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CNN Sunday Morning

Afghan Presidential Candidate Drops Out of Runoff

Aired November 01, 2009 - 08:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, from the CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING for this first day of November. Eight o'clock here where we sit in Atlanta, Georgia, 7:00 in Minneapolis, 5:00 out in Vegas. Good morning, wherever you be. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You sounded excited about that. You're wishing you were in Vegas right now?

HOLMES: Well, it has some people...


BALDWIN: Whatever.

Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Betty Nguyen gets the morning off. Thank you for being with us on this 1st of November.

Big, big news overnight in Afghanistan.

HOLMES: This was huge. We were standing by for the possibility of this happening and, in fact, it did just several hours ago, really overnight. The challenger in the runoff election in Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, decides he does not want to participate now in that runoff. He has stepped aside.

What that means going forward. And you will hear from him directly in a one-on-one interview with our Christiane Amanpour.

BALDWIN: Yes, we're also tapping in -- we're spring-boarding up that story, tapping in to our CNN global resources. Live reports from Nima Elbagir in Kabul and Elaine Quijano at the White House. We'll talk to both of those ladies.

But first, we want to get more on the breaking story and its reverberations in Washington. Abdullah Abdullah announced earlier today, just hours ago, that he did not think Saturday's runoff elections could be held without problems. The runoff was called after widespread fraud in that initial August.


ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The legal implications and consequences of my decisions, but as far as I'm concerned, I've decided for myself not to participate in the November the 7th elections.


HOLMES: Well, the Afghan election commission has been meeting to discuss this latest huge development.

BALDWIN: The White House says Abdullah's decision to back out does not affect the legitimacy of the government. But we want to first start with that reaction in Kabul and talk to journalist Nima Elbagir live this morning in the Afghan capital.

And Nima, I just want to start with this. We know this isn't necessarily a surprise. But the question wasn't necessarily if Abdullah Abdullah would be dropping out, but what he would be say, if he would be denouncing President Hamid Karzai or he would bow out gracefully. You were in that news conference a couple of hours ago. What was your take from this announcement?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he was very calm, he was very measured, and he tried clearly to avoid any inflammatory comments. But he also didn't go -- he said that the government of President Hamid Karzai has squandered the best chance that the Afghan people have had in recent years with the presence of the international community standing side by side with them. He said the only reason he took part in the election was because he realized that there needed to be change.

The reason he's withdrawing is because he's realized that that change will not come about through this flawed electoral process. He said he made this decision with pain in his heart, but also hope for the future because he wants to set an example that the Afghan people cannot continue to be disenfranchised from their votes.

BALDWIN: Nima, you mentioned the Afghan people and that's a huge part of this story. I know you've been in Kabul. I don't know if you've a chance to speak with anyone or gauge their reactions, there were fears of violence in the wake of this announcement. What are you hearing as far as the Afghans?

ELBAGIR: The Taliban has come out and said that this hasn't change their plans in any way, shape, or form. I think the sense that you're getting here, apart from the frantic scramble to try and find resolution is that people quite happy that this come about. There was a lot of satisfaction with the widespread scale of the fraud in the first round. And at least there seems to be a sense now that this is not just going to pass unnoticed, that there has to be some kind of resolution.

A lot of people are speaking about the need to have a loya jirga, a traditional gathering to try and have a traditional resolution to this problem. But we're also hearing from U.N. sources that they've raised their security alerts. There are a lot of fears that not only with the Taliban saying that their position is unchanged, but that there might be some kind of violent reaction from people who are unhappy that -- among his supporters that Dr. Abdullah has withdrawn.

So, we've learned that the United Nations has told those nonessential staff who were not required for the election purposes to return to the capital, Kabul, until after the 20th of this month.

BALDWIN: Nima Elbagir live for us in Kabul with reaction directly out of Afghanistan on this late-breaking announcement -- Nima, thank you.

After announcing that he was dropping out of this election runoff, Dr. Abdullah spoke with our own chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour. I want to play you just a portion of that interview.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Dr. Abdullah, can you tell me, you are pulling out of the election, of the runoff on Saturday. Can you tell me precisely why?

ABDULLAH: I think I took too many things in consolidation. First of all, the electoral process in itself is under big question after what we went through in the last election. That was the main issue. And apart from that, looking at the situation -- security and many challenges which are ahead of us. So, I thought that this was in the best interest of my supporters, the people of Afghanistan, for me, not to participate in the November the 7th elections.

AMANPOUR: Are you calling on your supporters to boycott the election?

ABDULLAH: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I will not infringe into the rights of our citizens. This is my decision and the people of Afghanistan will judge it for themselves and make decision based on that.

