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Terror Suspect in Federal Court in Denver; Could Public Option Come Back?
Aired September 25, 2009 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And time now for your top stories in our midday reset.
I'm Tony Harris. Good to see you in the CNN NEWSROOM.
It is noon at the United Nations, where the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will be speaking shortly. Live coverage ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get this line square!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: In Pittsburgh, protests get out of hand. Live to the G- 20 summit this hour.
And in Ventura County, California, an army of firefighters tries to surround a 20-square-mile blaze.
Let's get started. First, homeland terror targets.
An office tower in Dallas, Texas, a federal courthouse in Springfield, Illinois, the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia, possibly the subway in New York -- federal authorities say four terror cases are unfolding today, and all are independent of the others.
We will outline what we know about the plots all during this hour.
First, an Afghan immigrant is in federal court in Denver right now. Najibullah Zazi is accused of planning attacks on New York City.
Our Susan Candiotti following this story in New York.
And Susan, my understanding is you have video that is exclusive to CNN that gives us a pretty good idea of what this guy may have been up to.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. These are surveillance videos, and they appear to show a man that the FBI has identified as the suspect in this case, Najibullah Zazi. And what's important about these videos is that they show him purchasing, this man, several bottles of hydrogen peroxide.
Why is that important? Because that is one of the key ingredients in making a highly powerful explosive called TATP.
And here's how the FBI got this tape. They went to stores. They've been canvassing stores all over the Denver area, as well as in New York, asking beauty supply stores whether they have sold any unusual amounts of hydrogen peroxide.
They went into this particular store called Beauty Supply Warehouse, and they checked their records at that store and came up with two video clips, as well as receipts. The first video clip, we just went by it, but showed a man approaching a counter with six bottles of a hydrogen peroxide product. And then the second video dated August 28th in which you see him rolling a grocery cart down an aisle, and he picks up 12 bottles of hydrogen peroxide.
Additionally, the store went into its records and located two receipts that show that these were cash transactions, on that date, and the bottles of hydrogen peroxide, not expensive, only about $3 a piece. So, in one case, he only spent about, what, $18, and in the second case about $36 or so? And so...
HARRIS: I see.
CANDIOTTI: ... naturally what these receipts don't show, though, is whether he bought any other hair coloring products. That seems kind of odd.
CANDIOTTI: And certainly the employees asked him, why was he buying this hydrogen peroxide? Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: At the time, did he say anything to your employees about why he was buying this?
KARAN HOSS, CEO, BEAUTY SUPPLY WAREHOUSE: There was some small talk. And specific to the product, I believe one of the employees actually asked, what are you buying -- what are you using all this stuff for? And he jokingly said, "Oh, I have a lot of girlfriends."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: So there you go, Tony. We're still waiting to find out more information about all of this.
HARRIS: All right. Susan Candiotti following this story for us from New York.
Susan, good to see you. Thank you.
And just this morning, a purported Internet message from terror leader Osama bin Laden. The message on Islamic Web sites is addressed to Europeans.
CNN has not determined if it is, in fact, authentic. The Associated Press reports bin Laden urging European nations to pull their troops out of Afghanistan. The message warns that those nations share blame for NATO air strikes that have killed civilians.
Vice President Joe Biden in Georgia today, getting a firsthand look at damage from this week's devastating downpours. He is also visiting with families affected by those floods.
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JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've surveyed only a small part of the damage today. We were in a helicopter for the better part of a half an hour, and we saw -- we could see, as Johnny and Saxby were telling me, and you could observe it -- they were in the helicopter ahead of us or behind us, I don't know which, but you could see the watermark on trees 16, 17 feet up.
You fly over and you didn't look close and you say, well, what's the big deal? What's the big deal? Then you go out to Six Flags, which is the least consequential thing in terms of people's lives right now -- consequential to Six Flags -- but even now -- even now all the rides are shut down, half of them are under water. And so, it's obvious how devastating this was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: OK. At least nine deaths are blamed on flooding. President Obama has signed a disaster declaration making federal aid available to seven flood-soaked counties. Is that seven or eight? We'll double-check that.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has issued a new flash flood watch for much of north Georgia.
