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America's New War: Afghanistan Refuses to Hand Over bin Laden

Aired September 21, 2001 - 17:12   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.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: On other news of the day, there were more harsh words between Washington and Afghanistan and then back again. Today, Afghanistan's Taliban rulers flatly rejected President Bush's demand to immediately hand over Osama Bin Laden, as we told you earlier. The suspected mastermind, as you know, of the attacks against New York and Washington. CNN's senior White House correspondent John King joins us with the latest.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Joie, the White House quickly responded. The Taliban, in refusing to turn over Osama Bin Laden, said it would not do so unless the United States offered conclusive proof. The White House saying there will be no such overture. The White House saying it will not offer up its evidence especially to the Taliban, because, the White House says, that would give away the secrets of the investigation to the terrorists.

The White House also making clear today that while toppling the Taliban is not a goal of administration, there would be no tears shed here at the White House if the president's ultimatum is refused and military strikes in fact in the end not only targeted Osama Bin Laden and his organization, but hurt the Taliban politically as well.

Mr. Bush at this hour, Joie, gone up to the presidential retreat at Camp David for the weekend. He will keep in close touch, though, with his national security team and his diplomatic team throughout the weekend. You see the president here walking toward Marine One. He also met with the Chinese foreign minister today. All that part of his continuing effort to build the diplomatic coalition around the world for the war on terrorism.

The White House enthusiastic about the response to the president's speech last night: deep support in the Congress, deep support across the country. They understand the challenge now is to maintain that support in the days, weeks, months and even years ahead. The military planning intensifying over the weekend. Joie.

CHEN: CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King for us -- Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Joie, President Bush in his words last night putting the U.S. military on notice with the words: "be ready." To the Pentagon now, CNN's Jamie McIntyre and the potential options out there at this point. Jamie, hello to you. JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. Well, the little bit of news from here is that there is a second deployment order that is being readied to increase the number of aircraft that may be moved out of the United States, but that deployment is moving at a fairly methodical pace, indicating again that no military action is imminent. Most of the planes in the second deployment order are support aircraft to support the first deployment, which included a B-1 bombers going to the Persian Gulf and B-52 bombers going to Diego Garcia.

The Pentagon is still basically aligning its forces so it can carry out a range of options depending on what President Bush decides to do and depending on what U.S. intelligence gives it the opportunity to do. The Pentagon and the president have made it clear that they don't intend to just simply fire a couple of cruise missiles into some area and knock out some buildings. They want to have a real effect, and so that is what they are planning for.

HEMMER: Jamie McIntyre, thank you very much at the Pentagon. For more on the Pentagon's options now, we turn to Major General Donald Shepperd, the former head of the National Guard, which is in charge of the nation's air defense. Major General, good evening to you.

MAJOR GENERAL DONALD SHEPPERD, FORMER HEAD OF THE NATIONAL GUARD: Good evening.

HEMMER: You have said that -- I just want to use your words here. You have said everyone assumes we will go to Afghanistan, but that is not necessarily true. How does the U.S. win this battle if they don't?

SHEPPERD: Well, most likely we will start in Afghanistan, for obvious reasons. But I think the president made clear that if you are a terrorist or someone that supports a terrorist, wherever you are, we are coming. It might not be tomorrow, it might not be next week, but we are coming at a time and place of our choosing with overwhelming force. I take him at his word.

HEMMER: How do you see Al-Qaeda reacting now, knowing the words of the president last night. Is this a case for them to lie low at this point, in your estimation? Or is it a time to possibly strike again? If not here, somewhere else?

SHEPPERD: Well I'm not going to offer advice to the Al-Qaeda, but I can tell you wherever they are they need to be afraid, because we are coming after them. I think...

HEMMER: Sir, I apologize for the interruption. We will continue our conversation.

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