So, it should be only Taliban who boycott the elections in Afghanistan. So, for me, it was based on those principles and values and I'll pursue my efforts in order to reform, to bring reforms in this country and to bring changes in my capacity, wherever I will be.

AMANPOUR: Dr. Abdullah, can you assure people that your considerable base of support are mostly in the north, the Tajik north, which has luckily escaped a lot of the violence that has plagued quite a bit of the south of Afghanistan. Can you assure people that there will not be any outbreaks of violence by your supporters?

ABDULLAH: Yes, of course -- of course. First of all, my supporters -- support base has not just been in the north, it has been the north, central Afghanistan. And also, I had good support from the south as well, where the election was possible in the eight years where the elections took place.

And as far as my supporters are concerned, I'm quite confident, and I have called upon them to stay calm, patient, and this is -- take it as another stage. And we will pursue -- I will pursue those agendas for reform and change in this country for the rest of my life. The people of Afghanistan deserve better opportunities and hopefully, will -- I will be able to contribute to that and the support of the people will help me in achieving this. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah speaking with our own Christiane Amanpour just hours ago. We will have more on that interview this afternoon. Also, of course, Christiane is pushing forward on the story out of Afghanistan and the election. Today, watch "AMANPOUR" at 2:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.


HOLMES: Well, the fallout in Afghanistan is one thing. But how politics half a world away could impact U.S. national security is another.

Peter Bergen has written several books on terrorism, al Qaeda, and the Taliban. There he is. He's joining us this morning. He's also well-versed on the critical juncture Afghanistan and Pakistan play in President Obama's foreign policy.

Peter, it's always good to have you -- joining us this morning from Washington. Tell us, how much damage has Abdullah Abdullah done to the Karzai government and legitimacy moving forward by dropping out of the runoff?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, T.J., I think this does damage the legitimacy of the Karzai government, which was, obviously, already pretty damaged with the fraud that we saw in the first round of the elections, and not having a real opponent in the November 7th election, you know, will not add to Karzai's credibility.

So, you know, Karzai is going to have to obviously -- he's going to win. He would have won, even if Abdullah would have stayed in the election. So, he will become the president going forward for the next five years. I think he's got a lot of work ahead of him to establish his credibility with the Afghan people -- and by extension, the American public.

HOLMES: Well, let's take a listen now to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who sees things a little bit differently in this election. Let's take a listen and I'll ask you about it on the other side.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Other countries have faced this, where one candidate decides not to go forward. We see that happen in our own country, where, for whatever combination of reasons, one of the candidates decides not to go forward. So, I don't think it has anything to do with the legitimacy of the election. It's a personal choice that may or may not be made.


HOLMES: And, Peter, you hear the secretary of state saying there that no matter what happens going forward, the legitimacy is not going to be affected. She, in fact, said it was legitimate as soon as Karzai agreed to be in a runoff.

Now, does the U.S. government have to take that stance? Does she really believe, if you will, what she's saying? Or did she kind of see that it's probably going to be Karzai we have to work with going forward and we need to do all we can to show that this election is legitimate as well?

BERGEN: Well, you know, I can't claim to read anybody's mind, but, you know, clearly, there was a great deal of pressure on Karzai from the U.S. government, from all sorts of officials, including Senator Kerry, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he was visiting the region to have a runoff and to have a runoff because -- partly because the United States wants a legitimate government. Now, with a principal opponent dropping out of the runoff, how does that possibly make that runoff more credible?

HOLMES: Well, what happens to, I guess, security there on the ground? What could have happened -- how much damage does this do to U.S. interests certainly trying to root out the Taliban there and make that country secure? How does this complicate things for the U.S., for U.S. troops moving forward?

BERGEN: Well, I'm not sure it complicates things that much, because if the goal -- yes, one goal in a counterinsurgency is to -- you know, to have a legitimate government and that's obviously one of the goals of American policy. But a more important goal in my view is bringing security to the Afghan people, and whether the election happens or doesn't happen and who doesn't play in the election.

Right now, the security situation is not good. And that has been the case for, you know, at least a year now. We saw the attack on the United Nations in Kabul just a few days ago. And that is something that I think, you know, the election doesn't play a huge role in the security situation. Really, that's a sort of more deep-rooted problem which, you know, maybe the new Obama plan, which I anticipate will include a significantly large number of troops will do some good in terms of addressing that most fundamental need to bring security to the Afghan people.

HOLMES: And, Peter, one more thing before we let you go, we have to ask you about the news we got last week out of "The New York Times," talking about the brother of Hamid Karzai, who, for a lot of people, seems to be a shady character in a lot of ways -- one that the U.S. must deal with.

