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CNN Newsroom

Aired December 14, 2001 - 04:30   ET


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

SHARON NORTH, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Sharon North.

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

The much anticipated videotape of Osama bin Laden referencing the September 11 terrorist attacks has been released by the Bush administration.

NORTH: U.S. officials say the tape was made last month and found inside a private residence in Jalalabad. Throughout it, bin Laden is seen laughing and smiling as he talks with his associates about the preparations and execution of the deadly plan he's accused of masterminding.

CNN's David Ensor brings us excerpts from the tape that some U.S. lawmakers say is the smoking gun confirming bin Laden's guilt.


DAVID ENSOR, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Recorded in early November, the tape shows Osama bin Laden with Shaykh Sulayman, a visitor from Saudi Arabia. Over dinner they laugh and celebrate the attacks, with bin Laden saying the death told far exceeded his fondest hopes.


OSAMA BIN LADEN, AL QAEDA LEADER: ... we calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.


ENSOR: The complete collapse of the towers was something not even bin Laden, who once worked in his family's construction business, could predict. Repeatedly on the tape, bin Laden makes clear he helped organize the attacks. He names Mohammed Atta as being in charge of the hijackers, and says many of them did not know until moments before that they would die on that day.


BIN LADEN: The brothers who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a martyrdom operation and we asked each of them to go to America but they didn't know anything about the operation, not even one letter. But they were trained and we did not reveal the operation to them until they are there and just before they boarded the planes.


ENSOR: Throughout the tape, bin Laden and his guests and others are clearly in a jovial mood, praising Allah and talking about the joy they and others felt when they learned their plot had succeeded so dramatically. Bin Laden speaks explicitly of knowing in advance when the attacks would come.


BIN LADEN: We were at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when the event took place. We had notification since the previous Thursday that the event would take place that day. We had finished our work that day and had the radio on.


ENSOR: There is also a chilling suggestion that additional attacks may be planned, but it comes from bin Laden's friend, Shaykh Sulayman.


SHAYKH: No doubt it is a clear victory. Allah has bestowed on us... honor on us... and he will give us blessing and more victory during this holy month of Ramadan. And this is what everyone is hoping for. Thank Allah America came out of its caves. We hit her the first hit and the next one will hit her with the hands of the believers, the good believers, the strong believers.


ENSOR (on camera): U.S. officials also point to bin Laden saying that not even his spokesman, his close aide, knew that the attacks were coming until after he'd heard about it on the radio. That underscores, officials say, how compartmentalized information has been in al Qaeda, and thus what a difficult intelligence target it has been -- until now.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


NORTH: The video was shown throughout the world.

CNN's Kelly Wallace has reaction from those who sat riveted watching bin Laden's accounts.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They watched the Osama bin Laden tape in silence at a restaurant near Ground Zero. The tape, only reinforcing their steely resolve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to see him dead, actually.

WALLACE: They also watched throughout the Arab and Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Jordan to Egypt -- some questions about bin Laden's culpability apparently put to rest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that this tape proves that Osama bin Laden has a big relationship with what happened in the United States on the 11th of September.

WALLACE: But many others rejected the tape out of hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In my opinion, it is a fabrication. The film was made to condemn him.

WALLACE: The public line from the White House: People can draw their own conclusions. But U.S. officials privately hope that these images of bin Laden laughing at the destruction solidify American support for a lengthy war against terror, and perhaps erase some doubts on the streets of the Muslim world.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: How could there be a doubt in anyone's mind any longer about what we have said from the very, very beginning? That he was the mastermind, he is the head of an organization that participates in this kind of evil activity.

WALLACE: Aides say after President Bush first saw the tape on November 30, he wanted to make it public as long it was authentic and did not impact future intelligence gathering.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the president's approach all along has been if it doesn't compromise intelligence, we're a democracy. The information should be shared, not only on this, but on all matters.

WALLACE (on camera): While the administration continues to be reluctant to release other evidence, it is making the tape available in Arabic to any countries that want it. But one senior aide said the U.S. is not out there pushing the tape. This aide saying -- quote -- "it does not need a whole lot of pushing."

Kelly Wallace, CNN, the White House.


NORTH: The capture of bin Laden, what could it mean, he's just one man, al Qaeda is just one terrorist network?

