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SPECIAL REPORT: AMERICA STRIKES BACK

Aired December 16, 2001 - 22:00   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.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. And welcome to a SPECIAL REPORT: AMERICA STRIKES BACK.

First, the latest developments. U.S. military officials are vowing that Operation Enduring Freedom will not end until Osama bin Laden is brought to justice. They say that bin Laden is probably still in Afghanistan, but they cannot rule out the possibility that he has slipped out.

A top commander with America's Afghan allies says their capture of Taliban hideouts near Tora Bora effectively ends the war. But the U.S. says there are still dangerous pockets of al Qaeda resistance there, and U.S. airstrikes continue.

The U.S. Central Command says three Marines suffered light to moderate injuries today, when one of them stepped on a land mine in southern Afghanistan. The Marines were checking for mines and booby traps at the Kandahar Airport.

Well, after some delay because of equipment problems, cleanup crews are trying to kill the last anthrax spores in the Hart Senate office building in Washington. The contents of a letter contaminated offices there almost two months ago.

And in a twist worthy of Hitchcock, American Airlines says that a woman stole a bag from a security checkpoint at the San Diego International Airport before boarding a plan bound for Chicago. When she pulled a sweater out of the bag, a fake hand grenade used to test security screeners rolled onto the floor of the plane. The flight was then delayed. And she was charged with theft and interfering with the flight crew.

Well as we've been telling you, allied forces have overrun most of the last al Qaeda strongholds in the mountains near Tora Bora. But the big prize, Osama bin Laden himself, is still eluding them.

CNN's Nic Robertson is there now, following the manhunt that has the whole world watching.

Nic, good morning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Judy.

Well, the very latest from here, despite the claims by local mujahideen commanders here who have overrun those al Qaeda positions, there have been intense periods of bombardment on the mountains behind me overnight.

We've been able to saw as the dawn has risen, that those mujahideen forces have moved further up into the mountains and taken over positions that were only a few days ago being bombed.

The local commander here, Hazrat Ali, who has most of the mujahideen forces on the mountain here, said that when they overran those al Qaeda camps, that they have captured some Arabs and some Afghans.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Returning from mountaintop battles with al Qaeda forces near Tora Bora, leading mujahideen commander Hazrat Ali declared the war against Osama bin Laden's last stronghold over.

HAZRAT ALI, EASTERN ALLIANCE COMMANDER (through translator): Our victories today have been very decisive, very important. All the tunnels, all the caves of al Qaeda up on the mountain of Tora Bora have been captured by our forces. We have captured -- we have seized their ammunition. So for us it's a big victory.

ROBERTSON: Eighty al Qaeda dead, 21 Arabs and nine Afghans captured. But no sign of Osama bin Laden, he says.

ALI (through translator): I don't have any specific information about where being of (sic) Osama bin Laden. But I can tell you that right now we don't know any exact whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

ROBERTSON (on camera): The details are scant, and as yet unconfirmed. It had been thought there were up to 1,000 al Qaeda fighters in the mountains. So far only 100 have been accounted for.

Commanders say many may have tried to escape south across the border into Pakistan. And even now U.S. warplanes can be heard circling in the night sky, followed by occasional bomb blasts.

(voice-over): Intense bombing in the last few weeks forced the al Qaeda fighters into an ever-smaller area. However, military analysts believe that checking the hidden network of caves for Osama bin Laden could take a long time, and suggest it may be too soon to have conclusive information about the fate of al Qaeda and its leader.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: And the last bombing run was about an hour ago. We can still hear the planes, but the bombs that we saw exploding were bright red flashes just over the horizon. And that, indeed, seems to indicate, Judy, that those al Qaeda forces are being chased by the bombers, ever southward, towards border with Pakistan.

WOODRUFF: Nic, how do you explain this discrepancy between what we've been hearing, as you say, for days now that there were thousands of al Qaeda forces and that it was very much believed that bin Laden was in the area. Now there appear to be many, many fewer. And there's real question about whether he escaped sometime ago?

ROBERTSON: Well, I think there are two answers. One is that some of the al Qaeda may still be on the loose. They may have moved to different areas or may be on the run, trying to get into Pakistan.

And the other answer is something that we've seen in other areas of Afghanistan, that what we've heard about in Konduz and Kandahar, about Arafat as being holed up in certain areas, often the numbers that we're given by local commanders, when the final count is made of how many people are captured and how many bodies there are, just don't tally, So it's likely that some of the figures have been inflated in the first place.

But it's also very likely to some of the al Qaeda fighters are still on the move through the mountains. It is a very, very big task for mujahideen forces and for the U.S. special forces on the ground here, just to stop and block any movements of al Qaeda through the mountains.