What does that news -- how much does that news hurt, to hear that he is possibly in bed with drug lords, and also, at one point, getting paid by the CIA as an informant? How much does -- or does the brother story complicate things?

BERGEN: Oh, sure, it complicates things. I mean, it's -- I was surprised, but not completely shocked by the fact that he was on the CIA payroll and has been for the past eight years, according to "The New York Times," a very good set of reporters who did the story. That does seem to contradict another arm of the American government, which is the Drug Enforcement Administration, which certainly seems to believe that he's involved in some shape or form with drug trafficking.

So, it's one part of the arm of the government finding him useful in one area and then another arm of the government finding him not useful in another area. And it does get to kind of a -- you know, the complexities of the American project in Afghanistan.

HOLMES: All right. Again, our national security analyst, Peter Bergen -- Peter, always good to have you with us. Always appreciate your expertise. You enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

BERGEN: Thank you, T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Brooke?

BALDWIN: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Morocco this morning, one day after trying to revive stalled Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. Clinton met first with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Abu Dhabi. Palestinian chief negotiator describes the peace process there as, quote, "stuck." Clinton then flew to Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Afterward, Clinton said Israel is making what she called unprecedented concessions on settlements.

To Ohio -- six bodies, all women, all apparently strangled to death. Police in Cleveland have arrested this man, 50-year-old Anthony Sowell, in connection with these six bodies found at his home. A coroner tells CNN it appears these women were strangled and their decomposing bodies could have been in his home, they say for weeks, possibly months, possibly years.

For the millions of Americans looking for jobs, mixed reviews this morning -- good and bad news.

HOLMES: Yes, Josh Levs following this for us. Good morning to you, sir.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you guys again.

You know, the economy is growing again, but don't expect many jobs to return until at least 2012. That's what most economists are now saying. We're going to explain why and we'll show you resources to find some jobs right now.


HOLMES: All right. The employment -- unemployment rolls keep growing, but experts keep saying, there is light at the end of the tunnel somewhere.

BALDWIN: We're hoping. We're hoping, right?


BALDWIN: So, when will jobs return? That's really the question we want to have the answer to and why is it taking so long?

Josh Levs, got some answers?

LEVS: Yes, we're doing our best. And we're following these numbers really closely. In fact, let me show you guys the latest numbers --these are the jobless numbers, they showed another 530,000 initial claims in the week that ended last weekend, on October 24th. That was pretty much the same as before. It was down just 1,000 from the unrevised figure, from the previous week.

Now, we told you last hour that's what's happening right now is that Congress is working on a bill to extend jobless benefits as 7,000 Americans a day lose those lifelines.

Well, what I want to do is tell you a little bit about jobs and when they might actually return. Unfortunately, economists are now saying it could be 2012 before large number of jobs return -- I have a graphic for you that shows a quote from CNN Money that explains why. They explain that basically, what it boils down to is what you call a "lagging indicator." Basically, that after other things happen, then jobs will come along, because employers don't want to start doing a lot of hiring until they're confident that demand comes back.

Now, at, you can see all sorts of resources, including a map that I'll just show you from here that allows you to click on any state around the country and you can click on any industry as well. And it will show you how each industry is doing there. You can click on manufacturing or financial sector, anything you want.

Basically, of all the major sectors in the economy, you click on one, you click on your state or any state. You say, how does it look in that state. It might encourage people to try moving to other state where is the economy is shaping up a little bit better.

And we want to hear your stories as well because we are getting some really inspirational stories out there from people who are saying, "Hey, I did this unusual thing, got me a job." This is where you can send them to us,, also Facebook and Twitter, JoshLevsCNN.

It is nice to see that we are getting some inspirational stories, but we're also some seeing stories from people that don't have light at the end of the tunnel yet. We're keeping an eye on them, and we will in the coming months and years ago. But, yes, bearer of bad news today in the sense that it could be 2012, or even later before we have large number of jobs back.

BALDWIN: We don't like that.

LEVS: I know. Not happy.

HOLMES: All right. Josh, we appreciate you bringing it to us nonetheless, though.

LEVS: Yes.

BALDWIN: So, Halloween last night. Kind of fun to trick or treat. I know you didn't. HOLMES: Did not.

BALDWIN: Lights off, dark. That was the dark house.

HOLMES: It was.

BALDWIN: No love for the kids.

HOLMES: The World Series was on.

BALDWIN: The World Series, I know.


REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I know a Grinch is mostly for Christmas, but could T.J. be a Halloween Grinch?

BALDWIN: I think so.

