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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Rice Discusses Mideast Developments; Pelosi, Shelby Debate Sufficiency of U.S. Intelligence; Amin Addresses Future Afghan Government

Aired November 18, 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; 9:30 p.m. in Kabul, Afghanistan; and 10:00 p.m. in Islamabad, Pakistan. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this special three-hour LATE EDITION.

We'll get to our interview with the U.S. national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, shortly. But first, the latest developments in the war on terrorism.

And we begin in Afghanistan where, for the first time in five years, significant parts of the country are no longer under Taliban control. CNN's Christiane Amanpour is in the Afghan capital of Kabul with all the latest developments.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour in Kabul.

And this note, Christiane will be back during our third hour to take your phone calls and questions on the latest situation, together with other reporters covering this story.

Thank you very much, Christiane.

Meanwhile, President Bush has a very busy week ahead. Once he gets back to Washington, his first order of business tomorrow will be the signing of a new aviation security bill into law.

CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett joins us now live from near the presidential ranch in Crawford, Texas.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: And there's another breaking news story we've been following for the past hour or so. In the northern Arabian Sea, an oil tanker suspected of carrying Iraqi oil has sunk, and two U.S. Navy sailors who boarded the ship are missing.

CNN's Kathleen Koch is over at the Pentagon. She has all the latest details.

(NEWSBREAK) BLITZER: We'll continue to monitor that story as well.

Meanwhile, the breathtaking retreat of the Taliban is shifting some of the focus in the war against terrorism from the military to the diplomatic, as suddenly new emphasis is on trying to form a new and broad-based government in Afghanistan.

Earlier today I spoke with the president's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice about the Bush administration's next steps.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Dr. Rice, thanks for joining us.

I want to get right to the issue of what's happening on the ground in Afghanistan. But first, this incident in the Persian Gulf involving an Iraqi oil tanker missing. What's the latest?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: My understanding is that this was a part of our normal interdiction efforts to make certain that the U.N. sanctions are being observed. That there was no incident, no hostile incident at sea, but rather that when American sailors boarded this to check out the cargo, that the ship sank. And it may have been weather-related, it may have been overloaded, but we have no reason to believe it was a hostile incident of any kind.

BLITZER: And it was no deliberate provocation, deliberate action against Iraq?

RICE: Absolutely not. This is a normal process in which we have been engaged for a number of years, of making certain that the U.N. sanctions are observed.

BLITZER: All right, let's get to the situation inside Afghanistan right now.

Do you, the U.S. government, have any idea where Osama bin Laden is right now?

RICE: We have no reason to believe that he has left Afghanistan. We do believe that he continues to operate in a fairly narrow range.

RICE: We think that the more that we are stripping away his protection in a sense, stripping away the Taliban, stripping away the hardcore fighters that protect him, that we're beginning to narrow his possibilities for hiding.

But I want to be very clear that getting the Al Qaeda network broken up is really what we're after here; that it's terrific that the Northern Alliance has had the successes that it's had. It's very important that the Taliban are fleeing and that we're loosening the grip on the country. But this mission will not be complete until we have broken up this Al Qaeda network and until it can not do the kind of harm that it did on September 11.

BLITZER: Have you narrowed the potential area where Osama bin Laden is to within 30 square miles or anything like that?

RICE: We believe that his options are quite a bit narrower than they were when we began.

BLITZER: Is it near Kandahar in the south?

RICE: I can't speak to precisely where he is. But we are narrowing this, and we are putting a net around him, and eventually we are going to get him.

BLITZER: Do you want to get him alive or dead? In other words, do you want to capture him, or do you want to kill him?

RICE: As the president has said -- our view of this is that we have to break up this Al Qaeda network and we have to make certain that bin Laden and his lieutenants are brought to justice. And that's the focus here. The president has said we'll do it any way that we can.

BLITZER: Well, what would be better in your opinion? Would it be better to put him on trial -- to capture him, put him on trial? Or just to kill him?

RICE: I think the most important thing is that he's not able to function any longer, and we're agnostic as to how that happens.

BLITZER: So even a long drawn-out trial, he may be able to function in certain ways.

RICE: I rather doubt that we're talking about -- just given the circumstances here, I rather doubt we're talking about a long, drawn- out trial.

BLITZER: Mohammed Atef, one of his top deputies, do you know for a fact now that he is dead?

RICE: We are getting more and more confirming evidence that he is. In fact, I think a Taliban leader has said that we managed to eliminate him. That's very good news because he was the number-three man in the organization. He most likely planned a lot of these attacks.

But the Al Qaeda network is more than one man. And we have made very clear that there's an entire leadership here, an entire command and control structure that has to be taken down.

BLITZER: Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, he gave an interview to the BBC this past week. Among other things, he said this: "The current situation in Afghanistan is related to a bigger cause, that is the destruction of America. If God's help is with us, this will happen within a short period of time."

Do the same rules of engagement, as far as Osama bin Laden is concerned, involve Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban?

RICE: Taliban command and control, including Mullah Omar, clearly have to be eliminated if we're going to be able to loosen the grip of the Taliban and to win this war. And winning this war, again, means getting rid of the Taliban leadership so that the grip on the country is loosened, so that we can rout out the Al Qaeda, and so Afghanistan is no longer a terrorist haven.

But this is -- he is considered command and control.

BLITZER: So you want to capture or kill Mullah Omar and his top lieutenants as well.

RICE: We are certainly determined to eliminate the command and control apparatus of the Taliban as well.

BLITZER: You saw the headline in The Washington Post that, some 10 times in recent weeks, the U.S. military thought they had the leadership targeted, but then it went through the chain of command, the Central Command; by the time everybody approved it, the lawyers and everybody else, it was too late.

RICE: I would be somewhat skeptical of reports of people who say we knew we had him. This is a very complicated matter of knowing where these people are, of knowing what you're looking at.

I will just say that I don't want to comment on kind of anonymous carping against the strategy that's working very, very well and against a commander that's working very, very well.

The president approved a military strategy at the beginning of this. It had ample authority for the military to discharge its duties.

Of course there was concern about civilian casualties. We are a civilized society and we're concerned about civilian casualties.

But this is a strategy that is working. It is working because we are now on the ground. We're able to marry up our considerable air power with the ground offensive that the Northern Alliance has been engaged in. And we're achieving the objectives.

BLITZER: The Northern Alliance appears to be acting as if it's the new government of Afghanistan in Kabul. You saw the former leader Rabbani, he's now on the ground in Kabul.

Seems to be acting as if he's the prime minister of Afghanistan or the president or whatever.

And this seems to go against what President Bush specifically said earlier in the week. I want to play an excerpt from what the president said on Tuesday about the Northern Alliance. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have no intention of occupying. And they said this publicly, they intend not to occupy Kabul, which is fine. That's the way it ought to be. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: They're operating out of the foreign ministry, the treasury, most of the government buildings in Kabul. They seem to be thinking that they're the government.

RICE: In the first phases when the Taliban were fleeing from Kabul, it's very clear that the Northern Alliance believed that they faced a situation in which the Taliban were really wreaking havoc and there was a kind of chaos ensuing in Kabul. And so they used some of their security forces to try and bring about some order. They did keep the bulk of their forces outside the city, as they were asked to do.

We've made very clear to the leadership of the Northern Alliance -- and they have said that they want to be a part of a broad-based government in Afghanistan. And that cannot be done if there's some kind of declared government up front.

And so, what you're seeing here is, I believe, a willingness of the Northern Alliance to wait for the process that needs to get underway here.

Mr. Brahimi is working very hard now to bring various parties together in a process so that a provisional government can be established. That government cannot be Northern Alliance only, and we've made that very clear to them. So have the Russians, the French, the British, others.

Clearly they understand what has to be done here, and we have no reason to believe that they are unwilling to participate in that process.

BLITZER: Lakhdar Brahimi, of course, is the U.N. special envoy.

RICE: Yes.

BLITZER: He spoke out about what he would like to see when all is said and done. I want you to listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY: The preferred option is an all-Afghan force, provided it can be fielded in a speedy, robust and credible manner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Can that be done, is that realistic?

RICE: Well, it's an option, but I think that there are really two important elements here:

One is that the political process now really needs to catch up with the facts on the ground. Quite clearly the facts on the ground evolved very quickly. The political process that Mr. Brahimi is going to lead of bringing together the various ethnic groups in Afghanistan -- Pashtun, ethnic Tajiks, ethnic Uzbeks and other tribes -- so that this government has a broad base, that really has to get under way now.

The security arrangements that will attend the arrangements that are political, I think still has to be worked out. And we need to do whatever will be most effective.

BLITZER: The Taliban soldiers who are defecting, what happens to them? Are they arrested, are they pursued? Are they brought in, are they welcomed as part of a potentially new regime in Afghanistan?

RICE: We're not going to try to dictate the nature of this government to the Afghan people. It is really the U.N.'s role and Mr. Brahimi's role to bring them together to discuss the solution here.

Clearly, Taliban leadership and those who've been associated with the Taliban most closely can't possibly be a part of this, because obviously they have wrecked the country, they've been incredibly repressive. They've oppressed the people. They've allowed Afghanistan to be occupied by foreign invaders, including a terrorist cell that is doing great harm and damage to many countries all over the world. They obviously can't be a part of anything like this.

BLITZER: But are they treated as POWs?

RICE: They will be treated -- I'm quite certain that they will be treated well, unlike the way that they would treat anyone under their own auspices.

BLITZER: You've seen the reports, though, that some Northern Alliance troops are summarily executing, torturing Taliban soldiers and others, especially the non-Afghans, the Pakistanis, the Arabs who worked with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

RICE: I've seen lots of reporting about what is going on in a very chaotic situation. I've also seen reports that these foreign fighters, these mercenaries who came from around the world to occupy Afghanistan and to give cover and support to the Al Qaeda network are fighting back hard, that they've said that they are not going to be take alive. And so we have to remember that this is a wartime situation.

BLITZER: This week in Kabul, even our own CNN producers and crews and reporters found all sorts of documents in so-called Al Qaeda safehouses dealing with chemical, biological, even nuclear capabilities. Do you believe, first of all, that Al Qaeda has any even crude nuclear capability.

RICE: We have no evidence that they actually have a device or have capability. But we do know that Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants have been very clear that they intend to acquire weapons of mass destruction and that they believe it, quote, "their religious duty" to do so. So we're taking this very seriously.

We have to act as if they might acquire something, and that's why the president is absolutely serious about routing them out, disrupting them, making certain that they don't have safe haven as quickly as possibly.

If ever it were clear that we are in a war of self-defense, this kind of information, that they're seeking a weapon of mass destruction, just makes that case even stronger.

BLITZER: The war in Afghanistan looks like it's going to be over relatively soon. But the other war against terrorism around the world could go on for a long, long time. How much longer do you think the fighting inside Afghanistan will continue?

RICE: We are not proceeding as if the war is nearing conclusion, because we know that until the mission is achieved -- and that mission is to rout out Al Qaeda, to make certain that its leadership cannot reconstitute, to make certain that Afghanistan cannot be used as a terrorist base -- and in order to do that we do have to loosen the grip of the Taliban, but that was always a means to an end, not an end to itself.

And so, until we've achieved this mission, this war is not done. And we're not making any predictions about how long that will take.

It is also true that the president has made clear that Afghanistan is not the only place that we have to worry about in terrorism. But we're going about this in a multiplicity of ways, including working with governments around the world to rout out terrorists, to shut off their financial networks, to use law enforcement and intelligence information to disrupt their activities.

So there is a lot going on, even as we're trying to bring to a conclusion eventually the war in Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: In just a moment, more of my interview with the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. I'll ask her about the White House's latest efforts to publicize the plight of women in Afghanistan. What about the women's rights elsewhere in the region?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Now more of my interview with the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: The first lady delivered the president's radio address yesterday, as you know, and spoke out about the plight of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Among other things, she said this. Listen to this: (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Yet the terrorists who helped rule that country now plot and plan in many countries, and they must be stopped. The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BLITZER: Does that go beyond Afghanistan to other countries in the region?

RICE: Clearly the situation in Afghanistan was one of the most horrific for women that we have seen in quite a long time. And we have to remember that Afghanistan was a country in which women were educated, in which women were doctors and women were teachers. And any post-Taliban regime has got to be better for the lives of women. That's one of our values.

Clearly the United States wants to uphold its values worldwide. And we believe in equal rights for women. We believe that women are an important part of any society. And I think we are living proof by example that when women are fully incorporated a country is better off for it.

