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America's New War: Return to Normalcy

Aired September 21, 2001 - 18:44   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: As the Bush administration stands firm in its demands of Afghanistan's Taliban leaders, let's get an update from our senior White House correspondent John King. John, what's going on today?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a war of words again on the day after the president's big speech to Congress, the Taliban saying it would not turn over Osama bin Laden unless it received proof from the United States that he was responsible for those terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.

The president at this hour is up at Camp David, he will have national security meetings up there throughout the weekend, but at the White House today his spokesman, using very tough and blunt words echoing the president's address to Congress, he says the United States will not turn over that evidence because it would only help the terrorists if the United States did so, giving away secrets of the investigation. Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, putting the Taliban on very clear notice.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The challenge that the government always faces when ask a question like that, provide the proof, is the means of providing the proof provides valuable information to those who are the objects of any potential action. They would like nothing better than to be able to hide where they are hiding, and have the United States reveal what we know and how we know it, which it will make it easier for them to hide and will make it easier for them to carry out further actions.


KING: Military planning intensifying over the weekend, more diplomacy today. The president met with Chinese foreign minister, and Wolf, a short time ago the president also released the first $5 billion of the $40 billion Congress has already appropriated to help deal with the recovery effort -- Wolf.

BLITZER: John, it seems like the coalition building effort is moving along rather impressively, so long as the targets are in Afghanistan -- the Taliban or Osama bin Laden's group. What happens if the targets are expanded to include, let's say, Iraq or Iran? KING: That is when the administration, if that happened -- we should emphasize that is a big if, but we do know some in the administration want a broad array of targets -- look for the Chinese to possibly object, that is one reason the president had a meeting with the Chinese foreign minister today. China's position has been, anything beyond direct retaliation should be an issue for the United Nations Security Council to consider. The administration's position is the president has declared a broad war on terrorism, he reserves the right to act unilaterally.

But you are exactly right in saying that if the president goes beyond Afghanistan, some in the international coalition are likely to protest.

BLITZER: John King at the White House, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan is apparently preparing for a U.S. military strike. CNN's Nic Robertson was the last Western journalist to leave the Taliban-controlled country. He was asked to leave, and two days ago traveled from Kandahar across the border to Quetta in Pakistan. He joins us now live from Quetta with the latest information. What's the mood over there, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, today, demonstrations here in Pakistan, the Islamic clerics here calling for a day of demonstrations and a day of strikes in the shops. Certainly here in Quetta, there were about 2,000 to 3,000 men out demonstrating on the streets. The demonstration lasted about three hours. It was a sitdown demonstration. They burned effigies of President Bush. South of here, in the port city of Karachi, about 10,000 out on the streets. East of here. Lahore, about another 10,000 on the streets. North of here, Peshar, where another 10,000 or so are on the streets.

But all in all, analysts here say a good day for President Musharraf, because the numbers are much lower than they might have been. Also good news for President Musharraf in the international community -- international diplomats here indicate there may be some international debt relief for Pakistan, much needed. Pakistan has $40 billion worth of international debt, that for the population of 140 million.

The other thing President Musharraf might expect soon -- Pakistan and India may be relieved of sanctions placed on them in 1998 for testing nuclear weapons, so generally a better day for President Musharraf than he has had recently, good indications that he may be able to weather the storm here.

BLITZER: Nic, is there any difference in the mood among Pakistanis for example in the south, in Karachi, as opposed to let's say, in Islamabad or Lahore, further up north, or is the country sort of evenly -- even keel as far as their attitude toward the Taliban and Osama bin Laden?

ROBERTSON: There would tend to be more support for the Taliban and Afghan people in general in the east -- in the west rather of Pakistan, that borders Afghanistan. A lot of the tribes cross over from Afghanistan into Pakistan. The middle class here would generally support General Musharraf. There are pockets of sort of Islamic hard- liners in most of the major cities here -- perhaps not Islamabad, it's really the capital and administration city -- but certainly in those other cities, there would be pockets of resistance to President Musharraf -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic Robertson, once again thank you very much.