HOLMES: If anyone understands, it's you. Oregon's always playing around 7:00.

WOLF: Yes, that's true.

BALDWIN: We know what you were doing.


BALDWIN: Anyway, let's take it to Washington, D.C. and take a look at some pictures. There are pretty pictures from the White House, well, I guess pictures -- there we go. Thank you, chief photographer. Kind of a nice, pretty orange glow on Halloween at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Kind of cool for kids -- 2,000 kids got to go to the White House to trick or treat.

We haven't been able to figure out what that thing was. Some kind of leaf thing or a -- anyway, lots of pumpkins, lots of fun. Kids from 11 area schools, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. are getting M&M's, cookies from the White House, the chef.

Mrs. Obama did dress up with the picture of her in just a second as "Cat Woman." There she is. And Mr. Obama as Mr. Obama.

HOLMES: A lot of people will probably...

BALDWIN: Robert Gates as Darth Vader. Reynolds -- Reynolds, you did dress your little ones. We saw pictures of them earlier with you.

WOLF: Yes. We had a good time. I ate a lot of candy. And, you know, we actually were afraid for a while last night that we would run out of candy and there were still kids coming from way down the road.

BALDWIN: Really?

WOLF: What do you do? I mean, you reach for the box of basket of triskets and you're handing those out... (CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: You turned the lights off.

WOLF: Really?


WOLF: You can't do that. When kids are coming up the walk, and you see 'em and flip, there goes, like, "See you."

BALDWIN: Sorry, honey.

WOLF: I'll tell you what though. I hope a lot of people in New York were really scoring on those carbs last night because they'll be running them off. We're talking the New York marathon. The weather there is kind of fair to partly cloudy. It's going to be showers in the little bit of the early parts of the big run, but later on, into the afternoon, it should be picture perfect.

You know, the men and women that go out there to take part in this event, they've been training for such a long time. I mean, you know, if you're going to be a runner and you can be at these events, it's not something that you do -- just you just pick up. I mean, this is really a lifestyle. These people take this very seriously. And a lot of people who go out there and they're going to be cheering -- trust me -- that your cheers are going to be appreciated.

What they're going to be seeing -- at least the from the street level -- is going to be some scattered showers that are going to pop up. Right now, we see a little bit of blue across radar. That blue indicates very, very light precipitation, almost like a mist. Now, that is going to lift out and move away. When it does, what it's going to be replaced by much is much drier air.

This area of high pressure is going to be building into the Ohio Valley and eventually into the eastern seaboard later this afternoon. The result is going to be plenty of sunshine in a lot of spots. We're going to see some sun over Cincinnati, perhaps even into, say, Detroit later on today.

Now, in Atlanta, we got partly cloudy skies, but sunshine possible there too as we make our way into the afternoon. Now, as we make our way out to the west, situation gets a little more dicey when you get up into the Northern Plains and into parts of the Rockies. We could see scattered showers, maybe even some snow showers in the highest elevations. Still dry and sunny for southern California.

That is a look at your forecast. We've got more coming up right here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING. See you in a few.


HOLMES: Earlier today, Afghan presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, announced he is dropping out of Saturday's scheduled runoff. Abdullah says he did not think the runoff would be conducted fairly. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABDULLAH: The only way to decide the destiny in this country will be to clear and fair elections. So my message is loud and clear to the enemies of the democratic process and through our commitment to these principles and values, we will disappoint anybody who would like to become an obstacle towards the process.


HOLMES: President Hamid Karzai agreed to the runoff after claiming victory in the August vote. The review by a U.N.-backed panel of election monitors threw out almost a third of the vote citing fraud, and that left the incumbent, Karzai, short of the votes needed to avoided that runoff.

BALDWIN: And in the wake of everything happening in Afghanistan, you know, John King has a full show coming here.


BALDWIN: "STATE OF THE UNION" starting at 9:00 a.m. We'll get a quick check with Mr. King right now who apparently had a nice Halloween at the Wizards game.

Good morning, John.

JOHN KING, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Good morning. Look at Betty in that amazing Brooke Baldwin costume. That's pretty. That's better than mine.


BALDWIN: Nice. Nice. Seriously though, we've been talking -- we talked to Elaine Quijano earlier this morning about how -- what is happening in Afghanistan now. How that may affect the U.S. strategy going forward, we talked about the counterinsurgency and what General Stanley McChrystal is suggesting -- but how may this drop out of Abdullah Abdullah change thing?