As CNN's Bill Schneider reports, there are still scores of others and what will become of those?


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): One day, possibly soon, we'll get Osama bin Laden. What happens then? President Bush has made his intentions clear.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.

SCHNEIDER: But remember back to 1991 when the Gulf War ended? Americans cheered and celebrated: It's over, we won. Let's get back to normal.

There was no pressure from the public to finish the job and overthrow Saddam Hussein. Instead, there was pressure to deal with the country's economic problems. Could the same mood of public exhilaration take over on "Osama day"? will the country say, "We got the bad guys; now let's get back to normal? Or will Americans want to go after more bad guys?

The public tells poll-takers they're ready to fight a long-term war against terrorists all over the world. Success in Afghanistan feeds the country's ambition. So does the fact that the U.S. was attacked. Even if Osama is eliminated, there are still a lot more bad guys out there.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: Independent of September 11, there is a serious problem, with Iraq having expelled the inspectors and continuing to develop weapons of mass destruction.

SCHNEIDER: On the other hand, Americans have a powerful desire to get back to normal. The economy is already becoming the country's dominant concern. Much depends on leadership. Trusted figures will urge the U.S. to go on with the war, not just the president.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We believe that there are other nations that present challenges, as we all know: Sudan, Syria, Somalia, etcetera. But Iraq is the only one that apparently has developed weapons of mass destruction. It's working on the means to deliver them, and poses a clear and present danger.

SCHNEIDER: Other voices will urge caution, Republicans as well as Democrats.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: We better make sure we have the facts before we go to the next step, whether it is Iraq or anyplace else.

SCHNEIDER: The best bet? Americans will be split over continuing the war. The day we get Osama, a new debate will begin. (END VIDEOTAPE)


JOEL SCHWARTZ, JENKINTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA: My name is Joel Schwartz from Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. And I'd like to ask CNN: How does the military organize its force? And how many troops are there in a division, battalion, brigade, company, et cetera?

MAJOR GENERAL DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Joel, it's an interesting question, and each one of the military services has their own lingo and organization. The Army's particularly interesting.

Let's start off with the smallest element, which is the squad, about 10 people. From the squad you go to the platoon which is about 44 people. From the platoon to the company which is 180 people. From the company to the battalion, about 700 people. From the battalion to the brigade which is about 3,000 people. And from the brigade to the division, about 15,000 people.

Now the way this works is four squads equal a platoon, four platoons equal a company, four companies equal a battalion, four battalions equal a brigade and then three or more brigades equal a division. Now added to the brigades are the headquarters support element and also artillery and aviation. And that's how the Army's organized.


MCMANUS: While fighting has intensified between al Qaeda fighters and opposition forces, the U.S. focus is more on trying to capture, rather than to kill, al Qaeda leaders. Military experts believe they hold the key to breaking its terrorist network worldwide.

Here's CNN Jamie McIntyre.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. has beefed up the relatively small number of American special forces operating in the Tora Bora area. And Pentagon forces say they, along with CIA teams, have specific orders to try to take Osama bin Laden and other top al Qaeda officials alive, if possible.

GENERAL RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS: We hope we come out of there with, of course, some intelligence information. If that means taking people alive, then that would be -- that would be very good.

MCINTYRE: Capturing rather than killing terrorist leaders is seen as a key to getting the kind of intelligence the U.S. needs to move against al Qaeda cells in as many as 60 other countries. The U.S. has conflicting reports about bin Laden's whereabouts. Some intelligence suggests he has slipped across the border to Pakistan, but most reports say he's still in Afghanistan. DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We think he's there. We don't know if he's there. We're trying to find him, and when we find him we will announce it.

MCINTYRE: The Pentagon remains hopeful that the $25 million reward for bin Laden will prompt someone to give him up. And now the United States has put an up to $10 million price on the head of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, along with lesser rewards for less important officials.

One official the Pentagon would like to find is this man, seen on the just released videotape laughing with bin Laden about the September 11 attacks. He's identified by Pentagon sources as Shaykh Sulayman, a Saudi who is paralyzed from the waist down.


RUMSFELD: He certainly interests us.

