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CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS

Will Enron Collapse Become Next Washington Scandal?; Is It Time To Look Elsewhere for Osama bin Laden?

Aired January 14, 2002 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Now on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS:

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hit the deck and woke up and there was Barney and Spot showing a lot of concern.

BLITZER: Back in action and back on the road after collapsing while eating a pretzel.

Will the Enron collapse become the next big Washington scandal? How should the president handle it?

After repeatedly pounding a massive al Qaeda complex, is it time to look elsewhere for Osama bin Laden?

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN STUFFLEBEEM, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: This entire part of the country is riddled with hillsides and valleys of caves and above-ground structures.

BLITZER: Can an aspirin a day keep the heart doctor away? We will look at the benefits and the risks and I'll be the guinea pig.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(on camera): Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. A scary moment at the White House yesterday when President Bush suffered a brief fainting spell. He is doing just fine today, but all of us couldn't help but focus on that bruise on his left cheek. He is on the road today pushing for expanded trade and making light of the incident. A pretzel apparently went down the wrong way as he watched a football game on television. We will have much more on this in just a few moments.

First, a quick check of this hour's latest developments. An attorney for shareholders accuses Enron of cooking the books as the energy giant collapsed into bankruptcy. The attorney says 29 top Enron executives and directors sold $1 billion in stock in the days leading up to the firm's fall last month. The Justice Department and various congressional committees are investigating.

One of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives is no longer on the run. Christian Longo is in jail in Houston. He was arrested in Mexico yesterday. Longo is accused of killing his wife and three children last month. Later this hour, I will talk to the FBI special agent in charge of the case.

The Pentagon says U.S. warplanes have just about concluded the bombing of a huge al Qaeda cave complex in eastern Afghanistan. A spokesman says about 60 buildings were destroyed and 50 caves closed.

And headed for Cuba this hour, 30 more Afghan detainees. The al Qaeda and Taliban fighters will join 20 detainees who arrived at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay on Friday. The Pentagon says 414 detainees are still being held in Afghanistan.

A brief fainting spell isn't slowing down President Bush at all. One day after he lost consciousness for a few seconds at the White House while eating a pretzel, the president embarked on a two-day trip focusing on the economy. The only visible evidence of his blackout was a scrape on his cheek and bruise on his lip from falling off a couch.

Our White House correspondent, Major Garrett, is traveling with the president and he joins us now on the road for a look at what happened today. Major, give us the details.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the president today, first of all of course, had to deal with the whole pretzel situation. And he did his level best to joke his way through it, telling reporters first at the White House that he should have chewed more thoroughly, then sending back to reporters who were flying with him aboard Air Force today, a little bit of a care package, a big, plastic grab bag of pretzels with a presidentially scrawled consumer warning: chew carefully.

While the president was also in East Moline, Illinois, he told workers at a John Deere plant, the best thing he could have done was follow the advice of his mother, which was always to chew all food thoroughly. But as you said, the president does sport a rather mean scrape on that left cheek and a cut on his lip, all suffered when that pretzel lodged in his throat and essentially placed pressure on the back nerve in his neck, causing a disruption to the flow of blood to his brain and a brief fainting spell.

But as you said, Wolf, the president was checked again this morning after being checked last night at the White House. All indications are he is in good health, good spirits, still suffering from a little bit of a cold, but the president says he is feeling great and out on the road.

Today in East Moline, Illinois and now here in Aurora, Missouri -- the president is already en route by plane to New Orleans -- all this part of a trip to talk about economic policy. But the key, Wolf, here is really that the warrior president has decided to leave Washington, to get out on the hustings (ph) and talk about his domestic agenda, reminding voters that the war is he prosecuting against global terrorism is going well. They support him in that regard. The president wants them to support him also on his domestic agenda. And while here in Aurora, Missouri, he reminded voters about the stakes of the war and the foe the United States and its coalition partners are up against.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: You see, we are fighting an enemy that is willing to send others to death, suicide missions in the name of religion, and they themselves want it hide in caves. But you know something, we're not going to tire. We're not going to be impatient. We're going to do whatever it takes it find them. And bring them to justice. They think they can hide, but they're not going to hide from the mighty reach of the United States and the coalition we have put together.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: Wolf, the overarching theme for this two-day trip is supporting free trade, but the White House knows full well that most of the Senate Republicans and Democrats support the president on free trade and eventually that free trade bill will be passed.

The real message is the president is putting out on his travels is to talk about economic stimulus and to tell voters in Illinois, Missouri and tomorrow in Louisiana, that there needs to be an economic stimulus plan, one that has more tax cuts for businesses, one that also helps workers with unemployment benefits and healthcare and also to protect every single part of the 10-year Bush tax plan passed last year. At every stop, the president has made it abundantly clear he will not support -- in fact, he will fight to the death any effort by any Democrat in the Senate or House to roll back any portion of that Bush tax cut. Every time the president so mentioned, Wolf, he got pretty strong applause.

BLITZER: Major, in previous White Houses, whenever there is any question about the president's health, the White House physician is almost always made available to brief reporters. Was that done today?

