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White House Releases August 6 Briefing; Japanese Hostages In Iraq To Be Released

Aired April 10, 2004 - 18:00   ET


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN SATURDAY is just ahead. But first, these headlines:
The White House is getting ready to release a top secret document that could reveal what the president knew before the 9/11 attacks. Our White House correspondent is working the story right now.

The Arab television network al-Jazeera is showing new video of an American hostage in Iraq. He's apparently being held captive by armed militia. They are threatening to kill and mutilate him if U.S. troops do not leave Fallujah. Fallujah is the heart of the insurgent rebellion.

Al-Jazeera television is reporting that three Japanese hostages being held in Iraq will be free in the next 24 hours. The Japanese hostages are all civilians and include a journalist.

Rescue crews at the Mexican border are rushing to save dozens of people trapped in the rebel of an explosion. A propane tank exploded, killing at least six people and injuring ten others in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico. Two buildings were leveled. Emergency crews say as many as 70 people may be trapped under the concrete debris.

Hello. I'm Carol Lynn and welcome to CNN LIVE SATURDAY. Coming up, an American surviving a hostage situation. I'm going to be talking to CNN's own counter-terrorism specialist Kelly McCann making it through those terrifying hours.

Also the golfer and his caddie: golf great Tom Watson lost a very special friend this week.


TOM WATSON, GOLFER: Dammit. We're going to find a cure.


LIN: A closer look at Bruce Edwards and the fight against Lou Gehrig's disease ahead.

But right now we begin with new developments in the September 11th investigation. In just moments we are expecting the white house to release a top secret intelligence report given to president bush just a month before the terrorist attacks. Now it caught everyone's attention during Condoleezza Rice's testimony on Thursday. CNN's White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is working the story and is going to bring us details live. But this is what she knows so far.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A month before the September 11th attacks President Bush was briefed that al Qaeda operatives were attempting to enter the U.S. to carry out an attack with explosives and had interests in hijacking American planes. This, sources say is revealed in the top secret presidential daily brief, or PDB, that was handed to Mr. Bush at his Crawford ranch August 6th, 2001.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It did not warn after attacks inside the United States. It was historical information, based on old reporting. There was no new threat information and it did not in fact warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.

MALVEAUX: In her Thursday testimony before the 9/11 commission, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that the brief entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Attack Inside the U.S." was mostly historical in nature. And suggested al Qaeda was mostly interested in attacking Americans overseas. But sources confirmed that the classified document includes a May 2001 intelligence report indicating that bin Laden supporters were attempting to cross into the U.S. through Canada, to carry out a high explosives attack. Uncorroborated information that bin Laden was considering ways to hijack U.S. airliners to win release of al Qaeda operatives. Intelligence suggesting bin Laden supporters were traveling to and from the U.S., some U.S. citizens who may have had a support network in the U.S. And notice that at least 70 FBI investigations were under way in had 2001, regarding possible al Qaeda cells operating in the United States. Administration officials say while they're not willing to divulge any information about the brief until it is officially declassified, they say it completely supports Rice's assertion that there was nothing the administration could have done to prevent September 11th.

RICE: The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says bin Laden would like to attack the United States.


LIN: All right this just in to CNN: a reaction from the 9/11 commission. Al Felzenberg, spokesman for the commission, says, and I'm quoting here, "This was the commission's hope. The White House has now complied. The White House agreed to release the documents and this is what the commission had hoped. The commission asked for the President's daily briefing to be released. They appear to have done so.

We will be joined by white house correspondent Suzanne Malveaux as soon as she has the latest on these breaking developments on this story. So stay right there.

Now I want to move on to the fight for Iraq. We have some key developments to tell you about. An Islamic leader says a 12 hour cease-fire between coalition forces and insurgents will go into effect tomorrow in Fallujah. Earlier, U.S. Marines said they stopped fighting but still took fire from the combatants. U.S. forces now control most of the southern city of al Kut. They swept into the area this week to push out a banned militia loyal to a radical Shiite cleric. And the Arabic TV network al-Jazeera is showing video of a hostage who is apparently American. The man is reciting a statement that he is being well-treated. A voice on the tape said that would change unless U.S. forces leave Fallujah in the next 12 hours. Now the man on the tape isn't the only person who has been kidnapped in Iraq. CNN's Jim Clancy is in Baghdad with more on this hostage situation and others.


JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An American taken hostage, bundled alongside a gunman moments after he escaped, wounded, from his truck. The kidnappers ordered a television crew videotaping the aftermath of a convoy ambush to record these images. Some accounts of the attacks said scores of insurgents armed with rocket propelled grenades and small arms hit the convoy near Fallujah, seizing hostages among soldiers and contractors who were with the fuel trucks. The number of those taken isn't known. Asked whether the coalition would make a deal to free them, the response was "No."

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY: We will not negotiate with terrorists, plain and simple.

CLANCY: Three Japanese civilians, two men and a woman, were threatened with death unless Japan reverses course and announces it will withdraw its troops from Iraq. Tokyo refused the pullout demand but sent a top diplomat to Jordan Saturday who said he would go to Iraq with if it could help free the journalists and two aid workers. Al Jazeera television reported Muslim clerics had convinced their kidnappers to free them. Two aid workers taken on Wednesday and in southern Iraq are also being held. Both men are of Arab descent. Saturday, Germany revealed two of its citizens who worked for the embassy in Baghdad had been missing and there were fears they may have been captured. With the exception of the Arab aid workers, all of those missing or known to be held captive, were snatched in the Sunni Triangle, where attacks have sharply increased since U.S. forces laid siege to insurgents in the town of Fallujah.

CLANCY (on camera): The U.S. military refuses to discuss what options it may exercise, but the stakes are high. If captured civilians become the new currency in the Iraq conflict, it could cripple foreign investment, cut humanitarian aid, and delay UN efforts to help hold elections. Jim Clancy, CNN, Baghdad.


LIN: Former POW Ronald Young Jr. knows what it is like to be held in Iraq. He went down in a chopper in March of last year and was held captive for 22 days. I'm going to be talking to him live tonight in our PRIMETIME show at 10:00 eastern. So stay tuned.

Now president bush says Iraq won't be ruled by a band of thugs. CNN's Elaine Quijano joins us now from Washington with more on what the President had to say. Elaine, it doesn't sound like he's backing down on any transitioning of power to the Iraqis on June 30th.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He's sticking to that date, Carol in the face of heightened violence in Iraq and calls by some to push back that June 30th transition date, President Bush maintains the deadline is a goal his administration can meet successfully.


QUIJANO (voice-over): From his ranch in Crawford, Texas, President Bush via video conference continues to be briefed on events in Iraq. The President remains firm on sticking to the June 30th deadline to hand over political power in Iraq, a point he repeated in his weekly radio address.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: The transition to sovereignty will mark the beginning of a new government and the end of the Coalition's administrative duties. But the coalition's commitment to Iraq will continue.

QUIJANO: That commitment, the administration says, will include a continued U.S. and Coalition military presence in Iraq to help with security as a new Iraqi government tries to take route.

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Ambassador Brahimi, the United Nations Representative is in Baghdad now working with Ambassador Bremer and the coalition or the governing council to look at models of what this interim government might look like.

QUIJANO: But Democrats question whether that new government will appear legitimate in the eyes of the Iraqi people.

SENATOR CARL LEVIN, U.S. SENATOR: If we restore sovereignty to an entity created by the United States that doesn't have the support of the Iraqi people and the international community then there could be even greater violence against our forces, including the possibility of civil war.

QUIJANO: Still others say the U.S.-led coalition's efforts may not be having the desired effect of winning Iraqis' trust.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: There is a general sense in Iraq that things aren't working. And there is a general sense in Iraq that the international community, especially the United States, don't know what they're doing.

QUIJANO: Across the street from the white house, roughly 150 to 200 people attended an anti-war demonstration, one of several hastily organized protests scheduled this weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Well, we can't get less stable than we are now in Iraq. The presence of the U.S. troops is clearly the stimulating factor that is created a unified resistance from the north and the south, the east and the west in Iraq.

