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Aired November 19, 2001 - 04:29   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.
MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael McManus.

SUSAN FREIDMAN, CO-HOST: And I'm Susan Freidman.

The Northern Alliance nears another victory as its troops close in on Konduz, that's the Taliban's last northern stronghold, one they've been reluctant to give up. There are also problems for the Taliban near their southern Afghan stronghold, Kandahar.

Sources inside Afghanistan tell CNN the Taliban are losing public support. When I return, we'll take a look at how the war in Afghanistan is coloring America's way of life.

MCMANUS: Yes. Meanwhile, the Northern Alliance says it will cooperate with the United Nations in forming an interim government. This announcement, on top of reports that Osama bin Laden may be on the run, is welcome news to the White House.

Major Garrett has more on what the Bush administration is thinking.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yielding to intense U.S. pressure, the Northern Alliance Sunday agreed to a U.N.-sponsored meeting to prepare for a multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The purpose of the meeting would be to be bring together a number of leaders representing different parts of Afghanistan, different ethnicities, different tribes, and see if we can get an interim government in place. And then stand at the broader government over time.

GARRETT: Filling the political vacuum is a top U.S. priority. The U.S. wants the Northern Alliance, made up of Uzbeks and Tajiks and backed by Russia and Iran, to share power with the Pashtuns, backed by Pakistan. Failure could trigger another Afghan civil war and jeopardize the coalition against terror.

On another front, top U.S. officials sound increasingly confident about zeroing in on Osama bin Laden. CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We do believe that he continues to operate in a fairly narrow range. We think that the more that we are stripping away his protection, in a sense, stripping away the Taliban , stripping away the hard-core fighters that protect him, that we are beginning to narrow his possibilities for hiding.

GARRETT: But U.S. officials doubt bin Laden has a crude nuclear bomb, but say the terrifying possibility races the military stakes even higher. RICE: If ever it were clear that we are in a war of self- defense, this kind of information, that they are seeking a weapon of mass destruction just makes case that case even stronger.

GARRETT: But as the net tightens around bin Laden, Sunday's "Washington Post" reported that U.S. forces on ten different occasions in the past six weeks, failed to fire on top al Qaeda and Taliban operatives because commanders concerned about inflicting civilian casualties declined to give go ahead.

POWELL: There is always some creative discussion, I will call it, with respect to targeting, I'm very familiar with it. And I'm sure the Pentagon is able to resolve these questions as they come along.

GARRETT (voice-over): But the war is not the only top U.S. priority. Secretary of State Powell will deliver a key speech on Monday outlining the U.S. vision for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. There is no new U.S. plan, but there will be a stern call for the both sides to stop the violence and move swiftly to serious negotiations.

Major Garrett, CNN, Crawford, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCMANUS: U.S. officials say they are zeroing in on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. The suspected terrorist mastermind remains on the run, but a story in Britain's "Sunday Times" say allied special forces have narrowed the search to a 30-square-mile area in southeast Afghanistan. Secretary of State Colin Powell, however, refused to confirm that report.

CNN's Miles O'Brien has more on the caves that could be harboring the world's most wanted terrorist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There have been caves in Afghanistan, literally, for thousands of years. In order to obtain water to grow crops, the Afghans have used caves to burrow down to the water table and access water that way to irrigate their crops.

Let's take a look at some animation that we put together, to give you a sense of how intricate they can become, however. These Tauraz (ph) caves, very rudimentary, of course -- basically, a horizontal shaft into a mountain, and then vertical shafts to aid in getting the water. But they have been modified over the years in ways we see right here. Primarily, it occurred, during the days of the Soviet occupation. They were buttressed and enhanced in order to aid the Mujahideen, as they fought the Soviets, including sleeping quarters like this.