The mujahideen have sort of got blocking military positions set up at the bottom of valleys and military tactical places like that, but they don't appear to be -- or they don't appear as if they can get everywhere all the time -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you very much. Nic Robertson reporting from the area around Tora Bora, where it is now Monday morning.

Well for more on the war, let's turn to one of our CNN military analysts, retired U.S. Army General David Grange.

General Grange, let's pick up with where I left off with Nic Robertson. And that is, how it can be that after days and days and thousands and thousands of ordnance dropped being dropped in this area, we now have the Eastern Alliance fighters saying well, it's over. We've taken the territory, but the U.S. is saying, no, there's still work to be done?

GEN. DAVID GRANGE, (RET.) CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I believe that the Eastern Alliance mujahideen commander was talking about Tora Bora. That objective has been taken. And that's just one mountain area ridgeline, series of hills in a complex that's amongst a range of places these people can hide.

If you look back in many of the other wars, you can go back into an area after B-52 bombers strike, airstrikes, artillery. The ground could be churned up into dust knee deep. And you go in there. And there's still people coming out of holes alive. Or there's no one there when you get there, when they were shooting at you just a day before, hours before.

So it's a big area when you're on the ground. And it's a very complex, very restricted terrain that people can move around in. And so obviously, if the estimates are even half what they were on the al Qaeda front, they haven't killed or captured near what should be in the area. So they've probably moved. WOODRUFF: So how do you account for -- I was just reading one report quoting a Commander Zaman. I don't know if I'm pronouncing it correctly, with the Eastern Alliance saying there's no more need for American bombing. And I'm quoting here. He says, "Our men have the situation under control."

GRANGE: Well, he's the man on the ground. And being thousands of miles away, it's pretty hard to comment on that situation when you can't see, feel, smell what's going on there in the ground. But I would think he's focused on that one area. He may be just tired of that operation and wants to move on. But obviously, our primary mission is the al Qaeda. And if a lot of them are still unaccounted for, to including bin Laden, the pursuit goes on.

WOODRUFF: How do you though, general, explain it to -- you're right. We're thousands of miles away. We're all here in the United States, armchair critics. It's so easy for to us say wait a minute, you know, when are you going to find success here? But I think it's hard for people to visualize what's going on there. We know many, many bombs and ordnance have been dropped. And I mean, to make this territory particularly barren, one would think. And yet, no real result. Clearly 100. We heard Nic reporting that they can account for 100 al Qaeda, but not much more than that.

GRANGE: Well, we don't know really what the total results are. There may be hundreds buried in debris from the airstrikes, wounded to include maybe bin Laden, may have been carried away. They may have exfiltrated south or towards Pakistan. So we really don't have a good count. And that's why this thing has to be pursued. The operation, the pressure has to continue. And all these areas have to be searched out. There's many other cave complexes along the border area.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about something else, another report I've seen. And this is tonight. I'm reading from "The New York Times" web site.

Now this is after weeks of our being told they had reason to believe bin Laden was still in Afghanistan, although they acknowledge he might have escaped, Tonight, "The New York Times" is quoting a senior American defense official as saying there's only a 50/50 chance bin Laden was in Afghanistan and hadn't fled over the border.

GRANGE: Well, I don't know how you could get a percentage. So I mean, I don't understand that. Could he get over the border? Of course. Could he be in another country right now? Of course.

But the thing is that you can't get hung up on that right now. We have to continue to destroy the al Qaeda network. It's still a very dangerous place, obviously. There's Taliban bands of fighters up by Herat, up by Mazar-e Sharif in areas that initially were -- went over to the Northern Alliance or the deals were made.

And they're still active fighters in the area. So this a very uncertain environment, that is not near to being finished. Now how much we stay involved in those other parts of it, I don't know. But I know that our leaders have said that they will continue to pursue bin Laden and destroy the al Qaeda network. So it's obviously -- there's still a lot to do just on that mission.

WOODRUFF: All right. Retired General David Grange, a CNN military analyst, helping us understand the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. General, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

GRANGE: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you again.

GRANGE: Same.

WOODRUFF: Well, the Taliban and the al Qaeda are not the only dangers U.S. troops are facing in Afghanistan. That was very much in evidence today when one wrong step in Kandahar sent three U.S. Marines to the hospital.

CNN's Mike Chinoy reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHINOY (voice-over): Armored vehicles race to assist the Marines' first casualty since they captured Kandahar Airport. Three soldiers injured, one seriously, in a land mine explosion just beyond the runway.

The three were heading to clear a house. They were walking through a field they thought was free of mines when the blast went off. The wounded were put aboard a helicopter and medivaced to a field hospital at Camp Rhino, south of Kandahar. The incident highlighting the dangers the Marines face here.

