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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Ashcroft Discusses Latest Developments; Hagel, Schumer Discuss U.S. Policy on Taliban; What are America's Anti-Terrorist Options?

Aired September 30, 2001 - 12:00   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.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington and New York, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 8:30 p.m. in Kabul, Afghanistan, and 9:00 p.m. in Islamabad, Pakistan. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this special three-hour LATE EDITION.

And this week, our third hour will belong to you. We'll be taking your phone calls from around the world for our military and terrorism experts as well as our CNN reporters. So start thinking of those questions right now.

We'll get to my interview with the U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft shortly. But first, let's go to CNN's White House correspondent Major Garrett. He's outside Camp David, Maryland, where the president is spending the weekend, monitoring the latest developments.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Let's now go to Islamabad, where CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, is monitoring developments. She interviewed the president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, earlier today.

And she is also following the statements from Taliban representatives there, that they know the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden -- Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that's what we got from the Taliban ambassador here in Islamabad, that they know the whereabouts and implicitly thereby connecting their fate to the fate of Osama bin Laden.

But just might add that there has been a welter of confusing and contradictory information coming out of various parts of the Taliban leadership. And it's just simply impossible to decipher, to be very, very frank.

On another issue, we did talk -- I spoke to the president of Pakistan a few hours ago. And he, for the first time, confirmed from his own voice what had been asked of him; and seemed to imply that in a last resort, would he be directly asked that U.S. troops would be based here in the case of a military operation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: We have said that we will cooperate in these three areas of logistic support and use of airspace. We need to get into the details of the modalities as they come along.

AMANPOUR: What is Pakistan -- what is your bottom line? What are you not prepared to do in any military campaign?

MUSHARRAF: Well, I would not like Pakistani troops to be crossing the borders into Afghanistan, because I don't think that is a requirement from our troops also.

AMANPOUR: Has the U.S. presented with you an operational plan yet?

MUSHARRAF: No, not as yet. We don't know anything about the operation plan.

AMANPOUR: You know there have been reports of special forces from the U.S. and U.K. already taking part in reconnaissance in Afghanistan. And there has been reports that thousands or hundreds of U.S. troops have been based here already.

MUSHARRAF: Well, I see these in the news, yes. So my -- there is no such information. I don't at all know those who are based in Afghanistan, but I'm certainly very clear that nobody is based in Pakistan as yet.

AMANPOUR: Are you personally convinced that Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network is, was responsible for what happened in the United States?

MUSHARRAF: Well, frankly, we haven't been -- there is no evidence that has been shared with us as yet. So therefore, all that I know is from the television, so I don't have any details myself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: So General Musharraf tells us that he is expecting to be briefed. He also went on to say that hopes are, quote, "very dim" for the Taliban handing over Osama bin Laden. He said that his emissaries had not been able to moderate the views of the Taliban.

And then, in answer to a question about whether he thought now the march of history was making an end to the Taliban inevitable, he said that it appears so because of this gathering military coalition. And he said it does appear, in his words, "danger is coming to the Taliban leadership" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour.

And Christiane and Major Garrett will be back in our program during our third hour to be taking your phone calls for around the word. And her complete interview with President Musharraf will air later today on CNN at 5:30 p.m. Eastern as well as 10:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight.

A short while ago I spoke with the man heading the United States investigation in to the September 11 terror attacks, the Attorney General John Ashcroft.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: General Ashcroft, thanks for joining us. Let's begin with the news of the day, which is that the Taliban now says they know the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. What's your reaction to that?

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, first of all, the president has made it very clear those who harbor terrorists, those who sponsor them, those who give them aid are considered to be a part of the attack against the United States of America.

Very frankly, we are in a very serious situation. We believe there are substantial risks of terrorism still in the United States of America. And as we as a nation respond to what's happened to us, those risks may in fact go up, so that we still have a serious situation.

If they're harboring Osama bin Laden, that's the wrong thing to do. I believe the United States, as we respond, we'll respond effectively.

But I think our risks go up, and that's what's given me such a sense of urgency about the legislation, which we need to pass to give us the tools to curtail terrorism. We need to be able to intercept, interrupt, interdict, stop, delay, prevent additional terrorist acts in America.

BLITZER: Well, as the person who's in charge of this U.S. investigation -- you're leading the investigation -- if the Taliban says they know of his whereabouts, he's under their authority, are you demanding that he immediately be handed over to the United States?

ASHCROFT: Well, obviously, that's been a request, a demand for a long time. We have asked that they assist us in bringing to justice this individual who has orchestrated this al Qaeda network. You know, he's not the only responsibility or obligation we have in terms of our self-defense and our ability to respond. But certainly it's a responsibility on their part to deliver him and his lieutenants, and to help in the dismantling of this terrorist network.

BLITZER: So it's not just Osama bin Laden. You want all of his associates handed over directly to the United States?

ASHCROFT: You know, it's very clear that this is a network, the roots of which are in Afghanistan, no question about that in my mind. But we've seen its manifestations recently in Europe, as we have traced back from this act of war against the United States. We know of its manifestation in the United States most painfully. We're very confident that Osama bin Laden-, al Qaeda-, terrorist- tied organizations are operating in dozens and dozens and dozens of countries around the world. Responsible nations are participating with us in an effort to curtail the additional threat.

Here at home, we have to do more than talk. Talk won't stop terrorism. We need tools to reduce the risk of terrorism.

BLITZER: And we'll get to that in a moment.

But I just want to nail down -- the Taliban says, give us some evidence. They want some evidence from the U.S. implicating Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, and then they'll talk with you about handing him, presumably over to some third party or maybe even to the United States.

ASHCROFT: You know, Osama bin Laden is one of the -- is the top person on the 10 most-wanted list of the FBI, not just for this event but for his previous involvement in the embassy bombings in Africa, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. And he's under indictment.

Here is a clear situation where his catalogue of activities against the United States is so substantial, and his...

BLITZER: Well, why not simply provide that catalogue directly to the Taliban, through some third party if necessary, so they might have the political cover to hand him over?

ASHCROFT: They obviously have an awareness of his indictment in the United States, of those individuals with whom he's been involved having been to trial in the United States or in the process of criminal justice activities.

This is not a situation where the Taliban sits in ignorance and says, we've got him but we think he's innocent. This is a time for them to say, yes, we'll deliver him to you, and yes, we'll deliver his network, and we'll make it available, and we'll expose it. Because this network of terrorism is a threat. It's a current threat to the United States as well as the rest of the world.

BLITZER: And if they don't comply?

ASHCROFT: Well, obviously, the United States is going to respond. And the president has made it very clear that he expects not only to go after the networks and the leaders of the networks, but those who harbor and aid and provide a base of operations.

Now, that is very clear that the roots of this assault against the United States and much of the terrorism that has plagued a good bit of the world, including our assets in Africa and the like, is in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: So, just to wrap it up, if the Taliban does not comply, they could face the wrath, the military wrath potentially, of the United States? ASHCROFT: Well, I'm not going to talk about specific responses of the United States. As you well know, this is a comprehensive effort. The president has indicated that all the options are on the table. We're going to take action not only against those individuals and be responsive to those networks and individuals, but to those who harbor, aid and provide shelter for them.

BLITZER: Now, Gary Hart, who chaired a commission on terrorism a few years ago, writes in the new issue of Time magazine this -- and it's appropriate given the fact that you just said there are still terrorist threats out there against the United States.

He says this: "America is not prepared, either offensively or defensively, for the conflicts of the 21st century. We are the strongest military power in the world, but for the wrong century. Conflict is now being carried out by civilians against civilians. Perpetrators belong to no state, wear no uniforms and obey no rules of war. No targets are off-limits, and no citizens are exempt from slaughter."

Is Gary Hart right?

ASHCROFT: Well, I think there is a great deal of truth in what he said. And the president of the United States, when he's talked about the response and our effort to wage war against these networks of terror, has indicated that it'll be a totally different kind of war. Don't expect, quote, "a CNN war." Don't expect just something that could be -- always be seen. There will be -- because those involved in the operations against the United States are not just networks. There are some states that harbor them, but there are also these networks and individuals that would be a different approach.

So it is a new approach. He says it's a new kind of endeavor. And very frankly, former Senator Hart indicates that he believes it's a new kind of an effort.

I think our president is keenly aware of it and will tailor the response of the United States, which is substantial. Financial response -- it's going to be a response that includes a full array of the ways in which to rout out this network of terrorist activity.

BLITZER: By coming up with a series of proposals, legislative changes that you're asking Congress to pass, you're in effect acknowledging that the United States was not completely prepared to deal with this threat.

ASHCROFT: Well, we weren't as prepared as we would like to have been. I know that Senator Hatch, following the Oklahoma City bombing, in the response to that legislatively, tried to put some of the things in that bill that we are offering to the Congress, asking the Congress to give us as tools now. Had we had those, it might have made a difference, but we can't guarantee that.

I know that there are members of the Senate who look carefully at that. Senator Biden, for instance, has been strong for a number of provisions that we've sent forward. Senator Schumer, Senator Feinstein. I've talked long and hard with Senator Leahy. We've got to move some of these capacities. And they're very important.

BLITZER: Let's go through some of the specifically. There's a new CNN/"TIME" magazine poll that asks whether U.S. citizens should carry federal ID cards. Look at these numbers, 57 percent say that's a good idea, they favor it; 41 percent oppose it.

Do you want a new federal ID card system to be in place in the United States?

ASHCROFT: First, we need to focus on the terrorists and on the foreign agents. The first thing we've asked for is the right to have airtight security on terrorists and foreign agents.

And we have the ability to wiretap organized crime and the ability to wiretap drug dealers in a way that's up-to-date, and we don't have that same ability when it comes to foreign intelligence surveillance. We need that from the Congress; we need it quickly.

I need the ability -- when a person is being detained and their case is being heard before the authorities on being illegal in terms of their status here, people who are aliens, I need to be able to keep them in detention if they're suspected terrorists. We know that they're already charged with violating the laws regarding immigration and their status. But I need for suspected terrorists to stay in detention.

We've arrested and detained almost 500 people. And we do that for people who are out of status. They violated the law. We need the ability to keep them in jail, not have them bonded out.

BLITZER: All right, I want to get to that in a second. On the federal ID thing, you're open-minded. You've made no final decision on the use of this.

ASHCROFT: That's not part of our package. We have a package that says we need to be able to seize the assets of terrorist organizations. We need to be able to get to those who harbor terrorists with severe penalties. We need to be able to surveil terrorists and foreign agents with the kind of robust surveillance that's airtight, the kind that we already have against organized crime and that we already have drug dealers.

These things the Congress can and should act on. The vice president has called on them to act by October the 5th. That's a -- that is not a -- that's a must-do date. That's a time when we should act.

Talk won't stop terrorism. We can reduce the risk if we have additional tools to stop terrorism.

BLITZER: Of those 500 who have either been arrested or detained, are you -- none of them has been charged with anything, any crime yet. Is that right?

ASHCROFT: Well, all of them -- virtually all -- well, let me just start and tell you what categories there are. There are people who have violated their status in immigration. And they are suspected for some reason or another because of their clear links or associations with the terrorist network that perpetrated these acts on September the 11th.

There are those who are what are called material witnesses. They have been arrested and held because a judge has made a determination that they may have information that would be material to this case. And they are susceptible to being held to provide that information.

There are people who have violated state and local laws. And when they've been apprehended, they have also been detected as being on a list of individuals that have had associations with the terrorist network or with the specific group of terrorists.

These are the categories of individuals being held. Except for those on material-witness warrants, the rest of them have all been violators of one kind or another. And they have violated the law in another respect and, having been apprehended for those violations, we have noted their identity as consistent with those who had been associated.

And we seek to hold them as suspected terrorists. They are obviously being -- their cases are being processed on the other grounds.

BLITZER: But are any of them close to being charged with a crime in connection with the September 11th -- directly associated with the September 11th attacks against the United States?

