PAULA ZAHN NOW
Al Qaeda Tape Threatens New Attacks on United States; Interview With New York Governor George Pataki; Does It Matter Whether Other Countries Like the U.S. or Not?
Aired September 10, 2003 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Glad to have you with us tonight. I'm Paula Zahn.
Tonight: One day before the second anniversary of 9/11, Al- Jazeera airs what it says is a new videotape of Osama bin Laden.
Remembering 9/11, we return to ground zero with New York's governor.
Two years later, has the U.S. wasted the worldwide outpouring of goodwill after September 11?
And 6,000 children lost parents on 9/11. We're going to see how one 13-year-old girl and her family have battled back to rebuild their lives.
And we begin with the news you need to know.
The White House has released a 22-page report listing what it says is progress on the war on terrorism. It cites the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime as one of its accomplishments.
And along with that new videotape, Al-Jazeera has also aired a separate audiotaped statement in which bin Laden and his top deputy warn that al Qaeda's battle with America is far from over.
For more now on those tapes, I'm joined from Atlanta by national correspondent Mike Boettcher.
Mike, good evening.
I know you have had a chance to study these tapes and make a bunch of phone calls with experts who understand what might be in those tapes. What have you learned?
MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, they're looking that content of what Ayman al-Zawahiri had to say in terms of making Iraq the centerpiece of their jihad, calling for terrorists from around the world to go into Iraq.
The other part of it is the videotape showing bin Laden and also Ayman al-Zawahiri. And the question is, when was this videotape actually filmed? Is this proof of life? And, as best we can tell, it does not look like it was done recently. Al-Jazeera is saying they believe it was done in April, in that timeframe. In looking at the area there -- and I've been in that part of Afghanistan, that particular border area -- this time of year, you don't see green grass. And you see green grass on there.
It's very difficult to say, but we know that intelligence analysts worldwide are now looking at this, trying to figure it out. In terms of the words of bin Laden, it was basically a sermonette, talking about the hijackers of 9/11 and the jihad and the continuation of their holy war and no news out of that and no way to date when that comment was made, because he talks about nothing in specific.
ZAHN: So when do you think these tapes, either the video portion or the audio portion, will be authenticated?
BOETTCHER: In the past, when these audiotapes have come out, it has taken about a day for the Central Intelligence Agency, or two, to come out with their confirmation. They have not had phony tapes before presented in such a way.
The interesting thing about this, Paula, is that this whole production came from a production house in Pakistan. So I'm sure they'll be closely looking at this production house. Are these off- the-shelf tapes put together to try to show that al Qaeda is still active in 9/11 or are these recent tapes? And the interesting thing, too, is, who is controlling the message?
Because Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have not been up on the electronic net. They have not been talking that way. They have been dealing with human couriers, I'm told by my sources. So who would control such an electronic message? How would that message get out? It would have to be from somewhere else. One person would be Suleiman Abu Ghaith, who is in Iran, who controls the message for al Qaeda -- Paula.
ZAHN: Mike Boettcher, thanks for bringing us that late-breaking news.
We're going to move to London now for perspective from our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
Good evening, Christiane.
I think you would agree that, obviously, the release of these tapes on September 10 is of enormous symbolic value. How do you think these tapes will resonate?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think certainly it is of definite symbolic value because of the date. And it's also of great psychological value for the al Qaeda network.
Terrorism experts believe that just seeing the first video images, whether they're new or not, but seeing the first video images of Osama bin Laden in nearly two years is some way to try to coalesce the troops, if you like, coalesce the network, and make them understand that it is still operating and that there is still a thriving leadership. In terms of what the actual impact on the ground is, I've just returned from Afghanistan, where the U.S. is now engaged in a major offensive, U.S. forces there, against Taliban and al Qaeda groups who are coming back and regrouping and causing quite some trouble in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan. So that is a very, very serious development that's happened, really, to a large extent, in the last three to four weeks.
ZAHN: So whether we can know within 48 hours whether these tapes are authentic or not, a final thought tonight about how worrisome the existence of them is.
AMANPOUR: Well, I think most people would agree they are worrisome, because it keeps the person and the message alive, if you like.
And al-Zawahiri's message, if that is authentic, is very specific about Iraq, about the new front that's been opened in Iraq, as they say. And I think, also, although the Bush administration has not been talking much about Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar over the last several months, certainly since Iraq, the fact that they have not been caught and that there is no closure, if you like, to use that word, on this issue is something that keeps their spirit alive and it keeps the cause to have something to coalesce around.
So that's what's the very, very worrying thing.
ZAHN: Christiane Amanpour, thank you for joining us tonight.
Al Qaeda previously has released tapes and messages in advance of new attacks on U.S. interests. So is there any significance to today's developments?