No one knows for sure, but there are believed to be thousands of mines scattered in this area.

(on camera): The area around the airport was first mined at the time of the Soviet invasion in the 1980s. It was mined again during the Afghan civil war in the early '90s, and again by the Taliban.

As one Marine de-mining expert said: "We could dig here for an entire year and still find mines."

(voice-over): And not only mines.

UNIDENTIFIED MARINE: They found inside the buildings and around the actual airport. We've actually found land mines, ammunition, machine guns, artillery pieces, surface-to-air missiles, air-to-air missiles. Any sort of the ordnance you can imagine on a battlefield, we have found it here.

CHINOY: These machine guns, mortars and rockets are just a fraction of what Taliban and al Qaeda fighters left behind when they fled the airport.

Sergeant Michael Lareeny (ph) and Sergeant Michael Gattis (ph) are Marine explosive disposal experts. They found this cache next to the airport's medical clinic. UNIDENTIFIED MARINE: I'm not going to assume or specify what they were planning on doing with it, but they were storing munitions in the hospital.

CHINOY (on camera): Do you know where, exactly, in the hospital? Was it...

UNIDENTIFIED MARINE: On this area back here where they have all the medical supplies stored, and that's where we found those munitions.

CHINOY (voice-over): Even though the Marines are flying in and out of here, until the bulk of the ordnance and mines are identified and made safe, it will be hard for Kandahar airport to become fully operational. The chopper evacuating the Marines injured in this incident underscoring just how perilous that task will be.

Mike Chinoy, with U.S. Marines at Kandahar Airport.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Afghanistan today for the first time since the U.S.-led military campaign began. Rumsfeld was flown to Bagram air base near Kabul, where he was greeted by an honor guard of local Afghan troops. He also received an enthusiastic welcome from U.S. men and women in uniform. Rumsfeld told them they would not return home until the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and Osama bin Laden were brought to justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: In terms of the United States of America's responsibility and task here, it is to complete those assignments that I have outlined. And there is no way to know how long it's going to take to find Omar and to find Osama bin Laden, and to find the senior al Qaeda leadership, and to see that they're punished. That'll take some time.

I'm sure that individual units and individual people will be rotated. But as far as our presence here, we're not leaving until we get the job done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Rumsfeld also met with the incoming Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and other officials from the new interim government.

Back here in the U.S., New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says the American who joined the Taliban might have to pay the ultimate price for his actions. Giuliani says prosecutors should consider asking for the death penalty against John Walker Lindh. The California native was discovered after he survived a prison revolt at Mazar-e Sharif. He's currently in custody aboard the American ship, the USS Peleliu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, MAYOR, NEW YORK: I don't know all the facts of the case, but I certainly think that serious consideration should be given to the maximum penalty that the law allows. And when you commit treason against the United States of America, particularly at a time in which the United States of America is in peril of attack and further attack, I believe that the death penalty is the appropriate remedy to consider.

If justified, if you commit treason against the United States. And it's very effective deterrent against other people doing the same thing.

WOODRUFF: New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaking today.

Turning now to the crisis in the Middle East. Israel and the United States are taking a "wait and see" approach to Yasser Arafat's call for a truce. Many officials say that his words must now be followed by action.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A grim-faced Yasser Arafat at prayers marking the start of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that ends the Ramadan holy month. This not just a day of festival prayers, but of enormous political significance for the Palestinian leader as he addresses the intense international pressure on him to curtail Islamic militants, the principal theme of his major policy address to his people.

YASSER ARAFAT, PRES., PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (through translator): All sorts of armed activities should be stopped, and there should be no more attacks, especially the suicide bombing attacks that we have always done them. And we will arrest all those who plan these attacks, and arrest them. And we will stop all these who have no other mission but to give excuses to further Israeli attacks.

KESSEL: Mr. Arafat's police have already shut down more than two dozen officers affiliated with the militant Islamic organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The international demand, pure and simple, is for the dismantling of the radical groups whose series of deadly strikes have killed more than 40 Israelis over the past month.

Marking the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, Israel's foreign minister said he is still waiting to see how serious Mr. Arafat is about controlling the militants.

SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: Speeches will not change. Situations should be changed, acts. The only way we can judge the Palestinian Authority is by its record, not by its recordings.

KESSEL (on camera): And right now, the record?

PERES: The record is not good enough. KESSEL (voice-over): But Mr. Peres is also challenging the conception of his prime minister that Arafat has become irrelevant. The more irrelevant you try to make him, the more relevant you may make him, the Israeli foreign minister said.

