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America's New War

Aired September 24, 2001 - 22:00   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.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone. New indisputable signs that life is returning to normal. At a meeting at the House Judiciary Committee today, the Republican chairman and the leader of the Democrats had a bit of a spat over how much time each side could have to speak. Then over at the White House, the president spokesman and the White House press corps sparred for a long while over the lack of information, specifically, what is the evidence the administration has that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the terrorist attack.

And in New York at an intersection, a horn honked and the guy standing next to me turned to the offending driver and bellowed, "Hush up!" Well, actually, those are my words, not his, but you get the idea. Normal, blessed normal.

Of weightier matters today, the president this morning waged a financial war on terrorism. He froze the U.S. assets of suspected terrorists and delivered an ultimatum: If your nation does business with terrorists, you won't do business with the United States. Easy to say, tougher to do.

And his attorney general urged the Congress to adopt tough anti- terrorist measures, warning of a clear and present danger to Americans. Critics warn that civil liberty may be in jeopardy.

And in New York, a mayor's race turned upside down. Papers say Rudy wants to run again. Mr. Giuliani's not saying, at least not yet. He says he's been too busy to think about it -- the understatement of a lifetime.

We'll touch on all of this tonight, beginning first with the president's day. Early this morning the president tried to drive a stake through the financial heart of the terrorist networks by freezing their assets in the United States. But even the president acknowledged there aren't many assets in the United States, and unless other nations and their banks go along, it will not mean a whole lot.

We begin at the White House and our Senior White House correspondent, John King -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, the challenge of selling that plan to countries around the world, banking systems around the world, now falls to the Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. He will be on a conference call first thing in the morning with leaders of the other G-7 countries and the Secretary of State Colin Powell.

His task, convincing moderate Arab nations, especially Saudi Arabia, to tighten the financial noose on terrorism. Still, the president, as he celebrated this announcement in the Rose Garden today, called it the first strike in the war on terrorism. His weapon in the first round: a ballpoint pen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING (voice-over): The first target in the war on terrorism is money.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today we have launched strike on the financial foundation of the global terror network.

KING: The president signed an executive order freezing U.S.-held assets of 27 individuals and organizations, including Osama bin Laden, his Al-Qaeda organization, sometimes called the Islamic Army, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Wafa Humanitarian Group, and the Al- Rashid trust, non-profit groups the White House says are fronts for terrorism.

The order to freeze accounts went out to 5,000 banks in the United States first thing Monday. Hours later, the attorney general asked Congress for the power to do more.

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: And we are, in our legislation, seeking to be able to seize the assets, not just to freeze them. Not just to curtail activity, but to take those assets.

KING: On the home front, the move is largely symbolic. A similar edict by the Clinton administration turned up little, but the Bush administration is providing the list to governments and banks around the world, asking them to follow suit -- or else.

BUSH: And it puts the financial world on notice: If you do business with terrorists, if you support or sponsor them, you will not do business with the United States of America.

KING: Some governments first want proof of a bin Laden connection to the attacks, and Secretary Powell promised Sunday the administration would soon provide some. But Powell was forced to retreat a bit after the president made clear he felt no obligation to detail the evidence.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Most of it is classified, and as we look through it and we can find areas that are unclassified and it will allow us to share this information with the public, we will do. That would be our intent, but most of it is classified.

KING: Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada stopped by to give his public backing to the campaign, and in privates U.S. officials appealed for Canada to do a better job tracking the movements of suspected terrorists.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And tonight, the president sent to Congress the formal notification of the military deployment we have seen in recent days. Mr. Bush saying he was sending troops to several nations overseas, also told the Congress additional deployments are likely. And in that letter to the speaker and the president of the Senate, Mr. Bush saying he could not predict just now what would be the duration or the scope of the military campaign, although he did say America's war on terrorism is likely to be -- quote -- "lengthy." Aaron.

BROWN: John, quickly, it's going to be a battle getting information out of the White House, isn't it, on everything from the evidence they have to where the troops are going, and everything else.