Eric Margolis, a columnist for "The Toronto Sun" and the author of "War at the Top of the World," joins us from Toronto.
Eric, once again, we have to make it very clear, no one at these hours know whether these tapes are the real thing or not. What are the chances that this is being used simply as a P.R. ploy?
ERIC MARGOLIS, "THE TORONTO SUN": It is a P.R. ploy, Paula, because al Qaeda lives on the airwaves.
It really has very little operational control in the field. It has very few members. I don't think it ever had more than 300 to begin with. But it operates through sympathizers and same-thinking groups across the Islamic world. It's a cheerleader, if you want, for anti-American groups. So it lives on the airwaves. And it must constantly keep on. And it's the ghost in the attic, the devil of the Bush administration. So it's appearance is quite apropos today.
ZAHN: Eric, for folks who haven't had a chance yet to listen either to the audiotapes or the videotape, we're going to share with them now a portion of the tape where Osama bin Laden's No. 1 aide, Ayman al-Zawahiri, speaks.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI, SENIOR AL QAEDA LEADER (through translator): Those fighters in Iraq, we greet them and salute them and support them and ask God to bless their efforts and their bravery in fighting the crusaders. And we tell them, God is with you and the nation is supporting you. Depend and rely on God. And attack and devour the Americans and bury them in the graveyard of Iraq.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ZAHN: Does this phrase reveal anything to you about Iraq, not knowing when these tapes were shot or recorded?
MARGOLIS: I have a feeling that these tapes were shot within the last three or four months.
It's interesting. Both bin Laden and al-Zawahiri look older and haggard, but they look in good health, contrary to rumors that they were wounded and injured. But when al-Zawahiri speaks, he usually heralds a major attack. I think another very interesting point that has escaped the media so far in the United States is that Islamic publications have been carrying a message from bin Laden saying that he is going to mount a spectacular martyrdom operation, as he calls it, and will die within the next 12 months. So the chance of something big and nasty coming is heightened.
ZAHN: And, finally tonight, when you look at this al Qaeda presence, Christiane Amanpour over the last couple nights has been talking about it reconstituting itself in Afghanistan. Clearly, there are very strong concerns it's doing a pretty good job of bringing people into Iraq. What is the long impact on the war on terror?
MARGOLIS: Well, the war on terror is getting splintered and channeled off into strange directions. Iraq is not really part of the war on terror, even though President Bush called it that.
But what happening is, Iraq is now a magnet for every anti- American group across the Middle East to come and fight. What is important about the bin Laden statement today is that they're raising the banner that this is the second Afghanistan. The United States is like the Soviet Union that went into Afghanistan in '79. Now is a chance for everybody who hates the United States to go and attack it. It has got a lot of troops in Iraq. They're an excellent target.
ZAHN: Eric Margolis, as always, good to see you. Thanks for dropping by tonight.
MARGOLIS: You're welcome.
ZAHN: If Ari Fleischer had his old job, the White House press corps would be hounding him right now for President Bush's latest reaction to what certainly looks like a new bin Laden tape, although, once again, it could be several days before we know how authentic they are. However, his last day as the president's spokesman was in mid- July.
Tonight, we have him all to ourselves. He joins us from Washington.
Good to see you. Are you happy to be back as a regular citizen?
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I am happy to be back as a regular citizen who can sleep in a little bit.
ZAHN: Yes. I bet.
Now, if you were on the job tonight, how would you spin the existence of these tapes?
FLEISCHER: Well, frankly, I think that the tape is worrisome from a psychological point of view, coming especially on the eve of 9/11. Nobody likes to be reminded of the face of our enemy.
On the other hand, Paula, it is an important reminder that we are, indeed, a nation at war, because we have enemies, like bin Laden, who still desire to attack our country. And we need, as a nation, to remain unified and continue the fight against those who would inflict further harm on us.
ZAHN: President Bush's speech on homeland security came right after the announcement of the release of these tapes. That would not have been the kind of timing you would have liked on the job, would it have?
FLEISCHER: Well, let me remind you, when the president went on the Abraham Lincoln and gave his speech there, he said in that very speech, al Qaeda is wounded, but not destroyed.
And when the president asked for additional money from Congress this week, he included the fight in Afghanistan. It is part of the global war on terror. And it has to be fought. And I think that the president is continuing every effort to lead the country to fight it. We have no choice.
ZAHN: When the president made that often quoted statement that we needed Osama bin Laden dead or alive....
ZAHN: Did he set the bar too high?
FLEISCHER: No, I think he set the bar in the way the hearts of the American people feel.
