of the Taliban rule were needed, it could be found here among the rubble of Mullah Omar's home. And although negotiations now underway are likely to be long and arduous, the various factions jostling for power, most leaders here now agree the country should be rebuilt through peaceful means.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Kandahar, Afghanistan.



TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan they continue their attempts to get out. At the Chaman crossing, cars lined up to leave and Pakistani border guards continued to be brutal. What is different are the stories of those fleeing, no longer fearful of the Taliban, but uncertainty.

GULL BADEEN, AFGHAN CIVILIAN (through translator): The situation is very calm inside. The Taliban has gone, but it is confused as to who has taken charge of the new government. For the time being, it's quiet, but the situation in Kandahar is very tense.

MINTIER: While people still wait to get out of Afghanistan, little enters. This truck loaded with humanitarian assistance is allowed to unload at a refugee camp just inside the border.

In nearby Quetta, tribal elders gathered to call for a peaceful future after Taliban rule in Kandahar.

HAJI KHAIR MAHAMMED, ISHAQ ZAI TRIBE (through translator): It would be good if all the tribal groups in Kandahar can sit down and make a decision on how to control the city, then we can send the foreign troops back and we will solve the matter among ourselves.

MINTIER: As the Pashtun tribes wrestle over Kandahar, former Taliban members now in Pakistan look for a way out. This group was formerly very close to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, no more.

AHMAD MOJADDIDI, KAJ POLITICAL PARTY (through translator): Yes, it is very obvious that that system of Islamic (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is not still existed so he is not at a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that system.

MINTIER: Many of these men served as ministers in the fallen Taliban government. Now they are pledging support to the new leader of Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Mr. Karzai contacted us, and by his contact I have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to him our advisers (ph) to make national unity among all the political parties and to take Afghanistan out of this crisis. In the future, all of -- all the political parties and every city is to be represented in the future government.

MINTIER: Back at the border with Afghanistan, the word crisis is not something these people are quite ready to use in the past tense.

Tom Mintier, CNN, Islamabad, Pakistan.


NORTH: An American who fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan is being held at a U.S. Marine base south of Kandahar. Twenty-year-old John Walker was captured following a Taliban prison uprising in Mazar- e-Sharif. He's recovering from bullet and shrapnel wounds.

And as CNN's Kathleen Koch reports, he's apparently cooperating with authorities.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Walker is the sole detainee at the Marine base in Afghanistan, an American held by Americans. Military officials say the 20-year-old that fought with the Taliban and surrendered has been reasonably cooperative and talkative.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: I know when he was first interviewed he told us quite a bit that was of some value.

KOCH: Walker told reporters last week he had attended two of Osama bin Laden training camps in Afghanistan. How vigorously he's prosecuted may depend on how much he tells investigators.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, CHMN. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: All that will be taken into consideration. Right now he is a detainee. KOCH: Senior Pentagon sources tell CNN, Walker will likely be turned over to the U.S. Justice Department. Six charges from conspiracy to treason or murder could potentially be brought against him with penalties ranging from imprisonment to death. A new "Newsweek" poll shows 41 percent of Americans believe Walker should be charged and tried; 40 percent say he should be only if there is evidence, and only 3 percent want him released.

Lawmakers debated whether taking up arms with the Taliban makes Walker a traitor.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: If I had to make the decision now on the evidence I have, I would at least put him in the slammer for a long, long time.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: That fits the definition of treason. And so, yet at the same time he is 20 years old, probably brainwashed.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MO), MINORITY LEADER: With the knowledge that Americans were involved in what happened there, if he continued to participate with these people, and with the things they were doing, that's pretty treacherous and treasonous in my opinion.

KOCH: But defense attorneys point out, treason is generally difficult to prove, and this case is no exception.

JOHN ZWERLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He was taken along with his group back to Afghanistan to support the Taliban. When that happened, we don't know. Did he have much choice in the matter at that point, we don't know.

KOCH (on camera): For now, Walker remains in military hands, but his case is so high profile, that the Pentagon, the Justice Department, and even the White House may weigh in on how to proceed.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Pentagon.


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MCMANUS: Shortly after the terrorist attacks on the U.S., we invited high school students into CNN to talk about what had happened. Much has changed in those 90 days, the war against terrorism has begun and additional fears have come to light.

Last week, those teenagers came back in and give us new insight into a very different country. Today, we bring you that discussion.


MCMANUS: Hello, I'm Michael McManus.