ASHCROFT: This investigation is a productive investigation. We're copping to build leads. The leads not only go to individuals in the United States but obviously to Europe and all the way in to the Middle East and to Afghanistan. But we're not in a position to comment on any indictments or charges until they would actually be brought.

BLITZER: As far as detaining them, you're asking for authority to be able to detain them virtually indefinitely without necessarily filing charges, at least for some of them. Isn't there some concern that that may be going above and beyond the civil liberties that, of course, are part of the U.S. Constitution?

ASHCROFT: I'm glad you mentioned that because it's important that we correct that understanding.

We're asking for the ability to detain people while the charges which are pending against them are being resolved. So that, if an individual is charged with violating their standing on immigration laws, if an individual is charged with other criminal activity, we're asking that we be able to detain them while that resolution of those charges is being processed.

If those charges then are resolved in favor of the individual, they would be free to go. But suspected terrorists we should be able to detain, pending the resolution of other criminal charges against them, or pending the resolution of immigration charges against those individuals.

BLITZER: You spoke this week about dangers of bioterrorism, biological terrorism or chemical terrorism, crop dusters that potentially could be used by terrorists, hazardous materials, truck licenses that are out there.

How worried should American citizens be right now of these bio or chemical terrorism threats to their security?

ASHCROFT: Well, frankly, we believe that these were threats that were worth looking into very seriously. Individuals -- not only those involved in the hijackings, but related individuals -- making inquiries about crop dusting, and being observant of literature on how to disperse things in an aerosol way. Knowing -- linking up that information with an awareness that al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have announced their interest in these kinds of ways of mass destruction, I think we ought to be concerned about it.

And we took steps. We grounded crop-dusting aircraft for a couple of days. And we put in place a set of procedures, working with local authorities, to increase our capacity to detect an improper use of this aircraft and to reduce the risk of aircraft being used in ways that would endanger the lives of very significant numbers of American citizens.

BLITZER: So right now that threat, though, is still very much out there?

ASHCROFT: Well, there are threats of explosives, there are threats of -- there are all kinds of threats. I think there is a clear, present danger to Americans; not one that should keep us from living our lives, but one that should make us alert.

We should be active and involved in our businesses and in our families, but we should be alert. I kind of like the idea of a national neighborhood watch, that we are careful in what we do and understand that it's very unlikely that all of those associated with the attacks of September 11 are now detained or have been detected.

And that's why we need the kind of robust surveillance capacity that's provided for in the legislation. It's time for Congress to act.

BLITZER: I want to get you to respond to what Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey said only yesterday on CNN in looking back on what happened. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ROBERT TORRICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: We certainly have given our intelligence and law enforcement agencies the financial resources. I think we've given them much of the legal powers. Something went wrong. This isn't just money. It isn't just personnel. Structurally or procedurally or in strategy, something failed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: He's referring to the events leading up to the September 11 attacks. Clearly there was a major law enforcement or security failure, and a major intelligence failure on both fronts. They hijacked four planes, the U.S. intelligence community was surprised by this.

What is the single most important thing you think has to be corrected?

ASHCROFT: Well, first, we need to make sure we do everything we can to prevent additional acts of terrorism in this country.

The best way for us to do that is to have the Congress enact the package of reforms we've sent forward, to give us at least the same capacity to surveil foreign agents, terrorists and spies that we have for surveilling drug dealers and members of organized crime, to provide for us the capacity to interdict, disrupt, prevent, otherwise make difficult their activities. I think that's our number- one task.

And talk won't interrupt terrorism. We need to act in order to get it done, and we need to act promptly.

BLITZER: OK. Attorney General John Ashcroft, thanks for joining us.

ASHCROFT: Thank you.

BLITZER: And just ahead, what steps will Congress take to fight this new war? We'll ask New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer and Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel when this special LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But make no mistake about it, we're in hot pursuit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush speaking of the U.S. effort to stamp out terrorism.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now are two key members of the United States Senate: in his hometown of New York City, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer; and here in Washington, D.C., Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. He's a key member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senators, good to have both of you on the program.

And, Senator Hagel, let me begin with you with the news of the day, the Taliban saying they have Osama bin Laden under their authority. They say they want evidence from the U.S. government that he did something wrong. Well, you heard the attorney general say on this program that there's plenty of evidence out there, they don't need any more evidence.

What's wrong with at least giving them some evidence, maybe even as a cover, to allow them to hand over Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants to the United States?

SEN. CHARLES HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: Before we do anything, Wolf, it seems to me we must make very clear that this is not a negotiable issue. We are going to get him.

As to the request from the Talibans as to evidence, I don't see anything wrong with sharing some information with them.

Now, Attorney General Ashcroft laid a number of the points out here. This isn't just a new episode in Mr. bin Laden's career here. We've been after him for crimes against this country that he has perpetrated, and we have evidence for some time.

But we also must be careful not to compromise any intelligence in the process of handing over any evidence. But generally, bottom line, I think it would probably be a good idea to share some of that. We're going to have to anyway with the world.

BLITZER: Well, Senator Schumer, what about that? There's a lot of people out there who are saying, in order to prevent a lot of collateral damage, innocent people getting killed, danger to U.S. troops going into Afghanistan, why not meet the Taliban leadership in Kabul halfway, give them the evidence and allow them, if you will, an opportunity to hand over Osama bin Laden?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, I think, in this case, you can't be too careful; careful about not compromising intelligence sources, but also careful about the Taliban's intention.

We don't know if they speak with one voice. We've heard them say different things on different days. For all we know, we could hand them over conclusive evidence, and they say that's not evidence, we're not doing it.

I agree with Chuck Hagel. This is unconditional, this is not subject to negotiation. Just as we wouldn't have negotiated with Hitler or Tojo or anybody like that during World War II. This is not a legal matter, this was an act of war.

BLITZER: Senator Hagel, the White House had circulated a memo, a copy of which we've obtained, suggesting that the end game may be a little bit differently, what they have in mind privately, than what they're saying publicly.

It says this: "The Taliban do no represent the Afghan people, who never elected or chose the Taliban faction. We do not want to choose who rules Afghanistan. But we will assist those who seek a peaceful, economically developing Afghanistan free of terrorism."

Is that coming very close to what President Bush said he wouldn't do during the campaign, engage in so-called nation-building?

HAGEL: I don't think so, Wolf. And the reason I say that is because this is an undefinable process. The objective is definable, and the president has laid that out, and all of his Cabinet has been rather clear about that. I think most of us in Congress have spoken to it.

But the process is going to float a bit. We are going to have to move a bit to carry this out.

This is going to require some reform of relationships. And I say "reform" because we're going to have to go back and review some of those, because self-interest of nations will dictate those new collaborations. And we're seeing that now with the Russians and the Chinese and others, in focusing on this fight against global terrorism.

So I don't see it as a change or a shift. It's a tactical process here that they are now engaged in that probably will shift a couple more times.

BLITZER: Senator Schumer, is it too early for the Bush administration and members, key members of the Senate, like yourself, to start thinking about a post-Taliban regime in Afghanistan?

SCHUMER: Well, I guess you can always be prepared.

But I agree again with Chuck Hagel. This is going to take so many twists and turns. This war that we face against terrorism is something that we have never fought before, not against a country but against individuals. Should they leave Afghanistan, should there be a different regime in Afghanistan, they would still be in 59 other countries.

And I think that our number-one goal has to be to make America safe from terrorism. There are going to be things that it takes to do that. If it does involve dealing with some of the rival factions of the Taliban, and trying to replace the Taliban, that's fine.

I'd say one other thing, Wolf. At this time we have shown amazing unity, and I, at this point, give the president and his people the benefit of the doubt. In other words, I think we can be second- guessing and third-guessing and fourth-guessing. We don't even know what the game plan is yet. We know that it's going to be a long fight. We know that we're going to make mistakes.

But I do think that in this brave new world, you have to give the president the benefit of the doubt.

And to say, "Well, back three months ago, you said A and now you're saying B" -- well, we're in a different world right now.

BLITZER: You know, Senator Hagel, there are some Americans who are feeling frustrated, saying that it's now almost three weeks. The president said he was going to act from day one, from September 11. Still we haven't seen any actual military action in this battle. Are you concerned that the president might be coming under pressure to act prematurely before the United States has a specific plan in mind?

HAGEL: There's already that kind of pressure out there, as you suggest, Wolf. But this president, this Cabinet, this Congress, with the unity that Chuck Schumer spoke of -- and it's real -- will stay focused on the objective here. We are not going to be stampeded into hitting at some bogus target, some irrelevant action that could bring on, precipitate dangerous consequences. We won't do that. We'll withstand that pressure.

And there will be pressure. There will be second-guessing, and there will be questions, and there will be all kinds of wonderment about why we can't get this done in two to three to four weeks.

But we need to stay focused, stay disciplined, and we'll get it done. But it's important that we do it right, because actions have consequences.

BLITZER: Are among those...

SCHUMER: I would just say, Wolf...

BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator Schumer.

SCHUMER: ... just to add in here, that I actually think in a very interesting and good way, the president has increased confidence in his ability by being restraint -- by exhibiting restraint, by showing that he is taking the whole big picture in. He is not just lashing out. He is not just looking for a quick hit that we can all sort of say we did something and then there's another terrorist incident a year or two from now.

I think the president is stronger and in control by resisting pressure to do an immediate, quick action that wouldn't do much to wipe out terrorism and make us feel good for a few days and then we're back to the same old problem.

So I think he's handled himself masterfully well. I give him an A up and down the board right now.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Hagel, you heard Senator Schumer give the president of the United States, a Republican -- he's a Democrat -- an A.

But let's move on and talk about the possibility that the mission may expand beyond Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda group in Afghanistan to perhaps other countries in the region, whether Sudan or Yemen, Iraq, Iran, some talk of Syria.

Are you among those who say, wherever terrorism is, the United States must go after those terrorists even if it means destroying this coalition that the administration is trying to put together?

HAGEL: The coalition is critical for the future war against terrorism, and that's what we are about here. Yes, we are about getting bin Laden, going after the al Qaeda network and all those associated with that network. No question, that is a focus.

But at the same time, this is a long-term effort. This is going to require an immense amount of commitment and discipline and leadership over a long period of time. That's going to require a very significant international coalition. No one is safe from this.

Look at what just happened in Colombia, for example. The wife of the Colombian attorney general being abducted and killed. That's terrorism.

And so, all of this that is surrounding us -- this sea around us of terrorism and terrorist acts are maybe not part of the same conspiracy, but nonetheless, the civilized world is at war against that. So this coalition is going to be very, very critical.

And Chuck Schumer said it right. We have never experienced anything like this. This is unprecedented. So I think we must be very careful here how we construct this coalition and keep it as best we can. It will float, but we need that coalition.

BLITZER: All right. I'm going to ask Senator Schumer in a second to talk about that and also talk about Saddam Hussein, the president of Iraq. But we have to take a quick commercial break. Keep your thoughts ready.

We still have much more to talk about with Senators Hagel and Schumer. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer and Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.

Senator Schumer, as you know, there are some in the Bush administration who say it's not too early to start thinking of going after Saddam Hussein and his regime as a sponsor of international terrorism. Although others, at least for the time being, are saying Afghanistan has got to be stage one, phase one; maybe Iraq at a later point, but not now. What do you say?

SCHUMER: Well, I think they have said two very wise things, the administration. One is that, while there are lots of states, or too many, five to 10, that help sponsor terrorism, we are going to look at their actions forward rather than backward. So if countries like Iran or Syria, Sudan, maybe even Iraq, stop aiding and abetting terrorism, not verbally but in their actions, then maybe they can have a clean slate. I doubt that will happen with Iraq. It's more likely to happen with some of these other countries. And that would be a big win for us.