I was with him. He was at the Pentagon. He had just finished a meeting. It was two days after the attack. And somebody asked him from the press corps, do you want him dead? And I think the president answered frankly. And I think most Americans want those who are responsible for the attacks to be brought to justice in whatever form justice takes.
ZAHN: We want you to look back on some of your days in your official capacities at the White House. I want you to be honest with us now. On how many occasions did you give less than complete answers that, in some way, might have ended up misleading the public or not giving them the total picture?
FLEISCHER: Never misleading, but, often, I didn't give complete answers. And that's part of my job, frankly.
And let me give you a classic example. Sometimes, we'll capture people abroad who are part of al Qaeda. And we don't want the word to get out right away. Why? Even though we could brag about success, we would prefer for their cell phones to keep ringing. We would prefer for their e-mails to keep going off, so we can trace it back up and capture more bad guys. So when we have an important arrest like that, there will be occasions where I am not going to talk about it.
Now, reporters may hear about it through the grapevine. They would get it from a foreign source and they'd expect me to confirm it. I wouldn't confirm it, because I thought the bigger picture, capturing the other bad guys, because they don't know this guy is captured, was more important to serving the country. So, of course, there are times when we do that. This is a particular national security environment. It is not as if the only issues are domestic. When you're dealing in a national security environment like the last 2 1/2 years, the rules do change a little bit.
ZAHN: And just a final reflection on what you're thinking tonight as we come up on this two-year marker and you think back on where you were on 9/11/2001.
FLEISCHER: Well, I traveled with the president that day in Sarasota, Florida and then to Barksdale Air Force Base and to Offutt Air Force Base and back.
And I just think it's a time of real national unity. It is a time where we should mourn and remember, pay our respects to those who lost their lives and the families who are now picking up the pieces. That is what 9/11 should always mean to America. But just like Pearl Harbor, it is a wakeup, and a wakeup to the fact that we have enemies who seek to inflict damage upon us. And we need to be a strong nation and continue the fight against terror, because only the United States can lead the world in the fight against terror. Others will follow, but only America can lead.
ZAHN: And just one final question about the terror, that particular time when you were with the president, when no one knew what might happen next. Was there a feeling of dread that there could be something else beyond what happened in Shanksville and Washington and New York?
FLEISCHER: Well, I'll tell you. When I boarded Air Force One with the president and I spent the whole day in his cabin with him, we had reports even after we knew the four planes were down. We had reports of another six unidentified aircraft, including two that were international.
So there was a continuous feeling of, when will it end? Is it over? And then, when the anthrax attacks took place, of course, the first reaction is, is this the second wave? Blessedly, it was not. So it was a feeling of real trepidation on that day. Quickly, the facts did come under control. We knew what the circumstances were, that it was just those four.
And the president made his mind up that day that he would lead our nation to war. And, frankly, we have had many successes, as the White House pointed out today. But it is an ongoing battle.
ZAHN: You sound very on message tonight, Ari. And you don't even have to be anymore, do you?
FLEISCHER: Well, it helps if you believe. I don't think you can be the White House press secretary and last very long if you don't actually believe in the person you're working for and what you do, because it will be false. The press will sniff it out. And you can't bluff the White House press corps. They're a pretty sharp group of people, my polite customers, as I call them.
FLEISCHER: But I do believe in the president.
ZAHN: Oh, I bet you have called them other things, too, Ari.
ZAHN: But you don't have to share it with us tonight on TV.
Good to see you again. Thank you for spending a little time with us this evening.
FLEISCHER: Paula, thank you.
ZAHN: And good luck in this new chapter of your life.
FLEISCHER: Thank you.
ZAHN: The Democrats are turning up the heat on President Bush. Coming up, I'll be talking with Senator Tom Daschle about the president's $87 billion request for Iraq.
Plus, two years after 9/11, we return to ground zero with New York Governor George Pataki.
And Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck put off their wedding. Is the announcement for real or just a fake-out? We're going to find out with you tonight.
Stay with us.
ZAHN: One of President Bush's staunchest critics on Capitol Hill is Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. After the president asked Congress for $87 billion for reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, Senator Daschle co-sponsored a bill requiring the administration to submit a detailed plan on its intentions in Iraq.
A short time ago, Senator Daschle joined me from Washington. And I began by asking him what it means if the new videotape from Al- Jazeera ends up being authentic.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: Well, I don't know that we know yet what it means. I think it's another grim reminder that the threat is still very real. It may provide us with some new additional intelligence that may be useful in the hunt to find him. But, at this point, I think, Paula, it's probably premature to come to any conclusions about what it may mean.
ZAHN: Implicit in the message of this tape is that there is a call for more attacks against Americans and certainly a call to hurt U.S. soldiers in Iraq. How concerned should we all be?