KING: This is an organization, an administration that prides itself on secrecy. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has restricted information dramatically. I talked to a top aid to Secretary Powell today after that: "Shall we call it a mix-up over whether the United States would publish a white paper on this?"

He side, "The president pulled us back a little bit today. The president doesn't want to talk about this." Aaron.

BROWN: John, thanks. Senior White House correspondent John King tonight.

This isn't the first time, as John mentioned, that the United States has announced it will freeze or try and seize the assets of people and countries it considers terrorists. Far from it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): When those so-called Iranian students took hostages at the America embassy in Tehran, stopping the money was one of the few concrete actions President Jimmy Carter could accomplish. Today, just a bit over $23 million in Iranian assets still remain blocked, mostly in diplomatic property.

After the Gulf War a decade ago, the United States froze Iraqi assets. Right now there's a great deal of Iraqi money still under United States control -- well over $2 billion, in fact, which includes more than $500 million of Iraqi assets blocked in foreign branches of American banks.

But it's far different and far less successful accounting when it comes to individual terrorists or terrorist groups. According to the most recent study, a study we've relied on in reporting these figures, the last time the U.S. blocked the assets of a terrorist group was 1995.

President Clinton signed an order blocking assets of the radical Palestinian organizations: Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. How much money did the Americans find? At the end of last year, a total of $17,000 was blocked in a single bank account in the United States.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: These numbers, incidentally, and a great deal more information come to us from a report delivered to Congress on terrorism. The delivery date: September 10th, a day before the awful disasters in New York and in Washington. The report estimated the likelihood of a terrorist attack by Osama bin Laden as -- quote -- "extremely high." That report is just one of several that warned lawmakers that a terrorist attack was likely. With the clarity of hindsight, we can say most politicians did not seem to take those warnings seriously enough.

Today the U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft formally asked Congress to pass new laws to counter the terrorist threat. It was, perhaps, the first time since the attack that we saw at least some politicians divided on the best course of action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHCROFT: Terrorism is a clear and present danger to Americans today. Intelligence information available to the FBI indicates a potential for additional terrorist incidents. As a result, the FBI has requested through the national threat-warning system that all law enforcement agencies nationwide be on heightened alert.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), MICHIGAN: Permitting information for illegal wiretaps performed abroad against United States citizens, to be used in the federal courts, as the administration proposes, is -- well, some have said it's unconstitutional on its face. Let me be more polite. We are deeply troubled.

ASHCROFT: It's our position at the Justice Department and the position of this administration that we need to unleash every possible tool in the fight against terrorism, and to do so promptly. Because our awareness indicates that we are vulnerable, and that our vulnerability is elevated as long as we don't have the tools we need to have.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think it is essential that we upgrade our law enforcement capacity. Technology has changed and we have a set of fiendishly skillful, sadly, opponents, and we have arm law enforcement. But we are aware of our own fallibility. I think every time we increase law enforcement's efficacy, as I want to do in many cases, we need to make sure the safeguards are there for those cases when we make the mistakes.

REP. HOWARD COBLE (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Mr. Attorney General, a hypothetical question applying hindsight: Is it your belief that we could have possibly prevented these events of September 11th if government had the authority that the administration is requesting in this legislation?

ASHCROFT: There is absolutely no guarantee that these safeguards would have avoided the September 11th occurrence. We do know that without them, the occurrence took place. And we do know that each of them would strengthen our ability to curtail, disrupt, and prevent terrorism. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: The House Judiciary Committee today. There is an old legal expression that bad cases make bad laws, something to consider here. In the aftermath of the tragedy, there is a rush to make the country safe. And that rush does make many people feel safer. It also makes some people nervous.

Here's Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What wouldn't we give to have known of this plot before its deadly execution? What would we give up now to keep it from happening again?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, I'd give up everything. In the future, I don't know. We'll see how it plays out it.

CROWLEY: It is playing you out now in a muted, but urgent debate over how much leeway the government should have to monitor and track suspected terrorists.