And we now have some news from our CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. He is now reporting that the Pentagon has a second deployment order in the works that will add additional supports aircraft to the number of warplanes already ordered to move to forward bases in Persian Gulf and Central Asian regions. This second deployment, according to Jamie McIntyre, the order has not yet been signed by the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, but the Pentagon is prepared once again moving ahead with additional support aircraft package to send out to the region. Additional details, of course, as they become available.

Another sign of life getting back to normal in New York City. Up next, we'll take you live to Shea Stadium as the Mets prepare to return to their home field for the first time since the terror struck their city.


BLITZER: And this just in: The U.S. Senate has just passed the airline relief package, a bill passed by a vote of 96 to one, a bill worth some $15 billion in loans, grants and extra assistance for the airline industry in the United States, which is ailing right now. The House of Representatives is expected to take up the measure later tonight. Once again, the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 91, has just passed the $15 billion airline relief bill.

Meanwhile, the parking lot at New York's Shea Stadium has been used as a staging area for emergency crews since last week's attacks. Tonight, Shea returns to its normal role as home to baseball's New York Mets. First pitch is about half an hour away. Let's go live to CNN's Sports Illustrated's Josie Karp. She's at the stadium. What's the mood over there, Josie?

JOSIE KARP, CNNSI CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, baseball is obviously the normal role that this area plays, but it doesn't feel like a normal night here. You can see behind me that fans are lined up, and that's because security is so much stricter than it was about three weeks ago when they last played a baseball game here. Large bags are not being allowed into the stadium, those bags that fans can bring in are being checked.

Fans say that that's something they are willing to do, and they are showing it. New Yorkers normally not a crowd that likes to wait in line. There has been no disorder tonight. You get the sense that everyone feels that this is much more significant than just one baseball game, and evidence of that -- the New York Mets will virtually be playing for free tonight, because they voted to donate every cent that they were to make for playing this game to a charity that has been set up. It will benefit the surviving family members of public servants who died.

And other signs that this is not normal, Wolf, they were interviewing several players earlier today and asking them about what they thought of the president's speech. You don't normally hear that, but they actually had some pretty moving answers.

And one other thing, the mayor of New York City, perhaps the biggest Yankees fan in this area, he said today he is coming out to this Mets game. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Josie Karp, outside Shea Stadium in New York City, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, this note: At the top of the hour, we hope to bring you some of the pregame ceremonies at Shea Stadium. We are going to take a quick break. When we come back, we will go to New York City for a live shot from Gary Tuchman on what's happening in the zone.


BLITZER: Welcome back. Work continues at the wreckage of the World Trade Center as hundreds of nameless heroes continue the daunting task of sifting through mounds of debris and rubble. CNN's Gary Tuchman is live now at the site -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the sun has just set here in New York City, the eleventh time it's done so since the 11th of September. Another night of search and recovery work is under way right behind me, in the ground zero area. More than 2,000 emergency workers are on the scene, sifting through the rubble, taking away rubble, looking for the dead and hoping beyond hope to find someone who is alive.

You're looking at West Street in New York City. Normally at this time of day it would be full of taxis and people leaving the World Trade Center complex to go home for the weekend. Now it's the emergency site with rubble on the streets, cranes, emergency vehicles and emergency workers.

We took some pictures today right at ground zero. We went along with Governor Pataki, the governor of New York State who let our cameras in and we had some very close-up pictures that still don't fail to stun you when you look at it. Almost nothing is recognizable, except for steel skeletons that stand where the North and South Towers used to be, and those are the skeletons you're looking at right now. They're about 10 to 15 stories tall, they are considered very dangerous, they're precarious. They're trying to figure out how to get them down safely.

Six thousand three hundred thirty-three people missing and presumed dead, 252 bodies have been recovered, that's only 11 more than yesterday. Twenty-four hours, they only found 11 more bodies. One hundred eighty-three of those bodies have been identified, and we are told that 2,100 people, grieving relatives, have given DNA samples. Back to you, Wolf. BLITZER: Gary Tuchman, thank you very much.