DASCHLE: Well, obviously, tomorrow, we're going to be commemorating the second anniversary of September 11.
And as we consider the tremendous sacrifice of so many of those who gave their lives, I think it's also yet another opportunity for us to commit to the homeland security, as well as to the international security, that is going to be so much a part of our lives. This is yet another threat and I think, on the eve of September 11, reminds us that the job is not done. The commitment must be made, not only in this country, but around the world.
ZAHN: Of course, a more cynical reading in all this is that this could be some sort of P.R. ploy to take advantage of this two-year marker to repeat a message which has been pretty consistent over the past two years.
DASCHLE: Well, I think there is ample cause for cynicism. And until we find out more about the authenticity of the tapes, I think we have a right to be somewhat cynical and skeptical.
But, clearly, we don't need another tape to tell us how much of a threat that we still face and how serious that threat poses for us and for the rest of the world. I think it's important for us, on occasions like this, to double our commitment and to ensure that everything can be done, both in terms of public policy, as well as in terms of our own personal intentions, to be ready and to be prepared and to be able to respond whenever that time comes.
ZAHN: And you have talked about how important it is for the country to stay focused on this war on terror. In the end, will Congress come up with the 87 additional billion dollars the president is asking for to reconstruct Iraq? And, of course, some of that cost, I guess, goes towards Afghanistan as well.
DASCHLE: Well, Paula, I don't think there is any question that we will come up with the $65 billion that our troops need to continue their efforts.
We need to support our troops and provide them with every resource they need to continue their work. I think there is some doubt, some question, about the remaining amount, the $22 billion for both Afghanistan and Iraq. The president hasn't provided us with a plan for how long we'll be there, what the means to success will be. We don't know yet what the international commitment will be. We don't know how we're going to pay for it, and nor have we put the kind of urgency on our own reconstruction needs here in this country, especially with regard to homeland security that must be provided.
So until a lot of those questions are answered, I think the jury may still be out on the balance of the money. But that $65 billion for our troops will clearly be committed, and I think perhaps unanimously.
ZAHN: When do you expect to get that information you're talking about from the administration?
DASCHLE: Well, the sooner the better. I think we'll be in a much better position to make our judgments as this information is provided to us.
We have asked for it. We have expressed our concern for the fact that we don't have it. But I think it is important that we work together to try to address many of these questions. Clearly, asking for money is no plan. It's no substitute for a plan. We have got to find a way with which to put in paper and in real terms just what that plan is and how we're going to devote these resources, and, of course, as I said, what kind of cooperation we're going to get from the international community.
ZAHN: Senator Daschle, as always, appreciate your stopping by. Thanks for your time tonight.
DASCHLE: My pleasure, Paula. Thank you.
ZAHN: And still ahead: a return to ground zero with New York Governor George Pataki; and a 13-year-old girl's inspiring journey back from the despair of losing her father on 9/11.
ZAHN: After the attacks of 9/11, I walked around ground zero with New York Governor George Pataki. And just days ago, I had the opportunity to do that again. And while the site looked very different, the memories that haunt him are still vivid.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: I don't think either of us will ever erase in our mind's eye what was still there, not just days, but months after September 11, the smoking ruins and the ashes. And it always will bring enormous sadness.
But, at the same time, two years later, that sense of unity, that sense of strength, that sense of common purpose that brought New York through those first days and weeks is still there.
ZAHN: You also have to deal with the very real threat of more terrorism here.
PATAKI: No question about it.
And not just New York, but America, has to understand that the freedoms that we are so proud of and just utilize because we think it's our right as Americans are things that others want to take from us. They wanted to take them from us on September 11, and they failed. They failed thanks to the courage of ordinary New Yorkers and the strength of ordinary Americans. And they will fail again. But we know that they're prepared to try again.
ZAHN: Do you have to plan or do you expect the scale of the attack that we saw on September 11, 2001?
PATAKI: We certainly pray and plan that nothing like that ever happens again.
But you have to be prepared. And I think there's no better place that can respond to an emergency than New York. We saw it September 11 of 2001. We saw it just weeks ago with the blackout.
ZAHN: Tell us a little bit about the controversies you have to confront. There's the issue of air quality here.
ZAHN: And there are some very strong allegations that, in some way, the Bush administration, through the EPA, misled New Yorkers about the quality of the air we breathed here for many, many months. Is there anything you can say that will help make the population any more comfortable? And were New Yorkers misled?
PATAKI: The air quality on the days after September 11, you and I were here. You could not only still see the soot and ash in the air. You could literally taste it for days afterwards.
And we relied on the EPA's analysis. And I know, right now, the city and the federal government are conducting a joint investigation into the health consequences. It is something that we have to be concerned about.