Here, you see depictions of Kalashnikov rifles, which would, of course, be nearby, food supplies and that kind of thing, linked nearby to a weapons cache there, with rocket-propelled grenades and additional Kalashnikovs, linked across the way to fuel drums to supply their vehicles and so forth, along with additional weaponry. And then air shafts, obviously very important to maintain air when you're underground.

Now, then, it gives you a sense of sort of a depiction of a typical type cave. Note these right angles as you enter into the cave, and then this next depiction, will give you a sense of how difficult it is to attack people who might be in these caves. This is a bunker-buster bomb we're depicting here, a GBU-37, 4,500 pound warhead. If it, in fact, goes in and wipes out the entrance, say, to a cave, what you can see here, these right angles make it possible for the occupants of the cave, not only to survive, but to get out as well. So it's a very difficult thing to wage war against an air campaign, and certainly a campaign on the ground makes it all the more difficult.

Niamatullah Arghandabi is a former Mujahideen fighter, who is very familiar with these caves. He joins us live from London -- good to have you with us, sir.

NIAMATULLAH ARGHANDABI, FORMER AFGHAN CAVE FIGHTER: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Give us a sense of how intricate these caves are, and how useful they are to fighters who hunker down in them.

ARGHANDABI: Yes, there are many caves where I used to fight. We were using them to hide and keeping our munitions, and we lived in them to hide and keep our munitions and important weapons, and especially when we were striking the Soviet position or ambushing them time wise, if things were getting bad for us, so we would go back to the caves that we were very familiar with, and we made it stone by stone. So, and we were using them for hiding.

O'BRIEN: Well, are they virtually impenetrable, Mr. Arghandabi?

ARGHANDABI: Yes they are. I mean, there are different kinds of, you know, caves. The ones you were talking about, though, we call it kurages (ph), and that is in Kandahar and around Kandahar. The kurages (ph) are not good for the fight. You can just -- they are going from the mountain to the plain area and for irrigation system. You can only hide there for a temporary time, but the caves in the mountains, those are, you know, natural caves are there for thousands and thousands of years.

So, and we made some spaces in there, so to hide, and they cannot be affected by heavy bombs. I mean, even if they hit the top. So if it hits the entrance, it may block the entrance, but if it's around that, it won't be effective at all.

O'BRIEN: Give us a sense of how well they have been improved and fortified and how long people could stay inside without having to come out for more provisions?

ARGHANDABI: In the kurages, where we used to hide and those kurages are not -- you can't stay there more than, well, let's say 24 hours because they are wet and there are a lot of, you know, animals like snakes and other things. And then if the enemy knows that you are there, you know, especially the Russians, sometimes they would know, they would drop detonators. But we wouldn't be affected much by those detonators because there are spaces inside there that you can hide and so they will not reach to you. But sometimes they would pour some acids and poison the water, so that was, you know, very effective (UNINTELLIGIBLE). So we -- then we had to move too -- they're really long, you know, like three, four, five to six, even more than that, kilometers, so then you can go back somewhere, you know, and hide somewhere else.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate your insights on life underground in Afghanistan.

Clearly, as he indicates, in some caves they could live and operate out of for years thus, obviously, offering some defensive advantages to say the least.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCMANUS: After taking Kabul, Northern Alliance troops were quick to find places to put prisoners of war. Conditions for many of these prisoners are harsh, their situations and their fates vary.

CNN's Matthew Chance talked with several non-Afghan prisoners taken by the Northern Alliance. Here's their story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Captives in a Kabul prison, suspected Taliban and al Qaeda members, detained by the Northern Alliance and lined up for us. These are just some of the hundreds of prisoners of war, Afghan officials say are foreign fighters, arrested since the fall of Kabul.

Zabin (ph) told me he came to Afghanistan from Saudi Arabia to train in weapons with an organization linked, he said, to Osama bin Laden. He was shot and captured on the frontlines, north of the Afghan capital. Thousands of Arabs and other nationals are still fighting alongside the Taliban. These miserable few expect little mercy.