As they've been doing all week, "CROSSFIRE" has been holding a town meeting at George Washington University. Here's Tucker Carlson and Bill Press.

BILL PRESS, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Good evening. Welcome to CROSSFIRE, a special CROSSFIRE, a town meeting here at George Washington University in downtown Washington, again tonight discussing the issue: How does America respond to terrorism.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": President has all but declared war last night in his speech to Congress. Is America prepared for the long struggle? We will ask four members of Congress, but first back to news and you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Tucker.

Scott (UNINTELLIGIBLE) says four people, three men and one woman were arrested today in London and Birmingham, in connection with the terror attacks in the United States. Officials say all four are being questioned at this hour. They say a man and a woman were arrested at a London apartment. Another man was arrested at a separate location in London, and a third man arrested in Birmingham, about 100 miles to the north. We are awaiting further details as they become available. We will of course bring them to you.

Meanwhile, in other new developments: President Bush has left the White House. Aides say the president will spend the weekend at Camp David in Maryland. Before departing, the president continued to build support for a coalition to fight terror. He spoke by telephone with the leaders of Turkey, Nigeria and Oman. He also met with the leaders of the insurance industry, which stands to lose billions of dollars in claims connected to the attacks in New York and Washington.

For the first time since the attacks last week, baseball returns to New York City tonight, under tight scrutiny. In honor of the city's public safety workers, the Mets will wear the caps of the New York City police and fire departments, as well as the Port Authority, when they host the Atlanta Braves. Mayor Rudy Giuliani plans to be in the stands. He says the hats are a nice gesture.


MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK: All of them, you know, feel better when they see that somebody else cares about them, and they did it in a very dramatic way and a very nice way, so I want to go out and see a little of a baseball game. So I'm going to go to a Mets game tonight, and then I'll make sure I go to a Yankee game as soon as they get back. And maybe, just maybe, we can have a Subway Series, but we'll see. I hope the Mets can overtake the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies.


BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani, a Yankees fan, going to a Mets game. And in just a few moments, CNN will take you live to Shea Stadium for some of the pregame ceremonies as baseball returns to the Big Apple.

About 10 minutes ago, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a relief package totaling some $15 billion for the battered airline industry. The measure, which faces a vote in the House of Representatives later tonight, includes $5 billion in immediate cash assistance. The lone senator argued the package goes too far.


SEN. PETER FITZGERALD (R), ILLINOIS: Well, how much in federal assistance will Delta get as a result of this bill? At least four times the losses that they sustained as a result of the groundstop order. Delta will get about 16 percent of the $5 billion in cash assistance. In other words, they will get a grant of about $800 million, four times their losses, plus they will be eligible for these new loan guarantees.

The bottom line is, Madam President, I think this assistance is too generous.


BLITZER: The measure, by the way, passed 96 to one. Senate and House Democrats say they will mount an effort later to help the hundreds of thousands of airline workers who are being laid off.

Earlier today, CNN's Bill Hemmer met with New York Governor George Pataki at what remains of the World Trade Center. The governor gave Bill an overview of the devastation in the area.


BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When we see this destruction on television, and we see the videotape, it's a bit hard to understand where things were or where are they now. Can you tell us -- can you point out what is what in this maze of rubble and destruction?

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI, NEW YORK: This was the South Tower. This was 104, 106 stories tall. This is what is left. Up there was the North Tower. And my office used to be in this building. For my first 3 1/2 years as governor, this -- my office was on the 57th floor here.

Hi, how are you? We're so proud of you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing, governor?

PATAKI: God bless you.


PATAKI: Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Staten Island, engine 153. PATAKI: Well, we're proud of you guys.


PATAKI: It's just -- and you look, and you see, and there's no concrete. There is very little concrete. All you see is aluminum and steel.

HEMMER: What happened to the concrete?

PATAKI: The concrete was pulverized. And I was down here Tuesday, and it was like you were on a foreign planet. All of lower Manhattan, not just this site, from river to river there was dust, powder, two, three inches thick. The concrete was just pulverized.

HEMMER: And what's to explain, governor, the smoke that still comes out of the pile?