After working late all week, the Senate Finance Committee may leave town this week without discussing two controversial parts of health care reform -- the public option and the tax on so-called Cadillac plans.
A live picture of the meeting right now. Our correspondent covering the meeting tells us the panel is still dealing with the health care delivery system.
And we will be talking to a member of the Senate Finance Committee in just a couple of minutes, Democratic Senator Tom Carper.
Addressing the mission in Afghanistan and the need for more troops and equipment, a top general's report headed to the secretary of defense.
HARRIS: In the last hour, I asked Republican Senator Orrin Hatch about progress on putting together a health care reform proposal.
From the other side of the aisle now, Democratic Senator Tom Carper of Delaware. Senator, good to see you.
SEN. TOM CARPER (D), DELAWARE: How are you?
HARRIS: Yes, good to see you.
Is it true -- this was alluded to last hour by Senator Hatch -- that you won't get to amendments on the public option, amendments on taxing high-end, so-called, Cadillac plans, until next week?
CARPER: I think on Tuesday we'll take up the issue of whether or not there will be a public option. What the real challenge here is, how do we find ways to make sure there is competition, that market forces work to the advantage of consumers in terms of health care costs?
And there are a number of centrists in our party that are working with people like Olympia Snowe to see if we can find a way to ensure where there is no competition, where the price of insurance is unaffordable in certain states, that state would have the opportunity to put in place a cooperative, to put in place some kind of state option of their own that would bring down the cost of health care, to open up their own state employee health care plan to people who are looking to find health care.
There could be a variety of approaches there.
HARRIS: Got you.
You know, I've had the sense for some time now that if you can take the public option off the table -- the president has even indicated flexibility on this -- Republicans aren't proposing much that takes the reform plan too far outside of the parameters of the Baucus mark. Am I correct or incorrect on that?
CARPER: Well, the chairman, Max Baucus, worked for months with a number of Republicans and Democrats to try to create his proposal, so it has a lot of input from both sides.
I've said all along with Mike Enzi from Wyoming, we agree on 80 percent of this stuff, maybe more. And at the end of the day, what we need to do is focus on the 80 percent that we agree on, maybe set aside the 20 percent that we don't agree on to some other day.
And my hope is at the end of the day, that's what we'll do. The really important part for me is to make sure at the end of the day we bend the cost curve, we rein in the growth of health care costs, we make sure that we're in the budget, that we pay for whatever's in this legislation. And if we can bend the cost curve and put it within the budget, we'll be able to extend coverage to some of the people who don't have it. If we don't bend the cost curve, we don't rein in health care costs, we're not going to be able to sustain the extension of coverage to the have-nots.
HARRIS: Got you. Hey, I want to get to that in a moment, but I think is interesting, what you just said. You're suggesting that if the focus is on fine-tuning the 80 percent that everyone seems to agree on, get that right, take the 20 percent where there is so much conflict at this point, set it aside for another day, that sounds like a reasonable approach.
Is that the approach that you feel is likely to carry the day?
CARPER: Yes, it is. And at the end of the day, we need to pass this legislation.
I'd like to see us have several Republicans, not just Olympia Snowe, but others as well, who I think have an interest in being part of the solution. They don't want to, at this historic moment, sort of, like, be left behind. And I think there are a number of centrists in our party who are interested very much in seeing something like what Chairman Baucus has put together actually be adopted.
A great concern in our caucus, I think from liberals to more conservative members, is costs. We want to rein in the growth of costs. We want to make sure that what they're doing at Mayo and Cleveland Clinic and places like that, they provide better health care for less money. And we need to take those lessons and infuse those into Medicaid and Medicare and other health are plans.
HARRIS: Senator Carper, I think that's time well spent, these moments that we've had together. I appreciate the update. And if we can, we'd like to check in with you next week.
CARPER: You bet.
Does Bill Cosby come on next? Does he?
HARRIS: Keep watching. That's a great tease! Thank you, sir!
Getting ready for Phylicia Rashad and Theo. Everybody still loves the Huxtables.
All right, let's get to some other stories we're following today.