QUIJANO: The demonstrators believe the only solution is the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.


QUIJANO (on camera): As for the radical cleric al Sadr, the President continues to downplay his influence among the larger Shia population. The President in his radio address calling his supporters a band of thugs who have terrorized Iraqi police and ordinary citizens. Carol?

LIN: All right, thank you very much, Elaine Quijano.

Tragedy today in a Mexican border town. Police say a propane tank exploded at a factory in Nuevo Progreso, killing at least six people. At least ten others are injured. Up to 70 people are trapped into the rubble. Nuevo Progreso is across the border from Weslaco, Texas. Weslaco Fire Captain Billy Maupin joins us live on the telephone with the latest from there. Captain, can you give us an idea of what the death toll is so far and the injuries you know of.

CAPTAIN BILLY MAUPIN, WESLACO FIRE CAPTAIN: As far as we know there were eight fatalities. As far as injuries, the last report we had were six were injured, one was transported to a local hospital on our side, the rest were transported to a hospital in Reynosa, Mexico.

LIN: Do you have a better idea of what caused the explosion?

MAUPIN: It is our understanding it was caused by a propane tank that developed a leak.

LIN: And the dead and the injured, do you have any idea who they are? Because I know the town there is a tourist town. It attracts a lot of American citizens.

MAUPIN: Yes, ma'am, it does. But as far as the nationalities, last word I got were mostly Mexico nationals.

LIN: Captain, we're watching video of the rescue operations there. Some of it painstaking with machines, but some people there digging out by hand. What sort of help is needed there and how likely are they to find more survivors?

MAUPIN: Right now it is a hands-on operation. They are bringing in heavy machinery, backhoes, jackhammers and power saws. I don't have any other information on that right now.

LIN: I mean, is it the kind of place--it has power and water, it has resources to run this kind of rescue operation?

MAUPIN: Yes, ma'am, they do. Plus, we're also bringing a lot of resources in from our side of the border.

LIN: All right, so at this point what are you anticipating through the night?

MAUPIN: Well, we're set up now for 24-hour operation. We're going to be here as long as they need us. LIN: Give us an idea of the background of this town. I mentioned it is a--it is a bit of a tourist town. I understand that the downtown is actually pretty concentrated, so an explosion of this type would affect pretty much the entire main street there.

MAUPIN: Yes, ma'am. There were actually three buildings that were involved. Two collapsed and one was deemed unstable. Right now we're at the end of the tourist season. Most of the tourists had begun going home. So as far as how the foot traffic was there, it is unknown at this time.

LIN: All right. Now has terrorism been actually ruled out?

MAUPIN: Yes, ma'am. I believe it has.

LIN: All right. All right, it looks like it will be a pretty tough operation there. I'm looking at pretty shaky aerial shots of the town. It looks like in addition to the buildings that collapsed, it looks like there is some other structures there that are pretty damaged.

MAUPIN: Yes, ma'am.

LIN: Can you tell me anything more about what happened in the surrounding buildings?

MAUPIN: Not really. I know from some of the crews that came back one of the buildings was deemed unstable. The buildings that collapsed were actually three story buildings. The damage to the surrounding buildings we didn't have any information on.

LIN: All right, Captain Billy Maupin, thank you very much for the very latest on that breaking news story. We're going to be following it throughout the night, just over the border from Texas in a town called Nuevo Progreso, a propane explosion.

In the mean time, we want to bring you back to our top story. We're expecting the white house to be releasing some top secret intelligence information on what the President knew a month before the 9/11 attacks. Suzanne Malveaux's been working the story all afternoon. Suzanne, have they released the documents yet? And if so, have you had a chance to look at the contents?

MALVEAUX: Well, Carol, they just released it moments ago. We have it right here. The title is "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the United States." This is the document that the President received one month before the September 11th attacks. We have just had a chance to go through this. And this is essentially what we have been reporting on CNN for last 24 hours from our own sources saying what they knew of this classified document. I'll give you the highlights very quickly. First, it indicates that bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the United States. It goes on to say that this is something that he was attempting to do or wanted to do after--in retaliation for the attack in Afghanistan in 1998. It goes on to say that the millennium plotting in Canada in 1989 may have been a part of bin Laden's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist attack in the United States.

