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America's New War: Afghanistan Rejects U.S. Demands to Turn Over bin Laden

Aired September 21, 2001 - 16:06   ET


ANNOUNCER: Cheered on by their supporters, Afghanistan's Taliban leaders reject President Bush's demand for the hand over of prime terrorist suspect Osama Bin Laden.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not be ready to give Osama Bin Laden without any proof.


ANNOUNCER: The White House stands by Mr. Bush's vow before Congress to hold the Taliban accountable.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Joie Chen at CNN Center in Atlanta.

WOODRUFF: Joie, many Americans still are clinging today to President Bush's pledge before Congress that justice will be done, after the attacks on New York and Washington. And in the ruins of the World Trade Center on a wet, gray day, emergency workers continue to demonstrate the determination that was praised by Mr. Bush and so many others. Officials are hoping improved weather this weekend will help recovery crews make more progress.

CHEN: Updating you now on some of the latest developments in the war against terrorism, officials in Boston say they do not know of any specific or credible threats against that city this weekend. They are trying to reassure residents, after Attorney General John Ashcroft warned local officials that Boston might be the target of a new terrorist attack.

Meantime, Attorney General Ashcroft and the FBI director Robert Mueller toured the World Trade Center wreckage today and promised "we will rebuild New York." Ashcroft announced another $10 million in money to cover police costs, after the strikes against the United States.

The House and Senate are moving toward votes today on a $15 billion plan to bail out the nation's airlines, which of course, were very hard hit by last week's attacks. The measure has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.

In Pakistan, at least three people were shot dead and dozens arrested today, amid widespread protests against the country's support for the U.S. war on terrorism. Demonstrators, as you see, taking to the streets in Pakistan's major cities, as neighboring Afghanistan defies President Bush's demand for the hand over of suspected terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

The leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban government say they want proof that Bin Laden was involved in the terror attacks on New York and Washington. But once again, the Bush administration says there is no room for negotiation.

We have more now from Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, on the battle over Osama Bin Laden.

CNN's Nic Robertson joins now us from Quetta, Pakistan.

Nic, I understand that not only were people in the United States listening very closely to President Bush's words, but people there listening as well.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And the Taliban today, through their ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, delivered their response to President Bush and also a response to the recommendation on Thursday by 600 Afghan Islamic clerics.

That recommendation was that Osama Bin Laden should be asked to leave. The Taliban today, through their ambassador saying no to the United States. They would not hand over Osama Bin Laden and turning down the recommendation by their clerics as well, saying they would not ask him to leave.

Now the Taliban also said that they would like the United Nations to look closely at what President Bush had said. They said it sparked Muslims all over the world. Essentially they're saying that President Bush's speech had angered Muslims all over the world.

They also said that the United States, if attacked it Afghanistan, it would be a non-Islamic country attacking an Islamic country. That, they said, would be cause for a Jihad. That in turn meant that they would call on Muslims all over the world to join them in support, in fighting off any attack from America.

They also, in a pointed reference to Pakistan, said that any espionage by a Muslim, that is Pakistani's intelligence operative, the United States undoubtedly relying upon for information as to Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts, any Muslim espionage agents they said who acted against Afghanistan and Muslim country would be subject to the Muslim penalty for that. And that is death -- Joie.

CHEN: Nic, we did mention that there were some protests in Pakistan today. Can you talk to us about those? In fact, you were witness to one of them?

ROBERTSON: Absolutely. Here in Quetta, about 3,000 man came out and demonstrated. They demonstrated for about two to three hours. It was a sit down protest. They burned effigies of President Bush. A couple of men there told us that if necessary, they'd be prepared to go to Afghanistan and join the fight.

There were protesters elsewhere in Pakistan to the south of here in the port city of Karachi, east in Lehore, north in Pleshawa (ph). There, the demonstrations, perhaps about 10,000 people at each of those demonstrations. As you said, three people were killed today, but analysts here saying that this was pretty much a better day for President General Musharraf than he might have expected.

The Islamic hard-line clerics that called out these demonstrations, not getting the numbers on the streets that they might have hoped for. Also, good news today for General Musharraf coming from international diplomats, saying there may be debt relief for Pakistan in the future. Pakistan' international debt, $40 billion, a staggering sum.