The second, about Iraq itself, I believe that it probably makes sense -- and again I would defer to the policymakers -- to do this in stages. And while certainly Iraq is a very, very bad place that might be generating the kinds of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, even nuclear that terrorists could use with even greater damage than they did on September 11, I think that, since we are in such a brave new world and it's a whole new war, going one step at a time probably makes the most sense if -- and I underline "if" -- the policymakers determine that the greatest present threat is bin Laden, the Taliban and some of these other groups that are affiliated.

BLITZER: As you know, Senator Hagel, there's been some criticism already coming that the U.S. is supposedly paying off some of these countries to be participants in this U.S.-led coalition. A $50 million economic aid package now for Pakistan, removing sanctions. The U.S. standing on the sidelines while the United Nations lifted sanctions against Sudan only the other day.

How concerned are you, if you are at all, that the U.S. may be providing too many benefits to countries that the U.S. still considers supporters of terrorism?

HAGEL: First, Wolf, I think we have to recognize that there are no easy choices in this business of security, foreign relations. It's imperfect, it's imprecise.

The entire center of gravity is changing now in the world. Not unlike what history has shown us every 100 years or 50 years, these things happen. Our policies must adjust to this great new threat. What has just happened to this country three weeks ago was unprecedented. And so, our policies are going to have to adjust to that.

I don't see it as a paying off of a nation that would help us here in this overall threat. I see it as implementing policies that will deal with this both immediate and long-term threat for civilization. Western civilization is at risk here, and that is what we must focus on and adjust our policies to.

BLITZER: Senator Schumer...

SCHUMER: But one thing is clear...

BLITZER: I want to -- go ahead.

SCHUMER: I was just going to say, Wolf, one thing is clear. If they continue to aid and abet terrorism, that's a lot different. And I think the administration and our policymakers -- I believe they're keeping a strong eye on that.

If this induces them to change and makes our coalition stronger -- as Chuck Hagel said, we are in a totally different world -- great. But I do think it would hurt us greatly if we allowed some of these nations to be part of our umbrella coalition while they continue to aid and abet terrorism.

BLITZER: Senator Schumer, you're well-known as a strong supporter of Israel over your years in the Congress and the House, now in the Senate. What is your reaction to the Bush administration's policy now of trying to encourage the Israelis -- some would say pressure the Israelis -- into making some concessions to the Palestinians at this point to resume peace negotiations, and to also, at the same time, tell the Israelis to stay on the sidelines so as not to disrupt this Muslim-Arab coalition that the United States is trying to put together?

SCHUMER: Well, as somebody who cares so much about Israel -- and I remind supporters of Israel of this in New York and around the country all the time -- nothing could help Israel more than wiping out world terrorism. That's what Israel's experienced. When somebody goes into a pizzeria or a nightclub strapped with a bomb that's filled with nails and ball bearings to kill innocent women and children and men, that is the exact same form of terrorism that we now saw on a massive scale here.

So, if Israel can bend a little to help the United States wipe out terrorism, it will help Israel in the long run.

I would say this: As long as the pressure -- the pressure to get people to sit down and renegotiate, I don't have a problem with that as long as there is equal pressure on the Palestinians to give up the kind of terror and the kind of violence that they have used with horrible consequences. And I believe if the administration puts pressure on both sides, the Israelis to come to the table, the Palestinians to give up this terrorism, that could work out.

BLITZER: Senator Schumer, Senator Hagel, I want to thank both of you for joining us.

And this programming note, later tonight on a special edition of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, I'll be interviewing the foreign minister of Israel, Shimon Peres.

But just ahead, we'll talk with a representative of the group that's currently fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. We'll ask him what role the Northern Alliance will play in the war on terrorism.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A piece of New York City, almost three weeks after the September 11 attacks.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Even as it faces the threat of U.S. military force, the Taliban is already at war in Afghanistan. It's fighting the so-called Northern Alliance, or United Front.

We're joined now by that group's representative here in Washington, Haron Amin.

Mr. Amin, welcome to LATE EDITION. And let's get your reaction right away to the news the Taliban says it knows the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, he's in Afghanistan under their authority, they just want some evidence from the U.S. before they hand him over. What do you say about that?

HARON AMIN, AFGHAN UNITED FRONT: Well, we can say one thing: Look at the trend and behavior of the Taliban. The world shall not be deceived by their words. They have said so many things to the international community even from the very start about opening up girls' school, about not locking women in their houses, about cooperation with the international community to, you know, providing unimpeded humanitarian access to various parts of the country.

Every time they've made a promise, they have gone back on their word. So the international community should not be deceived.

And let me emphasize one thing, that this is only a delay tactic. I don't know exactly to what end, but I know this is a delay tactic. But the international community should not be deceived. They do not know.

BLITZER: Has there been any discernible change on the ground as far as the fighting is concerned between your forces in northern Afghanistan and the Taliban in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks? In other words, has there been any change? Have you made any progress?

AMIN: Well, we have been able to push the Taliban back a little bit in northern provinces, particularly in Mazar-e-Sharif. Fightings have raged over the last one week or so around Badris (ph) and Fariab (ph), as well as north of Kabul.

But though the front lines have changed, the change has not been very dramatic, in other words, militarily.

BLITZER: Have you received any assistance from the United States or other coalition partners?

AMIN: So far, no. But we know that the talks are in progress, and we hope that the international community is going to provide additional assistance.

But I think that what is happening right now is the talks are centering on exactly what needs to happen. I think one thing that the international community has realized is that hunt down of Osama bin Laden is not the only thing that needs to happen right now. There is a hub of terrorist networks that operate from the Taliban territories of Afghanistan.

And the fact of the matter is that there is a collusion, there is close cooperation between various non-state actors, as well as certain state actors, in Afghanistan, in the Taliban-held territories.

And the triangle that has been established there for many years is one of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda and those affiliated with him, the Taliban mercenaries, as well as the military intelligence of Pakistan.

And it shall be -- I mean, the international community needs to realize that fighting an Arab terrorist shall not be the only end. There should also be, if there are Pakistani terrorists, if there are other terrorists, that they have got to be looked at with equal eye. There needs to be this comprehensive approach to all of this.

BLITZER: Have the Russians and other of the former Soviet states in Central Asia increased the flow of weapons to your fighters?

AMIN: Let me be very frank and clear here. We have never received supplies from the Russians.

Yes, as the legal government of Afghanistan recognized by the international community, except one country, namely Pakistan, that we have the right to go at international markets and purchase arms. Yes, because of the fears that the Russians have in their southern -- I mean, in the southern former -- southern Soviet republics, that they have sold these ammunitions to us at a discounted price.

But we're still purchasing, and we hope that the international community is going to provide additional assistance to us.

BLITZER: There's been a lot of speculation that the exiled king of Afghanistan, who's been in Rome now since the late '70s, that he might be useful in forming some sort of new regime after the Taliban. Does your group support bringing the exiled king back to Afghanistan?

AMIN: Yes, I mean this goes back to exactly -- the West neglected Afghanistan after 1989. In the post-Soviet disintegration, it was completely out of focus.

The reason we had the September 11 attacks is because the West neglected Afghanistan, left it at the mercy of the Pakistani military intelligence. And then it became the hotbed of terrorism, on the one hand, the legacy of the -- the ambition was to use militant Islam and separatists -- I mean, to use extremist Islam version in Kashmir and also in Afghanistan.

Now that the international community has seen the evil side of terrorism, what needs to happen is there needs to be a replacement for the Taliban.

We hope that the international community, having recognized that the rollback of the Taliban is also necessary, as is the huntdown of Osama bin Laden and the networks, that there needs to be something in post-Taliban era.

And that is -- currently our delegation is in Rome. We have met with the former monarch of Afghanistan. We hope that he can play the role of a unifying figurehead in Afghanistan -- not as a monarch. This is not to implicate or imply the institution of -- the return of the institution of monarchy, but to in fact have him come and head a transitional setup or some sort of setup to take us towards the convening of the Loya Jirgah or the traditional assembly.

BLITZER: Interestingly enough, only yesterday a group of U.S. congressmen met with the exiled king in Rome as well.

But, Haron Amin, we're out of time. I want to thank you so much for joining us.

AMIN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And just ahead, the second hour of LATE EDITION. We'll check the hour's top stories.

And then, Pakistan has become a crucial ally in the U.S. war against terrorism. We'll talk with that country's ambassador to the United States. We'll also get some perspective on how the Bush administration is handling this new war. That and much more, when this special LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the second hour of LATE EDITION. We'll get to our interview with Pakistan's ambassador to the United States in just a moment. But first, let's go to CNN's Leon Harris. He's in Atlanta with a check of the latest developments in the war on terrorism.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Joining us now is Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi.

Ambassador Lodhi, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

I want to get right to Christiane Amanpour's interview with the president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. He says he would still like to have some evidence from the U.S. that Osama bin Laden was in fact responsible for the September 11 attacks.

Why does he need more evidence than is already out there in the public domain?

MALEEHA LODHI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I think what he was talking about is what other members of the international coalition are also talking about, which is to the extent that it's possible to share such information on the evidence, it would be useful because we have to also impact on the public mind in the world.

But it's also clear to us that we will comply with our international obligations under the U.N. Security Council resolutions. So I think the call for making some, whatever is possible, of the evidence public is because we have an international coalition and we need to continue to maintain the international coalition because we have a long way to go.

This is going to be a long campaign, as everybody in the world knows, including the senior members of the Bush administration who have been making this point -- President Bush himself. BLITZER: But you understand the concern of U.S. officials that making some of this information public could compromise the sources and methods, how the U.S. intelligence community operates?

LODHI: Absolutely. And I think that's why President Musharraf made the point that confidentiality has to be maintained. And to the extent that is possible, this evidence should be shared with the international community. And we are part of that international coalition.

BLITZER: And the evidence that already is out there from the trial, let's say from the East Africa bombings, implicating Osama bin Laden and his associates, that's not enough yet to satisfy President Musharraf?

LODHI: No, I don't think at any stage the president said that he was not satisfied. He made the point that Pakistan will comply with earlier U.N. Security Council resolutions which had called on the international community to comply with what they had said, which was to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. So there are previous Security Council resolutions on this score.

But we are talking about the events that followed the terrible tragedy on the 11th of September. So I think in the post-11-September period, there are many countries that are calling for this. But this has never been a pre-condition for our cooperation. We have made that very clear.

BLITZER: As you know, the news of the day is that the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, your capital, now says that his government, his regime knows the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, that he's in Afghanistan. Only a week ago they said he was missing; they didn't know where he was.

What does that mean in terms of the developments that are going on right now, U.S.-Pakistani cooperation, since Pakistan remains right now the only country that still maintains formal diplomatic relations with the Taliban?

LODHI: Well, as you know -- and President Musharraf made mention of that, that there have been two missions that we have sent to Afghanistan to try to urge upon the Taliban to accede to the demand of the international community.

Now, we believe that all possible means should be used to make the Taliban see reason, to make them understand what the world expects them to do. And we will continue to make those efforts to the extent that it is possible.

But as President Musharraf also pointed out, that the chances of them responding to that appear increasingly dim.

BLITZER: So what does that mean, if the Taliban does not hand over Osama bin Laden pursuant to U.N. resolutions, the will of the international community, does that mean that a U.S.-led military strike with Pakistan's assistance is inevitable? LODHI: Well, I think, you know, we can go into details here of what could possibly happen, in terms of the nature of the cooperation between Pakistan and the rest of the international community, including the United States.

But I think what is important right now is to have an approach that helps to prevent the further loss of innocent lives, and to also have a focus on the future of our region. In any post-crisis situation, obviously Pakistan, as part of that region, would like to see peace and stability in our region.

BLITZER: I want to give you a chance to respond to what the representative of the Northern Alliance, the so-called United Front, said, that the Taliban are really, in his words, a creation of Pakistani military intelligence.

LODHI: Well, Wolf, I think our focus should be on the future. Our focus should be on the fact that Afghanistan should have a government which is acceptable to the people of Afghanistan.

I don't think it is very useful -- frankly, it's very distracting -- when we take our focus off the future and get into history, because there is a very long history to Afghanistan and what happened in Afghanistan.