KING: Well, it could cut two ways. Number one, the biggest question is: will there be violence? Will there be uncertainty? Will people in Afghanistan now question the legitimacy of the political process? Because remember, the White House has said, "We want to see first who our partner is in Afghanistan, whether we trust that partner in Afghanistan before the president makes that big decision on troops."

So, more political uncertainty is not good for the U.S. mission. That's a simple fact.

The other thing that many people will say though, "The president has said he wanted to wait -- well, now we know." We know Hamid Karzai is going to be the next president of Afghanistan. That was very well-thought out anyway. Many people think Mr. Abdullah decided to boycott and get out because he knew he was going to lose. And he thinks that he will have more standing as an opposition leader without going through the runoff election.

But as this plays out, the president has a huge decision to make about how many troops. And one of the questions for the White House is: do you have a stable political environment in Afghanistan? Do you trust -- after all the corruption, all the unhappiness with the Karzai government -- that it will get better going forward? That they will build institutions; that they will train their own police.

Those are huge question marks. But we know this: the president is going to make this decision sometime probably in the next 10 days. Most expect he will send more troops. The biggest question in Washington is: how many?

HOLMES: Well, John, the U.S. government can't come out and say they have a dog in the fight. They were going to stand by and see what happened going forward. Like you said, now they know.

OK. So, President Obama, he hasn't been in office that long, hasn't had that much time to build a relationship with President Karzai. But if he's going to be the guy going forward, what kind of relationship have we seen start to build between these two men?

KING: Well, they have had a testy relationship and that is one source of friction. President Obama as candidate Obama talked about corruption. President Obama has said before that he does not think Karzai is moving quickly enough to root out corruption -- more importantly, moving quickly enough in the U.S. view. Build roads, build an infrastructure for the economy, build a security apparatus by training the army better.

Now, some of that is the responsibility of the United States. And many in this country will say, we dropped our resources and our focus in Afghanistan because of the Iraq war and now they're trying to get back at it.

But there's no question that the two presidents, Karzai and Obama, do not have a great personal relationship. They need to work and build on that. And what the White House would tell you is it's not about the two people, it's about their performance in Afghanistan.

But that's something to watch, T.J. It's a great point, going forward: do these two trust each other and can they push each other in private? Especially, can the United States push Karzai do more on the effectiveness of his governing?

BALDWIN: All right. John King coming up at the top of the hour, talking Afghanistan, President Obama, and also, the stimulus -- "STATE OF THE UNION," 9:00 a.m. right here. John King, thank you.

And we will be right back.


BALDWIN: We are hoping to learn a little bit more this morning about search efforts under way following Thursday's midair collision over the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Coast Guard has scheduled a news conference for 10:45 a.m. that is Eastern Time.

Rescue crews have been searching overnight here for these nine people on board these two separate aircraft, a Marine Corps helicopter and this Coast Guard plane that collided just off of Southern California. And the Coast Guard is still holding out hope of finding survivors.

HOLMES: And take a look at this picture. This is not what you want to see. This is a charter bus on its side. This is just south of Atlanta on Interstate 75. We saw this yesterday; it took place from 10:00 in the morning local time here. The bus was carrying a group of students from Morehouse College.

Now, 42 people we're told are on the bus. Just four of them had to be taken to the hospital and again, they had non life-threatening injuries. That is certainly a good thing.

It was the college marching band. They were heading down to the football game that the team had yesterday in Southern Georgia. Now, police still investigating the cause of this crash, but do say possibly a car may have cut in front of the bus. Stay with us.


HOLMES: Well, it was supposed to be a presidential runoff in Afghanistan, but one of the candidates has now run off and quit. That's what's happening right now in Afghanistan, just a week away from that runoff election.

The candidate, this one we're talking about, Abdullah Abdullah, he withdrew this morning. He finished behind incumbent Hamid Karzai in the first round of voting, but election officials threw out a lot of the president, Hamid Karzai's votes, over fraud.

Then the results were close enough to force a runoff, which was supposed to be this coming Saturday, but Abdullah he's pulling out because he thinks the second round will be just as crooked as the first. Karzai spokesman calls Abdullah's departure very unfortunate, but he says the runoff should go forward.

BALDWIN: And just hours ago Abdullah spoke with our own chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour after he made that announcement and she asked him about this broader impact of his decision.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How do you think your decision will affect the U.S. and NATO military posture on the ground going forward? Because I know you say you've supported the intervention of the U.S. and NATO forces to try to stabilize your country.

ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, FORMER AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course, it's a major factor. Well, perhaps the main factor, for stabilization of this country. Though, as an Afghan, I would have liked to see Afghanistan moving forward.

After eight years of international engagement in Afghanistan and being in a position to call for lesser troops or lesser engagements.