GARRETT: It was not done today. We were given some reason of what Dr. Tubb, the president's Air Force physician, said had happened. He was available generally through Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary. There were some questions as to whether or not, for example, how long was the president actually unconscious. The president himself told his press secretary, Ari Fleischer, he wasn't unconscious for very long at all because he said the expression of his two dogs, the only living beings, shall I say who were with him on the third floor of the White House at the time, that their expressions didn't change. They didn't move much. So he figured he was only unconscious for a second or two. That's basically all the detail we've got about that key element of the story, the essential facts we received from Ari Fleischer through the White House physician -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Major Garrett, on the road today, thank you very much.

And of course, it is a very busy time at the White House as it tries to deal with the president's health problem and recent scrutiny on his administration's dealings with Enron. Joining us now for an insider's perspective is Joe Lockhart. He is the former press secretary, of course, for the Clinton White House. Joe, thanks for joining us.

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY: Good to be here, Wolf.

BLITZER: As I recall, covering the Clinton White House, whenever there was a question about President Clinton's health, you guys would always make his physician available.

LOCKHART: Yes, I think there is a pretty good formula that at least worked for us as far as health issues, particularly on something like this, you know, that has, you know, a pretzel element to it or something that's slightly embarrassing. For the president and his staff, I think the idea is to get out, get the information out quickly. And if it is something like a pretzel to make -- the president to make fun of himself and the incident. He did that quite well today. I think he came out and talked about his mother telling him to chew.

I think there is an element of trying to let people get as close to the facts as they can though in order to dispel, you know, any sense that there is some long lasting problem. So I think they should have made the doctor available. You know, I think the president's comments, the press secretary's comments, there's no reason to not believe they hadn't been completely forthcoming. But I think it is important for a reporter to get in and be able to ask the kind of questions they want because ultimately, this has the potential to be a big issue.

BLITZER: And certainly, medical correspondents want to know what was the blood pressure. The president said they checked his blood pressure last night, this morning, and he said it was good. But specifically, I think a lot of reporters who cover medicine would be interested in knowing what was the blood pressure and specific issues, medical issues, like that.

LOCKHART: Sure. And I know Dr. Tubbs quite well and there isn't a finer doctor in the country. And I'm certain that what was reported through Ari Fleischer was exactly as he saw the situation. But when you get into a situation where reporters can ask the specific questions to the medical personnel, you create this sort of breeding ground for silly stories. And generally the best thing to do is just to put the doctor out, let him answer the questions and then move on.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the Enron investigation, the way the White House is handling that. God knows you lived through a lot of investigations when you were at the White House. How are they doing right now in dealing with this issue?

LOCKHART: Well, you know, they are -- there were some troubling signs in the first couple of days. I think probably the low point in this is when in meeting the press on Friday, President Bush tried to indicate that maybe he wasn't that close a friend with Kenneth Lay, the head of Enron, that maybe Kenneth Lay was a supporter of Democrats rather than Republicans. The facts don't speak to that.

I think everybody -- it's commonly known that the two men have had a long relationship. And it doesn't necessarily make the president guilty of anything, but in trying to sort of put some distance between himself and Mr. Lay, it creates the kind of questions that fuel these scandals rather than put them away.

BLITZER: Well in terms of damage control, you had to deal with that, obviously, all of the time. What advice would you have for your successors at the White House?

LOCKHART: My advice would be to be completely forthcoming and to never try to answer questions that you don't know the answers to yet. We have already had a situation where the White House has said, no calls came to the White House, only to find two days later that calls did come to the White House. And it makes it appear like someone is hiding things. I mean, this is a political problem for President Bush whether there was some wrongdoing or not.

For the first time, it really does highlight his economic policies, his health policies as all favoring special interests in the big guy and the little guy can take care of himself. And that is one that no matter what explanation they have, they are not going to get out of.

BLITZER: Joe Lockhart, former Clinton White House press secretary, thanks for joining us.

And to examine how the White House is handling concerns over the Enron case a little bit more, we are joined by our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

Bill, as you take a look at the situation, what do you see right now?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, there are several questions that are serious that need to be answered. Some of them have been partly answered. Were special favors granted to Enron on energy policy? We know they had special access. Did the company get any special protection from the government in its efforts to avert bankruptcy? The administration said of course not, they went bankrupt.

And Henry Waxman is raising an interesting question: When the administration heard about Enron's problems, did it have some legal obligation to sound the alarm to help protect employees and stock holders? That is a debatable issue because companies fail all the time and auditors and Wall Street analysts looked into it and did not sound any alarms.

BLITZER: How have they handled the issue so far?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I would say they have not paid attention to what I call the first rule of damage control. Joe Lockhart referred to it a minute ago. That rule is very simple: Let the worst information out first. Has anyone ever followed that rule? Yes. President Reagan did when he came out on the first day in 1986 of the Iran contra scandal and he said, we sold arms to Iran. They took a huge hit in the polls but nothing that people learned for the next year of investigations did any further damage.