BLITZER: I asked the question because Saudi Arabia, close U.S. ally, in the State Department's current human rights report, dealing with women in Saudi Arabia, among other things, the State Department says this:

"Women have few political or social rights and are not treated as equal members of society. There are no active women's rights groups. Women legally may not drive motor vehicles and are restricted in their use of public facilities when men are present. Women must enter city buses by separate rear entrances and sit in specially designated sections. Women risk arrest by the Mutawa," which is the religious police, "for riding in a vehicle driven by a male who is not an employee or a close male relative. Women are not admitted to a hospital for medical treatment without the consent of a male relative. By law and custom, women may not undertake domestic or foreign travel alone."

That sounds very harsh to most Westerners.

RICE: Well, we are clearly not trying to dictate the laws of every country in the world. But we do make very clear to every country in the world that we have very strong views about the rights of women. It's a human-rights issue for us, and we carry out our policies mindful of our responsibility to stay true to our values.

We also believe that practically any country that degrades women or any country that cuts them off from the vital life of the country is making a very big mistake. And we make that very clear.

It is true that in the Middle East, many countries are making great strides in the rights of women, and we think that's a very positive trend.

BLITZER: Do you routinely, regularly, have you ever raised this issue with the government of Saudi Arabia?

RICE: The United States raises this issue all the time. You just read from a human rights report from the State Department. We have multiple ways of raising these issues. I don't think anybody would doubt where the United States stands on the rights of women internationally.

BLITZER: Some have suggested that the model being used to uproot terrorism in Afghanistan -- finding local rebels, working with neighboring country, Pakistan in this particular case -- could be used in dealing with Iraq for example. Turkey, a close U.S. ally in the north. Opposition to Saddam Hussein; the Kurds in the north, the Shiites in the south.

Is the Afghan model for uprooting terrorism inside Afghanistan applicable to dealing with Saddam Hussein and the terrorist threat from Iraq?

RICE: We're not going to try to mechanistically apply what we have applied in Afghanistan to every case. What the president's made very clear is that the war on terrorism is a broad war on terrorism; that we do not believe that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists; that you cannot like Al Qaeda and say that you favor Hezbollah, for instance. And so we've made very clear that this is a broad war on terrorism.

But we're using a multiplicity of means. We are using financial pressure in a number of places. We're using law enforcement and intelligence in other places. And we're using moral suasion.

We're also, however, making very clear to countries that this is not a good business to be in. Harboring terrorists is not a good business to be in.

Now, as to Iraq, Iraq is, in a sense, a different case. We have said for a number of years that Iraq is a threat to its neighbors, to its people, to the region and to American interests. This is someone who is trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, has been trying to do it ever since he's been in power, has been caught a couple of times trying to do it, and clearly does not want U.N. inspectors in Iraq because he wants to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

We didn't need September 11 to tell us that he is a threat to our interests. And we are monitoring him. We are watching him. We'll deal with that situation eventually.

BLITZER: Secretary of State Powell is expected to deliver a major speech on the Israeli-Palestinian situation tomorrow, declaring U.S. support once again for a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Two-part question. First part, does the United States believe that Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, is ready to live in peace alongside Israel? RICE: The work that we're doing with Yasser Arafat is very clearly because we believe he is the representative of the Palestinian people. We're not trying to choose representation for the Palestinian people.

What we have said to him is that responsible leadership means that you cannot associate with terrorists. We have said that to responsible leaders all over the world.

And we have asked him to demonstrate that responsible leadership by arresting terrorists, by dealing with them, by making certain that they are not in his midst, so that conditions can be created on the ground and a future vision of a Middle East, in which Israel is secure and there is a secure Palestinian state where the Palestinian people can determine their own destiny, can be fulfilled.

And so that's the nature of our dialogue with Mr. Arafat. It's also the nature of our dialogue with Israel, that we believe there's a process in place that provides an alternative to the difficult situation that all are experiencing in the region right now.

BLITZER: Do you have confidence that Prime Minister Sharon can make the kinds of concessions that the Palestinians would need for there to be a complete Israeli-Palestinian settlement?

RICE: I'm quite confident that the state of Israel desires peace and that Prime Minister Sharon desires peace. There have to be negotiations.

What cannot be compromised is the security of Israel. We have made that very clear.

What needs to be discussed is how the parties can move forward on what they jointly have said is a good blueprint for this, which is the Mitchell process. It gives them a series of steps to go through so that they eventually get to the more difficult issues that are out in the future.

But there is no doubt in my mind that the Israeli government wants to seek peace.

BLITZER: We have to let you go, but I can't let you go without saying a lot of viewers saw that beautiful pictorial spread about you in Vogue magazine. That was quite a little spread.

(LAUGHTER)

RICE: It was fun. I decided when you have a photographer like Annie Liebowitz who wants to work with you, it's nice to have a little bit of fun.

The piano is obviously extremely important to me, and I wanted people to see that the piano is central to my life.

BLITZER: Well, maybe the next time you're on this program, we will get a piano and you'll show the world. RICE: I'd love to do it.

BLITZER: OK.

RICE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Condoleezza Rice, good luck to you.

RICE: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And just ahead with the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden still unknown, is the U.S. intelligence community up to the job of finding him? We'll talk with two key members of Congress who have been monitoring intelligence efforts, Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senator Richard Shelby.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Osama bin Laden, by all accounts, remains both alive and elusive despite the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan.

We're joined now by two leading members of the U.S. House and Senate: In Birmingham, Alabama, Senator Richard Shelby. He's the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. And in San Francisco, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. She's the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. She also was recently elected the minority whip. She'll take that position in the House of Representatives in January.

Good to have both of you on LATE EDITION.

And, Congresswoman Pelosi, let me begin with you. What do you -- does the U.S. intelligence community, in your opinion, have a good sense of where Osama bin Laden is right now?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: I really couldn't say, Wolf. I know that they have a better idea of where he is.

But I do also think that whether he is taken dead or alive is an elementary question. I think that he's instructed those around him to kill him if the Americans come anywhere near him.

BLITZER: How do we know that? How does the U.S. government know that?

PELOSI: Well, we've had -- there's empirical and anecdotal information to that effect. I don't have proof positive to tell you that right here. But there are two things that they say he dreads: One is to be taken by the Americans, and another is to die a natural death -- that is, not to die in the jihad. So he's even -- it's been reported that he's told his son, even his son, to kill him if he is to be apprehended by the Americans.

BLITZER: Senator Shelby, is that consistent with what you know about Osama bin Laden?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: Well, we do know that the perimeter has shortened a lot over the last week in Afghanistan. He doesn't have as big a place to run there.

I don't know where he is today. I hope our people know basically where he is. But knowing generally where he is and getting him, destroying him is two different things.

BLITZER: What about Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban, Senator Shelby? Do the same rules apply toward him as apply toward Osama bin Laden?

SHELBY: Well, I'm not sure about that. I believe that he is the leader of the Taliban, or was, and we think he is right now. What his fate will be ultimately, I don't know. It might depend on what kind of deal he cuts toward the end with the Northern Alliance and their allies.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Pelosi, do you share the administration's concern about what's happening apparently politically on the ground in Afghanistan right now, with the Northern Alliance not only taking over huge chunks of the country, perhaps two-thirds, but also beginning to behave as if it's the ruling government?

PELOSI: Well, I think that is a concern that we all share. The fact is that we want to have, perhaps under U.N. auspices, a multi- ethnic government formed there, so that we just don't go in to another crisis.

Certainly the Northern Alliance, they have fought bravely. Sadly, Massoud is not there to be part of the victories that they are experiencing.

But it is -- the United States has a major role in that. And what we want to do is to have a government established in Afghanistan, with, by the way, women being full participants in establishing that government, and not one that substitutes one faction for another. Not to equate the Northern Alliance with the Taliban, but to just say that, in order for peace to have any length to it, it has to be one that is multi-ethnic, that involves many of the tribes. And, as you know, the southern part of Afghanistan needs to be represented in that government.

BLITZER: Senator Shelby, during the campaign last year, the president, when he was the candidate, lamented what he called the Clinton administration's efforts at nation-building, but isn't that precisely what the Bush administration is trying to achieve right now in Afghanistan?

SHELBY: I think running for president is one thing, being the president and being informed of what's really going on in the world is another.

I think President Bush realizes now, to a great extent, that we're going to have to, with our allies and our neighbors, help rebuild Afghanistan, to help the people there create a nation.

SHELBY: I believe myself that no tribe, no ethnic group, could dominate that country. And some type of federation, where all tribes, all people are represented, is the best hope that we can have for that country.

BLITZER: What happens next, Congresswoman Pelosi? Assuming the military operation is over with, one way or another relatively soon in Afghanistan, the administration says the war against terrorism will continue. But should it continue next in your opinion against Iraq?

PELOSI: Well, I do think that the president has made it clear that we will rout out terrorism where it exists and go to those countries that harbor terrorists.

If the information -- if the documentation is there that terrorism is still a threat to the world because of the activities of the Iraqis, well, a judgment will have to be made at that time.

The president has the authority to fight terrorism in events springing from September 11. So if he's going well beyond that, we may have to have a revisiting of that authority in Congress. But the American people want us to snuff out, eliminate terrorism wherever it exists.

BLITZER: What is the mood in the Senate, as far as you can tell, Senator Shelby, about Iraq and terrorism right now?

SHELBY: Well, I think we all realize that Iraq has sponsored terrorism, has tried very hard to get nuclear weapons, would do anything.

At the moment, though, I think we should focus on Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden and his group, but we should not ignore terrorists wherever they are. If they lead to Iraq or other countries, we've got the pursue them.

The president has promised the American people he would do this. I believe he will have the backing of the Senate and the House in doing so.

BLITZER: All right. Senator, Congresswoman, we're going to take a quick break.

We have a lot more to talk about with Nancy Pelosi and Richard Shelby. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're continuing our conversation with Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama and Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California.

Congresswoman Pelosi, as you know, President Bush has authorized these new military tribunals to deal with accused terrorists. The New York Times, among other publications, very concerned about this infringements on the constitutional rights of individuals.

Among other things, the New York Times, in an editorial on Friday wrote: "In its effort to defend America from terrorist, Mr. Bush is eroding the very values and principles he seeks to protect including the rule of law."

Are you on board as far as this policy by the Bush administration is concerned?

PELOSI: No, I'm not on board, and I have expressed disagreement of not only my own disagreement but those of many of my colleagues to the highest level of the Bush administration.

I am very concerned about what the president has put forth, although again, we're respectful of his need to snuff out terrorism, prevent any acts from happening again. We recognize that there has to be some derogation of rights in our country in this unusual emergency time.

However, I think the president goes too far. I think what he's doing is almost a usurpation of the system of checks and balances. Here we have the executive branch under the Department of Defense usurping the power of the judiciary for trials in the United States for non-citizens. Here we have the Department of Defense making the definitions, establishing the regulations for how those cases will proceed.

If anything is to proceed in this direction, I think that the House -- the Congress of the United States, should be fully involved in how that balance is created, how that recognized derogation of freedom will happen for this short period of time.

But I'm very, very concerned. They determined what the burden of proof is, that it's only two-thirds of the tribunal would be required for a guilty verdict instead of unanimous as in a trial. These are in secret. They could give the death penalty. And I have serious questions as to whether the people have been rounded up already in the United States would be subjected to this.

BLITZER: Senator Shelby, as you know, there are even some conservatives, this is not necessarily just a liberal-conservative issue, some conservatives have expressed concern about some of these new measures. Where do you stand on this?

SHELBY: I believe President Bush is exactly right. There is historical precedent for this. A lot of this comes out of what is known as the law of war under President Roosevelt, Second World War. This kind of court where we tried spies, terrorists and so forth that would help destroy this country.

The Supreme Court of the United States has looked into this and upheld it. I believe it's the right thing to do. It's the only thing to do. It's the right message, I believe.

BLITZER: And let me ask you another question on a different controversial subject, Congresswoman Pelosi, aviation security, the House and Senate...

PELOSI: Before we go from that, Wolf, if I may say, if that is the case, then why not involve Congress in making the decisions about how we would derogate the freedoms in our country in this time of emergency? It may be that we're right at that point.

SHELBY: Nancy, we're not talking about American citizens. We're talking about dealing with terrorists. And I believe the president -- I know the president's right and the courts have upheld this before.

PELOSI: I disagree.

BLITZER: Nancy Pelosi, this doesn't deal with U.S. citizens. It's people who are suspected of being terrorists.

But let me move on to aviation...

PELOSI: I understand -- non-citizens in the United States. And as you know, this takes place at a time when we're interrogating 5,000 Middle Eastern young men when 18 and 32 with a temporary visa in the United States. We're listening in on phone conversations.

I think that all of this may be necessary, but why can't we go through our legislative process of hearings? That can be done quickly, to say this is a place where we have come with legitimacy rather than deigning on high that we will usurp the power of Congress, usurp the power of the judiciary, with no definitions of what any of these charges are and arrests, except to be defined by the Secretary of Defense.