ZAHN: The other controversy you have to deal with is a controversy surrounding what the memorial might ultimately look like here. And you talk to any family members who lost loved ones here and they have very strong opinions.
ZAHN: Some of them say you have gone back on your word to protect the original footprints of tower one and tower two.
PATAKI: We're not going to build over the site of those towers, other than the memorial. And what form that memorial we'll take, we're still waiting for I think the best jury of experts from around the country to recommend. We have an obligation to do it right, to do it right for the heroes we lost on September 11, to do it right for their families, to do it right for the people who responded after the attacks with such courage, and to do it right for future generations, who will want to come here and reflect and pay their respects. I guarantee you, Paula, we're doing it right and we're going to continue to make the people of New York and the people of America proud.
ZAHN: And just a final thought about what it feels like every time you come to the pit.
PATAKI: I still think of when I was down here alone, no cameras, maybe four or five months after September 11, and the ashes were still smoldering. And I just, with a couple of firefighters, got a shovel and went through that ash, and, as we were going through it, came across some scarred bones of one of the heroes we lost. And I'll never come down here and not remember that moment and that spot.
And for all the memorial and the soaring Freedom Tower, I don't think any of us will forget the searing pain of those moments. But we have to put that aside. We to move forward. We have to reflect and respect the heroes that we lost. But we will do that, but we will move forward confidently and proudly as well.
ZAHN: And we will hear more from Governor Pataki tomorrow, when he joins us for our special town hall meeting on life since 9/11.
Coming up next, more from my exclusive interview with former President Bush. He looks back on what the country has learned since September 11. And then a debate on how the world sees the United States now and why there seems to be so much anger directed at us.
ZAHN: The second anniversary of the September 11 attacks finds the country, indeed the world, in a much different mood than a year ago. And during my exclusive interview with former president George Bush recently, I asked him to reflect on the attacks and their aftermath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I've learned that our country is strong. I've learned that our country, hit at home in a vicious way for really the first time in our history, can recover and is determined to recover. I've learned more about the spirit of America. I've learned how grateful we should be, and I think I've always been, to the police officers and the . I've learned about the guts of the president. I've learned about -- that it's going to be difficult to defeat terrorism but that the country seems together in being determined so to do.
There's so many lessons. But I guess the biggest lesson is, no nation, even the United States of America, is free from insidious international terror, from extremists that want to hurt and bring damage, political action through terror. I've learned how horrible it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: After the September 11 attacks, the headlines in the French newspaper "Le Monde" famously proclaimed, "We are all Americans now." It was just part of a worldwide outpouring of sympathy and pro- U.S. solidarity. Times have changed. Just about anywhere in the world you go on this eve of September 11, 2003, it is much easier to find an anti-U.S. demonstration. Did the U.S. squander a true opportunity to enlist the world's support in a noble cause?
We have enlisted columnists Joe Conason and Ann Coulter to debate it. Welcome to both of you. You want to take a stab at that question tonight? Did the U.S. squander any good will it had coming out of September 11, 2001?
ANN COULTER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: No, I don't think so. I mean, right after September 11, even liberals were pretending to love America. But you know what happened next...
ZAHN: Look at Joe rolling his eyes on that one!
JOE CONASON, "NEW YORK OBSERVER" COLUMNIST: I've heard this before.
COULTER: I think the question of, you know, whether they like us or don't like us really -- really doesn't matter. I mean, even little children are taught the point isn't to be popular, the point is to be right. And the question is whether or not we're right, not what the French think of us.
CONASON: Actually, the point is to be strong and to protect your security and to protect the American people's security, and we need allies to do that, as the Bush administration has acknowledged last week, when they went back to the United Nations. And the fact they had misled those other countries, treated them poorly during the run- up to the war and alienated our traditional allies, has proved to be a big problem for them now, when they realize we need help in Iraq. We've always had help in Afghanistan. We're going to need more. And in order to protect our security -- it's not a question of whether we like them or they like us, it's a question of whether we can maintain alliances that help us.
ZAHN: So are you suggesting, then, that the United States shouldn't even have gone back to the U.N. last week to ask for any kind of help in this rebuilding effort?
COULTER: No, I don't know why we need that. I mean, contrary. I would disagree with -- with Joe. Our traditional allies are very much with us, Britain and Israel, the two allies liberals loathe and are constantly knocking. I suppose you could call Germany and France allies, but it's a theory that's never really been tested. CONASON: Ask the British whether they think we should go back to the United Nations -- our really strongest, oldest allies, yes, the British. They are strongly in favor of getting a new U.N. resolution to support what we're doing in Iraq.
ZAHN: Well, Tony Blair was in favor of that, but...