At the start of their weekly meeting, Israeli ministers marked a National Culture Week, by reading out poems of their choice. Ariel Sharon's choice of an ultra-nationalist poet leaves no doubt he has no doubt about the course he's pursuing.

"Even if the enemy manages to cut many of us down," quoted Mr. Sharon, "deliver bitter blows, we will not bow down nor change."

No casualties reported in the latest Israeli air strikes against Palestinian police positions in Gaza overnight. But Israeli troops have killed at least 13 Palestinians since Friday, most during a two- day sweep of suspected militants across the West Bank and Gaza, in which over 60 people were detained.

Many guns and gunmen in evidence at a Gaza funeral Sunday, before the speech to his people by Mr. Arafat, a speech which comes just a day after the curtailment at least of the U.S. mediation mission under retired Marine General Anthony Zinni.

(on camera): And now, the focus on two parallel actions, Yasser Arafat's moves against the Palestinian radical groups and the Israeli army's offensive against the same militant organizations.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Coming up, who is the man talking with Osama bin Laden on this videotape? How his identity may change or affect, I should say, U.S.-Saudi replaces. And the struggles of a country looking for a new beginning, how to rebuild war ravaged Afghanistan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. We now know the correct identity of the man seated next to Osama bin Laden in the videotape that was released last week. Senior Saudi officials tell CNN the man is Khaled al- Harbi, a Saudi citizen and a former mujahideen fighter, who lost at least one of his legs fighting for al Qaeda.

Well joining us now to talk about the Saudi connection to Osama bin Laden is Adel al-Jubeir. He is foreign affairs adviser to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Mr. Al-Jubeir, thank you very much for being with us.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI ADVISER: Thank you, it's great to be here.

WOODRUFF: I want to ask you about this man, Khaled al-Harbi. He was in Saudi Arabia, we understand, until 10 days after the terror attacks.

AL-JUBEIR: Approximately.

WOODRUFF: On the 21st, it is believed. How do explain his presence in your country? He's a Saudi citizen. We know that?

AL-JUBEIR: Well, we have had a number of identities that people have attributed to the gentleman or the person in the videotape with Osama bin Laden. The most recent one is that it is Khaled al-Harbi. If in fact it is him, then he would have been a mujahideen in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s. But he fought in Bosnia and Chechnya, then came back to Saudi Arabia and led a fairly quiet life, until he left on the 21st of September to go -- and he then appeared in the videotape with bin Laden.

WOODRUFF: And he keeps his citizenship in Saudi Arabia, as far as you know?

AL-JUBEIR: By the time he had left Saudi Arabia, he was a Saudi citizen.

WOODRUFF: He tells Osama bin Laden in this tape, that there are a number of clerics in your country who praise the attacks on September 11. Do you know who these clerics are now?

AL-JUBEIR: We don't. I believe that it's an exaggeration on his part. We have to keep in mind that this person is a cohort of bin Laden's. His objective may have been to charm bin Laden, but we don't see this groundswell of support in Saudi for bin Laden. If that were the case, bin Laden would be in Saudi Arabia with his supporters, not hiding in caves in Afghanistan.

WOODRUFF: Does your government try to keep track of extremist clerics like the ones he's referring to?

AL-JUBEIR: The -- some of the clerics that were referred to in the tapes were young fiery clerics in the early 1990s, who were inciting people to -- or preaching excitement and violence. The government tried to contain them. And when it didn't work, they were actually jailed. And then they were subsequently released. And they kept fairly low profile.

In answer your question, yes, we do. We take these matters very seriously.

WOODRUFF: What was your reaction in your country, as you best can understand it to this videotape?

AL-JUBEIR: Shock, horror, it was revolting. It showed incredible cruelty, inhumanity, people laughing at the murder of 4,000 innocent lives. That's something that's unacceptable. That's something that we reject, our culture rejects, and our faith rejects. No sane human being would look at this tape and not be revolted by it.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask about something Secretary of the State Powell said today. He was interviewed on, I believe, it was on "MEET THE PRESS." He said the connections between Osama bin Laden and his supporters in Saudi Arabia, especially financial supporters, are troublesome. What is your government doing about that, about this financial support.

AL-JUBEIR: We take the issue of squeezing those financial assets of terrorists very seriously. We have, in place, mechanisms handled for over 10 years, that deal with money laundering and funding going to organizations that shouldn't get those funding.

We have had in place tracking mechanisms for financial transfers. And we have investigated every lead that was given to us. In the last two years, to give you an example, we had a -- over 300 leads that were provided to Saudi Arabia, suspected -- suspicious things that we looked into. We couldn't find one single direct link from Saudi (INAUDIBLE) to a terrorist or an evildoer outside Saudi Arabia.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying that these allegations are mistaken or...