It goes on to say that bin Laden has not succeeded. His attacks against the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and it is not deterred by setbacks. It goes on to say that al Qaeda members including some who are U.S. citizens have resided in or traveled to the United States for years and that the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks in the United States. It goes on to say we have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, that is to say that in bin Laden in 1998 wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release and it gives two names of these operatives of these extremists that were held by the United States.

That is a very important point, Carol. That is one of the ones where people have been asking, including the commission, whether or not the president had information, corroborated intelligence, that they would go ahead and hijack U.S. planes. That is not corroborated. Finally, two more points. The FBI says that since the time it indicates a pattern of suspicious activity in this country consistent with the preparations to hijackings and other types of attacks including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York, that there is still attempts being made to try to carry out those hijackings and finally--this is a fact that we have reported as well-- that the FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the U.S. That it considers bin Laden-related. What is important in this document, Carol, is it says that yes, Osama bin Laden for years has been trying to go after, to organize in the United States to have attacks against Americans. What it does not say, and what the commission will look at very closely, and what also national security adviser Condoleezza Rice testified to is the fact that there is nothing in this document says that al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden were planning to use planes to fly into buildings to use them as missiles. It does not also say as well any type of details, facts about who, how, where, what and why an attack would have been imminent on September 11th. Carol?

LIN: Important to note because obviously the question is: "Could these attacks have been prevented?" Suzanne, I know you have got the document there in your hands. You did just get it. Much of it basically confirms your earlier reporting. I know you need to work your sources to get more perspective on the story. So we're going to let you go. We are going to bring Suzanne Malveaux back on the story tonight and throughout the evening with any updates and more analysis. Thank you very much, Suzanne.

In the meantime, we want to bring you other news. The "Passion" in the Middle East, for example. Bootleg copies of the Mel Gibson film are showing up in Jerusalem. We are going to get the reaction.

Plus, they're closing up shop in Baghdad. A look at the danger zones and the exit strategy for U.S. forces when we return.


LIN: This week in Fallujah, insurgents in Iraq are combining kidnappings and attacks to intimidate the U.S.-led coalition. Two American soldiers and four civilian contractors are missing. And we know that an American has been taken hostage. So how does he stay alive and what is the U.S. going to do about it? Kelly McCann is a former marine who knows security and he is our terrorism expert. His company provides security, in fact, for clients in Iraq. Kelly, good to see you.


LIN: Our hearts go out to the families of this man. Tell me, what are some of the military options to go in and actually rescue him.

MCCANN: Well, remember, at the beginning of combat operations it was stated quite clearly that all the contractors would have to be responsible for their own security and the subcontractor companies would have to provide security. The military has no real obligation to do anything here. However, the strategy may be to actually do something to thwart off other attempts at this kind of thing. It is a ticklish situation, one that is difficult to talk about without jeopardizing...

LIN: He is a civilian?


LIN: How well trained is he for a situation like this to survive?

MCCANN: It depends on his previous military occupational specialty. But, I understand he was a truck driver, he's a convoy truck driver. I'm not sure that he's security personnel. Which would mean he probably doesn't have a lot of training in how to survive captivity the best way possible.

LIN: What is the key to his survival then?

MCCANN: Make a link so that people humanize him instead of dehumanize him. Talk about family, talk about normal things that occur in his life. Don't sell out 100 percent. Captors particularly don't want to see you turn on a dime and accept what their ideology is when they know you're not sincere. And basically cooperate. Don't be an aggravant to them. Make sure you don't try to do anything physical with them because they have the obviously have upper hand in the captivity situation.

LIN: Right, they actually apparently made him make a statement to a camera. These are pictures which are going out. We're blocking his face because we don't know whether his family has been notified yet.

MCCANN: And he is very poised. And he was very clipped in his answers, being very careful what he says which bodes well for him.

LIN: Alright. The state of battle, there are battles all around Fallujah. There apparently is a cease-fire that will go into place sometime early tomorrow morning. But the state of battle around Baghdad, around Kut, around Basra and Najaf, let's give an idea of how wide the battlefield is.