A couple of months ago, we brought together a group of students from two area high schools to talk about the terrorist attacks. They have been very nice to come back and speak with us again today, and they are from Riverwood High School and Clarkston High School here in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

First off, last time we spoke a couple of you had relatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan that you had not spoken with since the war began. I want to know if you've heard from them or if you've been able to contact them since the war is kind of turning a corner.

ASURA (ph): Well most of my relatives are in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the Northern Alliance has Kabul so we're not really -- we don't have contact with them but we're not that as worried as we were before since they're pretty -- we're pretty sure that they're safe.

MCMANUS: And, Marium, you had a personal story about how some of your relatives had to actually flee the country.

MARIUM: Yes, some of them fled and they went to Pakistan. And they've called us and made us sure that they're all right. But there's a couple of my uncles left in Kabul that we haven't heard of for a long time so we're not sure about how they're doing right now.

MCMANUS: Can you explain to us what it's like to go through that emotion of not knowing? Not very many people here or maybe some of our viewers, too, have an understanding what it's like to have a relative in a war zone, not fighting, but actually just trying to live peacefully.

MARIUM: Right now all we can do is pray, but all we're waiting is for a phone call so we can find out they're OK. But we're sure that things are all right right now.

MCMANUS: Well that's good news because I know there was some concern last time...


MCMANUS: ... we were all together.

Kenneth, the war is winding down, it's turning a corner, what happens now?

KENNETH: I don't -- I see a lot of people being worried about the war, the family members who are gone off overseas in Afghanistan, but I see it be calming down in a sense. I think we're going to return to the way things were. It's going to exist as a current event that we're going to talk about but there's going to be a calm behind it.

MCMANUS: Do all of you feel that the country has gone back to some sense of normalcy since September 11 -- Lauren?

LAUREN: I think we've started to get back to normal, but every once in a while we'll have the warnings and just having us be cautious from the government. And I think that kind of puts it back into our minds that we really do need to be cautious a little bit more than normal. So we get back to normal, but I think there's always kind of -- there's always back in our -- in the back of our mind that there is something we need to be worried about.

MCMANUS: I mean, Shala (ph), is that something you feel, too? Are you a little bit more aware now of your surroundings?

SHALA: Yes, I think, like you know, people like from America, they know they need to be, you know, calm and don't worry about what's happening, you know, to the other people. They do, but they, you know, I don't know, you know, they have to be, you know, calm.

MCMANUS: Calm I guess is a...


MCMANUS: ... very important word nowadays, just to stay calm and ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well I think it's really important to be cognizant of our surroundings, but the purpose of terrorism is to really invoke terror in the people and you can't let that happen or else there'll be a victory for them. So you have to continue to live your life and do the things you would normally do or else it'll be a moral victory for the terrorists.

HALIMA: I think people are going back to normal now a little bit. It's not as bad as it was in September or beginning of October. But, like Lauren said, I think even then, even, you know, a couple of months from now, people are still going to remember and people in the back of their head are still going to have, you know, a little bit of fear, you know, what's next kind of thing. So I mean it's going to go back to normal, but it's not going to be -- I don't think it's going to be like it was in August.

MCMANUS: Halima, do you still talk about it in your school, in your classes on a daily basis?

HALIMA: Not on a daily basis, but every now and then we'll discuss like what's going on and what's happening and how everyone feels about it. But you know, we -- yes, my friends -- I talk to -- you know about it to my friends and we discuss, you know, like those that have families back there, you know, we ask them how they feel and if they've, you know, heard anything new from their family members or anything. But you know that's about it. That's about all we talk about.

MCMANUS: So, Halima, for you and Rabbia also, I mean it's more of a personal discussion lots of times more than just a philosophical one?

RABBIA: Well we have -- we talk about it, like she said, sometimes in class. Like our teachers go to the current events and I have talked about it with my friends. And in Pakistan, I have family there and they're fine. We just, you know, make sure everything's OK. They made sure we're OK and we basically understand what's going on.

MCMANUS: Well let's go into a topic we were discussing, do you all feel safe? Last time you were here, I asked you if you were worried about this anthrax threat. You all, for the most part, said no. It's a different type of threat now. Governor Tom Ridge came to the White House podium just the other day and said that we all have to be aware this holiday. There is a credible threat, not a specific one, but a credible one. This is a different type of atmosphere now. I want to get your feelings on that.