But that's the reality that we are faced with. The future of that engagement will depend on the partner, the Afghan partner; legitimacy of the partner as well as credibility of the partner and effectiveness of the partner to deliver on its own mission to the people of Afghanistan. So together, Afghanistan, the situation in Afghanistan, could change.

So I have no doubt in my mind that this is an important factor, the who are you dealing with in Afghanistan, who is your partner, or what team or what ideas are pursued here in Afghanistan. Is it helpful in terms of contributing to the Democratic process contribution to the Democratic process or stabilization of this country?

AMANPOUR: So do you think that there should be a ramped up U.S. involvement there?

ABDULLAH: I didn't get your point. Sorry.

AMANPOUR: I just said, do you think there should be an increased U.S. involvement, increased NATO involvement in Afghanistan now?

ABDULLAH: There is no doubt, there is no doubt that that is needed at this stage, but that alone on its own as a sole factor for stabilization of this country -- if this is your question -- whether that will work or not, so, unfortunately, there are a lot of doubts.

There is a need for more increased involvement in Afghanistan, but together, it should reverse the situation. It should stop the deterioration of the situation. And Afghan side should assume increasing responsibility in that course. Do we see that happening or not? That will decide the outcome of the engagement.


BALDWIN: Again, that was just a piece of her interview. Christiane will have more on this story, Afghanistan, its election, today on "AMANPOUR" that's at 2:00 p.m. here on CNN.

HOLMES: Well, the White House has been watching closely what's happening in Afghanistan, of course. The outcome could affect the decision on U.S. troop level there.

Let's bring in our Elaine Quijano, who is live for us this morning. Elaine, good morning to you.

We heard from Secretary of State Clinton who said before this decision from Abdullah, that essentially, no matter what happened, as soon as Karzai said he would agree to a runoff, that makes the election legitimate. So are we getting reaction now, post Abdullah's decision? ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No reaction just yet, T.J. In fact, I'm not sure that we're going to get any. Obviously, this is not a surprise to U.S. officials.

And senior officials here are making it a point to basically echo what you just laid out there, the comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that the U.S. -- from the U.S.'s perspective -- they don't believe that this decision by Abdullah Abdullah to pull out of the runoff in any way affects the credibility of the process, nor do they say -- nor does it affect the legitimacy of the Afghanistan government.

Secretary of State Clinton was traveling -- is traveling overseas and she did comment on this yesterday. Let's take a listen to what she had to say.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I do not think that that in any way affects the legitimacy and I would just add that when President Karzai accepted the second round without knowing what the consequences and outcome would be, that bestowed legitimacy from that moment forward and Dr. Abdullah's decision does not in any way take away from that.


QUIJANO: So as for the next steps, this senior official tells me that the U.S. is looking forward to working with the next Afghan government -- T.J.

HOLMES: Well, also, everybody's waiting on the decision about possibly sending more troops. Does this have a bearing on the president's decision, or his timetable, even, one way or another?

QUIJANO: It's an open question right now, T.J. Obviously, what the White House has said all along is that they want a credible, legitimate partner that, you know, sending all the troops in the world isn't going to make a difference unless there is a credible, legitimate partner in place.

Does this mean that, in fact, the U.S. believes there will be at the end of the day a legitimate partner? An open question but we know that, obviously, the strategy review continues. The president on Friday met with his Joint Chiefs of Staff. Obviously, the decision now, perhaps a little bit more complicated, as the president and his team have yet another factor now to consider -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Elaine Quijano this morning for us from Washington. Elaine, we appreciate you, as always.


HOLMES: Well, using our personal struggles to connect with the Bible.

BALDWIN: Coming up.


BALDWIN: Like that?

HOLMES: Interesting "Faces of Faith" this morning.

BALDWIN: Coming up in "Faces of Faith," meet my good friend, Shelvis Smith, turning modern day stories into examples for others in Africa.


BALDWIN: You are about to meet a Georgia youth minister who says he loves working with kids because they still have hope. He has just returned from an amazing year in Kenya where he worked with people who have faced ethnic conflict, political strife, horrific, horrific challenges. And yet, what he found was remarkable hope.


BALDWIN: Presbyterian youth minister and my good friend from high school, Shelvis Smith -- Shelvis Smith-Mather, excuse me -- his lovely wife from the corner over their name, Nancy Mather, returned from Kenya, next -- you'll be returning to Kenya next year, you just got back after a year over there.

But this morning, you're here to talk to us about your mission over there. And I grabbed our high school yearbook, just to look back at what your senior quote was. And you talked about you just -- you wanted to just do it.