A shift in focus at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh. World leaders were set to make big plans for economic cooperation, but the gathering is being overshadowed, significantly now, by revelations that Iran has been concealing a covert nuclear plant. In a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran reveals the new uranium enrichment facility is under construction near the city of Qom.
President Obama and other top western leaders are demanding an immediate investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The existence of this facility underscores Iran's continuing unwillingness to meet its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions and IAEA requirements. We expect the IAEA to immediately investigate this disturbing investigation and to report to the IAEA board of governors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: OK. This was the scene outside the summit. Protesters trying to make their voices heard. The crowd marched for about eight blocks yesterday before being blocked by riot police. They arrested about 70 people.
More protests expected today. Police are hoping for smaller crowds.
Voices of those protesters being drowned out by news of Iran's secret nuclear facility. We're told U.S. intelligence officials have known about the plant for some time now.
Live to CNN senior White House correspondent Ed Henry. He's at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.
Good to see you, Ed.
We've been hearing some pretty strong reaction from world leaders on this.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We have, Tony. And, in fact, U.S. officials are telling us privately some new information that they have known about this secret underground facility in Iran for several years, dating back to the Bush administration.
They were collecting more intelligence on it, and it appears were waiting for just the right time to reveal this information. And as you say, these leaders are now having very strong reaction.
For example, President Obama coming out with the leaders of the United Kingdom and France. You had Prime Minister Gordon Brown saying that a line in the sand is being drawn right now. President Obama also had some very tough talk, and the French president, Sarkozy, talked about tough sanctions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: As the international community knows, this is not the first time that Iran has concealed information about its nuclear program. Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear power that meets the energy needs of its people. But the size and configuration of this facility is inconsistent with a peaceful program.
NICOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): We cannot let Iranian leaders gain time while the motors are running. If by December there is not an in-depth change by the Iranian leaders, sanctions will have to be taken. This is for the peace and stability. (END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: If not action by December, sanctions will have to be taken. That from the French president.
And what's interesting, to sort of fill in the blanks a little more here, some new information from U.S. officials telling us that, in fact, in recent days, President Obama has been privately sharing some of this new intelligence with the leaders of Russia, officials from China as well. As you know, Russia and China are sort of the keys here. They have to support sanctions before the U.N., before the U.N. Security Council down the road, if it's really going to have some teeth.
They've been skeptical in the past, but now that President Obama has shared this intelligence in recent days, U.S. officials are gaining confidence that maybe China and Russia will sign on to these sanctions against Iran -- Tony.
HARRIS: I think that is one of the huge stories obviously that we're following today. And I'm wondering, it's such a big story at the G-20, you know. Is this story threatening to overshadow the overall G-20 goals?
HENRY: It certainly is. And, look, one message they wanted to have today was about how the G-20, with a much wider group that includes China, Brazil, India, other emerging countries, emerging powers like that, that are not in the G-8, that the G-20 now is sort of going to take the lead on international economic matters.
Immediately, basically overshadowed by what you might call the G- 3, basically the U.S., the U.K. and France coming out and announcing this new intelligence on Iran, and maybe building the case for sanctions against Tehran. So, even as we're talking about sort of expanding the circle around this table at these summits, it's still the big powers on national security issues that are taking the lead.
HENRY: And so, some of the other issues about the economy, the financial crisis, talk about whether there will be Wall Street reform or not, we haven't seen that, even though there had been momentum for that. All of a sudden, that's being overshadowed by these very important national security issues -- Tony.
HARRIS: It sure is.
All right. Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, in Pittsburgh with the president.
Ed, good to see you. Thank you.
Got to tell you, they broke the race and class boundaries -- it's true -- with a story. Oh, my goodness! There they are!
Did you hear Senator Carper anxious to hear what you have to say today? Did you hear that just moments ago?
MALCOLM-JAMAL WARNER, ACTOR: Well, actually, he asked for Mr. Cosby.
HARRIS: Yes, you did get real specific, didn't you?
But you have us.
PHYLICIA RASHAD, ACTRESS: Yes.
HARRIS: It's good to see you, man. I haven't seen you in 20 years.
Phylicia, it's good to see you as well.
We're going to come right back.
It's what matters, 25 years of Cosby. Come on. We're back in a moment.
