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MORNINGS WITH PAULA ZAHN

Richard Butler's Analysis of Afghanistan, British Peacekeepers and Somalia

Aired December 11, 2001 - 07:33   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: As we've been telling you, the fighting in Tora Bora may be reaching the end of the game with talk of a surrender in the former Taliban spiritual capital of Kandahar. There are political talks underway involving the new head of the provisional Afghan government.

We turn to Richard Butler now, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector, our ambassador in residence who is with the Council on Foreign Relations -- good morning.

RICHARD BUTLER, FORMER CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Good morning, Paula.

ZAHN: Lots of territory to cover here.

BUTLER: Yes,...

ZAHN: So now...

BUTLER: ... and a short time, so we'll hurry.

ZAHN: In a very short time.

BUTLER: OK.

ZAHN: Go, Richard, go. So you're talking about 15 hours from now the demand that...

BUTLER: That's right.

ZAHN: ... either the Taliban forces, the al Qaeda forces surrender or die. No one knows whether they'll meet this deadline.

BUTLER: Classic.

ZAHN: What do you expect to happen.

BUTLER: Classic ultimatum. The fighting has done pretty well. It seems that Osama bin Laden is there, although we hit one of the caves with a daisy-cutter bomb, massive bomb which crashes in the entrance and probably the exits, so maybe he's dead inside there. But the big question, Paula, is if he's not, if in these 15 hours these people come out and maybe he's amongst them, then the big question is do we get to put him on trial?

ZAHN: And how that -- how is that going to be decided?

BUTLER: Well the United States wants to do that. It wants to do it publicly and I believe it certainly should. Problem is if he falls into Afghan hands, they may say, no, we'll take care of this. I don't think that would be acceptable. The new head of the Afghan government I think is now indicating that he would cooperate and hand him over and Mullah Omar. But if he were to fall into the hands of one of our European allies, under their law...

ZAHN: They don't support the death penalty.

BUTLER: Under their...

ZAHN: They will not extradite him to the U.S.

BUTLER: They would not extradite him to the U.S. because they know that at the end of the trial if the verdict is guilty and if the sentence passed in this country is death, they couldn't do that because they're against the death penalty.

Paula, I think -- I think what we're -- what was -- is probably most suitable for most Americans is that that man be found alive, he be brought here to New York City, put on trial in a courtroom across the road from the World Trade Center,...

ZAHN: Yes, make him look at what is left of the World Trade Center.

BUTLER: ... make him look at what he did. A proper public trial with evidence and defense, something that meets our legal standards and a sentence that's what should happen.

ZAHN: Let's move on to the issue of a potential British peacekeeping force, along with other international nations --...

BUTLER: Yes.

ZAHN: ... other nations cooperating.

BUTLER: Big deal because that force will be necessary. It will be led by the British. The rules of engagement will be very important, and they're still being talked about. In other words, will these...

ZAHN: What can you do if you...

BUTLER: Will these guys just be not much more than policemen or will they have bigger weapons? Will they be able to really enforce the peace? These are the rules of engagement and we need to know what they are. They're being worked out now.

ZAHN: Of course there's a lot of speculation about what the next step will be in this very long war on terrorism. There is a report in the "Washington Post" this morning... BUTLER: Right.

ZAHN: ... that a delegation from the U.S. visited Somalia, potentially scouting locations for attacks against terrorist camps. What do you make of that report? And is the administration sort of issuing a trial balloon here?

BUTLER: It makes sense. The team that went over there was military and I think some CIA. Just remember this, Somalia is the place where 1994 we went to try to help and some of our Marines were killed. There was a bit of a problem. Since that time, Somalia doesn't really have a government, and it is a place where al Qaeda terrorists have gone and hung out. So scoping it out suggests to me that Somalia may be the next place we will go to deal with some al Qaeda ourselves.

ZAHN: Need a yes or no, do you think the al Qaeda fighters and Taliban will meet that deadline tonight, 10:30 Eastern time?

BUTLER: I think they will. I'm assuming rationality. They're nuts if they don't.

ZAHN: Yes, but when has there been any display of rationality in (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

BUTLER: Well, you know -- you know it's so far so good, and you know, they have been basically giving up without too much of a fight. There've been some problems and some deaths, but the way this has gone the last 24 hours in Tora Bora, I think they'd be nuts if they didn't take very seriously this ultimatum.

ZAHN: All right, Richard Butler, good to have your perspective as always.

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