It may be well be we arrive at that place. And certainly outside the United States that would be what would be normal. But I will say this, that in other countries...

BLITZER: Let me let Senator Shelby respond.

SHELBY: Wolf, I respectfully disagree with the congresswoman. I believe we're talking about apples and oranges, and let's stay on apples. We're talking about terrorists. We're talking about military courts. There's a precedent for it. The president, I believe, is exactly right.

BLITZER: All right. Unfortunately, we're all out of time. We're going to leave it right there. We'll continue this discussion, move on to some other issues on another program.

I want to thank both Richard Shelby, Nancy Pelosi. Thanks so much for joining us.

And just ahead, now that the Northern Alliance is in control of Kabul and other key areas, how close is the Taliban to losing its grip on all of Afghanistan? We'll talk with the Northern Alliance special envoy, Haron Amin, when LATE EDITION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: You're looking at pictures of the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance forces as they took control of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, on Tuesday. The Alliance has set up an interim government, while the Taliban stronghold has largely been reduced to southern Afghanistan.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now from New York is the Northern Alliance special representative, Haron Amin.

Mr. Amin, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

And let's get right to the issue at hand. As far as the Northern Alliance is concerned, are you trying to set up a government in Kabul right now?

HARON AMIN, NORTHERN ALLIANCE SPOKESMAN: No, that's not the objective here, Wolf. President Rabbani has gone into Kabul. He announced yesterday in a press conference that the objective now is to hold a U.N.-led peace process for Afghanistan.

And I think that the United Nations should immediately look into fostering and furnishing the appropriate venue and site for such a gathering, which we gather as of this morning to be, I think, Germany might be the venue for this place.

BLITZER: When do you think this kind of meeting to try to bring together all the various ethnic and political factions of Afghanistan, when might that occur?

AMIN: It should be in the making. I would presume that maybe within the next week that should be taking place.

We certainly had a preference for it to be held in Kabul, but I think that for some reason, I think that there was some sort of consensus that it should have been held elsewhere. And so we yielded, acquiesced to that, and we hope that it's going to be done as soon as possible.

BLITZER: Will your president, Rabbani, will he be going to Germany for that meeting? And where in Germany will it be?

AMIN: We don't know exactly where, but I think one site that was mentioned was Germany.

I think that a delegation from the United Front will certainly go to that gathering. And we would have wished for the Council of National Unity to have taken place by now in Kabul with the former monarch -- king of Afghanistan, King Zahir Shah. But then apparently the U.N. wants it elsewhere, in Germany, and I know that the king's people are also coming there.

So it's going to be good for people to -- from all walks of life and all segments to get together and then go about the formulation of the future transitional set-up.

BLITZER: I know the Northern Alliance has supported, at least as a symbolic presence, the exiled king of Afghanistan returning to Kabul. What's stopping him from coming back right now?

AMIN: Well, I think that as we had put a call for him to come to Kabul, meanwhile I think the United Nations under the latest Security Council wanted this whole peace process to move ahead.

And I think that since the venue and site has changed for this gathering, somewhere in Europe, I think that for him to have hoped over to Afghanistan and then gone back over to Europe might have been problematic in the logistical sense.

So I think that they're going to head over to whatever country it might be, Germany or elsewhere, the U.N.-led peace process. Then I think everyone's going to go to Kabul.

BLITZER: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance, spoke out Tuesday, saying he too would like to see a broad-based government put in power in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: I want you to listen to what he had to say on Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, FOREIGN MINISTER OF THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE: We invite all Afghan groups at this stage to come to Kabul and to start negotiations and to speed up the negotiations about the future of Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Does that include Taliban?

ABDULLAH: Taliban excluded.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So no role for the Taliban, moderate elements of the Taliban, Taliban forces who have defected. Anyone associated with the Taliban would be excluded, as far as the Northern Alliance is concerned, from the next government?

AMIN: Well, I think, Wolf, we have to get the facts clear here.

The Taliban have brutalized the Afghan nation so badly, particularly women, that I think it leaves no room for them. Where were these moderates when the Taliban were mistreating women? Where were these moderate Taliban when the nation was under the reign of terror? Where were these moderates who stood up against Osama bin Laden? So I think there are no moderate Taliban. The very person that was named a moderate Taliban by his friends in Pakistan ended up saying he would be the first person to protect Osama bin Laden.

So I think the whole idea of moderate Taliban is just out of context. And it's up to the Afghan nation to decide if in the future they would want moderate Taliban to participate in any political process.

BLITZER: As you know, the big issue -- a big issue, assuming the U.S. military and the Northern Alliance, the other coalition partners get the military job in Afghanistan done relatively quickly, the issue will be peacekeeping inside Afghanistan.

Richard Holbrooke, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post this past week. Among other things, he said this: "To me, this is fantasy. The Afghans have been fighting among themselves too long to form an integrated security force right now. The only real options are a U.N. peacekeeping force or a multilateral force that is sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council but run separately."

In other words, foreign forces serving as peacekeepers in Afghanistan. Is the Northern Alliance on board, as far as that's concerned?

AMIN: Well, let me say that Mr. Holbrooke is entitled to his opinion. I do respect him. He's a very good ambassador.

But I think, in this context, we can, if left alone, and when appropriately aided, I think we can come up with our own form of government. We came up it with in 1747.

But in the context of international forces, let me say that we would welcome anything that would be in line with the United Nations documentation and Security Council resolutions that would call for international deployment of some sort of force. We have nothing, no disagreements with that whatsoever.

BLITZER: So that is that.

As far as the human rights situation and the Northern Alliance is concerned, there have been, as you know, widespread reports in the news media of atrocities that your forces in various parts of the country, including Mazar-i-Sharif, have committed.

There was a New York Times picture -- maybe we have it, we can put it up on the screen -- showing the execution of a Taliban, a foreign Taliban troop.

Mary Robinson, the U.N. high commissioner on refugees, spoke bluntly about all of this on Friday. I want you to listen to what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARY ROBINSON, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER ON REFUGEES: The Northern Alliance, before that and when they took over territory, have been violent against women, have committed human rights violations. There is, I'm sorry to say, a bad pattern of lack of respect for human rights in Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That doesn't sound like a very ringing endorsement of the Northern Alliance.

AMIN: Well, I mean, remember one thing: If the U.N. was truly, in the true sense, an entity that could have brought peace to Afghanistan, it should have done it a long time ago.

Twenty-two years of negligence -- first not condemning the Soviet Union for invading Afghanistan, then not condemning Pakistan for having been so deeply involved under the Taliban, for not having condemned Hekmatyar's (ph) rocketing of the Kabul city -- all these years.

Certainly, granted, we think that the U.N. is a credible entity to go about the peace process in Afghanistan. We want it to play that pivotal role.

But certain statements coming like this -- I think that -- and then not looking at the root of where that report was filed. Was it filed from overseas, over in Uzbekistan or elsewhere? Having witnessed the incidents themselves -- I think these are all factors that you need to put into perspective before making such a remark.

But you have to look at everything in a relative sense. And let me say that, after 22 years of war, certain reprisal cases on a local basis may have occurred in Afghanistan, but these are not the kind of acts that the United Front endorses. If it happened under our troops, we would look into it to correct the situation. Certainly condemnable by us.

BLITZER: All right. Haron Amin, we're going to have to leave it right there. Thanks so much for joining us.

AMIN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And coming up, the second hour of LATE EDITION. We'll check all the latest developments in the war on terrorism.

Then we'll hear from the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi. We'll also have a discussion about Islam and how it's being used by some extremists.

Also, a look at air safety and the latest on the investigation into the crash of American Airlines Flight 587; our LATE EDITION roundtable.

All ahead, in the next hour of LATE EDITION.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now to talk about Pakistan's role in the coalition's military action and Afghanistan's future is the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi.

Ambassador Lodhi, welcome to late back to LATE EDITION.

What is Pakistan's role right now in these latest developments?

MALEEHA LODHI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, I think we, like the rest of the international community, would like the political and diplomatic process to catch up quickly with the military events on the ground.

As you know, President Musharraf had been talking for a while about the dangers of a power vacuum and the need for international community, as well as the United Nations, to quicken the pace so that we have a situation where the Afghans themselves are able to decide on a transitional arrangement. That, in fact, is what the U.N. Security Council of the 14th of November has called for.

So we are in touch with our coalition partners. We're in close contact with the U.N. and would very much would like to see this process quicken.

BLITZER: It seems there's a potential here for a real disaster between the new forces inside Afghanistan and Pakistan. No love lost between your government, the government of the President Musharraf, and the Northern Alliance, which is now in control of Kabul, the capital.

How do you stop this? Is there any sort of dialogue at all between the Northern Alliance and representatives of the Pakistani government?

LODHI: Well, I think the first thing we have to be clear about is Pakistan is not opposed to anybody. The important focus has to be now on this meeting that the U.N. is expecting to call soon. We understand in the next few days and...

BLITZER: This meeting in Germany that Haron Amin was talking about?

LODHI: There is no venue that has been decided as yet, but we understand that it could be in Europe. And I think that the faster that is done, the better.

We must learn the lessons of history. You know, we know that 10 years ago, 12 years ago, we had won the war against the then Soviet Union. But the whole international community lost the peace. We must not lose the peace again.

We must ensure that a broad-based, multi-ethnic government is quickly formed by the Afghans themselves with the U.N. performing the role of a facilitating agency, so we can get on quickly with the job of economic reconstruction and the repatriation of refugees from my country.

As you know, my country has been the host to 2.5 million refugees, and there are more.

BLITZER: And presumably many of them will want to go back to their homes inside Afghanistan at some point.

But given the fact that the Northern Alliance, the so- called United Front, will obviously play a significant role, an important role in any future government in Afghanistan, will the government of Pakistan be able to work with this new government that's going to be developed?

LODHI: We have said repeatedly that it is for the Afghan people to decide an arrangement that's acceptable to them.

As far as the Northern Alliance is concerned, it's a key component of what a future dispensation will be, and it will be a participant in the assembly that is going to be called by the United Nations.

Now, all we have said -- and we are part of a international consensus right now. The entire international community is unanimous in calling for a broad-based and multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: Pakistan does support the return of the exiled king to play some sort of symbolic role, if not more a substantive role.

LODHI: Well, we think the king has a key role to play. And the king, we heard a statement by him yesterday where he too called for what the rest of the world is calling for, which is a broad-based, multi-ethnic government acceptable the Afghan people and chosen by the Afghans themselves.

BLITZER: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the foreign minister of the Northern Alliance, defended his organization's, his group's decision to move into Kabul, despite protestations from the United States, others, don't do it.

I want you to listen to what he said earlier in the week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABDULLAH: They created some security problem for the people of Kabul. And then there was no option for us but to send our security forces into Kabul, and our military forces in the surroundings of Kabul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Obviously there was a vacuum. The breathtaking speed of the developments created that vacuum. And the Northern Alliance says they had no choice but to create some stability in the capital, so they went in.

LODHI: Well, the important thing now is to look forward. The important thing is to accept the fact that Kabul has to be demilitarized, to accept also the lesson of history in Afghanistan. And that lesson is that no single group in Afghanistan has been able to maintain its control or run all of Afghanistan. We must not ignore the lessons of history.

BLITZER: As you know, some have expressed fear that Osama bin Laden might be able to sneak across the very porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan and find some sort of sanctuary, some hiding place in your country of Pakistan. Is that at all realistic?

LODHI: Well, I can tell you that my country has sealed the border. It is a long, 1,600-mile-long porous border. Nevertheless, we have moved in reinforcements. Border patrolling has meant extra vigilance on the border. It is very hard to escape detection at this point in time when we are on extra alert and extra vigilance on this border for anybody crossing into Pakistan.

If there are terrorists that cross over into Pakistan, in the eventuality that was to happen, we, under the obligations of the United Nations Security Council, will ensure that people are caught and brought to justice.

BLITZER: Is it at all realistic to assume that within Pakistan's military, the intelligence services -- as you know, you've read the news accounts, that there is some base of sympathy, if not active support for Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. How significant of a factor is that?

LODHI: Look, I can only refer to the kind of media hype that was created about the kind of public response that would follow. That never happened. In fact, support which is for the government has been increasing on the position that it has taken.

And on the contrary, what we have seen is that the kind of rallies that took place initially when this military action started in Afghanistan, the support from amongst the religious parties themselves for that has been the diminishing.

So if you look at the situation on the streets in Pakistan -- on the Pakistani street, as it were, the government is in total control. And if that never materialized, I think these kind of fanciful scenarios that are sometimes built about who has sympathy and who doesn't -- we need to examine these very closely. We need to look at the facts on the ground.

