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America's New War: America May Have to Change Policies

Aired September 17, 2001 - 04:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: While the attacks have placed U.S. intelligence gathering under intense scrutiny, there are growing calls for a complete overhaul of the system. Some officials suggest changing policy, including the ban on state-sponsored assassinations. Such killings have been banned in the U.S. for the past 25 years, but some lawmakers say it is time now to lift that ban.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB GRAHAM: The reality is if you're dealing with a terrorist, the only effective defense you have is good intelligence that leads you to who they are, where they are, what they're planning to do, and then the capability to apply that good intelligence in order to take them out before they can commit another September 11. And if that means that you have to take them out through an assassination method, I think I'm -- as painful as that is, if the choice is that or the rubble of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I would have to opt for the assassination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCEDWARDS: Well, some U.S. officials and President Bush have said that Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden remains the prime suspect in the investigation into the attacks. But both bin Laden and Afghanistan's ruling Taliban continue to deny any involvement.

On Sunday, bin Laden issued a statement to the Arabic television network, Al-Jazeera. He said, and this is a quote here:

"I would like to assure the world that I did not plan the recent attacks which seemed to have been planned by people for personal reasons. As for me, I've been living in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and following its leaders' rules. The current leader does not permit me to exercise such operations."

Well, as we mentioned at the top of the program here -- our continuing coverage, a high-level Pakistani delegation is in Afghanistan to meet with the ruling Taliban and deliver a message from Washington, as well. Mike Chinoy joins us now from Islamabad with the very latest on this. Mike?

MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Colleen, the Pakistani delegation is headed by the chief of the country's military intelligence, the ISI, General Mahmood. He was in Washington last week at the time of the terrorist attacks. And according to the Pakistani Foreign Minister, he will be conveying to the leadership of the Taliban some of what he learned in Washington after the attack -- information that provides at least preliminary links between this attack and Osama bin Laden. He will be urging the Taliban leadership to turn bin Laden over in order to avoid what the Pakistani officials are describing as very, very grave consequences.

He's expected back here in Islamabad at the end of the day Monday. Pakistani Foreign Minister made it clear that the expectations that this mission will prove successful are fairly modest. Although Pakistan's military intelligence has long-standing links with the Taliban, Pakistani officials say that Afghan leadership very much goes its own way on these matters.

Meanwhile, the word is that at some point in the next few days, a group from the United States -- an inter-agency delegation comprising officials from the State Department, the CIA, and the military are likely to come here to Pakistan to begin further consultations on how Pakistan can cooperate with the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABDUL SATTAR, PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER: The discussions that we have held with the government of the United States deal with principles in general. Pakistan will extend full cooperation in the fight against terrorism. As for the specifics, we expect consultations and we understand from the news that a group of high- level officials from the United States will be visiting Pakistan in the near future.

We would like also to know the plan that the United States has in mind, and then we will discuss what -- at what extent Pakistan can be a partner in the fight against terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHINOY: Among the options that have been raised are those including the U.S. aircraft flying over Pakistan on missions in Afghanistan, intelligence sharing -- this could be particularly crucial because, as we've been noting Pakistan's military intelligence does have long-standing ties with the Taliban and probably knows more about them than any outside group.

There is also a possibility, of course, that American troops could be based here -- pre-positioned here to move into Afghanistan. That raises, however, some particularly sensitive political questions for this government. There have already been critical voices raised, especially among the Islamic fundamentalist groups here, warning the government of President Musharraf not to give that kind of support to the United States for any action against a neighboring Muslim nation. So it's a very, very sensitive issue, but authorities here are saying that Pakistan is prepared to do whatever is necessary to help the U.S.

Colleen?

MCEDWARDS: Well, and how serious is that, Mike? Because we've heard Pakistani officials as soon as just a couple of hours ago seeming to be saying, "Look, the rest of the world has got to realize we've got our own domestic situation here. You may need to temper your expectations because of that." I mean to what extent could cooperation with the United States perhaps destabilize the government?

CHINOY: Government officials here are saying that the authorities are prepared to deal with any upsurge in protest.

There is no question that the Islamic parties and the opposition do have the ability to put a lot of people on the streets and to create a lot of trouble. In addition, many of the religious schools run by Pakistani Islamic fundamentalists have trained fighters who've gone on and fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan's own civil war, so there's always a danger that some of those people could become active here in Pakistan.

Nonetheless, it's very clear that the government and the ruling elite are by and large united in their desire to side with the United States. In the past, the Islamic fundamentalists have posed a consistent pressure group on General Musharraf, and it may be that if this plays out in a -- in a good way for him that he will end up both consolidating him position and neutralizing the threat that they now pose.

Nonetheless, there is every possibility of some trouble on the streets, although how much will depend to some degree also on how effectively the President makes the case. And we are told that either later today or on Tuesday, he will address the people of Pakistan and lay out his reasons for siding with Washington.

MCEDWARDS: All right. CNN's Mike Chinoy in Islamabad, thanks.

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