ASHCROFT: Time is of the essence. The ability of law enforcement to trace communications into different jurisdictions without obtaining an additional court order can be the difference between life and the death for American citizens.

CROWLEY: The Attorney General wants a single court to wiretap an individual who uses multiple phones in multiple jurisdictions. Current law focuses on phone numbers and require separate court orders for different jurisdictions. The proposals also include allowing the FBI to seize the e-mail and voicemail of a suspected terrorist and permitting the prolonged detention of non-citizens thought to be a threat.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), MICHIGAN: We've got to get these guys, but indefinite detention has not been allowed by the courts up to now.

CROWLEY: With the wreckage of the Twin Towers still smoldering and the death toll still unbelievable, this is a touchy time to say no to law enforcement, but critics want at least to go slow.

LAURA MURPHY, ACLU: It's more than slippery slope. It's an outright denial of certain values we hold dear in this society. We believe that there should be checks and balances on the executive branch. The administration is proposing to remove those checks and balances in criminal investigations, in wiretapping investigations, intelligence investigations, and also in immigration decisions.

CROWLEY: The debate is more personal, but much the same around the water coolers and on the streets. There are Americans willing to give up some things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They can read whatever they want. I don't have anything to worry about from what's in my e-mail, you know. The average person doesn't have anything that interesting going on in their life that they're going to save it and pin it up on a wall.

CROWLEY: And Americans who worry the government will take anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm only 21 years of age. I've been living here all my life. And I have no threat against the United States. I'm no threat. Why should my personal space be interfered with?

CROWLEY: And most Americans want to get the bad guys without giving up the best of what we are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An inconvenience is one thing, but the restriction of free speech and free thought is another. And I think that there's a line you have to draw.

CROWLEY: It is a matter of balance, but after being knocked down so hard, balance is not as easy as it once seemed. Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: This is one of the most difficult and important questions that we'll face in the aftermath of September 11. When we come back, we'll talk more about it. And that's just the beginning.

ANNOUNCER: Plus, could this be a message to the world from America's most-wanted terrorist? See the facts and hear the words that may be from Osama Bin Laden. And live from Islamabad, CNN senior international correspondent Christiane Amanpour has the latest on U.S. efforts to build a force for revenge on Afghanistan's door step.

At home, investors snatch up stocks. Will the rally continue?

And the man who's leading New York out of a crisis is getting a vote of confidence to lead it into the future. Rudy and the rules for re-election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: As we've been telling you, some Americans seem to be willing to give up some of their own rights to be feel safe and perhaps the rights of others as well. A survey of New Yorkers polled by Sienna College found that a third, one in three, favor internment for those who authorities identify as being "sympathetic to terrorist causes."

You can see how this current mood might make people nervous. What, after all, does sympathetic to terrorist causes mean?

More now on civil liberties and the law. We're joined by be CNN legal affairs analyst Roger Cossack and Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat. Welcome to both of you. Representative Lofgren, let me start with you of this list of laws the Attorney General brought to the judiciary committee, what makes you nervous? REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, there are -- some of the proposals are absolutely fine. And a number of them that have problems, that have constitutional problems, and some of them have serious problems.

I think the good news is that the committee on a non-partisan basis, just a bipartisan basis, wants to get this right. We know that if we lose the Constitution, if we lose the Bill of Rights, then the terrorists really will have won. And so it's our obligation to fight the terrorists in a way that also protects and defends the Constitution. And we can do that.

BROWN: Focus in, if you will please, on those parts of the proposal that you think need to be changed that go to far or however you want to frame it, that are making you and many of your colleagues or a number of colleagues uncomfortable?

LOFGREN: Well, I think some of biggest issues have to do with the habeas corpus provisions, where there would essentially be limitless incarceration of more people who are accused of doing a terrorist or being associated with terrorism.

You can't do that under the Constitution. But it's clear to us, from our initial conversations today with the Administration and Democrats and Republicans, that there are ways to fix this so that it is constitutional. And we're going to do that.