The important thing is that we have to all work together as a global community to ensure that we deal with the immediate and the urgent. And we also have our sights fixed on the longer term, because, as President Bush himself has said, this is going to be a long haul. This is going to be a long campaign.

And what we all must ensure is that peace and stability returns to a region which has been very volatile.

BLITZER: As you know, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, the only other states that had diplomatic relations with the Taliban, they've severed those relationships. Will Pakistan follow suit?

LODHI: We have pulled out all our diplomatic consular personnel from Afghanistan. There is only a very scaled-down representation of the Taliban in Islamabad.

We believe that this final, sort of last channel of communication that the world has with the Taliban, for the time being, is something that should at least enable them to hear what the international community is saying about them, and also enable my country to continue to see that we exhaust all diplomatic options before the world begins to turn to more extreme ways of dealing with the situation.

BLITZER: And how serious to Pakistan is this threat? We hear reports of a million Afghan refugees -- they're already at more than a million, 2 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. How serious of a problem is this for Pakistan?

LODHI: Well, it's a huge problem, and it's not new to my country. My country has housed the largest refugee presence anywhere in the world for the last 20 years. Pakistan has been home to 2 million-plus Afghan refugees.

Now, as aid agencies are reporting, we are looking at a catastrophe, a humanitarian catastrophe on our border. What we are urging the international community to do -- and we're very happy to see that the U.N. Secretary General himself has issued an appeal for humanitarian assistance.

We believe a part of the battle that has to be fought is for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. We obviously have a compassion for these people, as indeed the rest of the world also does. And we want to ensure that people in Afghanistan do not get caught up in famine conditions, because that obviously is going to place onerous burdens on my country.

BLITZER: Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, this is the third consecutive week you've been kind enough to spend some time with us on LATE EDITION. Thank you so much for joining us.

LODHI: Thank you.

BLITZER: And we'll have you back.

LODHI: Thanks.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And up next, two views of the special challenges facing President Bush in waging a new war. The views from former Congressman Lee Hamilton and the former CIA director, Robert Gates. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our special LATE EDITION.

We now get two views on special challenges facing the Bush administration, conducing an unconventional war. Joining us from Wichita, Kansas, is the former CIA director Robert Gates. He held that position during the administration of the first President Bush. And here in Washington, the former Indiana Democratic congressman and the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Lee Hamilton.

Good to have both of you on our program.

Congressman Hamilton, let me begin with you with this latest development about the Taliban saying they want evidence of Osama bin Laden's involvement in the September 11 attacks, and the Bush administration reacting, saying no negotiations with the Taliban: Either hand him over or accept the consequences.

LEE HAMILTON, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: A president faces a tough problem there. He has the burden of persuasion, not just with the Taliban but the world. At the same time as he releases more information, he does reveal sources and methods which of course is very detrimental to our security. I think probably some information could be made available to the Taliban, but we should not reveal sources of information. As the president has made clear, I don't think there's any reason to negotiate here.

BLITZER: Robert Gates, if the U.S. does provide some information to the Taliban, doesn't that appear to be opening the door to negotiations with the Taliban regime?

ROBERT GATES, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I think it would. I think that perhaps the Pakistanis could provide some information to them without the U.S. doing so.

Part of the problem here is that every time we've gone to court in recent years with bringing one or another of these terrorists to trial, we have had to reveal investigative and intelligence techniques. And every time, the terrorists themselves learn how we've come after them, and it makes it easier for them to evade us.

So I think all of these things have to be taken into account. But I frankly think that the administration is correct not to provide anything directly to the Taliban.

BLITZER: Is there a middle ground there, Lee Hamilton?

HAMILTON: Well, there may not -- there may be, it just depends on what the nature of the evidence is. There's an awful lot of evidence now in the public domain, it's coming out every day.

BLITZER: So why not just make a white -- remember a week ago, Secretary of State Powell said they administration would release a so- called white paper to the whole world.

HAMILTON: Of course it is immediately reversed by the president the next day because the president was sensitive to the sources and methods difficulty.

I think there's probably a way to do it. Bob suggested doing it through a third party. I think you could put together a lot of information already in the public domain, perhaps something else. But no need to get into negotiations with them.

BLITZER: Would you feel comfortable, Bob Gates, providing that kind of information, let's say, to Pakistan's intelligence service, the military intelligence or the other intelligence service of Pakistan, and not provide it to the American public? Would they be more trustworthy in this kind of sensitive information than the American public?

GATES: Well, frankly, I think that the Taliban are really just stalling. I think this is part of a political game on their part. They know perfectly well what Osama bin Laden's been involved in. So this is really, this is really a political and diplomatic game, not one of saying gee, if you guys could just persuade us of the facts, then we'll turn him over. That's nonsense, and that's not going the happen. So I think that -- I think the American people understand that we have to have sharing relationships with other intelligence services around the world, and that they give us information, we give them information, and none of that's made available to any of our publics because otherwise the secret efforts that we have under way to try and get at these guys would be compromised.

BLITZER: Lee Hamilton, in Christiane Amanpour's exclusive interview with President Musharraf of Pakistan, he said he would like some more evidence. And you heard the Pakistan ambassador, Maleeha Lodhi, say this would help attune public opinion within Pakistan to some of the developments out there. The Egyptian President Mubarak said the same thing basically earlier, that they would like evidence as well.

HAMILTON: I think you have to make individual judgments. If you're sharing information with Great Britain, it's one thing. If you're sharing information with the Taliban, it's a very different thing.

Pakistan is obviously cooperating with us in very important ways. Sharing of information may be called for there. But every case has to be weighed, I think, individually.

The moderate Arab countries are all coming to this town now and say, where's the evidence? I don't think you can lump them all together.

There is a quid pro quo here. To what extent are they cooperating with us? That will gauge to some extent the extent of our cooperation with them.

BLITZER: All right, gentlemen, we have to take a quick break.

More of our conversation with the former CIA director Robert Gates and the former House International Relations Committee chairman Lee Hamilton when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We're continuing our discussion with the former CIA director, Robert Gates, and the former congressman and chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Lee Hamilton.

Bob Gates, I want you to listen to this clip from a representative of the Taliban, who discussed why they are engaged in the kind of activity they're engaged in right now. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TALIBAN SPOKESMAN (through translator): The Americans are fighting so they can live and enjoy the material things in this life. But we are fighting so we can die in the cause of God.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: How does the U.S. deal with a situation like that, where you have such firm believers in their cause and they think that God, of course, is on their side?

GATES: I think the administration's effort has been successful, certainly in a lot of places, in trying to point out that this is an extremist element of Islam that does not represent certainly the main stream of Islamic thought, either theologically or in terms of the views of people in the Middle East.

I think that we have to -- at the same time that we are conducting our unconventional war to bring these people to justice, the people that were responsible for the disaster on September 11, I think our policies also need to have a positive component that illustrates that we do understand that there is a great deal of anti- Americanism out there on the Arab street among Arab populations and those in the Middle East and Gulf area. After all, we have seen that in the demonstrations in Pakistan.

So we have to have a positive side to our policy, diplomatic, political, economic, humanitarian and so on, where we are seen by moderate elements in the Middle East as playing a constructive role.

And frankly, I think this is one of the reason why some of the moderate leaders, such as Mubarak, are asking for information on -- or the proof on Osama bin Laden. Because I think they know what the facts are, but I think they are looking for ways to try and moderate the views of some of the people in their own countries, to try and deal with some of the popular Anti-Americanism in their own countries, and balance their support for us with trying to help people understand at home what's going on.

BLITZER: All right. And as we show these pictures of President Bush returning to the White House from his weekend at Camp David, we see Marine One about to touch down on the South Lawn of the White House, I want to bring you back, Lee Hamilton.

There was an amazing letter that law enforcement found in the possession of Mohammed Atta, the ringleader, if you will, of these 19 hijackers; the mindset on the night before he and his colleagues went ahead, decided that they were going to kill themselves in their cause.

One line from the letter said this. It said, "Continue to pray throughout the night. Continue to recite the Koran. We are of God, and to God we return."

Picking up on what Bob Gates said, how do you deal with an enemy who is not only willing to die but, in fact, may be anxious to die for the cause?

HAMILTON: Well, you deal with it in part by getting the support of the Islamic world, the so-called moderate Arab nations. It wasn't any accident that the president of Indonesia, who presides over the largest Muslim population, was in Washington the other day. If we can swing those solidly behind us, then we will win the battle of ideas with much of Islam, for example. There's a second part of this, however, that may be a little more controversial. I don't know that you can eradicate religious fanaticism by bombing. Indeed, I think you might fuel it. So you have to be very careful here on the way you use force. You do have to have the positive approach that Bob Gates mentioned a moment ago.

But the use of force and how we use it, how targeted it is or how broad it is, will be a very decisive factor with that critical element of the Islamic world.

BLITZER: Robert Gates, you used to head the CIA. Everyone seems to agree there was a huge intelligence blunder, a failure, not anticipating these attacks on September 11. Would it be useful for the future of the CIA itself for a formal commission of inquiry, if you will, to be conducted to see what went wrong?

GATES: I think that the people in the intelligence community and the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service and so on, should welcome a calm and thoughtful review of what was available before September 11, the information that was available, information that months ago in isolation may have been meaningless but today may be shown to be of importance.

I think one of the things that could come out of that was illustrating how the lack of resources, particularly to exploit information that we might already have, to translate it and get it in to the hands of people that can use it quickly, is important, both in terms of human intelligence and technical intelligence.

So I think people should welcome this kind of a thoughtful review. It should be done not in the way of finger pointing, but rather to find out what went wrong and what remedies are available to try and prevent it from happening again.

After all, there have been some enormous successes over the last several years by both the FBI and the CIA in thwarting some major terrorist plots against the United States. So I think this also has to be seen against that background.

BLITZER: And we're looking at live pictures of the president and first lady returning to the White House from Camp David where they spent the weekend. They're walking past the reporters and the camera crews.

And we're going to see if they're going to stop and answer a few questions. It doesn't look like they are, but you never know. Let's listen for a second.

BUSH: Today's Barney's birthday.

BLITZER: The president now entering the residence at the White House from the South Lawn.

Lee Hamilton, as far as this intelligence failure is concerned, would you support a complete review of this process, even though heads could roll in the process? HAMILTON: Oh, I don't think you can oppose a review. But most people know what happened here. We made a lot of mistakes.

The intelligence community focused too much on military troop movements, not enough on terrorists. The intelligence community put too much on technology, not enough on human spies. The intelligence community put too much emphasis on the collection of data, not enough on analysis. The intelligence community didn't share information.

The mistakes are pretty clear, it seems to me, and I think they can be corrected. If a commission helps to reinforce that, that's fine.

The key problem in intelligence is getting the right information to the right person at the right time. You can collect information by the warehouseful. If you don't get it to the right person at the right time, it doesn't do you any good. In a sense, you have a kind of a systems-management problem here. We've got to improve the sharing of information.

BLITZER: All right. Lee Hamilton and Robert Gates, kind of both of you to join us. I want to thank you very much.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Joining us now are two guests with different perspectives on the U.S. economy. In Burlington, Vermont, the former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. And in San Diego, California, the former Bush housing secretary, and the current head of Empower America, the former Republican vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp.

Gentlemen, always good to have you both of you on LATE EDITION.

And I'll begin with you, Jack Kemp. First of all: Is the U.S. economy already in recession, even though technically it may not be in recession?

JACK KEMP, EMPOWER AMERICA: Well, I saw that the recent GDP growth figures were down to .3, maybe .2. But it's clear to people who look at this, and have been looking at it for the last several years, that the U.S. economy and the world economy are either in, or very close, to a deflationary recession.

And very frankly, we've got a battle plan; we're developing a battle plan -- the Bush administration is, that is -- to combat terrorism. We now need a battle plan to combat recession.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to get to some of your proposals, some of your steps in a second.