Also, that some international sanctions levied on Pakistan and India for their nuclear testing in 1998, those might also be lifted. These are efforts -- would be seen definitely in Pakistan and internationally as efforts to try and assist General Musharraf through what could be, and we've seen today, potentially a very troubling time for his administration here -- Joie.

CHEN: CNN's Nic Robertson for us in Quetta in Pakistan.

Of course, we'll continue to get reports from Nic there -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well Joie now, the view from the White House on this day after the President delivered his tough message to the Taliban, during a speech to Congress. Here's our senior White House correspondent John King.

John, the President didn't have to wait very long for a response from the Taliban leadership?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, he didn't, Judy. And he didn't wait very long before responding to that response. Tough talk at the White House today, echoing the tough talk from the President last night in that speech.

The White House press secretary Ari Fleischer simply saying no, the United States government will not provide its evidence to the Taliban, saying doing so would disclose sources of intelligence and practice and information about the investigation that Mr. Fleischer said could in the end only help the terrorists.

Mr. Fleischer also saying the President meant it when he said he wanted his demands met immediately. And while toppling the Taliban government is not a prime goal of the administration, Mr. Fleischer and other officials here also making clear no tears would be shed if that is the result of a U.S. military action.

At the same time, Mr. Fleischer dealing with the inevitable questions, the words left unsaid by the President. This enemy is so unconventional, if you will, that it's hard for a President to explain the entrance strategy into this war, let alone what many say the challenge of the speech last night was an exit strategy.

Still, the White House press secretary insisting today the American people will know when it's time to declare victory.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President has said that the definition of victory is when freedom conquers fear and the world is safe. The American people will recognize that over the course of this struggle, there are going to be many victories, many of which they will know and will be plain to see, many of which will be new, things in the financial realm that they'll come to understand.

And it'll be a different type of war, but I think in the end, the American people will have a good grasp of what victory means.


KING: Behind the scenes here, they understand one of the challenges in a campaign that is likely to last months, indeed years, will be sustaining public opinion. That is why aides say the President took time near the end of his speech last night, quite an emotional moment, designed to show the American people that even as they get back to their routines, perhaps as the horrific pictures of the past two weeks fade a little bit from memory, public support might even drop for military action. The President serving notice that he will not be deterred.


BUSH: I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not rest. I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.


KING: Now the reaction overwhelmingly positive in the halls of Congress, in the polls across the United States today. The administration quite encouraged by that. More diplomatic activity here at the White House today as well.

The President sitting down with the Chinese foreign minister, trying to enlist Beijing's support in the war on terrorism. He left the White House a short time ago, Mr. Bush did, for a little time at the Camp David presidential retreat this weekend. He will be in close touch, though, throughout the weekend with his National Security team, as the military deployment continues and the military planning intensifies -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, if I understand why the President would want to try to get away at least for a few hours. Quick question, when -- is the White House explaining why the President was demanding an immediate cooperation from the Taliban in Afghanistan? Because after all, it takes, as we know, days, weeks, and longer sometimes to get the military apparatus in place to do anything?

KING: Well, the President certainly could launch cruise missiles or other airstrikes against Afghanistan. There have been some U.S. special forces deployed overseas. We know that. So certainly the administration is in position to at least launch a limited operation. There's no evidence that the administration's preparing to do so.

But we are told what the President wanted to avoid, more than anything, is a daily back and forth with the Taliban. After Pakistan delivered the ultimatum, the question of the administration is will the Taliban comply.

Once it became clear the answer was no and the Taliban was not prepared to turnover Osama Bin Laden, the administration said it had but one response, that the administration would have to be steadfast saying, "Turn him over or face the results." Mr. Bush using the word "immediately" and asking for Taliban to cooperate, leaving open the question of when he would decide to respond.

WOODRUFF: All right, John King at the White House.