Some of wiretap issues need to be refined. You can have wiretap and you can have a search with a warrant. That's consistent with the Fourth amendment. But we need to make sure that the particularity provisions articulated in the Fourth Amendment are honored. And I think we can do that as well.

BROWN: Roger, I've heard the words today "indefinite detention." I understand what both those words mean, but I'm not sure how they apply here. Does that mean detaining someone without ever bringing them before a judge?

COSSACK: No, I don't think it's the way it's being proposed. I think what it means is that there would be a series of detainments, if you will, that there would be a period of time for the initial detainment and then the Attorney General or his representatives, the United States Attorney's office, would go before the judge and explain why this person should and needs to be detained.

The problem -- obviously, there's a couple of different problems. As the congresswoman just referred to, there's the habeas corpus issue that you just can't keep people in jail. The great writ of this country, which is that you just can't keep people in jail without bringing charges against them.

The second issue is that in a time like this, judges, like everybody else, are under great pressure to give into law enforcement. And perhaps the notion that we're going to rely on judges to be as neutral and detached as they might be under different circumstances, may be difficult. And I think those are the problems that the congresswoman is referring to, at least in this particular issue, Aaron.

BROWN: And Roger, just one other part here. I heard the phrase "prevention first" a lot today. That's a tricky one in the law, isn't it?

COSSACK: Absolutely. There is this saying that we want to have that somehow that if we passed laws that would give our law enforcement, if you will, the right to sort of skirt the Constitution.

The notion that perhaps they could just investigate because people look differently or because people say things that are different or people scare us by what they do, that somehow we could prevent this activity from happening.

And there is this great attraction, this notion that perhaps we could do that, but in fact, constitutionally we can't. And we can't obviously let ourselves fall prey to that.

BROWN: Congresswoman, let me give you last word here. There does seem to be a legal freight train rolling down the tracks here. Are you confident that there are brakes in place along the legislative process so that bad law does not come out of an awful case?

LOFGREN: Well, there's no guarantee, of course, but I'm actually increasingly confident. Today, there was some scratchiness in the committee. That's not unusual. It's the Judiciary Committee, but we were supposed to have a mark-up at 10:00 tomorrow and report the bill and the freight train was rolling.

And instead of that, members of the committee on both sides of aisle starting asking questions. And the chairman announced that we were not having the markup tomorrow, that we take an additional week.

That tomorrow instead, members of the committee, along with the Justice Department are going to sit down and work through each and every one of these issues so that what we end up with is good for law enforcement and also good for the Constitution. And I think that's something to cheer about.

COSSACK: Aaron, if I might just jump in for one second. One of the things that I've been told you by the congresswoman is that they are considering is that anything that happens, any laws they pass, will have a sunset provision of two years.

That means that whatever laws are passed in response to this particular situation would go out business in two years, unless renewed by the Congress. So the notion that Congress is going to review whatever they do in a couple years I think is a particularly hopeful sign.

BROWN: Roger, Congresswoman, thank you both for joining us. Again, this is one we'll revisit. Appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

Ahead from us, what may be a message from an accused master terrorist and a rallying cry to the Muslim world. That's coming up. Plus, we'll have a live report from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, from CNN's Christiane Amanpour. We're right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: We've not heard from the prime suspect in the terrorist attack. Osama Bin Laden since the day after the attacks, when he denied responsibility. We may have heard from him today.

A message was sent to the news channel Al Jazeera at its offices in Afghanistan. Employees there say that based on past communication with Bin Laden, they believe the message is authentic.

Here are some of the excerpts from the letter, translated of course.

"We tell our Muslim brothers in Pakistan to use all their means to resist the American crusader forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I convey to you good news, my beloved brothers, that we are steadfast and struggling to defend our cause, following the footsteps of the prophet. Peace be upon him with the believing heroes, the people of Afghanistan. And under the leadership of our prince, the warrior Mullah Mohammed Omar.

We ask God to make us defeat the infidels and the oppressors and to crush the new Jewish-Christian crusader campaign on the land of Pakistan and Afghanistan."

