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MORNINGS WITH PAULA ZAHN

Knowing World is Watching, Bush Administration Makes Sure Nothing is Lost in Translation of Bin Laden Videotape

Aired December 13, 2001 - 07:40   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: We thought at this hour yesterday that by now we'd be seeing the new bin Laden videotape, but knowing the world is watching, the Bush administration makes sure nothing is lost in the translation. To find out when we might finally see it, let's go live to the White House and CNN's John King. Good morning John. When will we see it?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Paula, I'm one of the reasons at this hour yesterday we thought we would see it yesterday, so I'm cautious about saying anything. The Bush administration officials say most of those logistical glitches were worked out in the evening hours last night and that they fully expect to release the tape to the Pentagon later today. Remember they did say that at this time yesterday as well, but the issue, we are told, was several sections of the tape where it is very difficult to have any translation, in part, we are told, because at times this is a dinner gathering.

Osama bin Laden talking to associates and at times, we are told, there are several people talking at the same time. It is an amateur videotape. The microphone on the camera, so it is very difficult to hear, very difficult to translate. Several independent translators brought in and there are disagreements as to whether if you listen and listen and listen again, they might be able to resolve some of those sections. All of that being done last night described as a painstaking process, but the Pentagon says it is on track now to release that tape sometime later today - no firm time yet. And they say on that tape there is little doubt when you see it that Osama bin Laden had advance knowledge of the September 11th attacks on the United States.

We are told the only problems right now are logistical, if you will, but we should see that tape today. Again, I will add the note of caution - we were told that quite definitively at this time yesterday morning, but folks at the Pentagon and the White House much more optimistic this morning.

ZAHN: Now John, originally we were also told that administration officials were concerned if they release this tape too early, it might compromise the identity of the person who was the source for this tape. Is that still a consideration?

KING: There has been a debate within the administration about just how much information to provide about the chain of custody. There will be questions. The U.S. says it is very clear that this is Osama bin Laden and that they do not believe there will be any questions about the authenticity of the tape and the audio and the recordings on it. They do say there, of course, will be questions especially if there are sections - the tape stops and starts on several occasions, we are told. So some might say is the United States editing this tape. Did the administration leave something out?

Because of that, the administration debating just how to describe the chain of custody and how this tape came into the possession of the United States military and then was forwarded to Washington to be analyzed; just what they will say is -- will be signed off on by the president when he authorizes in the very end the final release of this tape. He is just waiting for word from the Pentagon that it is comfortable -- it has been translated as much as possible.

ZAHN: All right, we'll be counting on you for an update later on today. Thanks so much John.

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