And the facts on the ground are very clear. There is nobody out on the streets in any significant numbers, and never were, to indicate anything other than the fact that Pakistan is a solid member of the global coalition against terrorism and that my government is standing firm and will continue to do so.

BLITZER: And does Pakistan, as far as you know, have any better idea where Osama bin Laden might be right now than the U.S. might have?

LODHI: Well, I think this is a question that I would want to leave to the people who are in charge of this operation in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: All right. Maybe they will want to answer it one of these days.

Maleeha Lodhi, the ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, thanks for joining us.

LODHI: Thank you.

BLITZER: Appreciate it.

And coming up next, we'll check the latest developments with Donna Kelly in Atlanta.

And then, we'll have a discussion about the radicalization of Islam, the impact of the holy month of Ramadan on the war against terror.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back the LATE EDITION.

We'll get to my interview with two experts on the radicalization of Islam in just a moment. But first, here's Donna Kelly in Atlanta with a quick check of all the latest developments.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Ramadan, the most sacred month of the year for Muslims around the world, has just started.

Although Islam rejects the killing of innocent human beings, Osama bin Laden and other Muslim extremists have invoked their religion to justify violence against their perceived enemies.

With us now to offer some insight in to the radicalization of Islam, are two guests: In New York, Karen Armstrong. She's a former nun and the author of the book, "Islam, A Short History." And joining us from Cleveland, Dr. David Forte. He's a professor of Islamic law at Cleveland State University.

Good to have both of you back on LATE EDITION.

Let me begin with you, Karen Armstrong. Ramadan, which has just begun for Muslims, explain to viewers in the United States and around the world precisely what this means for Muslims?

KAREN ARMSTRONG, AUTHOR, "ISLAM: A SHORT HISTORY": Well, it's a bit like the Christian Lent. It's a time of fasting; Muslims will fast from dawn to sunset. And they will not take any food, not even a sip of water during this time.

But it's really a time also of reflection, purification, and also a time when Muslims will think, too, about the plight of the poor.

ARMSTRONG: Islam is a very socially minded religion, and during Ramadan, it's customary to give arms.

And the fast also enables Muslims to experience at a gut level, as it were, what it's like to be poor, not to be able to eat or drink whenever you choose.

BLITZER: And of course, the fasting goes on during the daytime. But after sundown, Karen, people can start eating once again, right?

ARMSTRONG: Yes, in fact sometimes it's a bit of a party. It's not quite so gloomy as Lent. Sometimes even people put on weight in Ramadan, it's a sort of holiday atmosphere. When I've been in Muslim countries, you go and eat in people's homes, and there's a sense of being together and festiveness and community.

BLITZER: Obviously it's a lot healthier to eat earlier in the day than late at night.

David Forte, there's been no let-up as far as we can tell in the U.S. airstrikes, the bombing, the military activity now that even though Ramadan has begun. What, if any, impact do you believe that will have in the Muslim world?

DAVID FORTE, CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY: In fact, I think if bin Laden and the extremists are as they are, which show no respect to the spiritual traditions of Islam, to give them any legitimacy, to say that we will not continue the war against them during Ramadan, would be counterproductive.

In the Middle East, especially in tribal wars and wars where extremist attempt legitimization, the worst thing you can do is look weak. We are in a war on terrorism, which in it's essence is a- religious. It can take any symbolism, it can take Marx as a symbolism, religious symbolism, but it's its own engine. And to grant them legitimacy by saying, well, since you're Muslim, we're not going the attack you during Ramadan is precisely the wrong tactic to take.

BLITZER: But how serious of a problem is it, David Forte, that during this period in mosques all over the Muslim world, mullahs will be -- many of them at least, will be attacking the United States and its coalition partners for going to war against Muslims, in effect, in Afghanistan during Ramadan?

FORTE: It shows that over the last 20 or 30 years, there's been a great increase in the Islamist and extremist, which I distinguish, version of fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism has always been part of Islam, it's the legalistic part of Islam. It's not the only part of Islam, but in the latter decades of the 20th century, being inspired by sometimes Marxist Muslims, inspired by idealogues, there's been a radical turn among some of the literati, some of the leaders of Islam, particularly the Orama (ph), who tend to control the mosques, who tend to be much more fundamentalist.

We don't hear the reformist voices so much when we listen to the voices from the mosques, and that's why we're going to hear that. But it in no way represents the vast majority of Muslims, in my view, who have, over the centuries, sought a much more spiritual view of their religion.

BLITZER: Karen Armstrong, it's no doubt true that the Islam that's practiced by Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization represents a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the Muslim world. But there is a much more robust, significant Islamic fundamentalism out there that does hate the West, if you will, hates the United States in particular.

How significant of a force is that in Islam, and how much of a threat is it to the West?

ARMSTRONG: Well, a fundamentalism has erupted during the 20th century in every single major world religion, not just in Islam. And it is a political form of faith. It seeks to bring god and religion, as it were, from the side lines to which it's been relegated in a secular culture and back onto center stage.

It's important to remember, however, that fundamentalism begins as an internal conflict. Fundamentalists usually begin by querying, critiquing their own co-religitous (ph) -- their own fellow countrymen.

And this was also true of bin Laden, who began by attacking the Saudi Arabia, the Egypt, Iran, which he sees as corrupt governments that are not living according to the true spirit of Islam.

Only at a later stage does, does fundamentalism turn towards a foreign foe if it does at all.

But also, the vast majority of people whom we might call Muslim fundamentalists do not take part in acts of terror and violence. Most of them are simply struggling to live what they regard as a religious life in a world that seems increasingly inimical to faith.

So of course, of course, the terror, the extremists are a threat. And in all three religions of Abraham -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- fundamentalism is becoming more extreme and even more violent, and that's something that we must take very seriously.

But it would be wrong to think that all Muslim fundamentalists, though they may be critical of American foreign policy for example, yearning to take part in this sort of horrific action that we saw on September 11.

BLITZER: As you know, Professor Forte, there's been a lot of criticism of the U.S. government, the Bush administration, the Clinton administration for being sort of slow off the mark in explaining the U.S. case to the Muslim world out there, pointing out, for example, that the last three or hour times the U.S. has gone into battle it's been to help Muslims, whether in Kosovo or Bosnia or in Somalia, or in Kuwait for that matter.

What does the U.S. government need to do to perhaps have a better propaganda case, a better public relations image in the Muslim world?

FORTE: You put it exactly correctly, I think, Wolf.

Muslim extremists' main enemy is the Islamic civilization. They wish to take it over, to politicize it, to change its nature. What the United States has always represented to the world -- we saw this in Eastern Europe, Russia, Japan after the war -- is a symbol of freedom, individuality, freedom of religion, accountability of government.

And during the 1990s particularly when Islamic states, Muslim states, autocratic regimes attempted to become more legitimate in the eyes of their people by conceding certain symbols, certain intolerances to the radicals, the United States went along it with it.

FORTE: And you will notice that, in countries where we've opposed these autocratic regimes, such as Iran and Iraq, there's generally a groundswell of pro-American feeling, because they think of us as we are and our values of democracy.

And in countries where we are seen to support more autocratic regimes, such as in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, there's a groundswell of dislike for us, not because we're secular so much, but because we're not being true to our values.

BLITZER: Before I go on, I'd like -- I ask Karen Armstrong to comment on Mrs. Bush, the first lady of the United States, Laura Bush, spoke out about the plight of women in Afghanistan yesterday.

Is there a model in the Muslim world where there's a proper balance between respect for the traditions, the religion, the Islamic rules balanced with respect for women and their rights?

ARMSTRONG: Well, let's be clear that no world religion has been good for women. And very often, they start with a very healthy message for women and then later men drag it back to the old patriarchy. That's what happened in Islam.

The Koran, was very much -- is very much for, in 7th-century terms, the emancipation of women. And today, there are many Muslim feminists who are going back to the Koran, back to the behavior of the prophet, back to customs of the first Muslim community, where women took an active role in politics, sometimes even fought alongside the men in battle, and were important figures in both the Muslim political and religious worlds.

BLITZER: All right.

ARMSTRONG: So that model is alive and well and in the minds of many people, rather than the later medieval, misogynous legislation.

BLITZER: Karen Armstrong, David Forte, unfortunately, we have to leave it right there. Thanks for joining us.

Up next, we'll turn to aviation security. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to fly on a plane for a long time. After 9/11, after the plane crash that happened in Manhattan (sic), I'm very scared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: An air traveler in Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport expressing sentiment these days of many people in the United States, indeed around the world.

Joining to us now to talk about where U.S. aviation safety stands, Bob Francis -- he's a former vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and a current aviation analyst for CNN. Also, Jim McKenna -- he's a CNN aviation analyst. He's a former editor of Aviation Week magazine. He's also a former executive director of the Aviation Safety Alliance.

Gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION.

And, Bob Francis, let me begin with you.

And I'll play for you a soundbite, Senator Max Cleland speaking on the Senate floor Friday after the Senate and the House paused the compromise version of aviation security legislation. The president is going to sign it into law tomorrow.

Listen to what Senator Cleland had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MAX CLELAND (D), GEORGIA: As families prepare for the biggest travel day in the nation, they can feel assured that airport security will be strengthened nationwide the very moment that President Bush signs this landmark legislation into law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The very moment he signs it? It will take almost a year to implement most of the provisions of this new bill.

ROBERT FRANCIS, FORMER NTSB OFFICIAL: I would say, I guess, that I do think that the system is going to be safer and more secure. But I think that to say that the minute someone signs the bill that that's going to be the case is a little -- pushing it a little bit.

But I do think that the consciousness of people and what's been going on subsequent to September 11 is encouraging.

BLITZER: As you know, Jim, a lot of critics have said this is all just window dressing, there's really not going to be much change, at least not in the near term.

What is your sense about the changes in this new bill that will be signed into law by the president tomorrow?

We can specifically talk, for example, about one aspect of it, the new federal workers, at least for the next three years, in most U.S. airports, except for five, who will be the screeners at those security posts.

JIM MCKENNA, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, Wolf, clearly everybody is going to be hoping that there are more than window-dressing changes on aviation security.

The key hurdle that everybody has to clear in this case is, how do you transition from the people who are the private employee screeners now into the federal work force? Those folks are going to have to be managed very carefully so that, as the transition is made, they are kept diligent in the job that they are doing.

BLITZER: Bob Francis, the Department of Transportation is setting up a whole new agency. They are going to hire 28,000 U.S. citizens to be these screeners at the airports. It's going to take at least a year, though, to get it up and going. In the meantime, is the situation unsafe?

FRANCIS: I don't think it's unsafe. I mean, I think that there are elements of risk in everything that you do. And there are elements of risk in flying on airplanes. I think that, as I said earlier, that it's less risky now. But, you know, people are manning these screening posts, so things will get by from time to time.

Now, the other question is, is whether the kinds of things that get through really pose a major threat to the system. And I would say that I think that there are other threats that are more serious than somebody getting on with a two-inch knife.

BLITZER: And what are those other threats?

FRANCIS: Well, I mean, I think that -- and the FAA certainly thinking about this -- the whole question of bomb detection, and the other things that are also dealt with in this legislation, are serious issues.

BLITZER: In the new legislation, they will match checked baggage to -- they will not only match it, but they will also determine -- they will also X-ray it and make sure that there's no bombs on board, something a lot of people would have hoped would have been in existence a long time earlier than now.

MCKENNA: Yes. And that's going to be tough to do in the U.S. air travel system because we rely so much on connecting flights and flights moving through hubs. So, very often the bag gets separated from the passenger if their flight changes.

There's a couple of points about the safety of the system now. Security is much better. We've got additional layers in place. We've got crews on board, the pilots and flight attendants have much clearer procedures for how to react if they face a threat, as do the airport folks. Everybody is ironing that out now. But those things are making things much more secure.

BLITZER: All right, we're just beginning this conversation. We'll talk a lot more about it, including the crash of the American Airlines Flight 587. Bob Francis, Jim McKenna, stay with us.

When we return, we'll also be taking your phone calls. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORMAN MINETA, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: When it comes to safety, we will set high standards, and we will enforce them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta giving assurances that the U.S. government is on top of the issue of aviation security.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our discussion with CNN aviation analysts Bob Francis and Jim McKenna.

And, Bob Francis, one of the other things that they're going to do is reinforce those cockpit doors, to make sure hijackers can't get into the cockpit if necessary. Why wasn't that done years ago?

FRANCIS: Well, again, it wasn't the kind of threat, in fact, it was counter -- reinforcing cockpit doors was counter to the hijacking historically. Historically, hijackings were, somebody that wanted to go to Havana, or somebody that had a complaint about something that wanted to be delivered somewhere, and it was a negotiation. I mean, crews were trained to negotiate with the hijacker, and then take him to Cuba or wherever it was, leave him off, and fly back to Miami.