HARRIS: Let's get to some of our top stories now.
Anger over Iran. President Obama, along with the leaders of Britain and France, are demanding an investigation into a previously concealed Iranian nuclear facility. The three leaders are accusing Iran of intentionally hiding the facility from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Terror suspect Najibullah Zazi in court in Denver. He is answering to a federal indictment charging that he and others were planning a homemade bomb attack. Security video allegedly shows Zazi shopping for bomb ingredients at a beauty supply store outside of Denver. Agents say he bought large amounts of hydrogen peroxide and acetone.
Osama bin Laden is purported to be threatening European counties that have troops in Afghanistan. CNN has not determined if a new message on Islamic Web sites is authentic. It warns that those nation share blame for NATO air strikes that have killed civilians.
We will get another check of our top stories in 20 minutes.
"Essence" magazine is giving us a pop culture flashback in our "What Matters" segment today. It was a little show that helped saved NBC.
"The Cosby Show" first aired in September of 1984 and became an instant hit. The series featured the fictional Huxtable family and starred Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Cosby made NBC Thursday nights must-see TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED DANSON, ACTOR: That was an amazing show. Amazing show. And I owe a great deal to it, because he did take "Cheers" and kind of catapult it up into first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BILL COSBY, ACTOR, "THE COSBY SHOW": We're here to say goodbye to Lamont Goldfish.
TEMPEST BLEDSOE, ACTRESS, "THE COSBY SHOW": And I always felt safe with him around.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "The Cosby Show," I mean, it was the first all-American black family to be represented, which just had never happened before.
COSBY, "THE COSBY SHOW": Son, your mother asked me to come up here and kill you.
DONALD FAISON, ACTOR: For me, personally, "The Cosby Show" was everything. You know? I enjoyed hanging out with Cliff and the rest of them.
CALLIE THORNE, ACTRESS: Obviously, it played a huge role for, you know, an amazing amount of other kinds of ideas to come into the industry and to be on TV and to be on movies.
KEISHA KNIGHT PULLIAM, ACTRESS, "THE COSBY SHOW": This is woman stuff. I think I need mom for this.
COSBY, "THE COSBY SHOW": I'm a gynecologist. You want to talk to a lawyer?
BEAU BRIDGES, ACTOR: One of the things that sets Bill Cosby, you know, apart from everybody else is he just relates to all of us.
HARRIS: Oh! We loved watching your reactions to the piece!
It is so good to have you with us today...
WARNER: Well, thank you.
HARRIS: ... Phylicia Rashad and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Let's get started here, both joining us from New York.
WARNER: Well, Tony, we actually loved the description, "The little show that saved NBC."
HARRIS: Did you love that? I mean, it really is the truth here.
But let me get started with -- because I don't want to spend all of our time together talking about, you know, "The Cosby Show," because you're doing such great work right now.
But let me ask you something. Did it ever become a bit of a burden for you, for you individually, as a cast, that "The Cosby Show" was viewed as so much more than just a funny show? That people were looking to you positively, and in some cases in a critical way for this vision of black American life that the show was portraying?
Phylicia, let me start with you on that. Did it become a burden?
RASHAD: No, we didn't think about it like that. We didn't think about -- well, people, you know, normally, naturally, you don't think about ethnicity when you wake up in the morning, do you? I mean, you don't consider your ethnicity, do you?
HARRIS: No. No.
RASHAD: You're who you are. You're the human being that you are, and that's what we did. We were the human beings that we were and are, and we were a family. That's...
HARRIS: At what point did you become aware that you had -- that you had something more than a television show here? This was a movement, and it was aspirational and inspirational for so many people.
WARNER: Well, Mr. Cosby had, I mean, he had always been very clear on, you know, his vision for the show.
WARNER: I think it didn't become -- I think it really didn't become an issue until the critics came out saying that the show was not realistic.
WARNER: And when people started saying that it was not a realistic portrayal of black people, that's really where it upped the ante and kind of made everybody aware that this show was really more than a show, clearly. It was really a social statement, if you will.
HARRIS: How did you feel about that, Phylicia, when you read some of that criticism, that critique?