Behind the steel doors of the next cell, a line of suspected Pakistani volunteers for the Taliban. The prisoner guards told us they'll be interrogated for information on fellow fighters. What we heard, though, were denials and pleas of innocence.

ABDUL HANI, PRISONER: We came from... CHANCE: Abdul Hani (ph) told me he was in Kabul, not as a fighter, but as tourist visiting friends when he was arrested.

(on camera): Are you a member of the Taliban?

HANI: No, I don't know about this. We came from Kabul to enjoy here.

MOHAMMED-E ISRAH, PRISONER: But we are not...

CHANCE (voice-over): Denials too from Mohammed-e Israh (ph). He is a trader he says, Pakistani, but no supporter of the Taliban.

ISRAH: I'm not related with Taliban peoples. I am friend.

CHANCE (on camera): What about rest of these people?

ISRAH: I don't know about these people because I have come just 15 minutes before.

CHANCE (voice-over): True or not, these men are regarded as enemies by those now in charge.

(on camera): Officials responsible for this jail say they haven't decided yet what to do with their prisoners of war. Although they say at least, they will be treated fairly. Still, there is mounting concern over the large numbers of captives held in Kabul under lock and key but mostly unseen.

(voice-over): In the back streets of the capital, one Northern Alliance commander took me to his own holding facility. A shipping container insulated with mud and holes cut in the sides for air. Peering out a face full of desperation. Zahir (ph) told me he is an Afghan from Kandahar. "I want to get out of here," he says, "The Taliban only used me as a driver. I needed to work to feed my family."

Far more prisoners are being held by the Northern Alliance than have been seen by us. And it's far from clear how much mercy they deserve or can expect.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Kabul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCMANUS: Over the past several days, cities in Afghanistan have been falling to the Northern Alliance. One after the other once controlled by the Taliban now free from them. In the capital, Kabul, which has experienced sustained bombing during the war, life is returning to normal little by little as Julian Manyon now reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIAN MANYON, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): The presenters looked nervous but it was hardly surprising, this was the first broadcast by Kabul television for five years, five years in which TV was banned by the Taliban as an offense against Islam. It was a 16-year-old girl, Shakaber Marion (ph), who made the opening announcement introducing the first program, a reading from the Muslim Bible, the Koran.

Among the few people who watched the first broadcast were the Nudgman (ph) family. They hid their TV set while the Taliban were in power and brought it out today. While the new world was struggling to emerge, a little of the old one still remained in the military hospital in the center of Kabul. There we found eight wounded Taliban soldiers left behind when the city fell. Their stories gave an insight into how the fundamentalists' movement works and whether it can go on fighting.

"I'm just a farmer," this man told me. "I was forced to fight and I don't care what happens now."

There was a Pakistani who said he joined the Taliban because the Muslim priest in his village told him that Islam was in danger. Now he wants to go home.

But the Taliban are taking severe punishment from the bombing. Our interpreter Enayat is, in fact, a medical student who worked in this hospital and saw the Taliban wounded brought in.

ENAYAT NASSER, INTERPRETER: Most of the patients who are coming here, they were injured with their faces and it was a burning and most of the patients were dying here.

MANYON (on camera): The Americans are still bombing in the south of Afghanistan and the effects are likely to be as devastating as before. But as we have discovered in this hospital, there are still a few fundamentalists who will want resistance to continue regardless of what is thrown at them.

Julian Manyon, ITN, at the military hospital in Kabul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCMANUS: Earlier this year, Saira Shah gave us a shocking view of life under the Taliban in "Beneath the Veil." Now she returns to Afghanistan to see what has changed for Afghans since the war on terrorism has begun. In this excerpt from her new documentary, "Unholy War," Shah stops in a refugee camp in Northern Afghanistan where a sole American relief worker remains despite rumors that the Taliban have put a price on his head. Here she sees the human toll of two decades of war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHAH: In the camp, we come across one man who's trying to help the refugees. John Weaver is an American from North Carolina. He works for Shelter Now International, a U.S. relief organization. He's the only American who stayed on in this area. The local people say that the Taliban have put a price on any U.S. aid worker's head.