PATAKI: There is still fire down below. There is such an incredibly deep pile of rubble, and the tower goes down five, six stories underground that there is still fire underneath, smoldering. And that's why, you know -- look at the guy there, right smack in the middle of the smoke on the top of the pile, they're extremely brave out there, working to get through this and still hoping, however unlikely the hope might be, for a miracle.

You can see the buildings around it that have been incredibly damaged, but thank God they're structurally sound, they're not going to come down.

HEMMER: Even though we see that facade that's been ripped and torn away, structurally that building is OK?

PATAKI: Structurally that building is sound. And that was a very great concern, because a lot of the injuries to the rescue workers, to the police and fire, occurred when the buildings came down.

So people were out here risking their lives before we were sure that these buildings were structurally sound, and you just didn't know what was going to happen. But they're OK.


BLITZER: The pregame festivities, the ceremonies at Shea Stadium, where the New York Mets are playing the Atlanta Braves have now began. Let's go to Shea Stadium and see what's going on over there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For a lot of people, of course, the three hours or so that you watch a ball game under these circumstances, particularly with the Mets now involved on the periphery if not right in the middle of a pennant race represents at the very least an escape. And for the Mets, of course, a job to do on the field, the same for the Atlanta Braves. But before they can even think about baseball, there will be some moving pregame ceremonies, and we will have them in their entirety from Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York, as the New York Mets and major league baseball have returned home.

BLITZER: And we are going to go back to Shea Stadium right after this break. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back. There's a new development in the investigation into last week's terror attacks. CNN's Eileen O'Connor is standing by with those details -- Eileen.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN ANCHOR: Well, a man has been arrested in Toronto, Wolf. Basically, the charges were filed in Chicago -- it's against a man that several aliases, but he is known as Najib Ajabar Ahadi (ph). Basically, he is being charged with possession of false documents, Yemeni passports -- several Yemeni passports, in fact.

Basically, he was also on a flight on September 11, non-stop flight from Germany, a Lufthansa flight. He flew into -- supposedly was going to go Chicago O'Hare, but as you recall, Wolf, those planes were diverted to Toronto. He has been arrested in Toronto; he had several flight attendant uniforms in his bags. Although he is said to be in the FBI affidavit an employee of Lufthansa -- so right now, this is an arrest basically on false identification charges, but they do talk about some suspicious looking pieces of paper, seemingly written in code within into his -- sawn into his pants.

So this was a very suspicious-looking man, and obviously now the FBI wants to come and talk to him. They want him handed over from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He's been arrested in Chicago, that will soon be happening -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Eileen, is that simply an automatic procedure, that the Canadians hand over these suspects that they pick up to the FBI, or is there a long, complicated procedure they have to go through to get him from Canada into the United States?

O'CONNOR: No, there isn't, because he was diverted, in fact, from a flight that was supposed to come into the United States. And also, in fact, because they do -- as long as they file these charges, there is a sort of expedited process, given the fact that we have such a great relationship with Canada and there's so much movement back and forth across the borders.

Another person last week was handed over last week on some INS violations, and the FBI was able to question them rather quickly, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Eileen, you've been covering this investigation since the terrorist attacks some 10 days ago, do the investigators -- and you speak to all of them all of the time -- do they have an indication that they are putting pieces of the puzzle together, or do they sense, they fear they're simply at the beginning of a process?

O'CONNOR: No, in fact they've made a lot of progress today. Four arrests in London by Scotland Yard, three men and a woman who they say are definitely linked to these attacks. Some arrests in Paris, seven people there. They say that they were plotting against -- to perform something against a U.S. installation in Europe. We knew through sources that there was such a plot, authorities believed, and now it appears they have made some arrests in those cases. Two arrests in Rotterdam, don't have much information on that, records are sealed. Also arrests last week in Brussels.

So, with so many people being rounded up and two key arrest warrants in Germany for Ramzi Benalshid (ph) and also Sayeed Bahaji (ph). Now, Sayeed Bahaji (ph) was in fact a roommate of Mohammed Atta, who is seen very much as a ringleader in that. Five thousand counts of murder against those men, the German police believe they already have a strong case. So obviously, Wolf, with all these people being rounded up, the hope is some of them are going to start cooperating, some of them are going to start naming names.