Richard Nixon did not follow that rule in Watergate and Bill Clinton did not in the Monica Lewinsky matter. The Enron case, I think the revelations themselves have not been yet particularly damaging but the White House has behaved so secretly, as Joe said, they have raised suspicions that there could be a coverup.

BLITZER: Has there been any significant, any real damage done to the Bush Administration yet?

SCHNEIDER: I call it potential damage at this point. Because the revelations reinforce a damaging stereotype that voters have held about President Bush; namely that he is a front man for the big money boys.

Right now, the president's war leadership counter that image. He is a heroic figure and a successful leader in military terms. But we have a race right now between three different issues: The war, the recession, the Enron controversy. If the recession and the Enron controversy go on and on and the war issue goes into the background, them the combination of those two, a bad economy and a president mixed up with special interests under criminal investigation, that combination could be politically lethal.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst, thanks again for joining us.

And more now on the U.S. military action. The latest military action in Afghanistan. A huge al Qaeda training and cave complex has been leveled by American warplanes. The Pentagon says the Zawar Kili camp was targeted for more than a week by bombers and Navy attack jets.

Sixty buildings were destroyed and 50 caves closed. Officials say there was no sign that al Qaeda fighters were still using the complex. With more on the latest developments, our military affairs correspondent, Jamie McIntyre joining us live from the Pentagon -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this cave complex at Zawar Kili, which was basically a base of operations for al Qaeda, the U.S. had known about it for quite some time and had been watching it. But it wasn't until they got on the ground with troops and actually started crawling through the caves, they realized how massive this complex was.

It covering an area three by three miles or about 9 square miles. And basically, what had been going on with the heavy bombing in the last couple of days in particular, they have been bringing equipment out in the open and bombing it and also trying to close the caves off so they can't be reused again. What is essentially described by the Pentagon as demolition duty. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REAR ADM. JOHN STUFFLEBEEM: Systematically, the forces on the ground have been inspecting these facilities and then calling in strikes to be able to either close the cave or to level the above ground facilities. With that, this should conclude most of what happened in this area for now as most of the cave entrances have been closed and all of the above ground have been destroyed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: Just when he says this area, is he talking about the Zawar Kili complex in particular, this three by three area, but not the general area, in eastern Afghanistan where U.S. troops are still looking for signs of al Qaeda fighters and as Qaeda resistance and also pouring through caves.

There are literally hundreds and hundreds of these caves through the Afghanistan complex and the Pentagon is not implying here that they are wrapping up operations entirely, just that they believe they have sealed off most of those caves at Zawar Kili in order to prevent their use in the future -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jamie, are they still sticking by their assertion of only a week or two ago, that they are not going to speculate publicly at all about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden?

MCINTYRE: Well, they haven't been speculating. But one thing is clear: They don't know where he is and the trail appears to have grown a little bit cold. But if they have any updated intelligence about either Mullah Omar or Osama bin Laden, they are keeping it close to the vest.

BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, thank you very much.

The secretary of state Colin Powell meanwhile, is scheduled to leave for south Asia tomorrow with key stops in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. The trip comes amid increased tension between the nuclear armed India and Pakistan, neighbors who fought three wars since their independence in 1947.

Just a short while ago, indeed, within the past hour, Secretary Powell spoke with our own Judy Woodruff about the crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think we have stabilized things right now to the point where we can continue working the diplomatic and political track and persuade everyone that that is the direction we should continue to move, and the last thing we want to see happen right now in south Asia is war between the two nuclear armed states.

President Musharraf has done more than just speak. He is taking action. He has banned terrorist organizations, he is arresting people. The Indians have taken note of all this so I think I have quite a bit to work with when I go there later this week in my discussions with both sides.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: But you do want -- the U.S. does want India to remove those troops?

POWELL: We want it see us get back to the situation where the Indian army is no longer mobilized. They moved back it their original positions. We want to find a solution which will allow Pakistan to move its forces away from the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Senator Joe Lieberman just returned from south Asia. Senator Lieberman and other lawmakers in his group held talks with the interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai.

Speaking of Georgetown University, here in Washington, earlier today, Lieberman minced no words in saying that the challenge for the U.S. military now is to wipe out remnants of al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Lieberman saved his toughest remarks for Iraq, saying the next target in the war against terror should be the regime of Saddam Hussein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: Trying to manage the Iraqi threat under Saddam is like trying to cool a volcano with a thermostat. It doesn't work. We must therefore, declare a new objective, our clear unequivocal goal should be liberating the Iraqi people and the world from Saddam's tyranny as we should have done in 1991.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Joining us now with his assessment on the next possible targets in the U.S. war against terrorism, CNN military analyst, a former supreme allied commander of NATO, retired General Wesley Clark. General Clark, is Senator Lieberman on target when he says the U.S. should focus next target on Iraq? It is easier said than done, I take it.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Wolf, I think you are right. I think the U.S. is focussing on Iraq. And you can be certain that we are sifting through every bit of intelligence that comes out of Afghanistan. Everything on those disks, every document to see if we can find a connection with Iraq.

In the meantime, the next phases, I think, are already ongoing in the Philippines, in Somalia, in Yemen and possibly elsewhere. We have assistance teams on the grounds, special teams of intelligence personnel and elsewhere other people doing all they can to find out the situation there and help local governments deal with the threat.