RASHAD: Well, it was always interesting to be interviewed by people like that, because you saw that they had their answers before they asked their questions. So, I found that very interesting. Their minds were already made up, and I wondered, hmm, you don't know a lot of people, do you?
HARRIS: Yes. I mean, did you at one point want to scream and say, look, wait a minute, hang on a moment, why is it that you're asking me this question? Is it because you don't believe that this is a slice of black American life?
RASHAD: This is a slice of American life.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes. RASHAD: And it was obvious to me that there are people, or were, I would say, because it's probably a little different now by virtue of the show, there were people who were very limited in their exposure to the full spectrum of American society.
WARNER: And it was very eye-opening to those limitations, because we were getting letters from -- you know, from tens of thousands of kids who were saying, "Thank you for representing us, because my dad is a doctor, my mother is a lawyer. It's great to be able to see us on television." We were getting letters like that all the time.
HARRIS: That's right. Yes.
WARNER: So, while -- so, it really, I think, shone light on the lack of exposure so many people had to the black middle class, which had always been in existence, but as with everything, nothing is legitimate until it comes on television.
RASHAD: And beyond that, internationally, it was accepted in people's homes. Beyond that. I mean, internationally, it became a view of American life for people in India, in the Philippines, in Japan and Spain and Italy, in Central and South American. All over the world.
WARNER: Remember in South Africa, the Huxtables were considered honorary white people.
RASHAD: Oh, that's...
HARRIS: Are you kidding me, really?
WARNER: That was -- yes. That (ph) was dead serious, yes.
HARRIS: And while I don't want -- I mention I'm going to keep to my word here. I don't want our time together to be dominated by talk about "The Cosby Show." A terrific show. Everybody knows that. I'm glad it's still around for my kids. You both have been so busy post- "Cosby."
And, Malcolm, you're on a new Lifetime show, "Sherri," with Sherri Shepherd. And my understand here is that you play a cheating philanderer who is trying, on some level, to reconcile with your ex, played by Sherri. You got something good here? You got a hit here?
WARNER: You know, it's a great show, Tony. I'm really -- I'm happy to be in New York doing this show. But I'm really happy to be a part of this show because Sherri is a great entertainer. She's a funny stand-up. And with this show, she really has the chance to showcase her comedy on so many different levels. HARRIS: And Lady Rashad, Big Mama, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." We know the role so well. We know the show so well. Did you find something new in that portrayal that worked for you?
RASHAD: The Tennessee Williams estate thought so, which is why we're going to London.
HARRIS: That's right. In December, right?
RASHAD: That's right.
HARRIS: That's terrific. And I guess the question that comes out of that is, have you been happy with the variety of characters you've had an opportunity to play post-"Cosby show"? What about you, Phylicia?
RASHAD: I've been very happy. This is the difference in theater, I think, from theater to television to film. In theater you can be many, many people. You can be many, many things. Somehow television and film a little bit narrow in the way they view actors and what roles actors should play. But theater is alive and wide open.
HARRIS: Malcolm, how about you? Have you been happy with what you've been given an opportunity to play and what you've created for yourself?
WARNER: I've been very happy. One of the wonderful things about, you know, being on "Cosby" and having, you know, people in my corner to make sure that I've taken care of my finances, is it's allowed me to be very meticulous about the roles that I choose. So I've been -- I've been happy to be able to, you know, to pick the project that I choose and not have to make what I call desperate career choices.
WARNER: And it's allowed me to, you know, to still be a director. It's allowed me to be a musician. So I've been -- I'm very happy with my post-"Cosby" life. But I spent eight years on "The Cosby Show" preparing for my post-"Cosby" life also.
HARRIS: Ah, that's so good. It's good. And it's good -- well, I'm going to say it again, and I know I'm a broken record, it's great to see you both. It really is. I'm just so happy we were able to pull this all together. And our thanks to "Essence" as well. Continued success in your careers, in your lives. You're just wonderful. I can't even tell you how much joy that show brought to my life and is bringing to the lives of my kids. Thank you.
WARNER: Bless you, man. Bless you.
HARRIS: It is great to see you. Thank you.
RASHAD: Thank you, Tony.
WARNER: You bet.