MCINTYRE (on camera): A senior military official tells CNN that the U.S. believes bin Laden is in a cave complex in Tora Bora surrounded by opposition fighters and U.S. forces and that the best U.S. intelligence indicates that Taliban leader Mullah Omar is in Helman (ph) Province, Afghanistan, to the west of Kandahar.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


MCMANUS: Along with al Qaeda leaders, the U.S. continues to hunt down bin Laden's whereabouts. One place he's not, a training base near Kandahar's airport.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour went to the camp and filed this report.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The aging Soviet artillery pieces defending Osama bin Laden's Liva Training Camp near Kandahar Airport were no match for massive U.S. air strikes.

No sign of bin Laden's militants, dead or alive here. But behind this broken mud wall, plenty of evidence of their military training. This assault course with monkey frame and hurdles, a mock tunnel, and high bars all covered in war paint, a barbed wire entanglement to crawl under.

(on camera): What we realized after looking around was that this appears to be the place where all those bin Laden training videos were shot, those videos that have now been broadcast so many times on worldwide television.

(voice-over): In the rubble of this sprawling camp, more evidence of the relatively unsophisticated training routines for the people accused of the worst terrorist act in history. And this handwritten notebook in Arabic contains instructions, similar to the countless manuals found in al Qaeda houses in Kabul and other Afghan towns.

Intentions listed in English. How to make arsine gas and mustard gas. On this page, it says "homebrew gas nerve" or nerve gas. On another, a picture of an octagonal building. Over the page, instructions on how to manually measure the distance to a tank.

Special Forces have already combed this place for clues. The Afghan fighters who've taken over Kandahar are busy looting what's left.

The commander says this is where Osama bin Laden himself lived. Nearby, an underground bunker is full of clothes and evidence of a hasty departure.

All that remains alive here is one of bin Laden's horses. Perhaps he too was once a prop in the most famous terrorist training video ever shown.


MCMANUS: War has many uncertainties, but one definite is cost. Wars are expensive. Equipment, weaponry and manpower, they all cost money and plenty of it. For example, the U.S. military's now famous daisy cutter, $27,000 each. The 5,000-pound bunker-buster bomb, $145,000 each.

But according to our Kitty Pilgrim, this war is still cheaper than others.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pyrotechnics of the war, first seen on the green nightscopes, and then in clear daylight have been impressive. The cost, equally so. Operation Enduing Freedom is an inexpensive operation, estimated at less than $2.5 billion, by experts, $3.8 billion by the Department of Defense.

STEVIAN KOSIAK, CSBA: We spend about $350 billion a year on our military. So when we have to conduct an operation like this, it costs us a few more billion dollars to actually conduct the operation, but a lot of the costs have already been paid.

PILGRIM: Because no one knows exactly the scope of operations, the following are estimates, but informed ones. There are several dozen warships in the region, several thousand Army and Marine Corps troops. But ground troop costs were saved by using allies like the Northern Alliance to fight along with U.S. forces.

During the Gulf War's Desert Storm, there were about 35,000 strike sorties, costing $15 billion dollars. Operation Enduring Freedom, 4,700 flights, or $2 billion.

The distances in this conflict are a cost issue. The Navy's FA- 18 fighter bomber costs $5,000 dollars an hour to fly. It is 700 miles from the Arabian Sea, where the aircraft carriers are based, to Kabul, 2,500 miles from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The flying costs are estimated at $300 million for the first two months.

Add to that, the B-1 bomber lost in the Indian Ocean this week, $300 million. In this war, they broke out the big ticket firepower. The Navy is thought to have launched about 100 Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, about $1 million a piece.

In Desert Storm, only about 7 to 10 percent of the munitions used were precision guided munitions or smart bombs. In Afghanistan, 60 percent were smart bombs. They are smart and expensive.

JIM PHILLIPS, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The air war has been, I would say, extremely cost effective in the sense that there was very little collateral damage in terms of civilian casualties because of the very extensive use of smart bombs.

PILGRIM (on camera): Putting it in historical context, in World War II, we were spending about 40 percent of GDP on the military. Today, about 3 percent and only a fraction of that is going to the war in Afghanistan.

Kitty Pilgrim, CNN Financial News, New York.


MCMANUS: And now back to Sharon for a look at some other defense issues the U.S. is now facing -- Sharon.