BLITZER: In Somalia in particular, a lot of interest in Somalia because there was a previous al Qaeda connection there, Osama bin Laden in Somalia, the east Africa bombings, but also in a certain degree it's very similar to what Afghanistan used to look like -- no real central government that can work with the international community.

CLARK: That's right. And that means Somalia is a real problem because the method of war that we use to find local people who are on our side to punish a government that wasn't going to help us, well, it's not going to work in Somalia because there isn't any government there.

What it means is moving right into the sort of phase that we're in right now in Afghanistan. There may be some people on the ground. You may use some air power to help you, but essentially you have to identify the al Qaeda cells or the locals that support them that are engaged in supporting international terrorism and then bring power to bear against them. That's very challenging.

BLITZER: And a lot of Americans of course remember what happened in Mogadishu, the streets of Mogadishu in 1993. There is a motion picture that is being released right now, "Black Hawk Down," which deals with it. That's going to leave a bitter taste as far as specific U.S. military operations, special operations that might be envisaged for Somalia.

CLARK: I think you are exactly right, Wolf. Of course, what that motion picture deals with is combat in a city. And one of the real luxuries we had in Afghanistan was that for the most part, we weren't fighting in cities. Even in Mazar-e Sharif and Konduz, the fighting seemed to be on the outskirts of the city, and Kandahar of course was eventually -- it settled and Kabul fell apart and we got them, all of them, without having really to do house by house fighting. That is what "Black Hawk Down" is about and that's the challenge in Somalia.

BLITZER: And getting back to the bombing in eastern Afghanistan that's still going on, the caves, the tunnels, the complexes over there. A lot of our viewers are probably still confused. What's the point?

CLARK: The point is really three-fold. First, there may still be al Qaeda and other supporters in these complexes. They have got access to weapons. They may have means of doing harm to the government of Afghanistan or even to us. Secondly, there are documents in there that we need. And third, we want to deny the possibility that in the future, other groups could come in or al Qaeda could come back and fall in on these abandoned base complexes.

BLITZER: OK. General Wesley Clark, thanks for clarifying that. I appreciate it very much as I always do. And you can get more assessment on the war in Afghanistan tonight here in the "CNN WAR ROOM". The former national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, the former Navy secretary James Webb and the current Afghan charge d'affair, the chief envoy in the United States, Haron Amin, will be among my guests. That's at 7:00 Eastern, 4:00 Pacific. You, by the way, can participate. Go to my Web page, cnn.com/wolf, click the icon send questions. I will try to get as many of those questions to my guests as possible. That's also, by the way, where you can read my daily online column, today's column being about airport security. Remember: cnn.com/wolf. And aviation security is next: With a potential traffic jam looming at week's end thanks to new rules regarding baggage. We will let you know what -- let you know what you can expect.

Also, the transcontinental capture of one of America's most wanted. He is accused of killing his wife and kids.

And hitting rock bottom at ground zero. We will show you where the wreckage has been taken and what they found later this hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Just four days from now, new regulations take effect requiring airlines in the United States to screen all check baggage. That was one of the issues in the spotlight today at a transportation summit here in Washington. Our Kathleen Koch is here and she joins us now live with the latest on this story -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a very tough deadline. It was imposed by the Aviation Security Act that Congress passed back in November. And airlines are going to be struggling to meet it because basically it's never been done before. Now in an ideal world, every single checked bag would be screened by a huge explosive detection machine. The problem is there are only about 165 of them in the airports to screen the 3.5 million checked bags that airlines handle on average every single day.

So airlines have been given some fallback openings. And the head of a new government agency that will soon take over aviation security today told the transportation conference that the measures that they use will be commonsense and balanced.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MAGAW, UNDERSECRETARY FOR TRANSPORTATION SECURITY: The American public is concerned and we must respond. And as we respond, we want to respond with intelligent decisions, with common sense decisions, with decisions that make a difference in terms of what the risk is. We don't want to be killing a fly with a sledgehammer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: Where the explosive detection screening machines are not available, airlines will be using different options like bomb-sniffing dogs, potentially hand searching bags or using something called bag matching, and that's where every bag that goes into the cargo hold of a plane also has to have the passenger it belongs to onboard.

Now CNN has learned that the airlines are going to be given a little leeway there, that they will only have to match bags on the first leg of the flight, not on the connecting leg. And that, Wolf, is where bags most often go astray and are separated from their owners. BLITZER: Kathleen, I spoke yesterday with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, one of the most knowledgeable members of Congress when it comes to aviation security. And she said bluntly, if you are planning on traveling beginning on Friday, expect long delays. You'd better be patient because this process is going to take a lot of time, screening baggage.

KOCH: Wolf, one airline, American Airlines, has already started trying it. They've tried it a couple of different times in St. Louis, and already they have seen about a hundred flights delayed. Now, that same thing could happen across the board. Airlines are going to be doing their best, but they will be trying different measures in different airports. So how much delay is expected in each airport will really vary.

BLITZER: And the definition of screening baggage, the word screen is open to interpretation.