We haven't been able to confirm independently if the letter is real. But we did pull from our files here in New York a signature from Bin Laden. It's on the left in the screen in a moment and was filed as evidence during the embassy bombing trial. OK, look at the one now, the signature on the left was testified to as authentic, Bin Laden's signature.

On the right, the lower part of your screen, is the signature from today's letters. If we superimpose one on the other, you can see the similarities. And while again, we are not handwriting experts to be sure, there certainly are similarities there.

So let us assume for a moment the message is from Bin Laden. It is defiant. It shows his connection to the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. This is how one terrorism expert described their relationship, "they are intertwined like serpents," he said.

With the latest from Islamabad, Pakistan, CNN's Christiane Amanpour joins us. It is morning there. So good morning, Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Aaron. And of the course, the word of this letter has not reached the Pakistani press. Perhaps it came too late last night our time, but certainly Pakistani officials are very concerned if this is a genuine letter because it directly appeals to those elements of Pakistani society who oppose this country's decision to stand with the United States.

It clearly is, according to analysts here, sort of the first shot in the battle for the hearts and minds of those religious people here who may want to cause trouble if there is any kind of Pakistan-U.S. military alliance.

And certainly, Pakistani officials are concerned about that, if indeed, they believe that this is the genuine article.

Now on other matters, as the United States President George Bush talked about this global campaign to shut down the terrorist finances, there is a delegation from the European Union. He talked about using all sorts of global institutions. And they're coming here today.

That may be on their agenda, as they talk to the government of Pakistan. And also, the United States has given Pakistan a much- needed economic shot in the arm, provided them some relief. By yesterday, agreeing to reschedule some of Pakistan's very heavy debt to the United States, Aaron.

BROWN: A couple things, Christiane. The fact that -- well, how free is the press to report this facts or anything else in Pakistan? Would it normally get to people there?

AMANPOUR: It would normally, if indeed it gets facts to the press here. Now what we understand from the way this message got out, is that it went straight to the Al Jazeera reporters in Afghanistan and then to their headquarters in Qatar in the Persian Gulf region.

And then it was broadcast to the -- basically the international news agencies. But generally, the papers here do pick up, whether it's a day late or whatever, whenever they get the news, they do pick up what comes on international news agencies. And they do print it.

It remains to be seen whether the government tries to get them not to print this particular one. We'll watch for tomorrow's papers.

BROWN: And how -- I've been wanting to ask this question now for a week now, I guess. How stable is the government in Pakistan? It wasn't an elected government? How stable is it?

AMANPOUR: Well, to address both points, it wasn't an elected government, but you'd be surprised by how much support this government has, particularly now. I have been talking to some political party leaders, who clearly have their own political agendas at heart, and even they have said Musharraf is the man for the moment.

Even though it was a military coup back in 1999, many, many people here wanted the stability this government brought because they were fed up, basically, in a word, with the massive corruption of previous their leaders. And, of course, he has promised to have general elections next year and most people believe that that is the case and he will stick to that, despite this crisis.

On the other matter of right now, Musharraf has directly appealed to his people. He has many, many leaders of all sorts of elements of society here, from religious to tribal to intellectuals to academics, politicians, everyone, to convince them that his decision was the only decision he could have made for Pakistan's good.

And so far, that appears to be -- the people appear to be buying it, except for that small minority, who at the moment are being sort of riled up by their religious leaders to have demonstrations and to oppose this. And, of course, the military situation hasn't yet happened, and we wait to see whether that public sentiment, which is mostly now pro-Musharraf changes.

BROWN: Christiane, thank you. Christiane Amanpour in Pakistan, where it is already tomorrow morning. We have much more on this special report. We will take a short break and be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: A quick look at some of the other developments in the ongoing investigation.

Federal prosecutors have charged a man with helping hijackers fraudulently obtain Virginia identification cards. They say Herbert Villalobos signed papers in August certifying that at least one of the hijackers lived in Virginia.