And Shelvis Smith, you are doing it. Why did you want to go to Africa? You were in Nairobi. Why go?

SHELVIS SMITH-MATHER, PRESBYTERIAN YOUTH MINISTER: I went with the Presbyterian Church of USA in a program called "Young Adult Volunteers." And my hope in going was to see how the church was working globally, to see the ways in which the church is engaging issues and to learn, to learn and grow.

BALDWIN: And over the year, your assignment, essentially, other than being a pastor and doing amazing things day to day, you're the senior editor of this contextual Bible story...


BALDWIN: ... which by the way Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be writing the foreword of this. This is amazing and it's taking modern- day stories of like we said, political strife, conflicts in Africa and applying and putting them in context with the books of the Bible and then launching it in Africa for people to help inspire them.

SMITH-MATHER: Right. The Bible study came from our organization, the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa. And they're working to engage in those issues of political conflict, ethnic conflict and land conflict.

So this is a tool for churches to discuss these issues of conflict in the Bible and in their stories today.

BALDWIN: And in finding some these stories, I know you speak about a young man who really touched you who was a former child soldier or people who have been victims of rape. You've been in horrific places, in Kenya and beyond. Did at any point in your year, did that really test your faith?

SMITH-MATHER: Yes, and at the same time, it strengthened my faith. It's important to know that in the midst of the tragedy, there's a whole a lot of hope. There are a number of people that are doing amazing works for God there and engaging them in these issues. And that's encouraging to see.

In the same way that here in Atlanta, we have Dr. King who -- who was an amazing example of the church engaging the issues that were hurting our society. I'm seeing that in so many places, in Kenya, in the Sudan, in Uganda, watching the church work in amazing ways.

BALDWIN: And it tested your faith. You talked to me yesterday about being into one of the worst slums and you just wonder how in the world people can live like this?

SMITH-MATHER: Well, in the midst of the hope, you have to understand the tragedy that the hope is springing from.


SMITH-MATHER: And the tragedy is that, yes, there are some places in which you wonder, how can we as humans allow this to happen to other humans? But, again, the mark is being able to see that people say, hey, there is a brighter tomorrow and we can work on that today.

BALDWIN: So I know well -- I have to say good-bye to you and Nancy for another year in Kenya and they get to have you for another year, but when do we get you back in Atlanta and what are your big plans once you come back. I know you have a church you grew up attending, I was there at your ordination...


BALDWIN: ... and what's next for Shelvis Smith-Mather?

SMITH-MATHER: I want to continue to strengthen the work that I'm doing at Peace from Reconciliation. I'm starting a PhD program at (INAUDIBLE). And once I return and then see how the Lord leaves me and continue work internationally and here in the U.S.

BALDWIN: And if people are interested in (INAUDIBLE), they can do that between age 23 and 30. We'll get a link on our Web site.


BALDWIN: Shelvis Smith-Mather, my dear friend, thank you.

SMITH-MATHER: Thanks Brooke.

BALDWIN: And we will be right back.



BALDWIN: All right. How many times have you heard someone say, Americans spend more on health care than anywhere else in the world?

HOLMES: But what exactly are we paying for? Surely we're getting what we pay for, right?

BALDWIN: Surely.

HOLMES: Surely.

But you may be surprised how much of this stuff is being wasted. Our Allan Chernoff takes a closer look.


DR. JOSEPH ZEBLEY, FAMILY PRACTITIONER: Let me take a look at you.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Joseph Zebley, a family practitioner in Baltimore says patients are more proactive than ever, telling him not just symptoms, but also tests they believe they need. If he disagrees, Dr. Zebley says, he may try to dissuade a patient, but often fails.

ZEBLEY: If the person is very demanding, I must admit that often times we will accede to their wishes, knowing full well that it might be a futile study or futile test.

CHERNOFF: And an unnecessary test. Multiply Dr. Zebley experience by the 940,000 physicians in the U.S. and the cost of unneeded treatment, surgeries, office visits, prescriptions runs as high as $325 billion according to Thomson Reuters Health Care Analytics. It's the consequence, doctors say, of a society that's promotional, bombarding us with ads for pills and procedures and litigious, where the threat of a malpractice suit hovers like a dark cloud above every physician, forcing them to practice defensive medicine.

ZEBLEY: In reality, the standard of care for American medicine tends to be set by ten people in a courtroom who say this should have been done. Because physicians all through a community will say, uh- oh, this physician was sued for not doing this and therefore, everyone starts doing the tests.

CHERNOFF: For the 85 percent of Americans that do have health care insurance "no" is not a word they're used to hearing. Patients generally don't incur most of the cost of each test, each prescription they receive. That often takes cost out of the health care treatment equation, leading to excessive spending, says the study's author.