BLITZER: Eileen O'Connor, thank you very much.

And from Eileen O'Connor, let's go back to Shea Stadium, where the New York Mets are going to be playing the Atlanta Braves. There are some pregame ceremonies. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In part, to show that America can and will go on. But before we begin our game, we will pause to remember the victims of those terrible attacks, their families and the thousands of rescue workers, volunteers and good Samaritans who have shown that America can be at her best in the most difficult of times.

Our colors tonight are being presented by a joint color guard, consisting of New York's police department, fire department, emergency medical service, Port Authority police and the New York State Port Officers Association -- five agencies that lost rescue personnel when the World Trade Center towers collapsed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are accompanied by the NYPD pipers and a rifle team from United States Marine Corps 6th Communication Battalion based in Brooklyn, New York.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, here to honor our nation with the singing of "God Bless America" is Ms. Diana Ross. Ms. Ross is accompanied by the Norfolk High School Choir and the Christ Tabernacle Choir from Brooklyn.

DIANA ROSS, MUSICIAN (singing): God bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from above. From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam, God bless America, my home, sweet home.

God bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from above. From the mountains to the prairies through the oceans white with foam, oh God bless America, my home, sweet home. God bless America, my home, sweet home. My home. My home. America. (APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Accompanied by the Norfolk High School Choir and the Christ Tabernacle Choir of Brooklyn.

In center field, we welcome 34 mid-shipmen of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in King's Point, Long Island who are presenting the giant U.S. flag for tonight's ceremony.

Now entering from center field are groups representing many of the brave, committed men and women who have been working long and difficult hours as part of the rescue efforts going on at the World Trade Center. Please welcome members of the NYPD, New York fire department, Port Authority police department, New York state port officers, the San Francisco fire department station 1, National Disaster Medical System DMOR, New York Hospital in Queens, St. John's Queens Hospital, Mary Immaculate Hospital EMS division and New York University Downtown Hospital.

These rescue workers are joining the mid-shipmen around the giant flag in the same way that Americans from all walks of life have come together to help in the wake of these tragic events.

At this time, we ask that you please direct your attention to diamond vision for a special message from the New York Mets, to be followed by a moment of silence and 21-gun salute in memory of those who are no longer with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every American was shocked by the disastrous events of September 11.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But for New Yorkers, this attack was even more personal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of us have families or other loved ones that were touched by the tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And all have us know someone among the thousands of brave, committed volunteers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And rescue personnel who have come together in lower Manhattan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And at this time, we ask that you please rise, remove your caps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And join us in a moment of silent reflection and prayer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In memory of the victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In support of their families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And on behalf of everyone who has been hurt by these attacks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please remain standing for the sinking of the "Star Spangled Banner," which was written by Francis Scott Key 187 years ago today. Our national anthem will be performed tonight by Marc Anthony.

MARC ANTHONY, MUSICIAN (singing): Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming. Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, for the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming. And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

Oh, say does that star spangled banner yet wave for the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quite and emotional night down here at Shea Stadium for all of us involved -- the players down on the field, those of us up here in the booth, these many thousands of fans that have assembled. And what we hope tonight can happen is that this little baseball game, which is really a very insignificant thing in the grand scheme of things, can be part of the healing process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One step back, and in a show of solidarity that I think is now what we are seeing almost everywhere around our country in every walk of life, the two teams meeting in the middle of the field. Ever seen that before? More to come from Shea Stadium after this timeout.

BLITZER: From our sister network TBS, Pete Van Veeren (ph) and Don Sutton (ph), televising the game, the first game in New York City -- first baseball game since last week's tragic terrorist action in New York. Quite a sight, you don't often see Mets hugging Braves, fierce competitors, but today that's precisely what we saw at Shea Stadium, an emotional event.

We will be right back. When we come back, "CROSSFIRE" special town meeting at George Washington University. Stay with us.



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