BLITZER: So the notion of suicide bombers as pilots, nobody thought of that.

FRANCIS: That is exactly the huge difference with which we are currently faced.

BLITZER: The other element, the sky marshals, that are going to be onboard these planes, what's your understanding, Jim? Are they going to be on all flights or selected flights? And will they be dressed as plainclothes? Will people know who they are?

MCKENNA: The sky marshals will be dressed as plainclothes personnel on board. Ideally, folks won't be able to pick them out from other passengers. I don't think it's practical at any point to expect that we'll have enough on staff to man every airplane in the United States. The key achievement that we need to get is to have enough sky marshals out there so that the bad guys are never sure whether there's going to be one on the flight that they're targeting.

BLITZER: Just from you looking at somebody, you never know if that individual is really a passenger or a sky marshal.

What happened the other day at Hartsfield Airport outside of Atlanta, in Atlanta, one guy just sort of jumped over the security, shut down the whole airport, tens of thousands of passengers late, flights canceled for hours. The whole Eastern Seaboard, the flight system was out of whack. How do you explain that? What happened there?

FRANCIS: Well, I mean, you end up with a situation where, as you say, one guy just physically goes through. And the problem then becomes to try to figure out exactly if there's any other threat that...

BLITZER: He jumped through the security, but nobody started to chase him apparently right away, because those individuals at the security checkpoints, they're not authorized to go chase somebody who tries to evade them.

FRANCIS: Well, and I think that one of the advantages of the federalization will be that there will be one sort of coherent system for dealing with -- a systems approach, if you will, for dealing with security in airports. And you can argue whether the employees should be private or public, but at least it will be more rational, the rationalization of the whole thing.

BLITZER: With each one of these incidents, all of a sudden new contingencies, new scenarios are developed; they have to come up with some new countermeasures if you will.

How are they going to deal with this, what just happened at Hartsfield?

MCKENNA: Well, I think the case at Hartsfield is a good example of why the system is more secure today than it was on September 11.

Today, the rule is, somebody breaches a security checkpoint, shut the terminal down, evacuate everybody, rescreen everybody, make sure that you're not reintroducing threats into the terminal. It's an extreme circumstance. It inconveniences thousands and thousands of air travelers and disrupts the system, but it assures the security of the system.

That's where we are. And, going forward, it's going to be a matter of juggling that security provision with protecting the efficiency and the convenience of the system.

BLITZER: Last week, a horrible plane crash in Queens, New York. Many of our viewers will remember you, Bob Francis, during the TWA 800 crash that also took off from John F. Kennedy Airport.

Where does the investigation, as far as you know right now, into American Airlines Flight 587, where does that stand right now?

FRANCIS: Well, the way the NTSB works, you have the field investigation, which took place, and that's complete, on Long Island.

Then, basically, the NTSB investigators and the other parties -- the airline, the manufacturer, et cetera -- are all working, under NTSB supervision based out of Washington, on establishing factually what they've seen, what do the recorders say, and getting agreement on the factual issues of the investigation. And that's what's going on now.

Then there will be, following that, there will be a hearing to supplement the record in terms of, again, terms of factual. Then the NTSB staff will start analysis to come to conclusions, and hopefully figure out what the cause of the accident or causes was.

BLITZER: And all of the officials who are involved are continuing to insist, no evidence of terrorism in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587. They're suggesting some sort of mechanical failure.

The question a lot of our viewers have e-mailed me and asked me is, well, how do they know that the mechanical failure, whether the tail fin or the engine or whatever, was not the result of what they call "sabotage"?

MCKENNA: Well, we've got three good reasons why they can say that, and that makes this case different from TWA 800.

They got the cockpit voice recorder relatively quickly, it's got a good-quality recording on it. They've got the flight data recorder, which has a lot of data on what the airplane was doing. And most importantly, they've got a lot of big metal pieces of that airplane that would have signs of sabotage or an explosion.

So, piecing all those together, the investigators, working with the FBI, can look at all that stuff and say it doesn't look yet like there's any indication of sabotage or criminal activity against this plane.

BLITZER: But they can't rule it out, they can't rule it out either.

FRANCIS: The "yet" is the issue, and I think that everybody understands that. This idea, not just with TWA, of having the FBI and the NTSB working in parallel and together on investigations is not a new thing.

BLITZER: So, even though the NTSB is the lead investigative agency right now, the FBI is intimately involved?

FRANCIS: Absolutely.

BLITZER: In every step of the way.

FRANCIS: Yes, absolutely. BLITZER: Is the most suspicious part right now the composite nature of the material around the tail fin or the engines? What are they -- or, for that matter, what they call the "wake turbulence," the fact that this plane, this American Airlines Airbus A-300, took off within a relatively short amount of time behind a JAL 747, and that turbulence that followed could have caused some serious problems.

MCKENNA: I think that, for the moment, the NTSB has made it pretty clear they have found no evidence of problem with the engines, which does not mean that they're not going to be torn down and looked at more than they have been. But for the moment, leave that aside.

BLITZER: Although the engine did crash first before another part of the plane.

FRANCIS: But it depends on what's happening to the planes. Engines are designed to break off under certain stresses of airplanes. I mean, obviously, they're extreme stresses. But, you don't want to have an aircraft landing with its gear up and not have the engine come off. So, it is designed to do that.

So that, depending on the forces of that plane, we'll see, but the flight data recorder is the key, as Jim said. An enormously valuable tool for investigation.

BLITZER: Well, let me let Jim pick up. What about the wake turbulence or the composite material the plane was made of?

MCKENNA: Well, as you said, Wolf, they are looking at three things: the wake turbulence, the stability of the tail, and what the actions of the pilots were doing.

The wake turbulence doesn't appear to be a critical factor at this point. The investigators believe the plane flew out of both encounters with that wake and continued to fly normally, although for just a few seconds, before it went out of control.

There were severe movements of the tail surfaces that they're looking to explain better.

And they're trying to get a good handle on what the pilots were doing to the controls of the airplane to try and fly out of that, and whether that aggravated the problem or worked toward getting them out of the problem.

BLITZER: As you well know, Bob Francis, the pilot-error aspect of any of these crashes is the most difficult thing to have to come to grips. These individuals are dead, and they have no way of responding to what may have happened.

FRANCIS: But in terms of the factual determinations, the flight data recorder, again, will indicate, in this case, very -- assuming that data is good, will indicate pretty accurately exactly how the pilots reacted and what implication that might have had for the airplane. As Jim said, the wake turbulence is not -- it happens all the time. It's not a big issue. And, in fact, if you want to stay in a wake, it's difficult, so you tend to go through. And this happens on a very regular basis in the system.

BLITZER: All right. And I can tell you as a passenger, I don't like turbulence, any kind of turbulence.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: I don't like wake turbulence or any other kind of turbulence.

Bob Francis, Jim McKenna, thanks for joining us.

When we return, from dramatic shifts in the war in Afghanistan to the U.S.-Russian summit, it was a busy week for President Bush. We'll go 'round the table with Steve Roberts, Susan Page, Chris Caldwell.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(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 and World Report, and Chris Caldwell, senior writer for the Weekly Standard.

Presidents Putin and Bush, they met, they had a big summit down in Crawford, Texas, at the ranch. At one point, President Bush was very effusive once again in talking about his new best friend, Vladimir Putin.

Listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The more I get to know President Putin, the more I get to -- I get to see his heart and soul, and the more I know we can work together in a positive way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Pretty glowing, that praise for President Putin.

STEVE ROBERTS, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": You know, Chris, though, Bush got into trouble earlier by saying "I've seen into Putin's soul," and people say, yes, the guy's a professional KGB agent, you know, you must be pretty sharp, you can see right into his soul.

But I think this is a positive development. You know, I covered Ronald Reagan's summit meeting with Gorbachev in Russia, the only time Reagan was ever in Russia. And it made a big difference to have Reagan develop a personal relationship with Gorbachev. We have seen that.

It's interesting, of course, Bush kind of derided Bill Clinton for investing too much in Boris Yeltsin. But the truth is, while national interests don't change, if you do have a personal relationship I think it allows you to understand a little bit of the culture, open your mind a little bit.

You could overemphasize it, but it's a lot better that they get along than they don't.

BLITZER: And, Chris, you know, we saw a very warm side of President Putin. Here's a clip from one of his little humorous comments he made while he was in Texas. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We in Russia have known for a long time that Texas is the most important state in the United States.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He then went on to say, "Except for Alaska, which the Russians sold to the United States."

(LAUGHTER)

Pretty charming fellow.

CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I'm glad he didn't say he wanted Alaska back.

(LAUGHTER)

But, yes, this is a very optimistic outcome, even though we didn't get an agreement done on missile defense.

It does complicate the Western alliance a little bit. You now have the formation of a real Russian-American friendship of the sort that I think maybe the friendship between Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand would offer the only parallel to. And it could create certain worries in Europe that the United States is now aligning with Russia and has another interest on the European continent.

BLITZER: Well, I can understand, Susan, that it could upset -- maybe get people in China nervous. But in Europe, do you think that that's a serious problem as far as U.S. is concerned?

SUSAN PAGE, "USA TODAY": Oh, I don't know. You know, I think the world really changed in ways we're still figuring out after September 11. And after this war in Afghanistan is over, it will change in other ways.

One of the ways it has clearly changed is that no one now considers Russia our prime enemy. You know, that legacy of the Cold War is now wiped pretty clean. It's clear that terrorism is a bigger threat, and that Russia has been a pretty good ally in the things that we ask it to do after September 11. So it's clearly one of those fundamental shifts that happened as a result of September 11.

ROBERTS: I think that's true, and I think there are other shifts that we haven't been paying attention to. For instance, China coming into the World Trade Organization, an issue of enormous, potential importance, virtually no attention at all. Russia wants to become part of the World Trade -- the only major country now left out of the World Trade Organization.

What does that mean? It means they become subject to law. It means they become subject to international scrutiny. It means that their economic system has to become transparent.

Few developments, either in China or in Russia, can mean more in terms of developments -- these are -- in some ways, I think we're going to look back and say, these movements of China and Russia into the world system, more important in the long run even than what's happening in terrorism.

BLITZER: Let me move on and talk about Capitol Hill for a minute.

Chris, as you know, this past week, the House and the Senate, they worked out their differences on the aviation security bill. The president's going to sign it into law tomorrow.

But they're still far apart on the economic stimulus package to try to get the economy back on track. Is there any hope on that front?

CALDWELL: A little bit. They were able to pass aviation security because the Democrats had a post-September 11 politics to set against the Republican pre-September 11 politics.

The Republican complaint was, well, all these baggage checkers are going to be unionized. Well, you know what? The American public wants them unionized. They want them paid enough money so that you don't have a situation, as is the case at Dulles airport, where three- quarters of the people scanning your bags are foreign-born.

You don't have a post-September 11 program on either side in the stimulus package. And I think the most optimistic thing is the thing that's being floated for after Thanksgiving, where some are talking about a possible payroll tax holiday.

PAGE: You know, Chris, I would really disagree. I think the airline security bill, they finally reached a deal because a plane went down last Monday. And it turned out to have nothing to do with whether the screeners had been working, but it scared everybody and it made members of Congress want to make sure they had something done before they went home for Thanksgiving.

And they got a deal for another reason: That's George Bush was unwilling to side with the Republicans on Capitol Hill, to press their case. The White House really stayed out of this one. It passed the Senate without opposition. It passed on an almost party-line vote in the House, so the Republicans eventually had to cave because the president was putting his chits on other issues.

BLITZER: The president made it clear that he was not going veto the Democratic or the Senate bill.

ROBERTS: Yes. He had a weak hand in that one, as Chris said quite rightly. The American public wanted this federalized. To argue that somehow we should be against the expansion of the federal government just was not a popular position.

On the issue of the stimulus package, the Republican position is perhaps a little bit stronger because it's the traditional Republican tax-cutting position.

But any economists will tell you, the Democrats have the better of this argument. If you put money in the hands of unemployed workers, they are going to spend it.

I think Bush is making a big mistake in siding with the Republicans on this one. To try to argue that giving $25 billion in back taxes, rebating $25 billion in back taxes, to the nation's biggest corporations is somehow going to stimulate the economy, please!

BLITZER: But the Democrats, Chris, as you well know, they've stuffed a lot of pork into their version, a lot of subsidies for bison, you know, farmers and all sorts of special interests out there, which are not very pleasant either.

CALDWELL: Yes. And that is why we don't, right now, have the basis for a compromise and why we're going to have to have some new ideas once we get back from Thanksgiving.

PAGE: Can I...

BLITZER: All right. We are going to take a break.

Hold that thought.