Robert Reich, is a recession already underway in the United States?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Wolf, I think we are in a recession. And we were heading in that direction even before the terrorist attack. Consumer debt was at an all-time high; savings were at a 70-year low; consumer confidence was already declining. And obviously, the tragic events of September 11 have made consumers even more worried about the future. That's kept them out of the malls. And frankly, consumer fear and consumer insecurity is the weakest point in this entire economy. That's the thing that was keeping us afloat, consumer spending, and now consumer fears are in danger of sinking this economy.

BLITZER: All right. Jack Kemp, Alan Greenspan says there's going to be a need for about $100 billion economic stimulus package. What are the most important things that the federal government, the Bush administration, support by Congress, can do right now to deal with this economic crisis in the United States?

KEMP: Well, in my opinion, the White House and the administration and the president, who has done a terrific job, must use some of his political capital to get the Federal Reserve Board to ease and inject more liquidity into our economy. Clearly Congress on a bipartisan basis should cut tax rates. They should accelerate the income tax rate cuts. They, in my opinion, along with Zell Miller, Democratic senator from Georgia writing in "The Wall Street Journal" on Thursday -- we should cut the capital gains rate, as Phil Gramm and Zell Miller have proposed.

And thirdly, I think -- and even Bob Rubin talked about this this morning in "The New York Times" -- we ought to accelerate our depreciation schedules. In fact, I would expense investment in Lower Manhattan, for real estate, for equipment, for technology. Clearly those steps need to be taken in conjunction with the Fed dropping the short-term interest rate by 100 basis points down to 2, and really easing monetary policy in order to get more liquidity into our system.

BLITZER: All right. Bob Reich, you just heard four or five proposals from Jack Kemp. What's your response?

REICH: Well, the one I do agree with, Wolf, is that is the Federal Reserve Board needs to keep easing on monetary policy, keep those interest rates coming down.

But the most important thing that the federal government could do in terms of fiscal policy, on taxing and spending, is to dramatically reduce, at least for one year, the payroll tax. Eighty percent of Americans pay more in payroll tax than they do in income tax. And if you want to get money into people's pockets and get them back into the malls and the stores, then you've got to reduce the most important tax that they pay.

Beyond that, we've got to expand unemployment insurance. Fewer than 40 percent of Americans who lose their jobs are now eligible for unemployment insurance. We've got to make that eligibility much broader, and we've also got to expand it from six months to a year. Because a lot of the fears that people have now, really are related to the fact that there are a lot of layoff announcements; unemployment is creeping up there, and we have no safety net at all, no cushion for so many people who might lose their jobs. BLITZER: Jack Kemp, you said a cut in the capital gains tax rate would be important. Bob Rubin, the former Clinton treasury secretary, writing in "The New York Times" earlier today, disagrees completely with that notion.

He said this: "It is also clear what we should not do. A capital gains tax cut, according to a 1998 Congressional Budget Office study, would have nearly zero effect on the economy in the short term. I think the effect could actually be negative, in that a capital gains tax cut could induce increased stock sales."

KEMP: Well, we are with due respect to former Secretary of Treasury Bob Rubin, he was against it the last time we cut it and, clearly, the last cut led to more revenue, plus more investment.

What you're doing in cutting the capital gains rate is recognizing that forever every seller there's a buyer. And it's a voluntary fact -- if you don't sell, you don't ever pay the tax. So, clearly, you -- by increasing the rate of return on capital investment, you will bring much of the capital that is now standing on the sidelines back into the market, you increase the value of all assets, including real estate and equities. I can't imagine why Bob Rubin would be against that.

And let me say, as a postscript I agree with Bob Reich, we should accelerate or extend unemployment insurance. There's a number of things that need to be done for the safety net, but nonetheless, cutting the capital gains rate, accelerating the income tax rate cuts and accelerating depreciation schedules for investment and plant machinery equipment and technology would clearly be fiscal stimuli to this economy, coupled with the Fed lowering interest rates.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Bob Reich.

REICH: If I could just demur on that, Wolf.

Actually, businesses now are not going to -- whether they get capital gains tax cuts or investors or they get a business tax cut, also being bandied about right now -- businesses are not going to invest any more money until they know that there are -- consumers are going to buy their goods. And that is why it makes absolutely no sense to waste the public's money on capital gains tax cuts or on business tax cuts right now. You've got to put money into the pockets of consumers.

And with regard to capital gains right now, not only are very few consumers, very few people likely to get the benefits of a capital gains tax cut -- we're talking about the top 2 percent of Americans who are likely to get any benefit from a capital gains tax cut -- but also, at this point in time, a capital gains tax cut means money is coming into the treasury, because a lot of people would sell their stock. And what we don't want is money to come into the treasury right now. When we are facing an economic slump, we want more spending and we want more government spending right now in order to keep the economy propped up. KEMP: Well, with all due respect to Labor Secretary Reich, who is a friend of mine, he is clearly looking at the economy solely from the demand side, or the consumer side. And with all due respect to that view, it is a legitimate view. I support government spending for infrastructure. I think there are certain things that have to be done for the airline industry.

But clearly, to get capital that is now on the sidelines back into the economy, raise the value of all assets. And with, again, not to be redundant but more than 60 percent of the American people now own direct -- have a direct investment in the American economy through 401(k)s, IRAs pension plans and primary interest in stock portfolios. So it doesn't just represent the top 2 percent, it represents more than 65 percent of the American people who have a direct investment in our capitalist economy. We've got to get it moving again, as Kennedy said in the early '60s.

BLITZER: All right gentlemen, unfortunately we're out of time. We told you they would have different perspectives on the economy here in the United States, they clearly do. Jack Kemp, Bob Reich, always good to have you on LATE EDITION. Thank you very much.

REICH: Thanks, Wolf.

KEMP: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And just ahead: Can President Bush hold his international coalition together? And are there cracks in his bipartisan support here in Washington?

We'll go around the table with that and much more with Steve Roberts, Susan Page and Christopher Caldwell. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Remember, there's still a full third hour of LATE EDITION today, including your phone calls for our experts -- your phone calls from around the world. But when we come back, our LATE EDITION roundtable is geared up, ready to talk. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Time now for our LATE EDITION roundtable. Joining me: Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today"; Steve Roberts, contributing editor for "U.S. News & World Report"; and Christopher Caldwell, senior editor for the "Weekly Standard." Good to have all of you back this week.

Steve, look at the CNN/"TIME" magazine poll numbers asked about President Bush's response to these terrorist attacks on September 11: 5 percent of the respondents said it was too strong, 17 percent said it was not strong enough; but look at this: 74 percent of the American people believe the president's response has been just about right.

STEVE ROBERTS, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Well, look, the president has done a very good job in welding the American people, together. And those numbers reflect it.

But even the White House knows those numbers are not permanent. They know that they have to drop. His own father was over 90 percent during the Persian Gulf War; those numbers didn't last.

There's another number in the poll, though, that I think they've got to be worried about: 80 percent of Americans say they expect the United States to capture Osama bin Laden. And I think one of the problems here -- 90 percent think he's doing a good job, but 80 percent expect them to get him. I think there's a risk of over- expectations here. For all the talk about, let's be patient, there's a long war, I think there's a potential risk here.

BLITZER: What do you think about that, Chris?

CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, I think when you get a poll like that, people answer a different question within the one they're being asked. I think that's why Bush Sr.'s poll numbers were so artificially high. You ask, do you approve of the president and people will answer the question: Do you want to win the war.

Yes, I agree with Steve that this popularity won't last forever, but it will last as long as we want to win this war. And I think that one thing that is very surprising is how dug in the American people are for a long-haul type of war.

BLITZER: Is that your sense as well, or are the American people getting frustrated that so far -- it's not even three weeks yet -- but so far there doesn't seem to be any discernible, tangible military action?

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Actually, I think the American people -- the signs are that they're pretty patient. And the complaints have come mostly from people in President Bush's own base, conservatives who would like stronger and faster action.

You know, these poll numbers, of course, won't last forever. But they give President Bush enormous freedom. It means he doesn't have to worry so much about making his case to the American people on Osama bin Laden -- they're prepared to believe him. And it also gives him enormous leverage with Congress. You know, we have continued to see a general spirit of bipartisanship; obviously not every single issue. But it gives the president a lot of freedom to act on his own timetable and in his own way, at least for now.

BLITZER: Chris -- go ahead.

ROBERTS: I think there's one other thing that the administration has got to be wary of. They talk about this being a different kind of war -- be patient, you won't see a lot of triumphs. But what are the pictures we see on television? The pictures we see on television are of traditional warfare: planes taking off, ships steaming out, because we don't have pictures, of freezing assets, we don't have pictures of intelligence agents meeting on the border somewhere in Afghanistan.

So there is a dissonance between the counsels of patience -- this is a new kind of war and the images, which are of an old kind of war. And that raises all sorts of expectations about victories and clear- cut battles, which we're not going to see. And at some point this dissonance could be a problem for the administration.

PAGE: I actually think the threat is something different. I think the threat is of another terrorist attack, which would continue to kind of disorient people, and this sort of emerging sense of security that people need to have, and we need for the economy to work, we need for our systems to work, could get shaken. And I actually think that's a greater fear. I think Americans are pretty sophisticated about the world and how it works, and are prepared to listen to leaders talk about a different kind of war.

BLITZER: And Chris, we're going to take a quick break, but you heard John Ashcroft, the attorney general, say on this program earlier that the fear, the threat of another terrorist attack -- maybe bioterrorism or chemical warfare or other kinds of unconventional acts against -- that's a very real threat that they're very worried about.

CALDWELL: It's very real. And you have to say of Ashcroft and everyone else in the administration, that they're using it very productively in a political way. Last week Republican senators were saying to me that they hoped to get this anti-terrorism bill through the Senate within two weeks. Now Ashcroft, Cheney, everyone else is talking about having something on the floor by the end of this week.

BLITZER: All right, we'll see how they do.

We're going to take a quick break. More of our roundtable when we come back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable.

Steve, as you know, there are some differences within the Bush administration. William Kristol, the editor of "The Weekly Standard," Chris' boss wrote in "The Washington Post" on Tuesday -- he wrote this: "Eleven years ago then-President Bush overrode" -- then the chairman of the joint chiefs -- "General Colin Powell's resistance to fighting Saddam Hussein. Bush was vindicated in doing so. Will the current President Bush follow Powell's lead, or will Bush lead and demand that Powell follow?"

The sense being -- the implication of this article, that General Powell, Secretary of State Powell now, is not willing to go as far in fighting terrorism as some others in the administration would like to, beginning with Iraq.

ROBERTS: Well, that's true. And these divisions are very real. It's a constant battle within this administration for the direction they're going.

I talked to one person in the administration allied with Powell who said that they didn't even want to use the word "war," because they felt that this was overhyping and overemphasizing what this was going to be. I said to him, well are you winning this battle within the administration; he said, for now.

But there are forces pushing on Powell. Powell wants to be very measured and very limited in what they do; worried about a backlash in the Arab world, worried about keeping the coalition together. But there are forces, led by Paul Wolfowitz, the No. 2 man in the Defense Department, really pushing for much more aggressive action.

BLITZER: How serious, Chris, do you think this split may be?

CALDWELL: I think it's hypothetically serious. Right now there's every reason for Powell to be winning.

What happened to Wolfowitz -- and remember, it was Wolfowitz who came up with the phrase "end states that use terrorism" -- is that the idea prevailed that right now we're only fighting Afghanistan. We may be fighting Iraq down the line, but for now we have the possibility of assembling a coalition that will split the Islamic world down the middle, with us possibly garnering a majority of the states on our side. So for now the Powell way of pursuing it is the more practical.

BLITZER: Certainly would appear -- Susan, you know this probably better than I do -- it would appear that President Bush is supporting General Powell, Secretary of State Powell completely, with Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney right on the same -- reading out of same script.

PAGE: But you know, you don't make these decisions for all time; you make a decision about what you're going to do now.