The FBI says its investigation of the crash site of United Airlines flight 93, the one in western Pennsylvania, is now complete. 95 percent of the plane has been recovered and turned over to the airline, except for the flight data and voice recorders. They are still being analyzed by the FBI. 44 people died in that crash.

After one of the worst weeks in it's history last week, the markets bounced off the floor today. A very good day after a very, very bad week.

The numbers: the Dow jumped 368 points, that's the fifth-largest point gain ever. Nasdaq up 76. And the S&P, which measures the broad market, up over 37 points. All told about $400 billion in market value was restored today, and that would leave just a trillion dollars to go to get the market back to where it was on the morning of September 11th, just a trillion dollars.

CNN Financial News reporter Christine Romans is here now with more on the market today. Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a big day. It was a broad-based rally, strong across the board. Only a few defensive type names moving back. Oil stocks moving lower because of the drop in oil prices. But most for the most part when you tallied up the pros and cons of the market today, the pros won out and they took this thing higher. It was the best rally we have seen since April.

BROWN: It's so easy, Christine, to talk about yesterday. Talk about tomorrow.

ROMANS: Well, that's the big question: is there going to be follow through? That's what everyone wants to know. There were some big Wall Street strategist out there today saying stand up, buy stocks, now's the time. Even if stocks go lower, you're going to be happier in five years or ten years that you were buying stocks now at these levels. That's easy to say, when people have been trying to so-called pick the bottom in the stock market for some time now and they've been burned all the way down. So, you've got to watch for the follow through. That's key.

BROWN: Was there -- did the market's action -- I don't want to sound like I actually know what I'm talking about here, but did the market's act tell us anything about tomorrow? It didn't finish at it's top. Does that mean anything?

ROMANS: It didn't finish at it's top, but it held on pretty well. The S&P 500 closed above the 1000 mark, barely, by about three points or something, but that's important to watch. We're going to get some more indicators. We're going to get consumer confidence numbers and chain store sales that are going to give us a good read if consumers stayed at home and were watching television and weren't out spending.

We've heard from Walmart that their sales are on-track. That's important, because that's a good gauge of the consumer. We want to see the consumer staying in there, but Walmart was sell things like food and flags and ribbon. We want so see that broaden out. We want to see the consumer still strong. That's two-thirds of economy, consumer spending.

BROWN: Just 20 second after the bell, AOL/Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, announced that it was going to miss it's mark. Wall Street factor that in? Do we...

ROMANS: Stock was trading lower by about a buck-and-a-half in after-hours trading. We'll watch it to see if they get some downside. Remember, these stocks have come down considerably, so we have to wonder if the worst of third quarter is already factored into some of these names.

BROWN: Christine, thank you. Christine Romans, covering the market today.

Other numbers here, and they're not very pleasant. The number of people missing in the World Trade Center disaster increased again today. The number now stands at 6,453; 120 more than yesterday.

Workers at the disaster site have recovered the bodies of 276 people. 206 of those have been identified.

The statistics are one way to get a handle on this terrible story. One way, not the only way. The pictures themselves, perhaps, even more powerful. And today CNN's Gary Tuchman got a look at the very center of the devastation.

Actually, when I flew over it, I wondered about that, literally a hole in the center.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It looks like, Aaron, that a meteorite came from the sky and blasted earth. It is one of mote incredible sights. It's the second time I've been there. It took me aback when I was there the day after. I came back the second time, it took me aback one more time again.

BROWN: We've got pictures of what saw here.

TUCHMAN: When you go to the site, the first thing you see is more than 2,000 worker on the scene, and their most important priority right now is trying to find air pocket under the ground, because that's where survivors could potentially be. They tell us, and this surprised me, that there are literally hundreds of these air pockets. Some are as big a room. Others are very tiny. They bring dogs down there, they bring cameras down there, and then when it's deemed safe, people go down there to look to see if they can find anybody.

BROWN: It's been two weeks now, two full weeks. And -- do they expect or are they just living on hope and prayer here?