KOCH: It is because again, when it comes to bag matching, and that's one thing that most airlines say they are going to use because there simply aren't enough of these big machines available. Will they have to only match again on that connecting leg? What they haven't determine what happens when you bump someone from a flight. Wolf, we know how often that happens. You're standing there and they say, the plane is full. You are now getting bumped. So then do they have to delay that flight a half an hour, go in there and drag your bag out of the cargo hold? That's not been determined.

BLITZER: And matching baggage with the passengers on board, knowing that if you put a baggage in the belly of the plane, you're actually going to be on the plane. That's easier said than done as well.

KOCH: It is easier said than done, Wolf. It is all to deter a potential terrorist again, but it doesn't deter suicide terrorists and that's what everyone is worried about. And they say that, obviously, since September 11, we have seen that the terrorists are willing to die for their cause. So, while this provides a measure of security, in itself alone will not stop anyone.

BLITZER: Senator Hutchison told me yesterday that the baggage issue may be the single most serious threat to aviation security right now. We will all be monitoring it. We'll be watching this as Friday approaches as well. Kathleen Koch, thanks for joining us.

The air patrols that have been carried out over the United States since the September attacks apparently are causing a drain on the U.S. Air Force. And the Pentagon is looking at ways of possibly scaling back the operation. Sources say a number of options are on the table. Among them: placing more combat aircraft on alert status, keeping them on the ground instead of in the air. So far, the patrols have involved 11,000 Air Force personnel and more than 250 aircraft. But the sources tell CNN no decisions have yet been made.

As tensions between India and Pakistan continue, we will get the Pakistani view of the situation. But first, are the al Qaeda fighters being detained treated fairly? We will hear from one man who says we need more evidence.

Also, new findings on who should really be taking aspirin everyday. That's all ahead in the next part of this program.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As we reported, 30 more Afghan detainees arrived at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba just a short while ago. That brings the total to 50 being held in outdoor cells in Guantanamo Bay. Some human rights groups are raising concern about their treatment. A Pentagon spokeswoman says the prisoners are being treated according to international law, but emphasizes that these are not ordinary detainees.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICTORIA CLARKE, PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: We are talking about people who are incredibly dangerous, incredibly dangerous, who are willing to blow themselves up or do anything possible to hurt and kill others. And so all the precautions are being taken. All the appropriate security precautions are being taken, considering what you are dealing with.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Joining us now for more on the treatment of these detainees is Kenneth Roth. He is the executive director of Human Rights Watch. He joins us from New York.

Mr. Roth, thanks for joining us.

You have a problem with the way the U.S. military is dealing with these 50 detainees already at Guantanamo Bay?

KENNETH ROTH, EXEC. DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: I do. I should say, though, just to begin, that clearly these detainees are very dangerous people. We have seen this already through the two revolts that they have staged in Afghanistan, where there was significant loss of life among the detainees as well as among the guards.

So, let's accept that as a beginning proposition. That said, there are rules under international law, the Geneva Conventions, which prescribe both the treatment of detainees and also the way they can ultimately be tried.

We have heard Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and others insist that these are not prisoners of war. And there, frankly, he is wrong. The Geneva Conventions require all prisoners to be treated as presumptive prisoners of war until a competent tribunal determines otherwise. And, frankly, there is a question for some of these. The al Qaeda people probably ultimately will be found not to be prisoners of war. The Taliban people will be probably be found to be prisoners of war.

And that matters for how they are detained, because they have to be held in conditions the same as would be accorded to an American in a similar circumstance. It also has implications for how they will ultimately be tried, because they have to be given the same procedural protections an as American facing court-martial.

BLITZER: But the Pentagon makes the point, and the defense secretary makes the point, that they are effectively being treated according to rules of the Geneva Convention in governing prisoners of war, even if they are not being formally called prisoners of war. Specifically, what part of the treatment don't you like?

ROTH: Well, for example, the Geneva Conventions say very explicitly that prisoners of war, if they are to be detained, have to be detained in the same conditions as an American would be detained if facing comparable criminal charges. That clearly isn't the case.

In fact, you can just imagine the outrage if an American were being held in a cage with a tin roof in conditions as the detainees are now being held in Guantanamo. I should say, I have personally spoken with Cuban political prisoners who have shivered through the night this time of year, because it can get quite cold at night in Cuba at this time. And for these people to be held in basically unsheltered cages is clearly inhumane, not to mention not the way we would treat an American in a similar circumstance.

BLITZER: Well, won't the Pentagon allow representatives of the International Red Cross and other organizations to come and inspect and take a look at the Guantanamo Bay facilities?

ROTH: That's what they have said. And I certainly hope they live up to promise. But that doesn't remedy anything. Clearly it's useful to have inspections. And I hope that the Red Cross gets in there. Human Rights Watch is asking for admission as well.

But I want to stress that what is there -- and it's pretty clear what is there -- these are cages with tin roofs. This is not humane treatment, which is the bottom-line standard in the Geneva Conventions, regardless of whether these people are prisoners of war or not. And certainly, if some of them are prisoners of war, it is flatly wrong, because we would never hold an American in comparable conditions. And that is the bottom-line requirement of the Geneva Conventions.