MCCANN: Sure, let's start in Fallujah. We've got some video where we can get a good feel for. If you look at the Baghdad area, you know a couple of things have happened. Yesterday or Friday, rather, was a very important day. We thought there would be a large demonstration which was thwarted by imams passing the word to cool off, take it easy, or because the first ID moved in with Bradley vehicles and shut down Shiddun(ph) Street near the Sheraton Hotel and near the Baghdad Hotel. If you look at Fallujah, basically, you've got a natural occurring boundary here where I'm drawing this white lane. You see there. Basically the marines used that as a backup. And then you see two major MSRs coming in-- major service routes--here and here. One that leads in which people have been using for humanitarian aid and one that leads out where women and children have been leaving. And then, basically the marines have--these are notional operational positions, not actual tactical operation positions. They've taken up positions that strong point both sides with the 3rd Battalion that they can move in reinforcement if they need to. So that's basically what is going on in Fallujah now.

LIN: The convoy that was attacked where this man, the American, was taken hostage, what was his position and why wasn't that area more protected?

MCCANN: It was between the area of Fallujah and Baghdad. Very, very dangerous area. That whole road out to Jordan is extremely dangerous. And it is rife with bandits. He was obviously re- supplying the military as a combat service support person. The ID card lets you accompany forces on the battlefield but not become a combatant. And I think that's the status he was in that dangerous area.

LIN: What do you make of the strategy of the U.S. military in using local clerics to negotiate the cease-fire? Is that credible? Can it work with all the different factions?

MCCANN: I think you can't do it without that. I think in that culture, religion, government and social elements are so intertwined that if you try to approach it on one angle, you'll miss. The mullahs, the clerics, the imams are extremely important in day to day cultures. And there are slight differences between the Shiite imams and the Sunni imams. So, it is a ticklish situation, one that has so many facets.

LIN: Keeping an eye on it. Thank you very much.

MCCANN: Thanks, Carol.

LIN: In the meantime, hundreds of Americans have lost loved ones in Iraq. Others have family members still fighting. In our second half hour you're going to meet some American families who are coping with the void this Easter weekend. We'll be right back.


LIN: In the Vatican, a frail and ailing Pope John Paul II presided over a long and solemn Easter vigil service in St. Peters basilica. The 83-year-old pope baptized people from Europe, Africa and Asia. He is scheduled to celebrate Easter Sunday mass on the steps of the basilica before thousands of worshipers.

And President Bush is spending the holiday weekend at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Tomorrow Mr. Bush will attend Easter services at a military base in mourning. Eight soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, died last week in Iraq.

Democratic challenger John Kerry is focusing on the economy. In Chicago yesterday Kerry accused Bush of slashing a billion dollars from job training programs. The Massachusetts Senator called the cuts almost criminal.

Illinois has lost 142,000 industrial jobs during the Bush presidency.

To get up to speed on the presidential campaign, tune in tomorrow with INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. The National Security Adviser for Senator Kerry, Rand Beers, will be a guest with Kelly Wallace. That's 10:00 am on Sunday tomorrow.

Coming up, a gear head's paradise. If you have the need for speed, the New York Auto Show is the place to be. We're going to show you some of the hottest new rides.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Who are you making that for, baby?



LIN: Easter egg coloring just isn't the same without Dad. Up next, how families of American soldiers are coping this holiday weekend.


LIN: The White House did indeed release a top secret classified document that indicates an August 6 briefing that took place on the Crawford ranch at Texas. President Bush receiving information that Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network were indeed making plans to attack somewhere in the United States, preferably Washington, DC. Our Suzanne Malveaux is working this story at the White House. Suzanne, flesh it out for us, exactly what more is in this memo?