PAGE: All right.

BLITZER: We've got some more to talk about in our roundtable. We'll be right back in a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable.

We heard earlier in the program, Steve, you probably heard a nice little debate going between Nancy Pelosi, a liberal Democrat, Richard Shelby, a conservative Republican, on the president's decision to establish these military tribunals to deal with suspected terrorists. ROBERTS: Well, it's fascinating to me because, as you pointed out in your questioning, this is not just liberal versus conservative. We are used to having liberals being suspicious of government power. It goes back to McCarthyism, all the suspiciousness of police abusing their power.

But what we're seeing now is some conservatives, not Richard Shelby but others -- Bob Barr of Georgia, for instance -- being equally suspicious of the federal government. This comes out of Ruby Ridge and Waco and other examples in recent years where conservatives are being suspicious of federal power.

So, there's this odd alliance on this issue of liberals and conservatives voices saying, wait, let's not go too far in abusing some of these rights and throwing out some of these constitutional provisions.

BLITZER: Well, you're a conservative, a good conservative, Christopher Caldwell, where do you stand?

CALDWELL: I'm a good conservative, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

CALDWELL: I don't see this as a range of dissent on this Bush measure. I think it is the People for the American Way who've moved further and further left, joined by sort of gun-nut radicals basically, to have a two-wing opposition to it.

But I don't think it affects the consensus in the center which is almost totally in favor of this measure. I think that people in the center see that this measure is circumscribed and its to apply only to foreign belligerents.

And I also think that they've been very disappointed at the long amount of time it has taken to try people in Lockerbie, and even in the Oklahoma City bombing.

BLITZER: And, you know, Dick Cheney, the vice president, Susan, as you know, defended it pretty forcefully earlier in week. I want you to listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They don't deserve to be treated as a prisoner of war. They don't deserve the same guarantees and safeguards that would be used for an American citizen going through the normal judicial process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAGE: But, of course, it's not narrowly drawn; it's broadly drawn. It's any non-citizen that the president decides ought to be treated this way. It could be a non-citizen who lived in this country for many years.

And, of course, our sense of constitutional protections, is one of our strongest, you know, one of our greatest strengths as a nation.

You know, often, in times of stress, we have done things that in retrospect we've seen have been mistakes: internment of Japanese during World War II; Abraham Lincoln suspending habeus corpus during the Civil War; the Alien and Sedition Acts, you know, John Adam's worst act as president. And I wonder if, with passage of time, we'll see this also as having gone too far at time of peril.

ROBERTS: You know, Senator Shelby said the historical precedent we should be a looking at is that Franklin Roosevelt during World War II did, in fact, have occasion to use the special tribunals for saboteurs.

I think the more better historical perspective is Nuremberg, because there we set up an international tribunal with very strong protections on rights. And the historic record shows that the judgments of Nuremberg were so completely accepted as just and fair, that's what we want to aim at.

We don't want to give people around the world, particularly in the Muslim world, an ability to say, hey, they were not fair, they trimmed their standards of justice. We want to be able to go to world and say we were completely true to our values. And I think the president is making a mistake by endangering that possibility.

BLITZER: You know, Christopher, as you take a look at the mood of country right now, as we approach Thanksgiving here in the United States, the Christmas holidays going to be coming, how much of a change has there been, in your opinion, since September 11?

CALDWELL: It's been a deep change. And I think that one of the ways it has been reflected is in politics. We have just been talking about the willingness of the public to spend more.

I think if -- President Bush's conduct of this war has been I think exemplary. If there has been one mistake, though, it is that there have not been mechanisms to bring the whole public aboard and make them participants. So, I think one of the ways they are choosing to participate is through their income, through their tax receipts.

BLITZER: All right. On that note, we're going to have to leave it alone.

Christopher Caldwell, Susan Page, Steve Roberts, and to all of you -- a little early, but I'll say it -- Happy Thanksgiving.

ROBERTS: You too, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And coming up next, our third hour of LATE EDITION. We'll be taking your phone calls for our military and legal experts, as well as our reporters covering the war on terrorism.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This is the third hour of LATE EDITION: "Target Terrorism."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are tightening the noose. It's a matter of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The U.S. is closing in on its military objective, but is it any closer to the ultimate goal? We'll take your questions and phone calls for our military and legal analysts and reporters covering the conflict from around the globe. And Bruce Morton has the "Last Word" on a significant casualty of war.

Welcome back. This hour of LATE EDITION belongs to you. Shortly, we'll be taking your phone calls and questions about the military and legal aspects of "Target Terrorism." Later, our panel of reporters will also be taking your phone calls.

First, here is CNN's Donna Kelley in Atlanta with another quick check of the latest developments -- Donna.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Joining us now from Little Rock, Arkansas, General Wesley Clark. He's a CNN military analyst and, of course, the former supreme allied commander of NATO. Here in Washington, CNN military analyst, the retired U.S. Air Force Major General Don Shepperd. And CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack. Welcome back to "LATE EDITION" to all of you.

And General Clark, let me begin with you. And as you speak, we'll put a map up, showing what's happening on the ground in Afghanistan. Militarily speaking right now, what is your understanding? What is the military situation on the ground right now?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: The hard-core Taliban fighters with a lot Arabs in them are in Konduz. They're holding that ground. They're surrounded by a smaller force that's supported by U.S. air power. It's closing the noose.

The Northern Alliance forces have said they won't accept the surrender of these Arabs. And so. it's going to be a fight to the death, it looks like. In Kandahar, looks like their Taliban has retained control of Kandahar in some fashion. There's been squabbling among the various Pashtun tribes. We've had CIA operatives, we've had special forces teams down there on the ground. We've brought in airstrikes, but we haven't broken, so far, the Taliban grip in Kandahar.

BLITZER: General Shepperd, how hard, in the midst of all of this, will it be for U.S. troops and others to find Osama bin Laden? MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's going to be tough to find Osama bin Laden now or later. He is a very wily character. He's got a lot of protection and a lot of support wherever he goes.

But they're looking and they're looking hard. Reports are that they believe he's in the Kandahar area; other reports that he escaped the country. We simply don't know, but we're looking hard. It'll be tough to find him anywhere.

BLITZER: And that terrain -- assuming he's in the Kandahar area, and there's a widespread assumption, the southern part of Afghanistan. There's a lot of desert down there, but there's also some mountains and, of course, those well-known caves.

SHEPPERD: Yes. The caves are particularly tough and they're not just your mother's cave. They've very sophisticated military bunkers with, undoubtedly, lots of booby traps, multiple entrances and exits. We'll be looking and focusing our sensors on a smaller and smaller area. And we're going to have a lot of help from people looking for him, so it doesn't become easy, but it comes easier.

BLITZER: General Clark, you may have heard my interview earlier in the program with the president's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. She didn't seem to express much of a preference if the U.S. wants Osama bin Laden captured alive or killed. What -- you know, the U.S. military -- what do you think that the U.S. military would like to see happen?

CLARK: Well, the military is going to take him down. And if he resists, he's going to be killed. I guess if we catch him asleep or catch him with his back turned, maybe he would surrender. But if there's any threat to our troops, we're going to defend ourselves. So the odds are he's probably not going to be taken alive.

BLITZER: Roger Cossack, these whole provisions, these military tribunals, rounding up 5,000 individuals in the United States of Middle Eastern ancestry, young men between the ages of, what, 18 and 35, all of that seems so extraordinary, but there's -- as you well know, a lot of support for extraordinary measures during extraordinary times.

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there are -- there is a lot of support for extraordinary measures during extraordinary times, but it's a question of how you phrase the question for the support. If I phrase the question as the administration says, which is to say we have terrorists that we may not be able to put in a traditional trial and give up our intelligence and give up the evidence, but we can't let these people go because they're terrorists, then the answer is yes.

But if you make it a little more personal and the government comes along and says, you know, we suspect a member of your family for being a terrorist and we're going to put them in a military tribunal, secret, without a jury, without reasonable doubt, without all the traditional things that we Americans get, then suddenly the support starts to fade. And I think it's up to the government to make their case which, at least, so far, I don't think they've done a very good job of.

BLITZER: Well, Trent Lott made the case for the president earlier today when he was on "Fox News Sunday." I'd like you to listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: I think that the military tribunals make sense. We're dealing with people that have been involved in an act of war. These are foreigners, these are terrorists and we should have a process to get them to quick and sure trial

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Well, that's a widely held perception.

COSSACK: Well, let me just differ with him, if I could. If you start -- as I said before -- if you start with the presumption we have guilty people and we somehow can't figure out any other way to try them, well, then military tribunals are the answer.

But you know, we've had trials in New York City for other horrible events that these terrorists have done and we have tried them successfully. We have had people who are -- who have turned from being al Qaeda and come in and testify on behalf of the government. Their pictures are in the newspaper. They've come in and testified. We have gotten convictions and we've gotten sentences. It all seemed to work with the traditional notions of American justice.

BLITZER: All right. Let's take a caller from Canada. Please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Good morning, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good morning or good afternoon.

CALLER: I'm calling from the West Coast of Canada and I'm wondering, with all the latest stuff that's going on about everybody wants to see bin Laden -- basically, bin Laden's head on a stick. If and when the U.S. bombs one of his caves or one of his bunkers and, you know, they are not aware that he's in there and he actually is, three months from now, four months from now, nobody knows where he is, he may be gone, nobody knows. Then what?

BLITZER: All right. Let's ask General...

CALLER: The world is waiting.

BLITZER: ... let's ask General Clark. What happens in that kind of a situation?

CLARK: Well, that's a possibility. But the odds are that there will be enough surviving members of this al Qaeda chain of command that someone somewhere is going to know that he was in such-and-such a cave and he was killed, and the odds are we will be able to account for that.

BLITZER: You know, General Shepperd, we have a new poll -- "Newsweek" actually has a new poll. It asks this question, and we'll put it up on our screen: "If the U.S. were to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, would it inspire more terrorist acts, or reduce them?"

Look at the answers: 44 percent say, inspire more terrorist acts, 48 percent, reduce them, margin of error 3 percent, so it's almost even. The American people sort of confused about this.

SHEPPERD: Well, when you ask the American people anything, except for support for the war on terrorism, you almost always get a 50/50 answer, it seems like.

I don't think that it makes any difference whether we get him or not, there's going to be terrorists everywhere. We're going to have to clean up in other countries and other places, including our own. And we're going to go after him whatever it takes, the president's made that clear.

BLITZER: Roger Cossack, the point that the president makes about these military tribunals -- and it's a hypothetical situation, and there's, he says, only about a dozen people might be applicable in this particular case, Osama bin Laden being one of them.

You don't want to have a regular trial with all the evidence that's necessary when you're dealing with suspected terrorists, because this could in effect provide them with additional information that might be useful in furthering their terrorist objectives.

COSSACK: You know, Wolf, that is the argument. And I can see a situation where that might apply, but what I'm saying is, what I think has happened is that the administration has run out a trial balloon. They've said, look, from time to time, there is these things called military tribunals, that we may have to use, because otherwise we're going to give up intelligence, it's going to harm our system, we're talking about national security, we're talking about surviving here.

But in reality, if you look back at all the military tribunals that we've had in this country, what they've been is stepping stones of guilt. In other words, the government being really afraid to take them into a civilian court, because in many ways they're just afraid they don't have the evidence to get them convicted. The ones that were talked about earlier on your show, with Franklin Roosevelt, there were eight of them, two of them turned state's evidence, and received a long prison sentence, and then were paroled, the other six were taken out and shot.

BLITZER: General Clark, I know that you were obviously intimately involved in the hunt for Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Yugoslavia. He's of course now standing trial in the international court of justice in the Hague.

Why not get involved in an issuing an international indictment for war crimes against Osama bin Laden, along the lines of Slobodan Milosevic?

CLARK: Well, it's a -- Wolf, it's a great question. And all along I expected that that's what would be done. I think, to win a war like this, you have to line up the legal, the diplomatic, and the military. And I would hope that, before this is over, we'll have the full force of international law with Osama bin Laden declared an international war criminal. After all, he declared war on the American people. That's genocide. It's certainly crimes against humanity that he committed. This is exactly what these Serb and other Balkan war criminals are being tried for, and that's a trial process that's working pretty well in the Hague.

I would hope that we'll bring the full weight of international law against Osama bin Laden.

COSSACK: Wolf, and excuse me for interrupting a general. You know, I am a retired corporal from the United States Army Reserves, but I would say that the general is absolutely correct in this issue. This is a trial that has to have international aspects to it. The notion that we would take somebody like Osama bin Laden or any of these suspected terrorists, and put them in a secret trial at which they are then presumed to be executed, because very rare does anybody ever get found not guilty in one of these things, would I think be a black mark on us as a country, and would allow them to turn to us and say, look what they did to the Muslim population, look what they did to us that they wouldn't do to themselves. This trial and these trials have to have international aspects to them.