And what they're going to do now is focus on Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and Afghanistan. That doesn't mean that once you move down the road a little bit you don't readdress the question of what do you about Iraq.

I was just thinking, Wolf, how familiar some of these debates sound from the Persian Gulf War, where Secretary of State Baker was aligned with Powell, who was then the chairman of the joint chiefs, in urging caution, in urging diplomacy. And you know one of the leaders on the other side was Dick Cheney. Now, Cheney has a different role this time; he's more of an organizer and a coordinator. But the Wolfowitzes of this world, I think, think of Cheney as an ally when it comes to this particular...

BLITZER: Well, do you remember who was one of -- Dick Cheney, as defense secretary 10 years ago during the Gulf War -- who was one of his principal advisers?

PAGE: Paul Wolfowitz. One of the people he trusted the most to do key actions during the Persian Gulf War. ROBERTS: One of the words -- one of the phrases that is not in good repute in Washington right now is "nation building." There is a strong feeling -- OK, and this is what halted the first Bush administration in not going after Saddam in the first place. It sounded like a good idea -- let's get him!

Then you say, OK, what happens next? What happens in Iraq? Who really takes over? Are you leading to anarchy?

This is haunting a lot of these decision makers. You can talk about destabilizing Afghanistan, replacing leaders in various parts of world, but what happens next? It's a question that has got to color this whole debate.

BLITZER: Well we do know, Susan, that Present Bush last night received a ringing endorsement for his policies from none other than Albert Gore, who was in Iowa at the so-called Jefferson Jackson Dinner.

Here's a little excerpt of what the former vice president had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: George W. Bush is my commander in chief. This country is more united that at any time I can remember in my whole lifetime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That was not the speech he had planned on delivering before September 11.

PAGE: That's right. This was supposed to be the speech where he started making the case against George W. Bush on issues like the economy and the environment. It's clearly not the time for that. This has made it impossible to make those kinds of arguments at this time. Quite appropriately, not the right time.

BLITZER: But at the same time you get the sense, even from those remarks, that Gore is still setting the stage for a likely run again in 2004.

CALDWELL: Yes he is; but give him credit: There was not so much as a hint or a whisper or a winked eye that he might be running in 2004. There was humor in the speech, but it was all personal and family humor. It was a pretty good performance.

ROBERTS: And it was -- also it was an important note for him as the titular head of the Democratic Party, to strike the note in saying, "whatever was true in Florida, he is the president, he is my president, we have to give him loyalty."

But at same time, patriotism does not mean the absence of criticism. And there's a few here by some that the only way you can be loyal, the only way you can be patriotic is to agree with everything. I don't think that's true. And I think that we're going to see, on the edges, growing questions about some of the issues, including the debate over civil liberties, because that's already a major issue...

BLITZER: And finally, very quickly, Susan, does this mean Al Gore is now coming out of his self-imposed exile? We're going to be seeing and hearing a lot more from him?

PAGE: I think so. I think we're going to see him do some fund- raisers. He's going to do a DNC fund-raiser in October. He's going to be out a little bit more. But he's going to be watching carefully what he says.

You know, he didn't say he was running last night, but he did rent a car and drive around Iowa to meet with his friends. That's better than a wink.

ROBERTS: That's right.

BLITZER: Never too early to get to know the people in Iowa.

Susan Page, Christopher Caldwell, Steve Roberts good to have you back on our LATE EDITION roundtable.

And up next: still another hour of LATE EDITION; it's three hours this week. We'll be talking to military and terrorism experts, plus our own CNN reporters. And they, in fact, will be taking your phone calls from around the world. Start calling! Get ready! Join us!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This is the third hour of LATE EDITION, the war on terrorism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: This is a war that is unlike any other war. Sometimes we'll see the fruits of our labors and sometimes we won't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A new kind of war is under way. What should the world expect? This hour, we'll take your questions for two top military men: The former NATO supreme allied commander General Wesley Clark and Retired U.S. Air Force General Donald Shepperd.

Then, who is Osama bin Laden? We'll take your questions about the world's most wanted man. Joining us, CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen. Plus, a gathering of CNN's top reporters from around the globe to answer your questions on the war on terrorism.

Welcome back. This hour of LATE EDITION belongs to you. We'll be taking your questions about what coalition troops are facing, the mind-set in the operations of Osama bin Laden, and much more. We'll also check in with CNN reporters who are covering the war on terrorism. They will be taking your phone calls as well. We'll get to your calls shortly, but first here is Leon Harris in Atlanta with the check of the latest developments -- Leon.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Leon.

And joining us now to answer your questions about the military aspect of the war as well as how Osama bin Laden and his network operates are three special guests. In Little Rock, CNN military analyst and former NATO supreme allied commander General Wesley Clark. Here in Washington, CNN military analyst and retired U.S. Air Force Major General Donald Shepperd, and CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen. He has interviewed Osama bin Laden and is authoring a book about the al Qaeda leader and other Islamic militants. It's good to have all of you on LATE EDITION.

I want to go to go the phone calls in just a second, but very briefly, General Clark, there is a new CNN/"TIME" magazine poll that is just out, which asks the American public whether they favor the use of U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan -- 64 percent say they would favor U.S. ground troops against targets in Afghanistan, 28 percent say they oppose such use of U.S. ground troops. If the Bush administration, President Bush authorized such use, how dangerous of a mission for these ground forces would there be?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it would depend precisely on what the mission is, but we have already had some confirmation that there have been some ground forces inside Afghanistan, some reconnaissance has been apparently done there. We don't know any of the details of that and really don't need to, but it's clear that we are going to have to put our own eyes into Afghanistan, we've got to be there 24 hours a day, we've got to be able to look at targets and look at where the enemy might be, check movement patterns, get to know local terrain and other indicators that might give us an edge in finding him.

And so, I think this poll is very significant, because it does show the American people fully in support.

BLITZER: All right. Let's go right to the phone calls. We have a caller from New York, please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Hello.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, under what circumstance would the U.S. want to use nuclear weapons?

BLITZER: General Shepperd, is that even a consideration right now?

GEN. DONALD SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Wolf, I don't think nuclear weapons would be useful in this scenario. I can't foresee any reason that we would use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan. It is the horror weapon. We have thought about it for a long time there. There are many military people right now who think we should do away with nuclear weapons. I don't see it at all.

BLITZER: General Clark, as you well remember from your days as the NATO supreme commander and during the Gulf War, there was a threat out there that was clearly discernible that if Saddam Hussein, for example, during the Gulf War introduced weapons of mass destruction, all bets were off, potentially maybe even the nuclear bet. If that were to happen this time, I assume that that scenario probably would return.

CLARK: Well, I think that nuclear weapons will always remain behind the scenes, a potential factor in something like this. But remember, we were dealing then with a state, and now we are dealing with a network of people. And so, the last thing the United States wants to do is become a terrorist group like Osama bin Laden.

We don't want to hurt innocent people. And the problem with nuclear weapons is, of course, that they do -- they are very destructive. And so, unless you had some particular group that you knew its location and you needed that weapon, I can't see it being on the table in any active sense.

BLITZER: All right. We have a caller from Canada, British Columbia. Please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Yes, my question is: Do you see any scenario in which this situation could deteriorate into something resembling a third world war?

BLITZER: All right, General Shepperd, a third world war?

SHEPPERD: Well, for the caller, I think it is a third world war, but a third world war of a different type. This is not the beachheads, this is not the air attacks, it's not all of the things you have been used to with the victory at the end and parades. This is going to be, as our president has said, a very long campaign on many fronts.

The military is only one part of this, and many times not even the most important part. So, you can call it a third world war, that is hyperbole perhaps, but in every sense it is a new and different kind of a third world war.

BLITZER: All right. We have a caller from Arizona, go ahead please.

CALLER: Thank you, Wolf. In the event that the Taliban were to surrender Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda operatives or if they were successfully removed by military special forces, would they be tried in a world court or domestically in the U.S.? And what is the likelihood that a fair trial would be the result?

BLITZER: Let me ask Peter Bergen who has interviewed Osama bin Laden, knows the Taliban, has been there on the ground. First of all, the caller assumed that there might be a chance that the Taliban would hand over Osama bin Laden to someone, third party or whatever. Is that realistic?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, they have made it pretty clear they are not going to hand him over to the United States, but let me say that there are some options that might be considered. There is a group of Muslim nations, the Islamic Organization Conference, made up of 50 Muslim nation. You can imagine a situation where at the certain point the Taliban realize that the United States is very serious about what may happen, that the moderates within the Taliban perhaps even the leader himself realize that there is a face- saving way to deal with bin Laden, which is hand him over, save a lot of blood, hand him over to the Islamic Organization Conference.

Maybe there will be some kind of mechanism that we have seen in the past, for instance with the bombing of PanAm 103, who was -- there was a Dutch court set up under Scottish law for the Libyans who bombed that plane. You can imagine a situation that might -- that might be something that they could work out that might be a face-saving mechanism for the Taliban. Right now, that is not on the table, clearly.

BLITZER: Let me briefly bring in General Clark, because of the military action that you led in the Balkans against Slobodan Milosevic and other alleged war criminals who are now on trial at the world court -- in your opinion, would the world court be a proper venue, judicial venue, for someone like Osama bin Laden?

CLARK: Well, I think he is already under indictment by the United States courts. We would have to surrender our jurisdiction over him and turn him over to a world court that was constituted to do this. There are some procedural problems with that, in terms of the evidence and the other factors.

But in terms of winning a long-term campaign against terrorism and keeping the moral high ground, and not only this network but the other pieces that are connected with it, it's certainly an option that has to be considered. It might be a very smart option.

BLITZER: All right. We are going to take a quick break, we are going to take a lot more of your phone calls for the generals, as well as Peter Bergen. Later, our CNN reporters will be around to answer your questions. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. This hour of LATE EDITION is devoted to your phone calls. We'll be taking them now for our guests, CNN military analyst General Wesley Clark, CNN military analyst General Donald Sutherland -- excuse me, Donald Sutherland -- Donald Shepperd, excuse me, and CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen.

Let's get a caller from Wisconsin, please go ahead.

CALLER: Hi, Wolf. Reports I saw early on after the attack said that Saddam was behind the '93 attack. Do you think since he didn't succeed he could try again, and he ultimately could be behind this entire thing that happened on September 11? BLITZER: As you know, Peter Bergen, there are some experts out there, Lori Mylroie, who have suggested that the '93 attack, the Ramzi Yousef who was the mastermind of the '93 World Trade Center bombing may have been associated with the Iraqi intelligence service. But what's your sense?

BERGEN: There are some facts that support that theory, but very few I think. In fact, I think you will see very clearly particularly now that as we look back that it was an al Qaeda-affiliated operation. Ramzi Yousef, by the way, when he came to this country to bomb the Trade Center was traveling on an Iraqi passport, which is not what you do as an Iraqi intelligence agent if you're planting a bomb.

So -- and he actually trained at the bin Laden camp and lived in a bin Laden guest house. So, I think unlikely that it was Iraq, and I think you will find it's unlikely that Iraq was behind the second attack, although there are indications of a meeting with one of the plotters, an Iraqi intelligence agent earlier this year.

BLITZER: Do you agree with that assessment, General Clark, based on what you know?

CLARK: I do, Wolf.

BLITZER: and what about you, general?

SHEPPERD: I also agree. I don't have the detailed information that he does, but it seems plausible to me and a very logical conclusion.

BLITZER: All right. Let's take another caller from South Carolina, please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Thank you, Mr. Blitzer. In case of a germ/biological attack on the U.S., would the government issue civilians gas masks?

BLITZER: General Clark, you know there is a lot of -- a lot of fear out there in the American public, a lot of concern. People want to buy gas masks, they want to get vaccinations for anthrax, for the biological weapons. How concerned should the American public be right now?

CLARK: Well, I think the American public should be concerned, but I think the problem first is to get the appropriate information out to the public so that they can really understand what the degree and range of appropriate responses would be.