MALVEAUX: Well, Carol, this memo is a little bit more than a page or so. It was given to the President. This is one month before the September 11th attacks. It is called "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the United States." And it goes on to talk about the intentions as well as the capabilities of the al Qaeda network. I'll start off here; the first line says "Clandestine foreign government and media reports indicate bin laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the United States." It goes on to say, "After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington." Goes on to say that "the millenium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of bin Laden's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist attack in the United States." Another example, it says although bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks." Goes on to talk about al Qaeda members, including, it says some who are "U.S. citizens have resided in or traveled to the U.S. for years." And the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. It gives a specific example here: "A clandestine source said in 1998 that a bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim American youth for attacks." Now, it goes on to talk about one of the more sensational aspects, is it says-now this is not corroborated. It is a 1998 report saying that bin laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain release of two of these extremists held by U.S. forces. That is not corroborated. And finally two more points here it says nevertheless "that FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York." The conclusion here, the FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations through the United States that it considers bin Laden related" and finally says that the CIA and FBI are investigating that a group of bin Laden supporters was in the U.S planning attacks with explosives.

The White House will argue that this does not have the specific information; this does not have enough information to allow the administration to put the pieces together and predict that a September 11th would happen. Some commission members and some critics would look at this and say that certainly there is enough examples here of either al Qaeda capability or at least intention for perhaps to alert the American people or even connect the dots as some commissioners have suggested. This is something that the commission is working on, but, Carol, it is also, this document, something used by both the White House and the commissioners to make their case. Carol.

LIN: Alright, thank you very much, Suzanne Malveaux traveling with the president, with the rain, we can hear, Suzanne in the background. Suzanne was touching on some of the political implications of how critics of the White House may use this, especially in the presidential year. We're going to bring in our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, on the telephone with us. Bill, you heard the body of the top secret memo which was just released by the White House. What do you make of this? I mean, Suzanne has given us the White House view, but how damaging can this be?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): I think it could be seriously damaging. What this says is the White House knew what bin Laden was capable of planning, where he intended to do it, which was New York or Washington, DC, how he was going to do it. There was only one thing missing, which was exactly when he was going to do it which turned out to be September 11th. Critics and members of the commission will say the White House should have been far more aggressive to prevent what sounds in this memo like an imminent strike, obviously years in the planning, but a real danger to be the United States. Particularly in New York and Washington. And they will, I think, make it a cause for very severe criticism.

LIN: Does the support Richard Clarke's criticism of President Bush that he and his administration were not taking al Qaeda seriously?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Carol, I think it sounds exactly like Richard Clarke. I think Richard Clarke's testimony sounds almost exactly like what is in this presidential briefing. He was repeating what the President had been told on August 6th, and he was urging the President to take these threats very seriously. As I say, just about everything that happened in broad outline is in this memo; the only thing missing is that it would happen on September 11th.

LIN: Bill, do you have any idea of how more specific security briefings can be with the President? I mean, given there is just a body--every day the President hears about threats against the United States. It is impossible to act on every single document that crosses his desk. Is there an argument to be made by the White House that lots of information crosses the desk and not all of it is credible. Even Suzanne was saying a portion of this has not been corroborated. The part where bin Laden back in 1998 was saying that--or the memo says that bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of two extremists, uncorroborated information as it stood in this memo.

A couple of things, one is the White House, I think can argue and probably will argue and probably has evidence to argue that this information was uncorroborated. I think they can come forth with other material from briefings indicating that they received lots of warnings of this type and therefore it was not clear that this particular warning should be taken more seriously than others. On the other hand, Osama bin Laden had already carried out attacks, not only on the American homeland, but overseas on the "USS Cole" and the U.S. embassies and he clearly was associated here, associated his organization with the attempts on Los Angeles International Airport at the millennium. So I think there is some pretty clear indications that this wasn't hypothetical. This man had acted and had tried to act on the United States homeland.

LIN: Alright, thank you very much, Bill Schneider, our senior political analyst. Bill is going to be joining us again in our PRIMETIME show at 10:00 Eastern as all of us get more of a chance to take a look at exactly what is in this memo and all the implications surrounding it. In the meantime, you are going to be hearing more this on CAP GANG, which is coming up at 7:00 Eastern as well. We have got more news. So stay right there. We'll be right back.