BLITZER: What do you say to the argument that a lot of military personnel make, is that if the shoe were on the other foot, if U.S. soldiers, U.S. military personnel, were being held by al Qaeda or the Taliban, their treatment would be a lot worse.

ROTH: That may well be true. And I should say, not only would Human Rights Watch be protesting, but the Pentagon would be protesting as well. And that's exactly why it's important for the Pentagon to be following the Geneva Conventions, because if it starts mistreating the detainees that it has, it loses its standing to protect American service members who might find themselves detained overseas.

The Geneva Conventions are not there just to protect other people. They are there to protect American service members. And if the Pentagon is selling them short, they are selling short our own service members and their protection.

BLITZER: Kenneth Roth, thanks very much for joining us.

And this note: Tomorrow on this program, I will speak with the former U.S. general who commanded the U.S. Naval facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and get his perspective on this very sensitive issue.

Is the Asian subcontinent poised for nuclear war? The latest on Indian-Pakistan tensions when come back. Also, will an aspirin a day keep the doctor away from you? A new study gives insight into who should be taking that little white pill. Will I have to continue taking it? You will find out.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Turning now to crisis between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan: The armies of both countries are massed along their border. As usual, the talk of war is over the disputed territory of Kashmir and India's charges that Pakistan supports militant Islamic groups operating in the region.

Pakistan's president denies that and, over the weekend, announced a new crackdown against those groups. Secretary of State Colin Powell says it is time for both sides to demobilize.

And joining us you now with Pakistan's position on the crisis is Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi.

And Madame Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us.

The secretary of the state is leaving for India and Pakistan. What specifically do you want Secretary Powell to do to lower the temperature?

MALEEHA LODHI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO UNITED STATES: Well, first of all, we are very appreciative of the constructive role that the United States has played. As you know, President Bush has been personally engaged. He was on the phone only yesterday speaking to President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee. We, of course, welcome the role being played by the United States in diffusing tensions.

And, of course, there is a feeling of expectancy in my country, Pakistan, about Secretary Powell's visit. We hope that Secretary Powell will prevail upon India to stand down its troops and to a step back from the dangerous brinkmanship and the dangerous situation that has been created in the subcontinent.

BLITZER: The whole situation, though, involves the disputed territory of Kashmir. And it doesn't look like the U.S. is going to get involved in trying to mediate that problem.

LODHI: Well, the United States is already playing a role. I think you can use whatever word you want. But there is external or international involvement already in the dispute of Kashmir. As you know, this is a dispute that is internationally recognized as a dispute which dates back to 40 years. There are U.N. Security Council resolutions on this. And we have to find a political solution to what is fundamentally a political problem.

BLITZER: The Indians, of course, complain that the Pakistani military, the intelligence community, the government of Pakistan, your government, continues to foment, continues to create this terrorism over Kashmir by funding those Islamic militant groups despite the positive statements made by President Musharraf.

LODHI: Well, I think the fundamental issue is: What are the two countries going to do? How are they going to get back to the dialogue table? How are we going to find a political solution?

I can tell you, Pakistan is ready to go to the negotiating table, to resume the dialogue, to find a peaceful negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute which is in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Let's not forget that the Kashmir dispute did not come about -- it was created on December the 13th. It is 50 years old. It is the core cause of the tensions between India and Pakistan.

And, in order to avoid the kind of situation that we are in right now for the future as well, we must be able to address the underlying causes. And the underlying cause is the dispute of Kashmir. Now, there are ways in which the two countries ought to be engaged in a sustained dialogue. And there is a role for the international community to ensure that this dialogue is sustained so that it does yield a political resolution of the issue of Kashmir.

BLITZER: Will Pakistan take the first step in lowering the military tension by withdrawing some troops, standing down its alert status, which, of course, has been on very high alert status, as has the Indian military since the terrorist incident involving the Indian parliament building in December?

LODHI: Well, that begs question of who started this military buildup in the first place. Pakistan will not lower its military guard until the country that initiated the military buildup, which is India, begins to stand down its troops. We have seen a most unprecedented mobilization on our borders. And we hope that India will see that this is not a responsible act by a nuclear power against another nuclear power and that it would step back from the brink and come back to the part of dialogue.

BLITZER: And so you want India and the Indian military to act first. And they, of course, want the Pakistani military to act first. And we will see who acts first in the process.

Ambassador Lodhi, thank you so much for joining us.

LODHI: Thank you.

BLITZER: And this note: Tomorrow on this program, a response from India's ambassador to the United States: Lalit Mansingh. An aspirin has often been called the miracle drug. A new study suggests it could be beneficial to more people than previously thought, but also warns about serious side-effects.

For an explanation, we are joined by our medical correspondent, Rhonda Rowland -- Rhonda.

RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there is a whole new group of people who should think about taking an aspirin a day. These are healthy people at small risk for a heart attack or stroke.