NORTH: Thanks, Mike.

U.S. missile defense made headlines. President Bush, yesterday, took the controversial step of giving notice that the United States is withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia. He says this will enable the U.S. to develop defenses the treaty prohibits.

As CNN's David Ensor reports, some fear Mr. Bush's views on nuclear readiness may light a fuse that could explode into an international arms race.


ENSOR (voice-over): Emerging from a meeting with his full National Security Council, the president announced a historic break with past nuclear arms control agreements, giving the required six- months notice to the Russians that the U.S. will withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have concluded the ABM Treaty hinders our government's ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorists or rogue state missile attacks.

ENSOR: In Moscow, President Putin said while the decision is not a surprise, it is bad news.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This agreement indeed does give each side the legal right to withdrawal under extraordinary circumstances; however, we regard this decision as mistaken.

ENSOR: The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by Presidents Nixon and Brezhnev in 1972 forbids either side from testing or deploying an anti-ballistic missile system. U.S. tests of such technology will soon violate the treaty, officials say, but the Russians had offered to negotiate changes to allow the testing.

Critics charge the U.S. move may set off a nuclear arms race in Asia with China deploying more missiles and warheads so as to overwhelm any new American missile defense, thus prompting India to respond to that and Pakistan to respond to India. They also argue, if the U.S. can drop treaty obligations so can others.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CARNEGIE: If the most powerful country in the world feels that it can withdrawal from an international agreement because it finds it inconvenient, well why can't other nations?

ENSOR: A senior Russian parliamentarian predicted this week that Moscow will likely abrogate other arms agreements and deploy more warheads on its newest missiles in response to the U.S. move.

(on camera): But administration officials say Russia is simply not an enemy anymore. And what is important, they say, is to be able to stop rogue states or terrorists groups that in the future may get their hands on accurate, long-range missiles.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


NORTH: It's been said many times, September 11 is a day that will live in infamy. The vivid images told us of horrendous loss, pictures that many of us will never forget.

MCMANUS: As we look back at the big stories of the past year, the terrorist attacks in the U.S. that day top the list.

For a unique perspective on the tragedy that unfolded in New York and Washington, our Joel Hochmuth spoke with Aaron Brown, CNN's main field anchor that day.


JOEL HOCHMUTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was 8:45 a.m. the morning of September 11. It seems almost absurd now, but CNN's was airing a live report from New York about fashions for pregnant women.


UNKNOWN FEMALE: I can just walk around and show it off. And people, especially New Yorkers, they really like it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOCHMUTH: Little did anyone realize just a few miles away the tragedy about to unfold.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: The phone rang in my car when I was coming down the West Side Highway into work. I was at about 70th and the West Side Highway, and I was told by my producer that a plane had hit a tower. And at that moment I didn't know if it was an accident or what. I did know we were going on television that day.


JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Just for our viewers who are just tuning in right now, you're looking at a live picture of the World Trade Center tower.


HOCHMUTH: As Brown made his way into CNN's New York bureau, the network began airing live pictures of the results of the first terrorist attack, a hijacked American Airlines 767 bound for Los Angeles from Boston plowed into the upper floors of the Trade Center's north tower. Then about 15 minutes later, another hijacked 767, this one United Airlines Flight 175 also bound for L.A. from Boston, slammed into the south tower.

BROWN: It was clear to me that once the second plane hit that the country was being attacked by somebody and that what we were about to do wasn't going to be a news story but it was going to be a page of history.

HOCHMUTH: By about 9:35 a.m., Brown took over CNN's coverage from his rooftop vantage point about 50 blocks away.


BROWN: For those of you just joining us, let's just briefly recap what we know.


BROWN: My state of mind was I think that I knew I was going to be there for a long time and that the most important things I could do would be to be accurate, careful, quick and calm and not get ahead of the story. You try, in these moments, to stay measured, that the story is enough. You don't guess. You don't assume anything.

HOCHMUTH: At that point, developments were happening so fast it was hard to keep up. At 9:40 a.m., the FAA grounded all domestic flights and diverted inbound international flights to Canada, not knowing for sure how many others may have been hijacked.