CONASON: He was pretty much in favor of it before he convinced Bush to try to go to the U.N. in the first place. I think they flubbed it, the way they did it. And the fact that there are no weapons of mass destruction kind of proves that now.
But certainly, we need traditional allies and new allies, like Russia. Germany certainly is a traditional ally and has been -- was throughout the cold war, as I'm sure Ann actually knows, although she pretends not to. And France has been a long-term ally of the United States, both in and out of NATO. And we need their help, and they're helping us now.
You know, if you went to Afghanistan or asked reporters who've been there or ask Senator Warner, a Republican who went there -- he went to Afghanistan and found, Oh, there are French troops, you know, on patrol, helping our guys and women there, protecting Americans. There are German troops there. There are troops from other European nations there. And they were there in Afghanistan, working with us before Iraq and through Iraq, despite the disagreements. Those are the kind of allies you need.
ZAHN: Is that proof enough that France and Germany are friends, Ann?
COULTER: No, there are a lot of countries -- or reasons countries don't like other countries. Like I say, I think that isn't important. I don't think popularity is important. I think whether we're doing the right thing is important.
ZAHN: No, but would you acknowledge that France and Germany are making any contribution at all, in Afghanistan or...
COULTER: Well, it was the U.N....
ZAHN: ... the war on terror?
COULTER: Germany has sent some troops to Afghanistan, and Schroeder, by the way...
CONASON: So has France.
COULTER: ... has said that he absolutely will not send troops to Iraq. It's politically absurd that France would send troops to Iraq. So I don't really see what the point of going to the U.N. is. And Tony Blair...
CONASON: There are a few other countries there. COULTER: Hang on! You had quite a long run!
CONASON: OK. There are quite a few...
COULTER: A really long run!
CONASON: ... other countries there.
COULTER: As I was saying, Tony Blair may think we should go to the U.N., but I don't even know why it's so important that we should be a member of an organization that appoints Syria the head of the human rights commission. I mean, the idea that we need the U.N. or some world corps to determine when America acts in its own self- interest -- I don't think we were very popular in Germany in 1943, and I don't think we should care more about it now than we did then.
ZAHN: You get the last word. You only get 10 seconds.
CONASON: Well, this is an isolationist point of view that isn't shared almost anywhere in the American political spectrum now. I mean, the White House has made a decision about this after five months of debate over precisely these points, and they decided to go back to help our allies and to seek our allies' help.
ZAHN: Ann Coulter, Joe Conason, dueling here and dueling on the best-seller lists there, both out there with two brand-new books. Thank you for joining us tonight.
CONASON: Thank you.
ZAHN: Coming up -- yes, we have to talk about them tonight. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have the wedding day blues, postponed their nuptials, dogged by an intense media spotlight. We're going to find out what's next. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: Welcome back. As we look ahead to the second anniversary of 9/11, the federal deficit is a half-trillion dollars. President Bush is asking Congress for $87 billion more for the war on terror. Joining us now economist and "New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman. In his new book, "The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century," he accuses President Bush of mismanaging the economy to promote a right-wing agenda.
PAUL KRUGMAN, EDITOR AND COLUMNIST: Glad to be on.
ZAHN: Let's start off by talking about deficits. What do you say to the folks who say you can absolutely justify having a deficit right now to help wage a winning war -- ultimately, what they say will be a winning war on terror?
KRUGMAN: Well, let's look at where the deficit comes from. We're looking at about $500 billion this year, probably more. Of that, about $300 billion is because of Bush's tax cuts. Only about -- well, until this latest number, it was really only about $80 billion that in any way, shape or form you could attribute to the war on terror. So they're really using this as an excuse.
Let's remember that in May, you know, landing on the aircraft carrier, "mission accomplished," everything's fine, let's have tax cuts -- now he tells us, Oh, by the way, we're going to need another $87 billion, and just for starters. So we've been baited and switched into having all of these tax cuts, most of them for just a relatively few wealthy people, that we can't afford. You know, Bush knew about the war on terror when he pushed a lot of these things through.
ZAHN: Do you buy the argument that some of these expenses were very hard to predict? I mean, you talk to anybody in the Bush administration, they will tell you today that it was impossible to accurately determine what the infrastructure was like that was in place before this war started. And it was greatly depleted.
KRUGMAN: But here's the point. If you know that there's a large expense coming and you're not sure about how big it's going to be, do you then commit yourself to some other large expense, assuming that it's going to be zero? What happened with these people, again, is they had this agenda -- as I keep on talking about in the book, bait and switch. They have an agenda which is to starve the government of revenue. But in order to get it through, they keep on having to pretend that the tax cuts are affordable, and so they've been suppressing the likely cost of everything, including the war on terror.