And this recommendation is coming from a U.S. government task force. And it suggests that men over age 40, as well as postmenopausal women, and younger people with other risk factors such as high cholesterol, blood pressure, people with diabetes or who smoke should talk to their doctors about taking aspirin.

And some people even with a risk as low as 3 percent over five years for having a heart attack or stroke should consider taking aspirin, because it could reduce risk by 28 percent, which, Wolf, that is quite considerable.

BLITZER: The whole point, though, involving this study -- and I know you have some of the indications, some my person cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels -- tell me whether I should continue to take those little tiny baby aspirins. My doctor, several years ago, said: Yes, you should take a baby aspirin a day, a tiny little aspirin. That will probably help you in the long run.

ROWLAND: Well, that's right. And a lot of doctors are doing that. But we wanted to take the guesswork out this for you, Wolf. So, as you mentioned, we should tell the audience that, before the show, we asked for some of your vital medical information to plug into a calculator that is available free of charge on the Internet.

And you can access this, www.decisions.med, and get this information. We plugged in your age, your systolic blood pressure, which is the higher or top number in your blood pressure reading, total cholesterol, HDL or so-called good cholesterol. You are not a smoker. You don't have diabetes. And if you have had an EKG, it showed you do not have an enlarged left ventricle or pumping chamber.

And then we look over five years to see what your risk would be. And it says that would you have a 4 percent risk. So, as I mentioned before, anybody with a 3 percent risk or higher should consider taking an aspirin a day. So, Wolf, you do indeed fall into that category. And if you do faithfully take that aspirin every day, you can reduce your risk by 28 percent.

BLITZER: And what if I really work out a lot? Those numbers I gave you were done when had my last physical a year ago. But let's say I have been working out, I've been eating more healthy food over the past year, and my cholesterol level goes down; my good cholesterol goes up. Should I do the numbers again to see if I should continue taking those tiny little baby aspirins? ROWLAND: Yes, you definitely should, because, certainly, if you have good lifestyle factors, you can certainly improve your odds. And, also, Wolf, it's important for people to know that, with the baby aspirin or low-dose aspirin, you reduce the risk of the other harmful effects of aspirin, such as the G.I. bleeding and the strokes. So that is why there is that option out there. So, as you said, you are taking the baby aspirin. It is a good idea to stick with it, according to this new task force report.

BLITZER: OK, thank you very much for that good medical advice. And I promise I am going to be working out and eating a lot healthier over the next year. And I'm going to eliminate the need to continue taking those baby aspirins.

Rhonda Rowland, thank you very much for joining us.

And an Oregon man accused of killing his family is finally caught. Up next, we will get details of the manhunt from an FBI officer involved in the search. Plus, a royal prince gets into a royal mess. What has Prince Harry done to create so many headlines?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

An Oregon man suspected of a chilling crime has been captured in Mexico and brought back to the United States. Christian Longo is charged with multiple counts of aggravated murder in connection with the deaths of his wife and three children.

Our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Publicity, it apparently did in Christian Longo, just like it has so many others -- captured in Mexico Sunday night without a fight, then voluntarily flown to Houston. A tip late Friday came on the very same day Longo was added to the FBI's 10 most wanted list. The tactic worked.

CHARLES MATHEWS, FBI: It obviously took the publicity that we generated through the top 10 and through other processes to help us focus in on him.

CANDIOTTI: A woman in Montreal just back from a youth group near Cancun called the FBI after recognizing Longo. After that tip, authorities tracked him to a beach camp in Tulum. Longo stands accused of murdering his wife and three children, ages 2, 3 and 4, their bodies recovered from Oregon last month.

Earlier this month, a stolen car allegedly left behind by Longo was found at the San Francisco airport. An airline ticket to Cancun bought with a stolen credit card subjected his escape route. MATHEWS: The additional publicity in the Cancun and the Tulum area finally focused on exactly where he was.

CANDIOTTI: Besides generating publicity from the FBI's 10 most wanted list, Longo was profiled on the TV show "America's Most Wanted" Saturday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED")

NARRATOR: Christian Longo was charged with four counts of murder, but he could not be arrested. He had disappeared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Since the FBI's most wanted list was launched in 1950, 469 fugitives appeared on it. Nearly all 440 were found, 142 located thanks to direct help from citizens -- the list an invaluable tool.

CHRIS GREGORSKI, FBI VIOLENT CRIMES UNIT: It is a buzz phrase that catches the public attention immediately that this is a serious fugitive.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): One of the criteria needed to get on the 10 most wanted list: the FBI's urgent need for the public's help. The way to get off the list: dropping the charges or getting caught.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: For more details now on the capture of Christian Longo and the crimes he's accused of committing, we are joined by Charles Mathews. He is special agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon.

Agent Mathews, thanks for joining us. Give us the details beyond what Susan just reported. How did you do it?

MATHEWS: Well, it came primarily and almost exclusively from information from the public. Once the matter was received -- actually, international publicity. We received a call from Canada that alerted to the specific place in Cancun that he had stayed until January 7. An investigation there by the state judicial police in Mexico determined that he actually moved on down about 60 miles south of Cancun to Tulum, where he was arrested yesterday.