(on-camera): These people displaced by war in Afghanistan, have things changed for them since the American action? JOHN WEAVER, SHELTER NOW INTERNATIONAL: Not a whole lot. They've been displaced for the past year. We along with other international NGOs have been trying to help them. So their situation, yes, it's not improving, but it's not really because of what happened on September 11. They've been refugees because of the terrorism and the civil war and the tyranny that's in Afghanistan.

Winter is coming. But first, we hoped that they would be able to go back home. Now, it looks like they're going to be stuck here. So it's going to be even worse for them. They're going to need more shelter. They're going to need more wood for the winter. They're going to need blankets. They may need tents. They're going to need more food. So it could be very difficult for these families, if they have to stay here for the winter.

SHAH (voice-over): The West's war won't stop them spending another hungry winter on the mountainside. It's heartbreaking to know we can't help all these people. But we might just be able to do something for the three little girls if only we can find them. We have to move on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Amy Shuckhart from Tempe, Arizona asks: What is being done to root out terrorist cells already in place in the United States?

AMBASSADOR L. PAUL BREMER III, FORMER AMBASSADOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE: Amy, I think one of the most important things the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are doing right now is trying to track down any terrorists who are left in the United States. And although the FBI has arrested hundreds of suspected terrorists now or people who might be able to bring information, they really have arrested very few known terrorists.

So I think we have to assume that we still have terrorist groups. There are groups on which have been active in the United States over the last 10 years, and this is going to be a very long process I think. The hopeful piece of news is that the president signed into law a new bill which gives the FBI and law enforcement agencies extended abilities to really try to find out who these people are and bring them to justice.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCMANUS: Just in time for the holiday travel season, the U.S. House and Senate both have approved a compromised aviation security bill. The measure signed Friday will make all airport security screeners federal employees. President Bush is expected to give his stamp of approval to it as well. But what price is America paying for increased security.

CNN's Bruce Morton looks beyond the monetary cost and examines the compromises and effects on the U.S. constitution. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In war, countries suffer causalities. The risk in a democracy like the United States is that the constitution will be one of them.

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 a thousand are being detained. Also, the government can eavesdrop on any 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 lawyers, 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 do 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 Safire (ph) says "the 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 democracy 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 what democracies do?

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCMANUS: We've been barraged by the news coverage since September. The newspapers have been cranking out page after page of stories and information -- most of us still reading every word. Many are turning to the big dailies but others to their local and community papers. How have smaller publications dealt with the story, I went to Macon, Georgia to find out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCMANUS (voice-over): The headlines speak for themselves, but many have turned to their local papers for more, a grasp at why, some sort of explanation.

BRIAN MELTON, MANAGING EDITOR: Well, we looked for any connections we had to the big story.

MCMANUS: Brian Melton is the managing editor of the "Macon Telegraph." His paper's offices are located near the heart ,of Macon, Georgia.

MELTON: There's never been a story like this in my life. There's never been a story like this since World War II and this is even bigger than that in a way because a major American city was attacked. So we did things that we've never done before.

MCMANUS: Like publishing an extra, not done at many papers since January 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger exploded.

ED CAMPBELL, ADVERTISING DIRECTOR: They were buying this as I need information, I need something that I can touch, I need a keepsake to sort of put this in perspective.

MCMANUS: The paper's writers believe localizing a national story is the best way to connect with their readers.

GRAY BEVERLEY, REPORTER: It's not so much of an international or national story as much as it is something that, you know, means a lot to people here too.

RANDALL SAVAGE, REPORTER: We were able to get in touch and know most everybody that we cover pretty well.

MCMANUS: According to the journalists of the "Macon Telegraph," this story, more than any other, has struck a chord within the community. How do they know, their readers have responded.