WILLIAM: Well both of my parents are within the airline industry and related fields, and I have family members who are in the armed forces and such, and so whenever I get worried or -- about the terrorists or anything like that, it's usually on the home front. Like people like within our country who are terrorists and not even like from Afghanistan or either taking advantage of the situation and stuff. So whenever I feel like there's a threat, it's usually probably going to affect my parents more than me because of the fact that they have to deal with it on a daily basis.

And I don't feel quite so uneasy about going to shopping malls or crowded places and such because I feel that, you know, within our country there are so many of those places and the odds of that specific place being targeted are so small and me in that specific place getting hurt is so small that I don't feel like I have a real reason for it to fear for myself. But my family members are a major priority.

MCMANUS: Haley, are you afraid to go to the mall now?

HALEY: I definitely feel safe. I agree with Will completely. I think that the majority of the places that we went to before, nothing much has changed. There might be a heightened sense of security, like at the airport, but I think, for the most part, things have remained the same. And I think one of the reasons that he gave out those warnings is to keep people aware and like alert, because we kind of have, you know, settled back into our everyday routines since what's happened. And so I think that by reminding everybody that there is -- you know that there are things going on that we need to be aware of has just made people more alert and careful.

MCMANUS: Kenneth, did you want to speak up as well?

KENNETH: I was going to say what Haley has already said that this -- the heightened security in public places is noticeable and it's -- it makes you feel very secure. So going out, there isn't as much -- there's a little bit of worry or a little bit of concern, but for the most part, you see all these security guards and you know that there are new procedures and new restrictions and new rules so it's -- you feel a little bit better about going out. MCMANUS: Asura, did you want to change your holiday plans or are you afraid to go to the mall? What are you not going to do now that you used to do?

ASURA: My life hasn't really changed as much as -- like I do everything the way that I've done it before, you know. The way I see it is if something is going to come to you, if it's in your fate that it's going to happen to you, it's going to happen. But I'm not really scared about oh if I go to a mall something's going to happen or anything.

MCMANUS: An open question for all of you, what happened in Israel last weekend, suicide bombers, a car bomb in a crowded mall- type area, the United States is known for shopping malls and public places like that, is that something you feel we're going to have to start dealing with? Is that in our future?

HALEY: I spent two months in Israel this past summer, and we have family in Israel and we have spoken to them since the -- since the bombings that went on there. And you know everything there, it is like we were talking about earlier, they've kind of gotten used to things going on, and where America, this is -- you know when things happen, it's a completely new situation for us. But hopefully we won't get to that point that we'll have to just -- it -- have it become an everyday occurrence. We'll just be like oh that's another thing. Hopefully we have enough security and we have enough -- like enough warnings about things going on that we won't ever get to that point.

MCMANUS: Halima, people deal with this sort of thing everyday overseas, we're just starting to have to deal with it now. Is this something that is not going to go away for a long, long time, do you feel?

HALIMA: Well, I'm not sure. I mean personally I don't feel that I have to be afraid to shop at the malls because I'm not afraid of anybody bombing a mall for some reason. I don't know if it's just that sense of security, but I don't think anybody's really going to here. Anyway, I don't think anybody is going to try to bomb a mall. I mean, you know, who would you suspect, right, so I don't think so.

MCMANUS: This is an open question for all of you, how have some of your relationships changed since September 11? How have they changed at all with your parents, with your peers, with your siblings, with your friends, with your schoolmates, your classmates in school that you might not normally talk with? How have some of your relationships changed?

LAUREN: I have a twin sister, but I don't know if this has to do with the current events, but lately we have gotten -- we used to be absolute enemies, we wouldn't speak. If we did speak, we'd be fighting. But probably in the past couple of months, it seems we've been a lot more civil. And it's probably just because we know that we'll be leaving next year because of being a senior and also because of the current events we know that life isn't -- life is too short and anything can happen so that we might as well take advantage of it while we have it.

MCMANUS: A very good example.


HALIMA: Some of my classmates have changed their attitudes towards, I don't if it's just me or just the whole, you know, because Islam people have -- you know had things said or done to them because of what happened. But I've had some of my friends, some of -- some classmates who didn't talk to me before or just I don't know if they didn't know me before or whatever, but now I have people coming up to me and talking to me and ever since that happened. And they're like did you have, you know, any of your family members, you know, back there or, you know, how do you feel about what's going on and now we feel -- I feel like they're more open with me because of the events.