BLITZER: Was this a case where "America's Most Wanted," the John Walsh-hosted program, really did play a critical role in the capture of this fugitive?

MATHEWS: Well, certainly, it was information that was aired on television in Canada. Right now, I'm not exactly sure whether it was "America's Most Wanted" or some other outlet. After the call was received, we actually had viewer go back to look at the "America's Most Wanted" program to see the videos that were being displayed. And that viewer called us back and confirmed that indeed it was the individual that she saw in Cancun.

BLITZER: It seemed the extradition from Mexico to the United States happened, obviously, at lightning speed. Is that normal in this kind of a situation?

MATHEWS: Well, actually, in this situation, Mr. Longo voluntarily accompanied FBI agents from Cancun on a flight to Houston. So official extradition was not involved.

BLITZER: So there was no need to get the Mexican government's cooperation?

MATHEWS: Well, obviously, the Mexican government cooperated fully. The police authorities and immigration authorities in Mexico indeed -- in fact, they were the ones who eventually actually discovered the beach camp that he was staying at.

But as far as the extra -- the return to the United States was a voluntary return, accompanying FBI agents who were on scene in Mexico.

BLITZER: So what is the major lesson that you learned from this particular apprehension?

MATHEWS: Well, it just simply reinforces, in some fugitive cases, it's just absolutely necessary to have the help of the public, to get the information out, as much information as we had, about where he may be -- you know, we had broadcast earlier that we knew he traveled to Cancun -- and focus the public in on as much information as we have to locate someone.

BLITZER: The 10 most wanted list almost always gets their man, although not always. There's still some people at large, of course Osama bin Laden being one of them.

Agent Mathews, thanks again for joining us.

MATHEWS: Thank you. Thank you for your help.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And let's go now to New York now and get a preview of "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE." Of course, that begins right at the top of the hour -- Lou.

LOU DOBBS, "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE": Wolf, thank you.

Coming right up: the search for answers in the Enron investigations and the future, if it has one, of its auditing firm Andersen. I will be joined by Professor Jack Coffee (ph). We'll be talking about the ethical and legal implications. And for the latest on the war against terrorism, we'll be going live to Kabul. I will be talking with General David Grange and former CIA Director James Woolsey -- all of that, a lot more, at the top of the hour. Please join us.

Now back to Wolf in Washington -- Wolf. BLITZER: Thank you very much, Lou.

British authorities say Prince Harry could -- could -- face police action after revelations that he has smoked marijuana. A Buckingham Palace spokesman says the prince has not used drugs since the incident. Meanwhile, a pub frequented by the young royal issued a statement saying Prince Harry was never served alcohol and was always -- quote -- "perfectly behaved."

They are hitting bottom at ground zero. When we come back: What are they finding at the bottom of the World Trade Center site? And how are they getting rid of the wreckage?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: You are looking at a live picture at ground zero.

Workers have been removing debris from the World Trade Center site. And they have now moved below ground. Not a single part of the twin towers remains above street level. So far, workers have removed more than a million tons of debris from the site. From there, it ends up in a landfill on Staten Island.

CNN's Jason Carroll takes a closer look at the work that is going on there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's days we've done 12,00 tons a day.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island has become much more than it was originally intended for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, this isn't a dump. This is sacred ground.

CARROLL: This is where the broken pieces of the World Trade Center end up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the scrapper who's taking all of the metal that's been gone through.

CARROLL: Chief Willie Alle (ph) guided us for the first extensive tour of the site.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, as you can see, the material gets off- loaded. It gets put on these trucks. There goes a truck now.

CARROLL: This is a place of extremes. Much wasn't recognizable generic chunks of concrete and metal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what is left of it.

CARROLL: But some things were painfully clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the vehicles they responded in. And this is what happened to their trucks.

CARROLL (on camera): Right over here, this is what used to be a police car. Right next to it, that's a taxi cab -- behind it, one of the many fire trucks that are out here at this particular site.

We are being told that most of these fire trucks are so badly damaged that there's no way that they can ever be put back into service, although there is a possibility that, at some point, some of these fire trucks could be used for some sort of memorial.

(voice-over): Stacks of cars and trucks line the path to the giant conveyer belts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to the conveyers.

CARROLL: Here, coarse material is sorted in one direction, finer material in another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have control over the conveyor belt. If they have to stop it, those red buttons just stops it.

CARROLL (on camera): So what specifically are they looking for when this comes down here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are looking for personal property. They are looking for possible human remains.

CARROLL: Chief, just explain where you are taking us to now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go over to where the property is decontaminated.

CARROLL (voice-over): And this is where personal items, such as passports, watches, are collected, cleaned and sorted, so they can be returned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gets hosed off. It goes to this cleaning station to try to get most of the debris off of it.

CARROLL: A sculpture from Canter Fitzgerald and parts of the United Airlines airplane lay nearby, somber signs that the work here goes on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think of the people who died. And that's what we are trying to do. We're trying to connect with that.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Very hard work.

I'll be back in one hour here in the "CNN WAR ROOM". Until then, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. CNN's coverage of America's new war continues with "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE," which begins right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


 
 
 
 


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