BLITZER: Let's take a caller from California, go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Hi.

I just have a quick question. What is the problem with a military trial? I think drastic episodes require drastic measures. And do you really think that they could have a fair trial here in the United States without it being a media circus?

BLITZER: All right, Roger, you're the military...

COSSACK: Let me just tell you exactly what's wrong with a military trial. First of all, they're done in -- what they're talking about, what the administration is talking about is a military tribunal which would be done presumably in secret, that does not have a jury. Evidence that would never be admitted in a regular courtroom can be admitted, hearsay evidence, hearsay upon hearsay evidence. You don't even know who the judges will be. Reasonable doubt standards are not used. A majority-rules wins, and nobody ever gets acquitted.

Now, I will agree, as I said before, that there may be times, because of national security, that we have to do things that we just don't want to do, but the administration would have to sell their case, at least to me, a lot better than they have to make me believe that we have to do that kind of thing.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about. When we come back, we'll continue this, we'll be taking more of your phone calls, your questions for our panel, also we're standing by for a memorial service that's about to take place in Queens. You're looking at a live picture of it right now. A memorial service in memory of those killed aboard American Airlines Flight 587 in a crash earlier this week. We'll have parts of that as well, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A live picture of the memorial service about to begin in Queens, New York for those killed in American Airlines crash of Flight 587 earlier in the week. We'll get back to that later.

But in the meantime we are continuing our conversation, taking more of your phone calls for CNN military analyst General Wesley Clark, Major General Don Shepperd and CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack.

General Shepperd, as you look at the situation on the ground facing U.S. military personnel right now, there is a sense out there, I think it's probably wrong, that it's all but over. But there are enormous dangers, pitfalls, for the U.S. military in Afghanistan out there, aren't there?

SHEPPERD: Yes, we have gotten used to casualty-less combat, if you will, because of the things that happened over the last few conflicts. The people on the ground there are in extreme danger. Now, they're also being very careful and they're very well trained. But particularly in the south, where they're establishing new liaisons with new groups.

The Northern Alliance was kind of set; it was a military force in place. Down south they're trying to search out the military groups, establish that liaison, get intelligence; and they're also trying to move on that intelligence very rapidly. And it's very, dangerous, even though we haven't seen any killed as of yet.

BLITZER: Arizona, go ahead with your question, please.

QUESTION: Yes, Wolf. I'm extremely concerned about these military tribunals that we are setting to supposedly administer justice. How do they really differ from the Northern Alliance when they take the Taliban prisoners and some of these volunteers from Pakistan and other countries coming in and summarily executing them. We're going to have these secret trials with no burden of evidence. And we can basically do the same thing that we are condemning the Northern Alliance for doing -- coming in and just seeking retribution without any legal procedure.

BLITZER: Let me bring Roger back in. But in fairness to the president and the Justice Department, the attorney general, who have authorized all of this, there are military trials underway under normal circumstances, which have different rules than civil procedures. And in addition to that, there are national security kinds of trials where evidence can be presented in secret, and you don't have the normal due process that you would expect in a civil court. COSSACK: Well, to take them one at time, military trials are conducted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There is a written code, and they're not secret, and yes they are conducted under the Uniform Code, which is different from the traditional criminal code.

BLITZER: Which is vastly different...

COSSACK: Vastly different, but at least they are open. At least there are written-down standards that have to be followed. The jury is not -- the just is outlined. There has to be and enlisted person or two on a Uniform Code of Military Justice. Am I not right?

And so there at least some notions of due process. Does it reach the traditional civilian notions of due process? Absolutely not. But this is the military. There is a Uniform Code of Military Justice.

BLITZER: But in espionage cases right now, national security considerations, evidence can be submitted in secret under very extreme circumstances.

COSSACK: Right, and there is an act for that called SEPA, which has to do with the notion of secret evidence being put into a civilian trial. And there is a procedure in which this evidence is then taken to a judge and a judge reviews it and makes a decision as to what the defendant can see, and what the suspect can see, and what suspect can't see. And it does seem to work quite well.

Again, I understand there may be a time when you have to have one of these military tribunals, but that time better be rarer and, I think, hopefully it's rarer. And I think it has to be sold a lot better than it's being sold right now.

BLITZER: Let's take a caller from Massachusetts. Please go ahead with your question. Massachusetts, go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Blitzer, how are you?

BLITZER: Good. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I have a quick question, pretty basic, pretty simple. We have all this nuclear weapons technology, and I just want to know why we don't put a little of it to use?

BLITZER: I guess that question has been asked of you several times, General Clark. The U.S. does have tactical nuclear weapons. They could bust up a lot of those caves pretty quickly using one of those. Why not use them?

CLARK: Wolf, first of all, we don't really have the targets that justify it. And secondly, once we, as we say, cross the nuclear threshold, it's an entirely different set of problems. We don't want to be the first nation to use nuclear weapons in a case like this. It would be a terrible precedent. It would send shock waves around the world. It would be seen as using overwhelming military power against the Islamic community. You'd kill hundreds, maybe tens of thousands of innocent people in using it. It's not required militarily.

BLITZER: Under what circumstances, in the bad old days, General Shepperd, of the Cold War, were those tactical nuclear weapons going to be used?

SHEPPERD: I sat on nuclear targets as a 24-year-old kid with a bomb strapped underneath me on alert, if you would. We were going to use those against appropriate military targets, against bridges, against road intersections, from the sweeping invasion of the Soviet forces that were going to race across the western plains of Europe.

We really would have blown up the world to save it, and that's exactly what would have happened. Had we littered, with our nuclear laydown in those days, everything that we had weapons for, it would have been a wasteland out there.

And as General Clark said, I can't think of a military target in Afghanistan that would justify it. Even though we should never take our nuclear weapons capability off the list, I can't see one that would be logical there.

BLITZER: But General Clark, all bets would be off if the other side did use a crude, dirty, nuclear bomb in some sort of extreme circumstance, right?

CLARK: Well, I think that would clearly change the political calculus, but we'd still need a target for the nuclear weapons. As General Shepperd just said, I mean, everything is still on the table. But, the question is you use the minimum force necessary. What in this case, would require you to use a nuclear weapon, which is so much greater force than seems to be required?

And that's the problem that our military planners would have to face. We'd have to make that recommendation coming up through the military chain of command. We would have to find some kind of target that we couldn't attack any other way except by nuclear weapons. And that's pretty hard to predict right now.

BLITZER: I'm amazed how many e-mailers, how many viewers, how many phone calls are always involving this whole nuclear option -- why not use nuclear weapons.

We're going to take another quick break. When we come back, more of your phone calls, more of your questions for our panel. And as we leave you, we'll show you a live picture of this memorial service underway in Queens, New York. They're paying tribute to those who died in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 earlier in the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're taking your questions, more of your phone calls for our military and legal analysts. We have a caller from Florida, go ahead please.

QUESTION: Yes, Wolf, excellent show today; I appreciate your show. My question for Roger is this: I continue to hear Roger and some others in the media say that we should not have these secret military trials. But I have a question for the panel. Number one, we are getting secret information with our allies and other countries, and if we have an open trial, we are going to expose these sources that we have that we're finding this privileged information out. I have a problem. And I love my government. I trust my government of the United States. We are very -- we have a lot of integrity. I don't have a problem with them having things in secret, especially because right now the security of our nation is paramount. And I leave that question for discussion.

BLITZER: Very good question, Roger.

COSSACK: Good question. And I think, you know, that is the problem. But let me just point out a couple of things to you as I said earlier. One is, we've had terrorist trials in New York City where we have had secret information, informants who have come up and testified publicly and it seemed to go quite successfully.

Now, there may come a time, of course, when the government can show and must show to the people that this is an instant -- instance in which we cannot have a public trial for the national security, for our country's sake. If you made that argument convincingly -- you could certainly convince me. But what I'm saying is the notion of just saying, look, you know we're going to put somebody on trial and this -- some bad evidence could come out that could really give up our intelligence, that's not good enough. You're going to have to be more specific before you walk away from the Constitution, at least as far as I'm concerned.

BLITZER: General Clark, the military situation on the battlefield in Afghanistan seems to be coming to a head, seems to be moving in the direction that the Pentagon wants it to be moving in. The central command progress on almost all fronts, some resistance, obviously, still from the Taliban. But the political situation could turn out to be so much more complicated, in fact, with all the various ethnic groups, the political factions. There could be a nightmare over there.

CLARK: You know, the political situation is a source of real concern because what we obviously want is we want to take down the al Qaeda network. And that means we need the support of the local people in Afghanistan to do this. They're the ones who are going to tell us where he is and they're going to ultimately get rid of him and all of his supporters there.

And so if this disintegrates into factional fighting and tribe against tribe, then it's going to make it much more difficult for us to come in and have what we -- the information we need and the support we need given freely by all parties. And so it's very much in our interests to do everything we can to help the Northern Alliance in that international meeting that's going to take place later in the week, come up with a real political solution and then use our good offices with these various tribes to bring them together and let them all -- get them to all work together. But the military and the political have to work together in this case. It's very complicated.

BLITZER: Let's take another caller from Texas, go ahead please.

QUESTION: Hi Wolf, great show today. I agree with your earlier caller. We're at war here, desperate measures are called for. I fully support the president's idea about military tribunals. And what I'd like to know is why the hand-wringers, as the vice president calls them, aren't realizing that the constitutional rights, the Bill of Rights, all of these things are for American citizens, not for illegals suspected of terrorism. Thank you.

BLITZER: Roger?

COSSACK: Well that's not exactly true. Foreigners have been tried in this country -- from time immemorial and given the same constitutional rights in civilian courts as anyone else, as citizens have. Again, we just alluded to the trials that we've had in New York for other terrorist activities in which we have extradited people from other countries and certainly they were given the same constitutional rights as the rest of -- the rest of us have.

What I am concerned about in these military tribunals is that they may get used -- and I'm not saying they will -- but they may get used in a situation where they have someone in custody, the government strongly believes that this man is up to no good, or was up to no good, but doesn't quite have the evidence to prove it if it went into a civilian court, and instead would use a military tribunal as a way of punishing this person in some form without really having the evidence that they should have. That is the thing I think we have to be very careful of.

BLITZER: I think a lot of our viewers, though, and a lot of Americans out there are a lot less concerned about abuse in this kind of extraordinary situation...

COSSACK: Right up until it happens to someone they know.

BLITZER: Then you are, Roger Cossack, in the hot seat here on LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us, General Shepperd, General Clark. Always great to have both of you on our program, we appreciate it very much.

And up next, reporters who are covering this war on terrorism. They'll be in the hot seat, they'll be taking your questions, your phone calls when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Joining us now are some reporters who are covering the war on terrorism. In Kabul, Afghanistan, CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour; in Konduz in northern Afghanistan CNN correspondent Satinder Bindra; and in New York, "Time" magazine White House correspondent John Dickerson. Thanks to all of you for joining us.

Christiane, it looks like it might be a little chilly where you are in Kabul. How cold, first of all, is it over there?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really cold. It's sort of like a desert interior climate here: quite warm during the day, and really frigid at night. It's about half-past midnight now, and you can imagine what that means for the people here, who don't have enough heat or electricity, and who are very poor in this city.

BLITZER: Is there anticipation, Christiane, of this meeting that's expected? We heard Haron Amin earlier in this program, the Northern Alliance representative, say it could be in Germany, someplace in Europe next week, a meeting that would try to bring together many of the various political and ethnic factions of Afghanistan, to come up with some new scenario to bring some sort of stability to Afghanistan?

AMANPOUR: Well, this is the thing that everybody here in this city that we've talked to over the last week since Kabul has been freed of the Taliban are concerned about. They're desperate not to fall back into the old ways of factional fighting. We've seen pictures that we've broadcast to you and to the world. We've driven around this city for years, and this city is in ruins, not because of any foreign invaders or occupiers, but because of what the warlords of this country have done to it. And they are desperate for some kind of political situation to take place.

And there's been quite a lot of discrepancy about when and where this will happen, and now Northern Alliance leaders at least saying the right things, saying what the international community wants to hear, that they don't intend to monopolize power, that they're willing to hold a meeting outside of Afghanistan, as the U.N. wants, and that it may happen soon, and that's certainly what all the people here want.

BLITZER: Satinder, you're up in Konduz in the northern part of Afghanistan, it's one of the few areas where the Taliban still seems to have some strength, fighting going on. We heard one of our military analysts say there could be a fight to the death between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance in Konduz. Give us the very latest. What's happening there?

SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's happening here, Wolf, is the Northern Alliance has surrounded Konduz on all four sides. It has some 30,000 troops in this region, but many of these troops are poorly armed. They don't have enough ammunition. And they may not be able to launch a full-scale ground offensive.

So the option that's open to the Northern Alliance is to try and engineer defections. But the Taliban in Konduz are a very hard-core element. They include Pakistani fighters, they include Chechens, and they include Arabs. Now, these people have shown no interest in walking over to the Northern Alliance side.

In fact, today we've been hearing from Northern Alliance commanders that this hard-core Taliban element has been killing local Taliban who were interested in defecting -- Wolf. BLITZER: And are you right outside of Konduz or in the city itself, Satinder?

BINDRA: Wolf, I spent the past two days right on the front-line, and I've been watching U.S. planes launch several airstrikes against front-line Taliban positions. I have just returned, I've returned from the front-lines just a few hours ago.

BLITZER: John Dickerson, in "TIME" magazine, in the new issue of "TIME" magazine, you and your colleagues have put together an excellent summary of where the Bush administration sees the situation unfolding on the ground in Afghanistan. What are they hoping for in the coming days?

JOHN DICKERSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, what they're hoping for is to find bin Laden. And that's sort of the crucial thing. But also hoping what they're hoping for are some diplomatic developments. They clearly -- the diplomatic game here, as national security adviser Condi Rice said earlier, has gotten behind the events on the ground.

And I think they're looking for some assurances from the Northern Alliance that they're going to work peacefully, and that the situation on the ground in the cities that they've taken doesn't fall apart in the post-Taliban weeks to come.

BLITZER: All right, let's take a caller from Michigan, please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Yes, my question is for Ms. Amanpour, I wondered about the women in Kabul, have they continued to shed their burkas, and what can you tell us about the general tenor of women in Kabul with regard to their safety and future?

AMANPOUR: Well, after five years of living under the most repressive regime that's ever been launched against the female gender, these women here are savoring what they call "freedom."

Now, it's important to understand the nature of the burka and the role of the burka in traditional society here. Many women wear it voluntarily when they're outside the house, but Kabul itself used to be full of professional women, full of doctors and teachers and civil servants, government workers, who didn't use to wear the burka, and they are the people who chafed under it more than anybody else, and they are the people who are slowly starting to remove it.

I must say, you don't go in town and see all of a sudden everybody in different style clothing, because people still here are quite concerned about the security situation, about the future, you know, they're not quite sure that they're out the woods yet, although they're very relieved.

But life will get better for them. Already the new authorities who are in, you know, security control of the city have said women's education will start up again, women can go back to their work, and women already -- just, for instance, on the television, which started up for the first time in five years, it was a woman presenter who introduced the first bulletin, also on the radio today, a woman presenter. And it's slowly happening. Slowly,. And they're emerging from these five years of unbelievable repression.

BLITZER: Satinder, you're on the front-lines where there's a battle ranging right now. Is there any indication whatsoever that the beginning of the month of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, has had any impact whatsoever in the fighting, as far as you can tell?

BINDRA: Wolf, when you talk to people here -- I was in a local mosque here on the first day of Ramadan prayers, and I asked this question of everybody, would they like the fighting to continue. Almost everyone I talked to said U.S. bombing should continue. They said the Northern Alliance should also attack the Taliban fighters. Their only concern is that, in the bombing campaign and in the fighting, civilians should not be killed in Ramadan. They say they will not tolerate that.

Now, the Northern Alliance army also is very sensitive to that. And they're also appealing to the United States forces, asking them to be more accurate in their bombing campaign, but certainly, the feeling right across this town where I am, is people say, even during Ramadan, the fight should continue. Wolf.

BLITZER: John Dickerson, you know the Bush administration well, how much of a disagreement, how much dissension is there within the top echelon of the Bush administration, if any, as far as the strategy in dealing with the war on terrorism in Afghanistan is concerned right now?

DICKERSON: Well, they seem to be pretty unified, Wolf. The real question is, what's stage two? And I think we have a question, not only about post-Taliban Afghanistan, but we also have a question about what exactly does this mean to continue the war on terrorism.

As you know, in the early days of this -- in the early post- September 11 days, there was a faction led by Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of Defense, who really wanted to go after Iran aggressively and that faction, that voice within the administration, has kind of quieted down, but there's a lot of support for that and the question is: What does going after Iran mean? And...

BLITZER: I think you mean -- I was going to interrupt you and say, John, I think you mean, Iraq more than Iran...

DICKERSON: Iraq, excuse me. Yes.

BLITZER: Yes.

DICKERSON: Indeed, go after Iraq. And what does that mean? Do we form -- would we be able to form the kind of coalition that we've got now in Afghanistan. And likely betting is, no, we wouldn't. But what exactly does it mean to go after Iraq, is the next big question.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more questions, more phone calls for our panel of reporters when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: New York Mayor Giuliani, among others, at a memorial service in Queens, New York -- in Rockaway, Queens, remembering those who were killed aboard American Flight 587 as it crashed earlier in the week. That memorial service is going to continue.

But, let us continue now with our panel of reporters covering this story including CNN's Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour. She's in Kabul. CNN's Satinder Bindra. He's in the northern part of Afghanistan; Time magazine White House correspondent, John Dickerson.

Christiane, maybe you can explain to our viewers the nature of the relationship between the Northern Alliance, which now controls Kabul and about two-thirds of Afghanistan and the government of Pakistan. We had representatives of both on earlier. There is no love loss. Is there any possibility that these two sides are going to be able to forge and agreement at least whereby they can live next to each other and work together?

AMANPOUR: They are going to have to. That's the reality of the future of the stability of this region. It's going to have to be, according to the experts, a situation whereby the neighbors of Afghanistan can no longer be competing and squabbling over their own interests in this country. And Afghanistan itself has to have some kind of government that is able to coexist with all its neighbors.

There is certainly no love lost. You know the Northern Alliance very clearly blames Pakistan for everything that befalls it, including building the Taliban. For its part, Pakistan has said that it needs a friendly government on its western side because it cannot tolerate two hostile borders, one with India and one with Afghanistan. And that was the reason for it according to Pakistan, supporting the Taliban for all those years.

In addition, of course, the Pashtun majority of Afghanistan is very closely connected to the Pashtun people in Pakistan. But clearly, this is a new day or it will have to be a new day according to all the analysts in terms of the government here and its relations with the outside, and, of course, the outside countries and their relations with each other.

BLITZER: Satinder, in all of your coverage over these past several weeks, mostly from northern Afghanistan covering the Northern Alliance, how visible, if at all, are U.S. troops, whether special operations or others, as far as to your naked eye, could determine?

BINDRA: You mean have we seen them?

BLITZER: Have you seen them on the ground? Obviously, air strikes are very visible. But have you seen U.S. troops anywhere in the areas where you have been over these past few weeks with the Northern Alliance?

BINDRA: No, Wolf. They are keeping a very low profile. There was one incident in which we saw a helicopter with clear U.S. markings and senior Northern Alliance sources were quite uncomfortable with that. What they want to do is to make sure that they are seen as the main fighting force. We have seen clearly, even today when I was on the front, I saw one of their top generals coordinating air strikes with U.S. forces, but they fear a public backlash.

All through Afghanistan's history, there has been a backlash against so-called outside forces. So, clearly this time even Northern Alliance forces want to make sure that if there are U.S. troops operating on the ground, they issue very clear instructions to them that they should keep a low profile, that they should not be seen by television cameras. That is what we have witnessing here, Wolf.

BLITZER: OK. Let's take another caller from New York. Please go ahead with your question.

QUESTION: Yes, I have a question for John. I just came back from Islamabad, Pakistan last Sunday, November 11, on Pakistan International Airlines from Islamabad to JFK. And the security made we rather uncomfortable. I was seated in the top part of a 747, just behind the cockpit. And for the first hour and half the cockpit door was wide open until I complained to the crew. We changed planes and we changed crews in Manchester. And 20 minutes outside of JFK in New York City, the stewardess escorted two people up to the cockpit, two passengers, where they remained in the cockpit for the approach, the landing, until we taxed in.

BLITZER: All right, let me ask John to talk about aviation security that's going on. We know that U.S. carriers are beefing up their security. As far as you know, John, will international carriers servicing the United States be bound by the same rules as U.S. carriers will be?

DICKERSON: I don't believe so, Wolf. I don't believe that's true, and especially not in this current legislation. But that story and versions of it are what finally got Congress in gear this week and quickly put together an airline security bill that the president will be able to sign next week.

And there are versions of that story. When I talk to people on the Hill this week, almost every member was getting an earful from their constituents about stories, each member was hearing from constituents who had their own particular stories about situations just like this.

BLITZER: Christiane, while I have you over there, the next few days in Kabul, it looks like the Northern Alliance is taking control over the various ministries, the government buildings. It looks like its emerging as an all but real government of Afghanistan with the former President Rabbani now in Kabul itself. Give us a sense of what's happening on the ground in the capital.

AMANPOUR: Well, what the Northern Alliance is saying is that they are establishing security over this city. Today, the U.N. special representative, Frances Vandrell, who is trying to get the political situation moving, he said that he believed that the reason the Northern Alliance came into Kabul was that Kabul was there for the taking and that the security needed it. He said that he believed that is was a provisional installation of the Northern Alliance here. And that they were still talking.

The bottom line is, if the international community, the United States, the U.N., plus all the Afghan factions can get together and really move this political situation ahead, what exists on the ground right now will be just incidental. And, of course, the Northern alliance keeps saying and presumably one has to take them at their word, that they are not here to consolidate power, to extend their power, to monopolize power. That they're committed to the broad-based alliance that everybody is talking about.

And they said in private conversations or, rather, non-televised conversations that I had with them, that they don't want to go back to their old ways. They're fully aware of the disaster that is being wrought on this country and they know that this is the one chance they may have for a new beginning. And if it's not now, it may never happen.

BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour in Kabul, thank you very much. Satinder Bindra in Northern Afghanistan, John Dickerson in New York, thanks to all of you. Thanks again for all of you doing an excellent job in your own reporting. We, of course, deeply appreciate it.

Up next: Bruce Morton's "Last Word."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here are some of the new rules: Suspects can be held for up to seven days, without being charged with anything. "The Los Angeles Times" reported this past week that more than 1,000 are being detained.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is America's new war compromising the U.S. Constitution?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's "Last Word" on a controversial legal precedents being set while fighting terrorism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): In war, countries suffer casualties. The risk in a democracy like the United States is that the Constitution will be one of them. Here are some new rules: Suspects can be held for up to seven days without being charged with anything. "The Los Angeles Times" reported this past week that more than 1,000 are be detained. Also, the government can eavesdrop on any kind conversations these detainees have with their lawyers. The feds used to have to have evidence, get a judge to authorize the eavesdropping -- no longer. Suspicion is enough.

Also, foreigners can be tried by special military courts. These would be secret. No reporters allowed. The defendants might or might not have lawyer. How would we know? The courts could admit evidence that would be inadmissible in civil court, hearsay, gossip, whatever. Juries wouldn't have to be unanimous to sentence defendants to death. There would be no appeals.

Got to be able to do this, the government says, to fight terror. Anyway, Attorney General John Ashcroft says foreign terrorists does not deserve the protections of the American Constitution. Patrick Leahy of Vermont says it sends a message that it is acceptable to hold secret trials and summary executions without the possibility of judicial review, which is certainly true.

"New York Times" columnist William Saffire says: "A president of the United States has just assumed what amounts to dictatorial power to jail or execute aliens."

There is precedent. During World War II, the United States secretly tried Germans who landed here by submarine with plans for sabotage. They were convicted, most were hanged; and the Supreme Court upheld that action. So secret star chamber trials are apparently constitutional, but they do deny defendants the protection the Constitution offers.

On the other hand, the men who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 were tried in civil court with constitutional protections, and that seemed to work.

(on camera): Maybe the question is: What kind of a message does it send when a country that prides itself on its freedoms, its democracies, says, yes, we can hold you for a week without charging you; yes, we can eavesdrop when you talk to your lawyer; and if you're foreign, we can try you and kill you in secret. Is that was democracies do?

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Time now for a look at what's on the cover on this week's major news magazines. In the United States, the war on terrorism dominates all of them.

"TIME" magazine goes "Inside the Manhunt," with Osama bin Laden as the main target on the cover.

"U.S. News & World Report" is "On the Run," with a Taliban soldier captured by the Northern Alliance on the cover.

And on the cover of "Newsweek": "The Hunt for bin Laden": U.S. Forces Zero in on, quote, "the evil one."

That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, November 18. Please join us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern. I'll be back tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern for a special edition of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS," including my interview with the U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We leave you now with a live picture of the memorial service in Queens, New York, honoring those killed in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587.

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


 
 
 
 


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