KAREN HUGHES, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT BUSH: The Federal Aviation Administration ordered all airports closed, and all planes which were in the air were directed to land at the nearest airport. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOCHMUTH: Five minutes later, the Pentagon, the heart of all American military operations, became the next target. It, too, was hit by a hijacked plane, an American Airlines jet that had just left Dulles Airport in Virginia.


MCINTYRE: Again, it appears that an aircraft of some sort did hit the side of the Pentagon.


HOCHMUTH: Then in New York, the unthinkable.


MCINTYRE: ... faces sort of toward...


MCINTYRE: And some people were...

BROWN: Jamie, Jamie, I need you to stop for a second. There has just been a huge explosion. We can see a billowing smoke rising. And I can't -- I'll tell you that I can't see that second tower.


HOCHMUTH: Just before 10:00 a.m., the south tower of the World Trade Center, the second one hit, collapsed, taking down with it untold numbers of stranded civilians and rescue workers.


BROWN: And we can see this extraordinarily and frightening scene behind us of this second tower now just encased in smoke. What is behind it, I cannot tell you.


BROWN: I was kind of embarrassed that it never occurred to me that the towers might collapse. I wasn't for the longest time precisely sure if the whole building had collapsed, if part of it had collapsed. I just didn't know. And so going back to the point earlier, I didn't want to guess.

HOCHMUTH: Then all eyes turned toward the north tower, would it face the same fate as the south? The answer came in a horrific cloud of smoke and dust just before 10:30 a.m., a little less than two hours after it had been hit.


BROWN: And there, as you can see, perhaps the second tower, the front tower, the top portion of which is collapsing. Good Lord.


BROWN: I think there were various times when I was speechless at what was playing out behind me as people watching it. But I'm a professional journalist, and I've had a lot of experience doing this sort of television, and so I'm not sure that it ever occurred to me one way or another of losing it or not losing it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just went ba-boom. It was like a bomb went off and it was like -- it was like holy hell coming down them stairs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was going to -- going back to try and find people from my office but there's chaos and John's (ph) like let's go. I started to leave and I see people jumping from the top of the World Trade Center.


HOCHMUTH: As heroic rescue efforts were underway in two cities, word came of yet another disaster.


BROWN: We don't know -- we don't know if this is somehow connected to what has gone on in New York and Washington, but we do know that another plane has crashed, this one about 80 miles south of Pittsburgh.


BROWN: My job in that point is to -- is to deal with what I know and not what I fear, not what I think, not what I guess. And so I just tried to stay, in terms of what I did on the air, with what I knew.

HOCHMUTH: Of course as it turned out, it was related. This was a hijacked United flight bound for San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey. But only on a day like this could there be any good news here. In an act of heroism, passengers apparently fought back and kept the hijackers from hitting their intended target, apparently somewhere in Washington, D.C.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's rolling. I'm shooting.


HOCHMUTH: Still, the coast is not clear. Fears of further attacks have President Bush zigzagging his way from Florida to Louisiana to Nebraska. It is not until late in the afternoon it appeared the worst was over. Still, the extent of the tragedy was just beginning to sink in.


RUDOLPH GIULIANI, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: I don't think we yet know the pain that we're going to feel when we find out who we lost. But the thing we have to focus on now is getting the city through this and surviving and being stronger for it.


BROWN: I don't know if at any point on September 11th, I would have said I think the worst is over. First of all, the worst, that which we were dealing with was so unimaginably awful and just trying to sort out that, how many people had perished, who was responsible, that was enough.

HOCHMUTH: Finally, officials decided it was safe for the president to return to Washington. He arrived at the White House at 7:00 p.m. and addressed the nation at 8:30 p.m.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: None of us will ever forget this day. Yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

Thank you. Good night. And God bless America.


BROWN: Whatever joy there is from the professional experience of having reported the most important story of our lifetime, it's balanced against the sorrow I feel as a citizen, as a New Yorker and as a father who has to explain this to a daughter.


MCMANUS: Images we will remember for a long, long time.

NORTH: Absolutely. One of those days that all of us will remember where we were when.

MCMANUS: Yes, that's right.

NORTH: I'm Sharon North.

MCMANUS: And I'm Michael McManus. Have a good weekend, and I'll see you back here on Monday.

NORTH: Bye-bye.




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