HARRIS: And to read more about the flashback on "The Cosby Show," pick up the October issue of "Essence" magazine on newsstands now or go online to cnn.com/whatmatters.
HARRIS: Very quickly let's take you to New York City and the United Nations general assembly and the speech from the Palestinian authority, President Mahmoud Abbas.
MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (through translator): To which the United Nations is a living witness. Its archives contain not tens, but hundreds of resolutions that have not been implemented. Mr. President, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the suffering of the Palestinian people as a result of Israel's colonial occupation is crystal clear to the world. Since the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including east Jerusalem in 1967, Israel continues with its settlement policy on all Palestinian land, especially in holy Jerusalem, where that policy is currently being accelerated and escalated through various means including the seizure of the homes of Palestinian inhabitants in the city and the imposition of restrictions and even preventing Palestinians from building and sometimes from repairing their homes, while new settlement neighborhoods are being established. And Jerusalem is becoming completely isolated from its surroundings because of the illegal settlements and the apartheid wall.
We now face a unique situation. If international law stipulates the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, how can we, then, deal with the current situation where Israeli settlement policy will undermine the goal of establishing a geographically contiguous Palestinian state and implementation of the will of the international consensus that has been expressed in the various resolutions and principles, including the roadmap, which we all agreed upon and which is based on the principle of land for peace and ending the occupation that began in 1967.
Immense efforts have been exerted and many conferences have been held during the past years, particularly since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. Yet all of this has not led to a conclusion of this conflict. President Barack Obama has given much hope to our people and the peoples of the region when he announced his vision of a peace agreement on the basis of a two-state solution and the cessation of all settlement activities. We welcomed the active American diplomacy to revive the peace process, and all efforts of the international quartet and its parties, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Russian Federation and the United States.
All of these active efforts and initiatives, which have been welcomed and supported by us and by the Arab states, are, however, confronted with Israeli intransigence, which refuses to adhere to the requirements for relaunching the peace process. How is it conceivable that negotiations can be held on the borders and on Jerusalem at the same time that Israeli bulldozers are working to change the reality on the ground with the aim of creating a new reality and imposing borders as Israel desires? How can one conceive holding negotiations without agreement on the terms of preference and the objective end goal of these negotiations that the whole world has unanimously agreed upon, namely ending the Israeli occupation of the territories occupied in 1967, establishing the state of Palestinian with Jerusalem as its capital, achieving a just and agreed-upon solution to the question of Palestinian refugees on the basis of resolution 194 of 1948 and achieving peace on all Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese tracts as affirmed (ph) by the Arab Peace Initiative which provides a precious opportunity that must be seized upon to achieve peace.
In this regard, I would like to express our deep appreciation for the important speech delivered before this august (ph) body two days ago by President Obama, in which he affirmed the necessity for ending the occupation that began in 1967 and the legitimacy of the settlements. He also stressed the necessity for establishing an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state and for addressing all of the finance status issues in the negotiations, foremost among these Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water, settlements, and others. We reiterate that adherence to these principles and basis, in addition to a complete freeze of all settlement activities, can salvage the peace process and open horizon for its success.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, I reaffirm the eagerness of the Palestine Liberation Organization to achieve a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy. At the same time, I caution that the settlement policy and the building of the separation wall, which continue to be pursued by the Israeli occupation, will abort opportunities to relaunch the peace process.
Time is running out and the risks are becoming greater as a result of the continued suffering of the Palestinian people under the last remaining occupation in the world. We call upon the international community to uphold international law and international legitimacy and to exert pressure on Israel to cease its settlement activities, to comply with the signed agreements, and desist from the policies of the occupation and colonial settlements, to release the 10,000 -- correction, the approximately 11,000 prisoners and detainees, to lift -- and to lift the unjust siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, which was subjected months ago to a devastating aggression, causing thousands of casualties among civilians, wreaking unprecedented destruction of infrastructure and public facilities, including even hospitals, mosques, schools, and United Nations facilities.