CHARLES RICHARDSON, COLUMNIST: I've never seen an outpouring of emotion, particularly to a newspaper, that I've seen since the September 11. Letters started coming in immediately.

MCMANUS: More than 1,500 in the first days following the attacks.

RICHARDSON: How do we teach our children to live in this world? How can we teach them not to be afraid of the world around them? The only way I know is love and compassion for others. We have to teach them to love one another regardless of differences in race or religion. MCMANUS: The presses of the "Telegraph" rumpled to life about midnight, mixing ink and paper to create a historical scrapbook of events.

MELTON: We're permanent, people save us. A great many people kept those newspapers from those first few days.

CAMPBELL: A documentation, a record of the events that affected me with my, not the "New York Times," which is a great paper, but "Macon Telegraph." It was right there, you know, and this is how my town reacted to it.

MCMANUS (on camera): It's small cities like Macon dotting the country that help make up the fabric of America. And according to the reporters at the "Telegraph," it's the local newspaper's information that helps keep that fabric together.

Michael McManus, CNN, Macon, Georgia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FREIDMAN: So what else comprises that American fabric Michael just spoke of, it is the strong fiber of American pride. A renewed sense of honor and allegiance can be seen across the country. Now, more than ever, it is the hues of red, white and blue that color everything that Americans do.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TORIA TOLLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thanksgiving is nearly here, yet across America, it looks more like the 4th of July. This year, the colors of the holiday season appear to be red, white and blue. On street corners, cars and in windows, Old Glory is now as standard a decoration as Turkeys and Christmas trees.

Artist Mark Herron went to his attic, not for strings of lights and boxes, but for a print he created 13 years ago called "American Arise." The renewed interest, he believes, shows this season is different than past years.

MARK HERRON, ARTIST: It's just brought a new -- a new level of consciousness to our country, I think, you know -- you know and an awareness of where we are going and who we look to for safety.

TOLLEY: Ermine Demp Phillips has operated Phillips Variety Store for more than half of her 80-odd years. Her business remains lively, her customers resolute.

ERMINE PHILLIPS, STOREKEEPER: I think everybody's since pretty calm. Leave it up to the ones that can do something about it, don't you think?

TOLLEY: There is a certain comfort, some say, shopping among the many flags. The cash register rings, the chitchat patriotic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think America is very strong, and I think that we're all -- we'll all get through this together and we'll do what we have to do.

UNIDENTIFIED: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I do too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's bringing a lot of people together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think a lot of good things have come from this because it's united every -- whereas before, everybody was kind of...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... on their own. Now I think it's united everyone and everyone is together and pulling together and we have that old American spirit again.

TOLLEY (on camera): There's a new holiday spirit emerging this year. You can see it in America's storefronts, restaurants and even hair salons.

(voice-over): Amidst the suds and the scissors, discussions of how things are different this year and yet the same.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only thing that's changed is I'm praying a whole lot more for our military and for our president and that's the only thing. Other than that, I'm not worried about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am very, very angry because my children are still having to use the airlines and -- but for me, I would -- if I were younger, I would enlist in a New York instant.

TOLLEY: The colors of the harvest and the smell of Turkey may mean it's Thanksgiving, but the abundant red, white and blue quietly demonstrate how people are indeed giving thanks.

Toria Tolley, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FREIDMAN: "Harry Potter" was not the only one making magic over the weekend, the Leonide Meteor Shower provided a spectacular light show in the wee hours of Sunday morning. At its peak, as many as 1,250 meteors per hour raced across the sky.

MCMANUS: It's really amazing, Susan. The Leonide Shower happens every November as the Earth's orbit goes through the trail of particles left by the comet Temple-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 33 years.

FREIDMAN: An amazing sight.

MCMANUS: Sure is.

And we leave you now with some other amazing pictures. I'm Michael McManus.

FREIDMAN: And I'm Susan Friedman. We'll see you tomorrow.

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