AL-JUBEIR: I'm saying that if from our perspective, a direct link between Saudi Arabia or Saudis in Saudi Arabia and evildoers outside, we could not establish. This doesn't mean it didn't happen. Oftentimes, people transfer money through multiple jurisdictions. Once it leaves our jurisdiction, unless the jurisdiction in which it arrives cooperates with us, the trail is lost.

WOODRUFF: Has the U.S. asked your government to freeze the assets of some of these groups.

AL-JUBEIR: We've frozen all the assets on the Treasury...

WOODRUFF: It's been done.

AL-JUBEIR: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: And are there more that the U.S. is -- that you're negotiating with the U.S. about whether to freeze...

AL-JUBEIR: There is nothing to negotiate over. If is guilty and if there is proof, the assets will be blocked. If somebody's guilty of supporting terrorism, this person will be punished.

There's nothing to negotiate over. What we talked to the United States about is to say before we rush to judgment and taint a charitable organization as a supporter of terrorists, let's look at the evidence. And let's try to clarify, if in fact, this organization is guilty or not before we tarnish its reputation.

I'll give you an example. Some charitable organizations operate in 50 countries. They may have 50 or 60 organizations that work with him. Could it be that one the associated organizations might be tainted. Well, in that case, we don't blame the main organization. We shed the subsidiary or the associate.

WOODRUFF: All right, well we are going to have to leave it there, but we very much appreciate your coming in. Adel Al Jubeir. He is the foreign affairs adviser to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We thank you very much.

AL-JUBEIR: Thank you...

WOODRUFF: Appreciate your coming by.

It was event that has not happened in almost 40 years. Ship carrying food from the United States including frozen chicken and corn arrived in Havana, Cuba today, despite the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba. U.S. law does allow shipments of food and medicine for humanitarian purposes. Cuban officials insist that this purchase was a one-time event, needed to deal with aftermath of hurricane Michelle.

Coming up, an update on the latest developments in America's new war. Also ahead, the difficult task of rebuilding Afghanistan. How a country scarred by years of war and conflict is looking for a new beginning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Here now some of the latest developments we're following tonight. Two anti-Taliban commanders tell CNN that they believe al Qaeda fighters, and possibly Osama bin Laden, are heading over the mountains into Pakistan. U.S. officials say that's possible, and they admit they're getting mixed signals -- messages, that is -- on bin Laden's whereabouts.

Despite the confusion, there has been no let-up in the assault on the Tora Bora mountains, where al Qaeda forces are believed holed up in a series of tunnels and caves. The U.S. Central Command says the attacks have intensified just since yesterday.

More now on the hunt for Osama bin Laden. If the Bush administration is feeling any pressure to capture the accused terror mastermind quickly, no one is letting it show. CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As coalition forces overtake the last few caves in Afghanistan, senior Bush advisers for the first time are not ruling out that Osama bin Laden may have escaped.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't think we do know where he is. The best bet is that he is probably still in Afghanistan, trying to avoid military forces, but I can't ignore the possibility that he might not be, and might have gotten out.

GARRETT: Last week, senior defense officials said bin Laden and his top aides were effectively surrounded. But confidence, much like the mountainous Afghan terrain, rises and falls. Right now, it appears to be falling.

POWELL: Sure we'd like to have seen him in irons today, but he will be in irons in due course, one way or the other.

GARRETT: Ground fighting continues, but pockets of resistance are dwindling, and Afghans are building a new government, both important achievements.

But bin Laden remains an elusive and infuriating target, more so because of this videotape, an incendiary indictment of bin Laden that top White House aides concede has personalized the war on terror as never before.

A "Newsweek" poll shows that 62 percent of those surveyed said victory will only be achieved when bin Laden and the top Taliban leader are captured. The White House agrees, but can only plead for patience.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We are not going to set a deadline. We say to ourselves at every meeting that our deadline is when the mission is accomplished.

GARRETT: The White House feels the pressure. Senior aides fretted that the president's decision to stay in Washington this weekend instead of flying to Camp David would fuel speculation about bin Laden's imminent capture and a White House address. Aides said the Bushes stayed only to host holiday functions.

For his part, Mr. Bush spent Sunday attending church, playing with family dogs Spot and Barney, and jogging at a nearby military base.

(on camera): The White House knew the videotape would whet the public appetite for bin Laden's swift capture. But it also calculated that Americans would not just become more angry, but more determined. And top aides are hopeful that determination will bring patience.