Let's remember that the former chief economic adviser was fired for suggesting that Iraq might cost between $100 billion and $200 billion. It now turns out that he was on the low end of the range of what it's actually going to cost.
ZAHN: And it also turns out there are probably some other reasons why that -- he's no longer with the administration.
KRUGMAN: Well, there are always. But the point is that, basically, anyone who told the truth was not welcome in that group.
ZAHN: Let's talk again about the central idea of your book. You're saying the American public doesn't understand that the radical right controls the Bush agenda. I want you point to evidence of that, and also help people understand (UNINTELLIGIBLE) who accused Clinton of being at the beck of call of the leftist agenda.
KRUGMAN: Oh, gosh! I don't think many people actually said that when Clinton was president, by the way. If anything -- remember, we had Ralph Nader running against Clinton because he claimed he was too friendly to business.
That was -- you know, what we have now is -- first, if you look at the people behind the Bush administration, if you look at the lobbyists who wield an enormous amount of power, they are people who say quite openly -- Grover Norquist, the uber-lobbyist, says, I want to starve the government down, so that I can drown it in the bathtub. If you look at the Republican leadership in Congress, people like Tom DeLay, they are very, very hard-right-wing. Now, we've got an amiable guy sitting in the White House, who projects a moderate image, but the reality of the policies fits exactly the agenda of these very hard- line right-wingers who are really the power behind the throne.
ZAHN: And Clinton never fell prey to the left wing during his presidency? Oh!
KRUGMAN: Clinton -- no, look, the actual -- Clinton -- it was a very good time to be a rich businessman in the Clinton years. You call that a leftist?
ZAHN: I've got to leave that there this evening. We'll let everybody else answer that question. Paul Krugman, thank you for your time tonight.
KRUGMAN: Thank you.
ZAHN: Good luck with your new book.
There is some big news tonight about the Jennifer Lopez/Ben Affleck wedding. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) going to tell you about today's dramatic announcement. Stay tuned.
ZAHN: Welcome back. If you were just about to pick up that tuxedo or that gown for the Jennifer Lopez/Ben Affleck wedding, forget it. Their spokesman says the wedding, which was scheduled for this weekend, has been postponed. What is behind this sudden change of plans? We're going to ask Bonnie Fuller of "Star" magazine.
BONNIE FULLER, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, "STAR" MAGAZINE: Hi.
ZAHN: Let's read the statement first, so people have an understanding of why this happened. "Due to the extensive media attention surrounding our wedding, we have decided to postpone the date. When we found ourselves seriously contemplating hiring three separate decoy brides at three different locations, we realized that something was awry. We began to feel that the spirit of what should have been the happiest day of our lives could be compromised. We felt that what should have been a joyful and sacred day could be spoiled for us, our families and our friends."
Is this for real, or is this a publicity stunt?
FULLER: I think this is for real. I do not think there's going to be a wedding this weekend. We've already heard from many of the guests who flew out there from across the coast -- from this coast to that coast...
ZAHN: Well, where did they fly to? Was it Hawaii, after all?
FULLER: No, it wasn't Hawaii. It was -- it was to Santa Barbara. It was supposed to be at the Bacara (ph) resort. And that's where the guests were staying. And then they were all going to go to a private estate in Montecito (ph), which is just a few miles away, to say the wedding vows.
ZAHN: So what does this do to all your publications this week?
FULLER: Well, I have to say that, luckily, we had heard that there were some problems on the way to altar, and so we talk about J.Lo's major melt meltdown in the "Star" issue that's out.
ZAHN: So you can capitalize on just almost anything that happens in this ongoing saga.
FULLER: Well, we certainly were only wishing the bride and groom best. However, we had heard that Jennifer had felt that the wedding was jinxed, that she was, you know, so concerned. Her dress didn't fit. The dress for her mom was the wrong color. There was some, you know, family feuding going on.
ZAHN: Where do you get this stuff?
FULLER: Well, a lot -- you know, we hear from people who are -- who are going to the wedding. You know, a lot of people were going. And it's an exciting event. People talk about it. I mean, wouldn't you talk about your good friend's wedding?
ZAHN: No, I wouldn't! And I certainly wouldn't talk to the tabloids about it. Tell our audience a little bit tonight -- you know, some of the stuff sometimes ends up being right. It's only as good as your sources. It's only as good as what you're told. Like, in this issue, what percentage of the stuff ends up panning out?
FULLER: Are you talking about the wedding?
ZAHN: The Jennifer -- yes. Yes.
ZAHN: Right on the meltdown front.