For example, with gas masks, if you had a gas mask, it might be effective in protecting you against a chemical attack, but it's not going to work against most of the biological agents. And there would be a problem with carrying it, and using it, and so forth, but what we have to think with bio is, identifying that it is an attack and then what are the agent or agents, disease or diseases, that are being used, and then going from there to what are the effective measures. It may be vaccine, it may be quarantine, or it may be a combination of this. It is a very complicated set of problems. I know that the government is working very hard on this. And a lot more information needs to come out to the public, but the best thing now for the public to do is simply to study the information that is available and begin to sort through this, because there is a wide variety of responses and not all of them are going to be successful.

BLITZER: What about that, General Shepperd? Should the public be overly alarmed right now, or stay calm and cool?

SHEPPERD: Wolf, for the caller, I absolutely agree with General Clark. This is not a time to panic, it is a time to be cool. You do not need to run out and buy gas masks and do foolish things, worrying about things that are to come or that may never come.

These biological and chemical attacks are very difficult to do. They require specialized equipment. I'm sure that should it become necessary, our government will do the things that they need to do to protect us, but do not panic. It is time to be strong, not afraid.

BLITZER: Peter, I know that you have studied whether or not Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization have -- even have these kinds of capabilities or have been looking into it. When the attorney general of the United States, as he said on this program earlier, that there is concern that crop dusters could be used, that hazardous material, truck licenses may have been provided incorrectly, how worried should they be based on the capabilities of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden?

BERGEN: Based on what we know, the actual capabilities of bin Laden -- we know that they have experimented with cyanide, they have injected dogs with cyanide and they experimented with cyanide gas. This is all in Afghanistan.

They have also made attempts to buy (UNINTELLIGIBLE) material, uranium in 1993, when they were based in Sudan. Bin Laden himself is on the record as wanting to get biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and as we now know his words should be taken pretty seriously, because they are a road map to his actual actions.

My concern is nothing -- has nothing to do with the United States in a way. My concern is, if there was some kind of a military operation in Afghanistan, this group has experimented with these kinds of weapons. They are difficult to weaponize, as the general pointed out, nonetheless they are a terror weapons in the true sense of the word. Even if they don't kill people, they can certainly terrorize.

BLITZER: All right. Let's take another caller. From Montreal, in Canada, please go ahead.

CALLER: Hi, Wolf, how are you doing.

BLITZER: Good.

CALLER: Good. My question is, by going in Afghanistan and either extracting or killing bin Laden for his actions, don't you guys think that it would be more detrimental to the situation than beneficial to it, since it could spark thousands of extremists to become the next Osama bin Laden, and how would you deal with it then?

BLITZER: All right. General Clark.

CLARK: Well, I think this is a consideration, and I think it's one that the administration is very much aware of. And so, this is moving step by step. I think if Osama bin Laden could be extracted, brought to trial, the evidence laid out and it be done in a judicial manner so that people can see this, and at the same time if we go in there, of course we've got to use -- we've got to have the ability to use legal force, but when the evidence comes out, I think that there will be a revulsion against the kind of actions that Osama bin Laden took, and I think it's the actions to detain him, bring the evidence out and then build world opinion against this kind of action that will help us win this war.

So I think getting him is a key step.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, gentlemen. We are going to take another quick break. Still more of your phone calls. Get ready for the Generals Clark and Shepperd and the CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen. Get those phone calls in there. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We are taking your phone calls for CNN military analysts General Wesley Clark and General Donald Shepperd and our CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen. We have a caller from New Jersey, please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Hello, can you hear me?

BLITZER: We can, go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, I'm saying this because I believe that mistakes of the past must be addressed so they never happen again. Don't you agree that having our on the ground inspectors thrown out of Iraq was a watershed moment that should never have been allowed to have happened?

BLITZER: General Clark.

CLARK: Yes, I do. I do agree with that.

BLITZER: I guess the caller is implying that had the U.S. and the other United Nations participants in those weapons inspection teams not complied with Saddam Hussein, then perhaps the message of weakness may not have been sent. Was there a message of weakness sent as a result of that withdrawal of those U.N. weapons inspectors?

CLARK: Certainly, there was. But it is more complicated than that, because there is an actual amount of knowledge and facilities and so forth in Iraq, which could be given to the terrorists. Whether they have been or not, we don't know. But it is very important that we follow through and get rid of the materials that are there.

And we have never been able to do this. It's a combination of diplomatic, political, economic pressures that were operating inside the United Nations, and that enfeebled the response to Saddam's challenges. But for whatever reason, it was a feeble response to Saddam Hussein, and it is something we have to address in the future.

BLITZER: All right. Let's take another caller from Maryland, go ahead.

CALLER: Hi. In view of the mounting evidence of bin Laden operatives and al Qaeda cells in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, which are operating with the support of the KLA, KPC, UCK, UCPMB and NLA members, shouldn't we be reevaluating our support for these organizations and their leaders?

BLITZER: General Clark, that is obviously for you as well.

CLARK: Well, first of all, we are not supporting the KLA or the NLA or their leaders. We never have supported these leaders. What we did try to do was put a halt to ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.

We knew, for example, that there were some Iranian linkages to some mujahedeen in Bosnia in 1995-96. We worked very hard with the Bosnian president, Mr. Izetbegovic, to break these linkages and throw these people out of the country. At one point, we even had a special forces raid on one of their camps, and we through them out. And so, we have been taking action against them for a long time.

During the run-up to the Kosovo campaign, the Russians continued to give me information that said -- they tended to assert that there was fundamentalist terrorists that were behind the KLA. When I asked for the proof of this, I could never get it. So, we never had -- at least I didn't have -- any real evidence of any linkage in this. I have heard this assertion, but the evidence isn't there.

Now, that notwithstanding, there is no question that some of the Islamic charities that are around in the world in various places do serve as agents to help coordinate certain activities, some of these al Qaeda individuals, and they may also channel funds. And they are in many different places, not just in the Balkans.

BLITZER: All right. Let's take another caller from the Netherlands, please go ahead.

CALLER: Yes, what might be some of the tangible objectives to determine long-term victory in this military campaign?

BLITZER: You know, that is a good question, and I'm going to throw it to General Shepperd. And as I do, I want you to look, and our viewers to look at the CNN-"TIME" magazine poll, because we asked the question of the American public, "what do they expect the outcome of the military action in Afghanistan to be?" Look at these numbers, 23 percent thought there would be a quick victory, 56 percent thought there would be a victory but only in the long run, 10 percent thought there would be no victory at all. SHEPPERD: I'm certainly not with the 10 percent, I'm with the 56 percent that thinks it's going to be a long victory. Secretary Rumsfeld was asked the same question, and he took a long time to answer it, even stumbled over the answer. His answer was, and I agree with it, is that when the American public feels like they are safe and secure and can do the things that they were used to doing, that perhaps is the victory.

It's not a victory parade, it's not a clear-cut instate to this. We may never be out of terrorism, but we will on the alert and we will certainly bring it to a much lower level. I'd consider that the victory that we are all looking for.

BLITZER: Peter Bergen, take us into the mind of Osama bin Laden. A man you have interviewed, you are writing a book about him. His sense right now, if he is about to be handed over or captured, would he go down fighting? Would he be willing to die, or is his life precious to him?

BERGEN: Almost certainly go down fighting, I mean definitely. This is a man who has been fighting superpowers in his own mind since the early 1980s when he fought the Soviet Union. Now, he fought, personally fought since 1986 against the Soviet Union. His followers say that he came under a Soviet bombardment of SCUD missiles and felt so at peace that he actually went to sleep, so this is a man who is not really intimidated by superpowers, and this is a man who is very at peace with the notion of dying. So, he is going to go out with a fight.

BLITZER: Just like his followers, those 19 presumably, if in fact they were his followers, those 19 hijackers.

We have to leave it right there. Peter Bergen, General Shepperd, General Clark, always great to have all three of you on our program. Thanks so much for joining us.

And up next, your questions for CNN reporters who are covering this new war. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Joining us now to take your phone calls are CNN reporters and analysts covering different aspects of the war. In Islamabad, Pakistan, CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. In Northern Afghanistan, CNN international correspondent Chris Burns and here in Washington, CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider and of course we have Major Garrett right there, CNN White House correspondent. He is outside of Camp David, where the president was spending this weekend. He is now back in Washington.

Of course Bill Schneider CNN senior political analyst here in the studio. Christiane, let me begin briefly before we take some phone calls, you spent some time with the president of Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf today. Give us you your sense: how on board is he in this new U.S.-led coalition against terrorism? AMANPOUR: Well, he's clearly said that he is fully onboard and he has made that clear ever since September 11. He said a couple things which I found interesting. When asked whether he was personally convinced that Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network were responsible for that terrorist attack, he said, I don't know. I haven't seen any evidence yet. I'm waiting for the evidence. I'm waiting to be briefed.

He said that he had offered the United States all the things that we know that they have offered, airspace, intelligence and logistical support. And when I pressed him on what that meant and would he accept U.S. troops, he said full logistical support. He said that he was very confident, that he had all the public opinion and support of his people on his side. He felt he had made this is case to the people. He acknowledged there were extremists in this society who didn't agree with him, but he felt they were not a threat to his government.

He acknowledged that the hopes of Taliban of giving over Osama bin Laden would dim, and that his efforts at sending personal emissaries to try to convince them otherwise had failed to quote, "moderate" their views. We asked him whether he was sure the Pakastani nuclear facilities would stay in safe hands. He said absolutely. We have a very professional army. He was sure of the command of control.

He went on to say he was very much involved in this but that he did not yet have an operational plan from the United States. He did not yet know quote, "what was being contemplated or what the plan of action was for Afghanistan." -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Of course Christiane's interview, the complete interview with President Musharraf can be seen at 5:30 p.m. Eastern as well as 10:00 p.m. later tonight on the East Coast, Eastern time here in the United States.

We have callers lined up. Let's begin with Tennessee. Please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: The question is: I'm fixing to ask you all, if we attacked Afghanistan, what happened to its citizens?

BLITZER: What about that? Chris Burns, you are in Northern Afghanistan. If the U.S. attacks Afghanistan, as the caller says, what happens to the people, the citizens of Afghanistan?

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf there is a great worry that there will be even more refugees on the road. At this point there are hundreds of thousands of them who are fleeing for the exits because of a lack of food because of worry about U.S. airstrikes. And if that does happen it is feared and the United Nations fears that perhaps millions could be on move, and that would aggravate the humanitarian situation and there was already a humanitarian crisis in this country before all this started -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, let's go out to the next caller from Illinois. Here in the United States, go ahead please.

CALLER: Militarily, wouldn't it be easier for the special forces to zero in on bin Laden's lieutenants first in an effort to capture or kill bin Laden?

BLITZER: Christiane, do you have any thoughts on that? .

AMANPOUR: She said what -- zeroing in bin Laden and what?

BLITZER: She said wouldn't it be easier...

AMANPOUR: What was the question?

BLITZER: She said wouldn't it be easier military to try to target Osama bin Laden's associates first before going directly after Osama bin Laden?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's hard to tell what she means by associates. I mean, he is accused of having associates in 50 or 60 different countries. So you know, it's difficult to tell that. Clearly the United States is talking about terrorist camps. about the whole network and about him, personally, as well.

In terms of targeting him, we saw what happened in 1998, when there was a cruise missile attack on Afghanistan. And according to what we learned afterwards, they missed it by either several minutes or an hour, something like that. So it's not the easiest thing in the world, as I think has been made clear.

BLITZER: Major Garrett, our White House correspondent, I want to bring you into this. Sam Nunn, the former senator from Georgia, the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was on television here in the United States earlier today and he spoke of a new relationship that, in effect, is developing between the U.S. and Russia. Listen so what Sam Nunn had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM NUNN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Pressure now on the United States for one of the few periods in history have almost identical views in this respect. We can build on that. We can join the Russians in engaging against terrorism, but also particularly against bio- terrorism.