MCMANUS: So they show concern but they also have questions?

HALIMA: Yes, they have questions and they show concern, yes.

MCMANUS: Has anyone else feel that or had some of that -- Marium?

MARIUM: Yes. Me -- my family and myself, we've gotten closer. And they've given me an understanding that I shouldn't be worried and to understand that things are going on on the other side of the world are just more tragic than over here so we should be thankful for what you have and for what you do everyday and...

MCMANUS: There's definitely a bit of different thinking now for many people.

I have one final question for you and that's what will you tell your kids and your grandkids about September 11, 2001?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well this is definitely an event that changed our lives. We all felt we were really -- we were invincible and we weren't vulnerable like the rest of the world, we were America. But we were -- this really showed us that we are just as vulnerable and it's made us -- we have to be careful of how we get involved in other countries. It's made us rethink our position in world events, and it's really changed our lives. It's heightened security. People are worried about the big government getting too involved in our lives, violating human rights, and so we really have to rethink a lot of things about government and our involvement in other countries.

MCMANUS: Kenneth, what will you tell your grandkids or your kids?

KENNETH: I think I would try to explain to them the goodness that came out of such a bad thing. A lot of -- a lot of relationships have changed. There are people out there who want to know more about the Middle Eastern religions. Before this happened, you know, they kind of didn't care about it, but now they want to understand. And I think that's a good thing that people are willing to change their behavior out of all of what's happened recently. MCMANUS: Marium.

MARIUM: By the time I have kids, I would love to have a chance to take them and go to Afghanistan and visit, because I haven't had a chance to visit so that would be a nice thing, and show them where they're from and their background and everything.

MCMANUS: Their history and...


MCMANUS: ... maybe by then it will be a brand new country with a new government and democracy possibly.

MARIUM: Yes. Yes, everything is going to go back to normal.

MCMANUS: Lauren.

LAUREN: For me, September 11 kind of, like I said before, made me realize that life is too short and that you can't waste time. And hopefully with me living this way, continuing, when I have kids and grandkids, hopefully the way I think about life will be passed on to them. And so just like kind of a lesson that I want them to know that to not -- to not waste time and to just do what you need to do and get it done because you never know what's going to happen.

MCMANUS: That's true.


HALIMA: I think what has come out of this that I would like to tell, you know, future generations is that, like Kenneth said, people have a better understanding of the Middle East, you know their religions, that you know all terrorists are not Muslims and all Muslims are not terrorist, that kind of thing, you know. Because I think ever since that happened, people have been asking questions and they've had things -- programs on TV that, you know, show the true things, not just the stereotypical stuff they put, you know, on the news or, you know, but the true side of, you know, Middle Eastern cultures or religion or whatnot. And I think that that is a positive effect, you know the fact that people know the truth now. You know they know this is -- they didn't -- the people that did this didn't do it because, you know, it's part of Islam and they're Muslims, you know. So I think that's a positive thing that came out of that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MCMANUS: The war (UNINTELLIGIBLE) been educated.


MCMANUS: Absolutely.

And one final comment from William.

WILLIAM: I come from an international background and I am totally excited by how the world seems to be uniting against this cause, against how people attack others for whatever reason be it religion, creed, race. And -- but I am also very excited about the stronger sense of nationalism within our country and how people have united under one common banner and one flag, how people have shown their patriotism in many ways as including flags on cars and stuff that seemed tacky at one point has come to be a great sign of how strong our nation is. And I'm really proud to live in a time where people are excited about actually finding the forces of evil and oppression and hatred and it's a good feeling and I'm going to tell my kids that.

MCMANUS: Well the country has definitely bonded, hasn't it, and some would argue the world has.

Well I thank you all very much for coming back with us today. I really appreciate it. And what you have done is really give a voice and some opinion on what's going on today and what's on the minds of America's young. So thank you very much.


MCMANUS: Thoughts and feelings being shared by a cross section of American teenagers.

NORTH: And as young people here on Earth remember September 11, up in space, the astronauts are doing the same. On Sunday, members of both the space station and the space shuttle held a commemorative event to honor those lost on September 11.

MCMANUS: Yes, in addition, the shuttle's payload includes 6,000 U.S. flags, which will be given to victim's families when the shuttle returns to Earth.

And we leave you today with more images of shuttle Endeavor and international space station Alpha. I'm Michael McManus.

NORTH: And I'm Sharon North. We'll see you tomorrow.




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