Major Garrett, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Well, in the middle of all this, Washington is reestablishing diplomatic relations with Afghanistan. The former U.S. embassy in Kabul is about to reopen as a liaison office. In just a few hours, the American flag will be raised over that building for the first time since 1989. The building will no doubt need work to repair years of abuse and neglect, much like the country of Afghanistan itself. Tristana Moore of Britain's Channel Four News has that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRISTANA MOORE, CHANNEL FOUR NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Taliban are no longer to be seen. The talk of peace now in Kabul. We went to the city's main bazaar today to meet the money changers. For them, business has never been better.

(on camera): Yesterday, I exchanged some money, and it was worth 35 cent. Today, it's 32 cents. And what is your rate? (voice-over): The Russians are now helping to print the national currency, the Afghani, which economists say has stabilized. But there are still daily fluctuations. As a parting gesture last month, the Taliban plundered more than $5 million from the central bank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Afghani is down. There's no agriculture, no industry to speak of here. We fought more than two decades of war. Many people have no jobs. It's little surprise that the currency has lost its value.

MOORE: At Kabul telephone exchange, United Front, or Northern Alliance, soldiers took up to the nerve center of operations, a room buzzing with activity. The Germans donated this phone system 50 years ago, and it has survived repeated bombings. Today, only half of Kabul residents can make a call, and even then it's pretty unreliable. The engineer told us that it often takes him more than an hour to phone a local number.

And what about the postal service here?

(on camera): Well, I have come to the only post office in town, Baksar (ph) Speedy Post, to see if I can send this letter.

(voice-over): There is no state-run post office in Kabul, only this privately run company, which ironically was set up by the Taliban.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All government offices right now, they are not operated. We are picking up from here and from our sources to Pakistan, we are sending to England.

MOORE: Almost two-thirds of power lines in Afghanistan don't work. In Kabul, there are daily power cuts. At the city's biggest sub station, Abdullah Sultani (ph) told me he hasn't been paid for six months. The United Front hasn't been able to give him a salary either.

Half of the buildings in Kabul were destroyed in the civil war of the early '90s, hardly surprising then that many institutions barely exist. With four million Afghans living in exile, including doctors and teachers, the new interim government needs massive foreign investment, but must also involve Afghans themselves in rebuilding their country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It needs security as a precondition for that, and it needs a lot of resources, and it needs somehow to have this delicate sense of Afghan ownership for the whole process. And it's going to be very difficult to weigh a lot of conflicting issues as we move forward.

MOORE: With the fighting in Kabul now over, many refugees are starting to come back, occupying ruined houses. Fazia (ph) lives her with her husband and four children. She says food is still expensive and water supplies erratic.

"I want my children to become doctors, engineers or teachers," she says. "They must go to school."

After a month of power in Kabul, the United Front claims life is improving for Afghans. Major public works programs are already under way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our first priority is to rebuild the roads in Afghanistan. We have started working on the road from Kabul to Mazar and Jalalabad. Then, we will able to link up all the big cities.

MOORE: A third of all Afghans depend on food aid for their survival. These women in Kabul have been waiting for three days to get their 50 kilos of wheat. Despite talk of liberation now that the Taliban days are over, the women are still wearing their burqas, and many don't have any jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We've suffered so long under the Taliban, I couldn't go out and work. I'm a teacher, but I have no job. Why should I be forced to queue to get food?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I see my people here, I became very unhappy. If our country has enough budget, money -- our people never came here for 50 kilos of WFB. This is nothing for our people.

MOORE: The World Food Program is now organizing the biggest distribution of aid in Kabul, but outside the capital many Afghans have still not received any food at all, because roads are blocked by bandits and warlords.

Rebuilding Afghanistan will depend on the ability of the interim government to maintain law and order, as well as the long-term commitment of the international community.

Tristana Moore, Channel Four News, Kabul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Demand for the popular gem stone tanzanite, we're told, is dropping, amid reports that some profits are going to the al Qaeda terror network. According to media reports, retailers, including Tiffany and the QVC Shopping Channel, are no longer selling tanzanite. The gem stone was linked to Osama bin Laden earlier this year in testimony at the trial of four men accused of bombing U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Reports of a link between anthrax-tainted letters and the U.S. Army. An update on the investigation when we come back. Plus, one man reaches through his own pain to help others who lost loved ones at the Pentagon. The story at hand.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Now, an update on the anthrax investigation. "The Washington Post" is reporting that the anthrax sent to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy is the same strain that is stockpiled by the U.S. Army. An Army spokesman says at least five other labs also have that strain.

And another round of anthrax fumigation is under way right now at the Hart Senate office building. Chlorine dioxide gas will be run through the heating, cooling and ventilation systems for about nine hours to try to kill the anthrax spores that are there.