FULLER: Well, I think that, you know, we -- we obviously had pretty good sources because we now know that this wedding has been postponed, and I think there's probably a lot of factors. I don't know that it was really the media attention that played into it. You know, I think a couple like this, they're in the spotlight, they know there's huge anticipation for this wedding. Everyone's looking forward to it. So I'm not sure that that was really the reason.
ZAHN: Is this good for your business? Does that mean now you have the opportunity for a couple more weeks to make money off J.Lo and Ben? They sell -- they sell a lot of magazines, don't they?
FULLER: Well, they do sell a lot of magazines. People are very interested in them. I mean, two A-listers who marry? It's fascinating. But you know, people love a happy story. They love to see a wonderful wedding. I mean, you know, so I think we're all hopeful that this was a match made in heaven, and maybe it still is, but it's not going to happen this weekend.
ZAHN: And you don't think they're tricking you?
FULLER: I don't. I honestly don't.
ZAHN: Bonnie Fuller, thanks for dropping by.
FULLER: Thank you.
ZAHN: We have to make a big change in focus here now, as we look ahead to what we all are going to be reflecting on tomorrow. About 6,000 children lost parents in the September 11 attacks. Just ahead, we're going to meet one of them and find out how she is coping today.
ZAHN: It was a national tragedy, as well as a personal tragedy multiplied thousands of times over. The attacks that stunned the nation two years ago robbed people of sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and perhaps most painfully of all, and mothers and fathers. Hillary Strouk (ph) is 13 years old, and like so many others, has fought to rebuild her young life in the two years since her father died in the World Trade Center attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May he bless the father of this child. He and his wife will be the first teachers of their child...
ZAHN (voice-over): Hillary Strouk made her family believe in miracles.
GINNY STROUK: It was 15 years from the day we were married that we found out that Hillary was on her way.
ZAHN: George and Ginny Strouk had tried unsuccessfully for 10 years to have a baby.
GEORGE STROUK: Give your dad a big smile.
ZAHN: Hillary was their miracle and instantly became daddy's little girl.
HILLARY STROUK: On the weekends, we would always go to the beach. And he was trying to teach me how to play golf, but -- I mean, we never got that far.
ZAHN: September 11, 2001, changed it all.
H. STROUK: My teacher pulled me into the nurse's office, and he told me one of the towers had collapsed and not to be worried because my father had called my mother and said that he was OK. I went on with my day like normal. And I knew something was wrong, and I was worried. After school, I came home and everybody was at my house. It was like a big party, but it wasn't a happy one.
ZAHN: Hillary looked for her miracle.
H. STROUK: Every day, I would pray and tell God to -- if he would please give me my dad back. But really, inside, I knew he was gone. I was sad. I was depressed. I knew if I stopped, I would just -- I would just shut down. I wouldn't get anything done. I would be crying all the time. So I just kept going.
G. STROUK: She tried to be a good girl. She tried her best to make my life easy and not get me upset.
ZAHN: Like thousands, Hillary had to grieve very publicly. Perhaps because she was from a small town, her tragedy stood out even more, especially at school. She felt alienated.
H. STROUK: It was very awkward. They didn't know what to say, and so they just didn't say anything and they just left me alone.
ZAHN: According to Lynne Hughes, who founded a bereavement camp for children of 9/11, the results surprised everyone.
LYNNE HUGHES, COMFORT ZONE CAMP FOUNDER: A lot of what we saw at the beginning, kids showing up shell-shocked, the goal is just to get through each day, one day at a time, and then really striving to hit that one-year anniversary mark that was such a magical day for these kids, and then to hear them in the second year really surprised that they were in more pain, that they really were aware of the fact that, at that second holiday and that second year of Little League, that Dad wasn't going to be there and that it was a permanent change. And for them to be talking with it and dealing with it now is key.
H. STROUK: Then I thought, you know, they were going to make fun of me, but it turned out to be really different. Everybody had some of the same problems, and we all helped each other.
ZAHN: Hillary and her mother have been back to Lynn's camp five times over the past two years.
H. STROUK: I've learned that you have to take your time on earth and make the best of it because, you know, you never know what will happen tomorrow. But I'm still just a kid.
ZAHN: A kid who loves to swim and hang out with her best friend, Annie, a kid who, miraculously, has a sense of optimism, hope and maturity way beyond her years.
H. STROUK: I look into the sky on one starry night. I can see him up there and he's shining bright. He looks at me, and I'm no longer sad that this star close to heaven is my angel, my dad.
ZAHN: One strong young lady.
We want to thank you all for being with us tonight. But sure to tune in to CNN tomorrow morning for our special live coverage. That gets under way at 8:30 AM. Tomorrow night, join us for a special program from St. Paul's chapel right here in New York. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next. Again, thanks for dropping by.
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