Well, the first lady of the land, Laura Bush taking a more public profile these days since last week's attacks, taking to the airwaves today, to urge parents to comfort their children after horror of September the 11th. Public service announcements featuring Mrs. Bush begin airing on television stations today.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: The tragedy of September 11th was meant to cause fear among all Americans, including our children. We can't let that happen. Talk with your kids, listen to them, tell them that they are safe and that they are loved.


WOODRUFF: The public service announcements are produced by the Ad Council.

Just ahead, an update on recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site. And we will tell you how New York's emergency officials regrouped after their own offices were destroyed.


CHEN: In New York today, workers at the site of the World Trade Center have brought in heavy equipment now to help clear some of the largest chunks of steel and other debris.

CNN's Gary Tuchman joins us with the latest on recovery efforts in lower Manhattan -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joie, we come to you from West Street on the West side of Manhattan. This is the main area for emergency vehicles to go to ground zero.

We want to give you a look right now across the street throughout the last nine days. Many politicians and dignitaries have been coming to the scene. The man who you see right there is the boxing promoter, Don King. The reason we show you that is to show you -- prove a point that we've had lots of movie stars and celebrities who want to see the scene. And many of them have said they're going to donate money to the cause and want to come and take a look. So that's what you're looking at right there, right now.

And we have a view from the 35th story of a nearby apartment building, to show you West Street, where I'm standing now, but four blocks behind me where the World Trade Center used to stand.

On a typical Friday afternoon, you would see lots of taxis and people leaving to spend a weekend. Now you see much rubble, rescue workers and emergency vehicles at the ground zero area.

Today we were given access to the ground zero site. Our cameras were allowed to go with the governor of New York stay George Pataki. And we saw the devastation. It still leaves you in awe when you see it in person. It's an incredible site. Hundreds of thousands of tons of rubble. There are still 6,333 people presumed dead and missing.

And the governor talked to my colleague, Bill Hemmer.


GOV. GEORGE PATAKI, NEW YORK: The firefighters and the police officers and the rescue workers and the EMTs, they saved thousands of people. Thousands and thousands of people got out. And it if weren't for those who went in when everybody else was trying to get out to help them get out, we have had much greater loss of life, which is why I think all of America's so proud of what they represent and what they've done.

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When you talk to workers down here, what kind of response and reaction do you get?

PATAKI: You know, I'm always reluctant to come because you don't want to be in the way. And you want them to be able in quiet to go about and do their job. But they're always just...


PATAKI: Good to see you. We're proud of you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, thank you.

PATAKI: Well, you take care of yourself.

But they like to see you. They like to know that they're not forgotten.


TUCHMAN: With us now is New York Police Department detective Michael Sacks, who's also state internal police. And he's one of the men who's been on the scene since the very beginning. Detective Sacks, what's the atmosphere there right now?

MICHAEL SACKS, NYPD: It's a little charged over there. People are really trying hard. Everybody searching for that miracle. Guys are working together, cops, firemen, iron workers, medical people. Everybody's working hand in hand and trying to just push it as hard as we can, so we can maybe get that miracle.

TUCHMAN: I mean, that's something we talk about, the search for survivors is still officially on. Do you think it's a possibility based on what you've seen out there?

SACKS: I personally feel that miracles can happen. So if that miracle does happen, then that will be wonderful.

TUCHMAN: How tough has this been for you?

SACKS: This has been really tough. I've been on the job for a while. Almost 12 years now. And before that, I did emergency medical services. I have never seen anything even comparable to this.

TUCHMAN: I know that you've set up the fraternal order of police a web site, a charity to help policemen, policewomen, firefighters, their families. Can you tell me about that?

SACKS: Well, the web site we set up And basically, the money's going to go to set the families up with the surviving cops and even firefighters, because you know in this world, we're all brothers.

TUCHMAN: Detective Sacks, thank you for your time.

SACKS: Thank you, sir.

TUCHMAN: And good luck to you out there. You'll be going right back to the scene now that we're done talking with them.

We want to mention one other thing, tonight, the first outdoor professional sporting event in New York City since this all happened. The New York Mets are playing the Atlanta Braves at Shay Stadium. And the Met's players have decided to donate one day's pay to charity. And as you know, baseball players do not get paid minimum wage. It could be a lot of money, about $500,000 going to charity.

Back to you.



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