LIN: And this just in to the CNN Center. The Kyoto News Agency in Japan is reporting that the three Japanese civilians being held hostage in Iraq are safe and will be released sometime around noon tomorrow. We, of course, will be following that story and bringing you the latest developments. But this is the video that was released on Arab television. You can see the three Japanese, two aid workers and a journalist, being held at knifepoint. They were threatened there. And their kidnappers had promised to burn them alive if Japan did not withdraw its troops from the U.S.-led Coalition effort in Iraq. They will be released at noon tomorrow. Good news for their families.

Well the spiraling violence in Iraq has service families in the U.S. worrying all the more about the danger their loved ones are in and when they can come home. CNN's Miguel Marquez visited one family at Camp Pendleton, California.


JESSICA MEDRANO, MARINE'S WIFE: Put it in so it can color all the way. Jason!

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jessica Medrano colors Easter eggs with her three-year-old daughter Jasmine and her almost two Jason.


MARQUEZ: Surrounding them and their Camp Pendleton home, dozens of pictures and mementos of the person not there, Sergeant Jason Medrano, big Jason.

MEDRANO: Who are you making that for, baby?


MARQUEZ: Jason Medrano on his second tour of Iraq is an artillery man with the 1st Marine Division. Jessica spends her days caring for her kids, sometimes the neighbors' kids too. She also works off-base. With 19 Pendleton marines killed in Iraq in the last two weeks, Medrano spends a lot of her time hoping and praying her husband will return safe and sound.

MEDRANO: I stress out all the time. I just try to take it day by day.

MARQUEZ: Besides being Easter, this weekend makes the uncertainty of being separated by war a little more difficult. It is her husband's birthday. With phone calls rare and even when they happen, they're usually just a few minutes long, Jessica would like a chance to tell him the basics.

MEDRANO: That I miss him and I love him. And wish him a happy birthday. And that I'm being strong for him.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Here at Pendleton's base housing, families just like the Medranos hope their husbands, wives, moms and dads return by fall. But that return, the exact timing of it, officials say, all happens on what happens next in Iraq. Miguel Marquez, Camp Pendleton, California. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: Then there is another side to this very same story across the world. We're going to have more on the stories of families right after this.


LIN: It is nice to know that with so much bad news in the world that American ingenuity and our hard-driven spirit to have a good time in the United States is alive and well at the New York Auto Show. We were just wondering if you have a burning passion for a new car, like a Benz or the mighty Mustang, might be a must for your next set of wheels. Those are just two of the cars you can find at 2004 Auto Show. And there we have our Lauren Fix standing by an amazing beauty. And a big anniversary coming up for the mustang, Lauren.

LAUREN FIX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. 40 years of Mustang. I cannot tell you this car is really hot. It is very exciting to see that they took some of the older details that from the '65 to the '68 cars and put them into this vehicle to really showcase 40 years for Mustang.

LIN: It looks great. Now, is it really true, Lauren, that $100,000 still won't buy you a status car today?

FIX: Well, that's true if you're really looking at the high-end buzz, this vehicle for this show would be the McLaren SLR. Now, this is 50 years of SL, Carol Lin, and I can now tell you I got to sit in the car and fire it up. It is a monster. 617 horsepower, which basically means 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds. So it is a face-lift. It is really--

LIN: Is that how much they cost?

FIX: Yes. It is $450,000.

LIN: Wow. I think real estate when I think of a number like that.

FIX: That's pretty much an office building, I think.

LIN: Yes you bet. What is the low-end buzz? What are cars that people can actually afford?

FIX: Well, the big buzz at the show for the low-end is, believe it or not, Kia. When you think of Kia, you think that's just a daily driver. Well now Kia has one of their sportiest versions ever, the Kia Spectra 5. It is 130 horsepower; it's got six air bags, four- wheel disc breaks. The journalists were so excited about this car. I have driven it and I can tell you for around $14,000, not an exact price-point yet, it a great vehicle that would be your low-end buzz.

LIN: Wow. Well, the buzz here in the news room are the hybrid cars that are half electric and half gasoline. Do they really save you money when it comes to gas that is going now for a couple of bucks a gallon?