Ladies and gentlemen, our people, which continues to adhere to its (ph) strikes and to remain in its homeland despite all of the suffering caused by the arrests, the blockade, and the killings, is also keen to end the internal division and to restore national unity. Our sister, Egypt, is making commendable efforts to achieve. And in spite of all our suffering from occupation and its practices, we continue to work to build and develop our national institutions. We have made significant achievements in this regard, both at the level of upholding the rule of law and public order and promoting economic and social development despite the harsh conditions of the occupation and the blockade. We continue to make every possible effort for the success of the efforts of our brothers in Egypt to end the ongoing coup in the Gaza Strip and to restore our national unity by resorting to ballot boxes and holding presidential and legitimate (ph) elections on their constitutional date under the supervision and control of Arab and Islamic countries, the United Nations, and the international community. Thus, democracy will be firmly institutionalized in our political life.
Mr. President, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, hope will remain alive in our shores (ph) and we will not despair of regaining our rights on the basis of relevant resolutions of the United Nations. The historic rule of which we reaffirm for attaining peace and upholding the principle of might for right and not right for might.
From this podium I conclude by reaffirming our commitment to the road map plan, the Arab Peace Initiative and to all terms of reference of the political process. And we call upon all parties to respect and abide by them, to provide the opportunity to launch a successful and effective peace process.
We are confident that all our brothers in the sisterly Arab countries will adhere to the Arab peace initiative as a basis for safeguarding our rights and to open the way towards real peaceful relations once occupation is ended and the independent state of Palestine is established.
With my profound thanks and appreciation for your kind attention, I thank you, and God's blessing be upon you all.
HARRIS: You've been listening to the address to the United Nations general assembly from the Palestinian authority of the president, Mahmoud Abbas. President Abbas calling for an end to Israeli settlement activity, praising President Obama for his personal engagement in the peace process. And President Abbas also defending his efforts to improve security in the Palestinian territories.
And while President Abbas was speaking, you saw squeezed in the corner there on the screen this moment, as is the case at the end of one of these gatherings of international leaders, this is it from the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. The class photo. And there you have it, all the leaders.
Still to come in the CNN NEWSROOM, assessing the mission in Afghanistan and the need for more troops and equipment. A top general's report headed to the secretary of defense.
HARRIS: The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan expected to issue a report to the Pentagon soon on the mission in Afghanistan and its effect on the number of troops there. Let's get you to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
Barbara, look, earlier this hour you broke the news of a secret meeting between Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen and General Stanley McChrystal. How unusual is a meeting like this? And what's going on here? BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the question, isn't it, Tony? You know, it is unusual, except for the fact a couple of months ago Secretary Gates also flew to Europe and had a secret meeting with General McChrystal in Belgium. We now know that this meeting between Mullen and McChrystal was in Ramstein, Germany, on board a U.S. military base there, of course, so they would not be seen coming and going.
This just underscores how sensitive the Afghanistan question has become for the administration and how urgent it is that they find some sort of solution. What's on the table? The McChrystal option is, you told me to fight a counterinsurgency. Here's how I would do it. Here's the number of troops I would need. We believe it's somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000. That's the guidance we've been given.
And the Washington bureaucracy's not reacting to that very happily or very quickly. So, Admiral Mullen went to meet with General McChrystal face to face, talk about the troop numbers. Will come back to Washington. Will brief Secretary Gates, the president. And, at some point in the next days, weeks, we don't know, the president is expected to make a decision or a series of decisions about what next in Afghanistan. Everybody's waiting -- Tony.
HARRIS: And one more quick one here. How intense is the pressure around this decision? It really feels like it's ratcheting up and that the information flow coming from General McChrystal has taken, to some extent, the people in Washington, the politicians in Washington, the decision makers in Washington, a little off-guard here.
STARR: Well, I think that's an absolutely correct assessment. I don't think General McChrystal's assessment took any military people off guard because they know how bad the situation in Afghanistan really is.
STARR: By all indications, the White House perhaps wasn't as ready to hear the blunt assessment of -- that they asked for. And the urgency, let me just make two quick points. The number of U.S. troops being killed in the war is rising. Public support is dropping. That's the pressure right there -- Tony.
HARRIS: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. Terrific reporting on this, Barbara. Thank you.
Kyra's out today. Betty is in. We are pushing forward with the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM right after a quick break.