There is a huge amount of know-how in Russia and the former Soviet Union. There is a lot of weapons and materials we need get under control and this is really an opportunity to greatly accelerate that effort and use some of Russians' knowledge, particularly in a biological sphere, to develop defensive mechanisms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Are you hearing that there is a receptivity at the White House to work much more closely with the Russians in these areas? MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Clearly, Wolf, the White House sees so many bilateral relations changed by the events of September 11. And that is probably no more clearer than it is in the case of Russia where the two nations have found common cause on the subject of global terrorism.

It's worth pointing out that the Russians had long said to the United States, look, we have a terrorism problem, an acute terrorism problem within our borders. The Chechen rebels have exploded bombs in Moscow. Civilians in our country have died. You need to understand that and be a little bit more sympathetic to the problem we are dealing with terrorism.

The Clinton Administration and for a good while, the Bush Administration chose to look at that situation differently, and say, you need to deal with human rights in Chechnya and prosecute your campaign against the Chechens in a less brutal way. That has changed a good deal. Last week you saw the Bush Administration stressing the fact that Russia did indeed have a terrorism problem, linking the Chechen rebels with Osama bin Laden.

The two nations have found common cause on that and that agreement has led to a much broader conversation about combating terrorism financially, diplomatically and militarily. And I think Senator Nunn is much better placed than I am to talk about the intricacies of Russian information that can be shared with the United States and clearly the White House is willing to hear from any and all sources about just that kind of information .

BLITZER: Bill Schneider, you have been studying all the polls. No one reads polls better than you do. Is there any sense at this stage, less then three weeks after the September 11 attacks that the American public is getting impatient?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No. There is not. The American public is very patient about this. They say they will wait months. Many people say they will wait as long as the president wants to wait. The American people are determined to get this done. They want justice, some want revenge, but they basically want justice, and they are willing to wait as long as it takes. There is very little pressure on the president to act quickly. I should mention there has been a total transformation on the public's view of Russia.

Some 70 percent of Americans say Russia is a country the United States can count on. That's almost as high as Britain and Western Europe. That's a big change.

BLITZER: That is a major change. Let's take another caller from Michigan, please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Good afternoon, everyone. My question is this: What the feasibility of a border tent city set up for refugees that can retreat to it, that way humanitarian aid can be dropped there without fear of it falling into the Taliban hands? BLITZER: Christiane, I know you have been watching this refugee situation develop on the borders of Afghanistan very closely. If you didn't hear the question, the possibility of a border tent city where assistance...

AMANPOUR: I heard it.

BLITZER: ... can be provided, what is happening on that front?

AMANPOUR: Well, this is a big controversy right now. The Pakistanis and the Iranians who have the biggest borders with this part of Afghanistan have closed their borders. So, the U.N., who is responsible for humanitarian assistance, plus other NGOs, are trying to negotiate with the Pakistanis to open some border points, to at least allow them to put up emergency weigh stations, supply tents, food, medicine warm clothing, all the kinds of things a refugee exodus would demand.

And there is also the suggestion, in the realm of public analysis and the like, that there may be some humanitarian aid dropped. You remember for the Kurdish crisis, the United States dropped pallets of food and other such things. And that -- there is also a suggestion of creating safe areas so these refugees can -- or civilians -- can flee to certain parts of Afghanistan and be sure that they would be free from any bombing and also able to receive food and much-needed supplies.

But it is a very, very critical situation that the U.N. humanitarian community is looking at right now.

BLITZER: And all of us of course are watching that humanitarian situation with growing alarm. We are going to take another quick break. When return more phone calls for our reporters around the world. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We are taking phone calls from around the world for CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, CNN international correspondent Chris Burns, CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett and CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

Before we take some more calls, Bill, here in the United States last night, the program -- very popular program -- "Saturday Night Live," returned to their -- usually, it is political satire, a lot of fun. But this week it was very different. Among others Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York was on. I want you to listen this excerpt of what he had to say,

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI, NEW YORK: On our city's darkest day our heroes met the worst of humanity with the best of humanity. Their acts of heroism saved more than 25,000 lives. But even as we grieve for our loved ones it's up to us to face the future with renewed determination. Our hears are broken but they are beating and they are betting stronger than ever!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: If anyone in the United States has emerged from this crisis, these terror attacks extremely popular, extremely strong, it's Rudy Giuliani.

SCHNEIDER: Rudy Giuliani has triumphed in this. He looks like a leader, a man of compassion. It is a Giuliani we have never seen before. Unfortunately he is taking a triumph and turning it into a controversy because he is now trying to make deals with the candidates for mayor of New York -- one of them is supposed to become the new mayor January 1 -- trying to make a deal to allow him to stay in power for an additional three months.

That is very controversial and lot of people think it perverts the Democratic process. We have been through World War II, the Civil War with an orderly transfer of power. Rudy Giuliani appears to believe he is an indispensable man. When Charles Degault first left power in the 1950's, someone called indispensable and he made an interesting comment. He said, the graveyards are filled with indispensable men.

Giuliani. I think, has a bigger political view of himself than a lot of New Yorkers.

BLITZER: All right, let's take another caller. From Canada, Alberta, Canada, go ahead, please.

CALLER: Hello. Why are the Taliban so confident? You would think that with the threat of war and most of the world behind the U.S. that the Taliban would readily meet U.S. demand. Do they have something we don't know about?

BLITZER: That is a good question. We will ask Chris Burns to answer it. He is in Northern Afghanistan with the united front, the so-called Northern Alliance, who are fighting the Taliban. Go ahead, Chris.

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Taliban have an estimated 45,000 fighters. They do boast a certain number of arms that they have seized after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Also they have been receiving help from the Pakistanis in the past. Perhaps they might have some kind of sense of security, but at the same time, of course, you know facing off with the Americans, what they are looking for, they are trying to buy time.

They are hoping they can negotiate their way out of this crisis. And it does appear that they are seriously misled at this point.

BLITZER: All right, we have another caller from Washington State. Please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Yes, thank you. To what degree is the United Nations involved with this present terrorism, and isn't their participation of vital support to all sides?

BLITZER: What about the attitude at the White House, Major Garrett, toward the United Nations and the role its playing in this new war against terrorism?

GARRETT: Wolf, the administration has been reluctant to say whether or not it will seek United Nations resolution authorizing any military action. What the U.N. has already done is pass two resolutions: One right after -- the day after the terrorist attack, saying United States had the full right and responsibility to respond to the terrorist attacks.

And they passed a second resolution also authorizing member nations to participate in this financial war against terrorism, freezing assets, doing others things to choke off the money supply to terrorists. So the administration is very encouraged by those steps. Also encouraged by the general sentiments from Gender Musharraf in Pakistan and others that that original very first U.N. resolution passed the day after the terrorist attacks is really all the authorization the United States' government needs from the U.N. to pursue a military retaliation for that terrorist attack.

It does not cover however, any other military action the United States government might take for others involved in global terrorism. That is a much broader outline for the war on terrorism, one the U.N. so far has been silent on -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour, from Islamabad, you are monitoring what is happening in Pakistan. The critical ally to the United States right now in this war on Terrorism. You remember a week ago when there was that supposed fax from Osama bin Laden that went to the Al Jazeera news agency in Qatar. Among other things, bin Laden was supposed to have said this: "We tell our Muslim brothers in Pakistan to use all their means to resist the invasion of the American crusader forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan."

How much of a sense of sympathy or support for Osama bin Laden do you feel there is in Pakistan, at least from what you can tell?

AMANPOUR: Well let's just say that the Pakistani government was very concerned by that fax and by that exhortation to uprising, really. But what has happened in the interim, in the days and the whole week that has followed, it that it hasn't had any resonation at all on the ground.

Indeed, although there is sympathy for the Taliban and for Osama bin Laden, in some circles, it appears not to be as great or even as highly demonstrated on the streets as the government here feared. There have been demonstrations fairly regularly, but each one is a little bit smaller than the last, a little more orderly, a little less violent. And so the government is taking quite a lot of comfort in that, while at the same time knowing that there's a certain sector of this population, what they call extremists, who do support the Taliban.

BLITZER: Chris Burns, while we have you up there in Northern Afghanistan with the united front the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban, what is the very latest that you can sense of on-the-ground activity in this continuing war between these two forces?

BURNS: On the ground, Wolf, quite a bit of tension. We have seen in the last few days a buildup of forces reported by the Northern Alliance on both sides of that front that is between us and the capitol Kabul. An almost daily exchange of fire, artillery fire, gunfire.

In fact this evening, a CNN crew was within view of that front line and saw and heard artillery fire, something set ablaze and there were reports of troop movements on the other side by the Taliban, so there are tensions there that do continue. They have been fighting this stalemated war for the last five years and what the Northern Alliance hopes is that with U.S. airstrikes it would weaken the Taliban, level the playing field and allow the Northern Alliance to advance toward Kabul. That is the hope of the Northern Alliance.

There has been fighting also going on in the north where the Northern Alliance united front has been claiming some advances, but it does appear that that advance has stalled. That -- of course there are also concerns about if and when they do come to power in Kabul, what sort of political constellation there would be in a government there. People do of course remember five years ago when there was a lot of factional fighting, when the Northern Alliance was in power at the time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Chris Burns in NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN. I want to thank you and I want to thank all of our reporters, Christiane Amanpour in Islamabad, Major Garrett outside of Camp David in Maryland and Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst and I want to thank all of our viewers who called in as well. Good questions, and of course excellent answers from all of you. Up next, Bruce Morton's last word and what is on the cover of this week's major news magazines. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Time now four Bruce Morton's last word one on what could be on of the first casualties of "America's New War."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BUSH: Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush keeps telling Americans to lead normal lives, travel, go to a ball game, whatever. Here in Washington his administration has made that hard to do. This city's main industry is government and politics, sure. But tourism is a close second. And you can pick up "The Washington Post" any day this past week and read stories about empty restaurants and hotels, museums with slumping attendance and so on.

The airport closest to the city, Reagan National, remains closed was not involved on any of the September 11 attacks, but it remains closed, the only one in the country shut down. The airports involved in the attacks: Logan in Boston, Newark, and Dulles in Virginia are open. New York's La Guardia, as close to that city's landmarks as Reagan is to this one's is open. But of course New York's landmarks don't include the president and Congress.

Some streets in Washington remain closed and the government reportedly is thinking about closing more. And automobile access to the railroad station and the adjoining commuter terminal and subway station has been restricted. So catching a train will take more time.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich wrote an op-ed piece in "The Washington Post" this past week urging that Reagan National and Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House be reopened, arguing that closing them is a victory for terror and fear. The avenue was originally closed to motor traffic in 1995 in response to two incidents: one involving a light plane, and the other a pedestrian which had nothing to do with cars or trucks but it stayed closed.

(on camera): There is always a conflict of course. The Secret Service and the other people involved in security would like to seal the president up in a bubble.

(voice-over): They know total security is impossible, but they want all they can get. Presidents normally like to get out as this president has talking to rescue worker in New York and airline employees in Chicago.

But his temporary hometown needs for other people to be moving around, eating meals, renting hotel rooms, and so on. And the restrictions now in place, never mind the new ones being talked, do the opposite. Tourists who are afraid will stay home. Others will go to places they can tour freely: San Francisco, the grand canyon, wherever -- but Washington. These are hard times.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce. And now a look at what is on the cover of this week's major news magazines in the United Sates. "Time" magazine asks: How real is the threat? Germ and chemical warfare. Suicide bombers, nuclear weapons, a jittery nation needs to separate reality from rumor with a gas mask on the cover.

"Newsweek" questions, how scared should you be? A special report on biological and chemical terror with man in a gas mask also featured on the cover. And on the cover of "U.S. News and World Report," "A New Kind of War: Bombs, Spies, a Global Hunt. And that is just for starters.

That's all the time we have for LATE EDITION for this Sunday. September 30. Thank you very much. I will be back tonight at 8:00 p.m. for a special edition of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS". I'm Wolf Blitzer from Washington.

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