FIX: Well, you know, that's the problem. At what point are you saving that much money? So I think you have to look at your lifestyle. But before you go and purchase a hybrid, you have to look at a couple of things. The resale value of that vehicle down the road and that you're going to have to go to some of the Web sites like or and find the resale is on it.

The second thing is maintenance costs on this vehicle. You have to consider that before you purchase a hybrid. The third thing is insurance. Because if you total one of those cars or have a bad accident you have to keep in mind it will cost more money to build it than it would be something like this Mustang. So that's one of the considerations you have to think about.

All right. Lauren Fix, the host of TALK TO DIY AUTOMOTIVE. Thanks so much for the latest from the auto show out there in New York.

FIX: Thanks, Carol.

LIN: There was a shake-up today in the third round of the Masters Tournament. Englishman Justin Rose, the leader after the first two rounds, struggled with three straight bogeys, knocking him out of the top ten. Right now Chris DiMarco and Phil Mickelson top the leaderboard. Another Englishman, Paul Casey, is right behind them. Alright, much more coming so stay right there.


LIN: Earlier Miguel Marquez brought us a poignant story about a family, an American family at Camp Pendleton trying to make it through this weekend with all this bad news about Iraq. Well, Zainab al- Sulawi at the American Islamic Congress, she joins us from Boston. Zainab, you personally fought against Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War and you recently went to go visit your own family in Baghdad. From their perspective, with so much violence this past week, did they feel like they are better off now under U.S. occupation than they were under Saddam Hussein?

ZAINAB AL-SULAWI, AMERICAN ISLAMIC CONGRESS: Well, it is much better right now, I feel, because before the threat was there, Saddam was killing his own people, but no one can say anything. At least right now people can say that they've been, you know, tortured or bothered or security is not enough. And the whole international community and the media from around the world can see and watch for that.

LIN: What do you make of the U.S. Coalition's tactics now on the ground in Fallujah and elsewhere around the country?

AL-SUWALI: Well, this is for, I think, keeping security is very important right now. I've spent about ten months in Iraq working and the situation there, the security situation, is not been the best. There are a lot of people trying to make an unpleasant scene here or there. And events here and there, just to grab attention. But it is not really as big as we see it--on the ground as much as we see it on TV.

LIN: So you think the media actually plays up a lot of the violence, that it is not this violent?

AL-SUWALI: Definitely.

LIN: We hear about fire fights outside of Baghdad, Fallujah. Is breaking down as fighting with U.S. Coalition forces and the Shiites.

AL-SUWALI: Well, I've seen many of that in the past ten months. And it is definitely not as much as you see it on TV and the media is just make it bigger scene than what it is.

LIN: What are the chances there will be a civil war in Iraq?

AL-SUWALI: Well, that depends. I think if we're talking about June 31st, I don't think Iraq is ready to have their own government by then because Iraqi--right now to whom they are going to be given the sovereignty by then. And I don't think--people aren't ready and I don't think the government is ready there also.

LIN: All right, Zainab al-Suwali, it is always good to get the perspective from an Iraqi who understands the Americans as well. Thank you very much for joining us.

AL-SUWALI: Thank you.

LIN: And that is it for us. Coming up next, the CAPITAL GANG is joined by Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York to talk about Condoleezza Rice's testimony in front of the 9/11 commission this week. And then, at 8:00 Eastern, "the Mystery of Jesus" on CNN PRESENTS.

And at 9:00, Jason Patric, star of "The Alamo" discusses his new film, his run in with the law and his grandfather Jackie Gleeson on LARRY KING LIVE. And at 10:00 eastern on Cnn Saturday Night, former Iraq POW Ron Young will join me to talk about the current hostage crisis in Iraq. But right now, Mark Shields is with us to tell us more about what the gang has to offer. Hi there, Mark.

MARK SHIELDS, CNN'S CAPITAL GANG: Hi Carol. Well, right now, Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York joins the Gang to look at our first look at the just-released eyes-only presidential briefing report from august 6th, 2001. Condoleezza Rice's testimony, the shooting war in Iraq and later we'll have a direct report from CNN's Nic Robertson embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan. All that and much more right here next on CNN.



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