Elsewhere in this Washington area, a quiet but determined effort is under way to help those who lost loved ones at the Pentagon on September the 11th. A hundred and eight-nine people died when a hijacked American Airlines jet slammed into the building. Our guest tonight wants to make sure that that loss is not forgotten, and those left behind are taken care of. Army Chief Warrant Officer Craig Sincock is the founder of PentagonAngels.net. Mr. Sincock, thank you for being with us.

CRAIG SINCOCK, FOUNDER, PENTAGONANGELS.NET: Thank you for having me.

WOODRUFF: And our condolences in the loss of your wife Cheryl. She was a civilian employee at the Pentagon.

SINCOCK: Yes.

WOODRUFF: Why did you decide to do this Web site?

SINCOCK: I think for two reasons. First of all, God gave me a talent to be able to do things with computers and the networks and the communications, and I figured if I don't use those talents for the good of other people, he may take those away.

But the other issue was, somebody came up real early and said: "What are the families going to do for the long-term support? What are they going to do when the Department of Defense is no longer there, and the casualty officers have gone back to their full-time jobs? What are they going to do then?" And so, we started working at what is the best way to get peer support and to try to help these families for the long term -- a Web site seemed to be the ideal way.

WOODRUFF: I should give some credit to National Public Radio. I heard you interviewed on NPR Friday morning, and that's why I wanted to talk to you this evening. What did you want to offer these families with this Web site?

SINCOCK: Primarily, a little peer support. We can't reach out and have meetings every week. It's kind of hard to do that, even in the D.C. area. If we all live in the D.C. area, it would be even hard then. But to be able to reach out and touch them, regardless of where they come from, where they live now, how many family members they have, and you know, even down to second cousins, and say to them, you know, reach out and touch each other. We all have kind of a common thing behind us. We have something that we can understand.

WOODRUFF: And this was -- and you are reaching out not just to the families of the Pentagon, people lost working at the Pentagon or who were at the Pentagon, but also to people who were on that American Airlines flight. SINCOCK: Flight 77, yes.

WOODRUFF: As well. And you were telling me that there were people from as far away as Japan?

SINCOCK: Right. There were people from all over the world that were affected by this. And my family is extended all the way back to Minnesota, California, Oregon, you know, so they're all over the country. Other families have family members all over the world, and those family members need that support too.

WOODRUFF: You have talked about how the difference between the support or the attention given the Pentagon and that given the people lost at the World Trade Center -- how was that -- has that been hard for you?

SINCOCK: You know, I talked to some of the family members from the Pentagon attack, and they were really concerned about all the publicity going on at the World Trade Center. And I guess I started to kind of feel that also, until I was up to the Trade Center about three weeks ago. And I went to the middle of ground zero in my classy uniform like I have on tonight, and I literally wept. The devastation up there is so immense. It's just something I couldn't even conceived standing in the middle of it.

So I could understand when I came back the difference between what they have up there and what we have down here in the Pentagon. We have just a big hole in the side of the Pentagon, we can still see the building. There's nothing left up there.

WOODRUFF: And yet the loss for everyone of these families is every bit as real.

SINCOCK: Absolutely. They are the same, and yet they're different.

WOODRUFF: Do you feel enough is being done -- and clearly nothing can ever be done to replace the loss of a loved one, but is enough being done in terms of support, financial support, and other types of support for the families of the Pentagon lost?

SINCOCK: I believe there's enough -- the national support is going to come. We have other groups that are working those issues. And I have talked to people like Steve Push (ph) who lost his wife on Flight 77, has another group going and he's working very hard and he's walking the halls of Congress, for example. And he can do that. I can't. I'm a military officer, so I have to be a little careful on what I go and do.

But I feel my purpose is to go out and try to help the families in this day-by-day struggle to reach out and touch each other and kind of help each other, but these other groups do the things that they are really qualified to do.

WOODRUFF: For the military and the civilians lost at the Pentagon, there is something about that structure, that bureaucratic structure that at the one time offers security, but on the other hand can't provide everything.

SINCOCK: You're right. And that's probably the biggest problem we have right now. We have asked, we have consistently asked now, for the release of the family names to us so that we can get the families together to get our peer support group working, and we can't seem to break through the bureaucracy. We will do it eventually, and we will get all the families involved. It's just kind of a shame that we can't do it right now.

Of course, I'm kind of a forceful individual, being a military officer I want to do the thing and I want to do it right in my time, and it just doesn't work that way in a bureaucracy.

WOODRUFF: Well, Chief Warrant Officer Craig Sincock, who have lost your wife Cheryl on September the 11th, again our condolences to you, and thank you so much for joining us tonight to tell this story.

SINCOCK: Thank you for having me.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. We appreciate it. And all the best to you.