ROBERT KELLEY, THOMSON REUTERS HEALTHCARE ANALYTICS: It may, in fact, be too easy to get services if you have health care coverage.

CHERNOFF: Add in fraud, inefficiency -- especially from redundant paperwork -- provider errors, and lack of care coordination that leads to duplication of tests and the Thomson-Reuters study concludes Americans are wasting as much as $850 billion on health care spending.

(on camera): That is pretty close to the ten-year price tag for the version of health care reform approved in the senate finance committee.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: All right. We're going to share with you a unique approach to battling the Taliban.

BALDWIN: A new breed of resistance fighters using the airwaves to win hearts and minds.


BALDWIN: Fighting the Taliban on all fronts, including the airwaves.

HOLMES: Our Reza Sayah has this story from Swat Valley where local deejays are risking their lives to stop the spread of messages of hate.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: DJ Shazia calls her a Pakistani warrior. Her weapon is her FM radio show, her enemy, the Taliban.

DJ SHAZIA, FM 96 (through translator): This is why the Taliban were after me, because of what I was able to do.

SAYAH: Five nights a week, DJ Shazia broadcasts dance music on FM 86 in shops and homes throughout Pakistan's Swat Valley.

ABDUL SAMAD, FM 96 LISTENER (through translator): In my heart I'm singing, I'm dancing inside.

DJ SHAZIA: People like dance music because they just want to have fun and relax.

SAYAH: There wasn't much dancing in Swat less than a year ago. That's when Swat and its radio airwaves were dominated by Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah.

AGEEL MALIK, FM 96 MANAGER: He had access in the entire area of the valley.

SAYAH: FM 96 manager, Ageel Malik, says at one point, Fazlullah and the Taliban had more than 110 illegal FM stations. With radio sermons, they spread their message of violent jihad and threatened to kill anyone who stood in their way.

"If you want to establish Allah's will on earth, you can't do it without jihad," Fazlullah said in this radio message. "It requires blood."

Earlier this year, the Pakistani government had an idea. Start a radio station and give listeners a choice. Most of all, give them music.

MALIK: And under that, I named my studio as a bunker. As a bunker where I would fight a battle with Taliban.

SAYAH: Malik says he gave DJ Shazia a 7:00 p.m. time slot to go head to head with Maulana Fazlullah. Within months, he says, FM 96 became the most listened to station in Swat.

Malik knew the Taliban were listening to when they started playing music on their shows.

MALIK: It was quite surprising to me that he would play the same fast music we just played in my program.

SAYAH (on camera): Even though FM 96 Swat has become the number one radio station here in Swat and all its surrounding districts, many people here have no idea the headquarters of the station is nowhere near this place.

(on camera): "FM 96 is in Peshawar," says this man, unaware it broadcast five hours away out of a secret location in Islamabad for security reasons. These days, Maulana Fazlullah no longer controls swat. After a three-month defensive, the army declared victory over the Taliban in July.

MALIK: We all feel satisfied after winning this battle of hearts and minds.

SAYAH: DJ Shazia says she'll never forget all the Taliban threats she received on the radio.

DJ SHAZIA: The exact threat was, "We'll cut you to pieces."

SAYAH: but the result of the radio war is clear. She's still on the air, the Taliban are not.

Reza Sayah, CNN, the Swat Valley.


BALDWIN: All right. In just a little over one minute from now, John King will take it away with "STATE OF THE UNION".

HOLMES: Before we hand it over, thank you, first of all, for being here with us on this Sunday as always.

BALDWIN: Thanks for the extra hour of sleep.

HOLMES: We do what we can. We picked a good weekend for you.

We have a quick check of some top stories right now.

Of course, the big story from overnight, the Afghan presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah says he won't take part in Saturday's election run off. Abdullah says he doesn't think the runoff will be free of fraud.

Also U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Morocco this morning; she'll be meeting Arab leaders to try to push the Middle East peace process forward.

Also police in Cleveland -- a horrible story we've been watching this weekend -- but they have now in fact arrested a man after finding six bodies at his home. These were the bodies of six women. He is 50-year-old -- you see his picture there -- Anthony Sowell. He was taken into custody yesterday. The coroner says it appears the women were actually strangled.

Also we heard from Lauren Moore (ph) this morning about search efforts for nine people following the collision of two air craft Thursday over the Pacific Ocean. The Coast Guard has scheduled a news conference for 10:45 Eastern time.

Now it is time for us to hand it over to John King and "STATE OF THE UNION." It starts right now.