SINCOCK: Thank you. And to you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

And now, we want to give you a look at something that Officer Sincock just mentioned, and that is ground zero in New York City, where work has been going on around the clock since September the 11th. Yesterday, the last standing fragment of the Twin Towers was brought down. The official death toll here, 3,018.

And a long journey is over for five New York City firefighters. They arrived in Pasadena, California today, completing a cross-country bike ride that started November 11. The trip was intended to thank the country for its support in the wake of the terror attacks.

Wartime mail used to take days to get to and from the front. Now, American fighters in the Afghan war draw comfort from loved ones instantly.

And CNN's Bruce Morton has the last word of what makes mass murderers tick.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: An Indiana man has come up with a way that people can take out their frustrations on Osama bin Laden any time they want. Matt Keammerer (ph) is selling a 15-inch inflatable bin Laden punching bag on the Internet. He's donating some of his profit to the September 11th Fund. That's a fund in New York City.

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez now reporting on a more serious way that people are using the Internet to help America strike back in the war on terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, baby, just thought I'd drop you a note.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will be together for our seventh month anniversary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to come home more than you can imagine. I love you.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A keyboard, a monitor, and a click of a mouse, the only intimacy, the only connection for military wives like Melissa (ph) and husbands like Brent (ph), who are separated by distance and the prospect of war.

(on camera): This is the first major conflict where loved ones stationed on a warship or on the ground thousands of miles away can actually stay connected on a daily basis through e-mail. They say that makes a big difference in how they're able to cope with the separation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just log on to the computer, and you've got mail, and it's from him. It's just great.

GUTIERREZ: Everyone in this room knows just how tough it is, and sometimes an occasional e-mail isn't enough.

MEREDITH LAYBA, CINCHOUSE.COM: How do you keep your marriage together during a six-month deployment? How do you teach your kids about what daddy is doing in Afghanistan?

GUTIERREZ: Meredith Layba says only a military wife can help answer those questions, so she came up with a meeting place on the web.

LAYBA: Cinchouse.com gets about 40,000 visitors per month.

GUTIERREZ: Cinchouse.com is an Internet support group for military families. It stands for commander in chief of the house.

MELISSA: And to have the support when everyone's away, that's awesome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we get together, we have things to talk about, our frustrations or our worries.

GUTIERREZ: Melissa is a newly wed.

MELISSA: I'm going to miss his encouragement.

GUTIERREZ: But Brent is on a ship headed for the Arabian Sea.

LAYBA: We also have a community of very good friends who come over and pick us up off the floor and allow us that shoulder to cry on.

GUTIERREZ: And now they also have this, to reach out to loved ones and each other for comfort.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Carlsbad Village, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In his lifetime, CNN national correspondent Bruce Morton has watched mass murder suspects from Adolph Eichmann to Osama bin Laden make history. He has some observations on what sets them apart from the rest of humanity.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mass murderers, why do they do what they do? What do they say about it? We know what Osama bin Laden felt: Joy.

Religion mixed with hatred for America. Timothy McVeigh, hatred for the government: "What the U.S. government did at Waco and Ruby Ridge was dirty. I gave dirty back to them at Oklahoma City."

If he'd known there was day care center in the federal building, "It might have given me pause to switch targets. That's a large amount of collateral damage," his phrase for the 15 children who died in the center.

Pol Pot, the Cambodian who most estimates say killed between one and two million people in his small country, told a reporter the year before he died, "My conscience is clear."

William Calley, who fired and ordered his platoon to fire at unarmed men, women, children and babies at a village in Vietnam called My Lai: "There wasn't any big deal, sir," he said at his court martial. "They were all the enemy to be destroyed."

And finally, Adolf Eichmann, Adolf Hitler's man in charge of the final solution to the Jewish problem. The solution, of course, was to kill all the Jews, and while Eichmann didn't manage that, he tried. Years later, Israeli agents kidnapped him in Argentina and put him on trial. His defense basically was, "I did as I was ordered." He was convicted and put to death.

Except for Calley, whose court martial I covered and who always seemed to me simply a very young man who should not have commanded a platoon and who came apart under the severe stresses of that war -- except for Calley, there is a common denominator here: Fanaticism, the belief that my morality is the only true way, that my judgments are supreme.

That seems to be true whether it's bin Laden's hate-filled version of Islam, McVeigh's hatred of his country's government, Pol Pot's genocidal version of Maoism, Eichmann's allegiance to what was almost a religion, a racist doctrine which preached one country, one people, one leader with no room for outsiders like the Jews.

Hatred unites them, and arrogance -- the notion that when it comes to right and wrong only I can decide.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: We'll have a look at the latest developments next, then "CNN PRESENTS: Unholy War."

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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