TUCHMAN: There is no evidence whatsoever there are any survivors down there. They haven't seen anything or heard anything. But, they do believe it's still a possibility and that's why they're trying.

What your looking at right here is a stairwell and, unfortunately, today this is where they found many bodies. Imagine the confusion in that stairwell. The day this happened, people were trying to run down, firefighters were trying to run up and what they have found are bodies, civilians and firefighters, in that stairwell.

And it's just an overwhelming scene. It's just so hard to believe. One other, Aaron, I want to tell you about. We've seen things that just don't make sense. This is in World Trade Center tower number five. It's a doughnut shop. The doughnut shop is heavily damaged, but inside the doughnut shop, we still see the doughnuts sitting on backer's rack, looking like they're ready for sale. The building around it is heavily damaged, and the doughnuts just sit there.

BROWN: That is unbelievable.

TUCHMAN: It just -- very hard to look that all this.

BROWN: I'm a Midwestern and lived around a lot of tornadoes and tornadoes would do erratic and crazy things. And sometimes you would see things like that. But that is striking.

TUCHMAN: I'm a Midwesterner too. I remember being in the basement for tornado warnings, seeing the damage it did, and that's kind of what it looked it.

BROWN: Thank you, Gary. Gary Tuchman joins us tonight. Thank you.

Lower Manhattan, of course, best known as a financial community. But over the past decade or so, it's also become a neighborhood where New Yorkers have come to live, raise their families. Most of those people still struggling to get back into their homes tonight, almost two full weeks after the disaster.

With more on this part of the extraordinary cleanup, CNN's Beth Nissen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BETH NISSEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Damon Gersh is busy, he's the president of Maxons Restorations, the largest disaster clean up company in Manhattan.

DAMON GERSH, MAXONS RESTORATIONS: Ten four. I understand they opened ten buildings over in Battery Park City, so I except an onslaught today.

NISSEN: His company already has clean up crews working in 500 apartments in lower Manhattan, working to remove a heavy coating of fine dust from windows, sofas, floors, tabletops, windowsills.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Look at that.

GERSH: You can feel, it's a gritty concrete dust. Every thing that the World Trade Center was constructed of is in this material.

NISSEN: A mix of pulverized concrete, particles of glass, steel, asbestos, ash and soot. The collapse of the World Trade Center towers blew more than two million tons of dust and debris into the air in an immense, dense plume.

GERSH: That plume was so big, it just went through every building. It went through convectors, it went through elevator shafts, it came in through air duct systems. It goes into the upholstery. It'll be in computers, fax machines, stereo equipment, in closets. It's on people's clothing. It's going to be in kitchen cabinets. We haven't seen anything that wasn't covered in dust.

NISSEN: Buildings adjacent to the World Trade Centers were hardest hit. This apartment looked out at the South Tower, and now looks out at what's left of it.

Three inches of dust and debris make the room into a 21st century Pompeii. Maxons' clean up workers are undaunted by even this level of destruction.

GERSH: When we see a really badly damaged apartment, we say, OK, we can clean this up, and let's get to work.

NISSEN: Their work is laborious. The heaviest debris is shoveled out or vacuumed up. Every surface is repeatedly wiped with specially treated sponges and cloths, and finally polished.

It took this worker 11 minutes to clean one nightstand.

It is taking an average of 12 hours for a team of five to clean a small one-bedroom apartment. Average cost, $1,500, usually paid by building management, or owner's insurance.

Those who try to save money by doing clean up themselves are often frustrated. Dust rags and household vacuum cleaners are not up to the task. GERSH: If they try to use their own vacuum cleaner, it's going to get pulled in one side and actually blown into the atmosphere out of the other side.

NISSEN: Industrial vacuums trap the dust. The dust has settled thickly even in apartments like this one, several blocks from the World Trade Center.

Hard surfaces can be scrubbed. Many cloth items, stuffed toys, pillows, mattresses, are so permeated by dust, they must be thrown away.

Still, most residents are determined to get the job done, and soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to come back, I want to be in my neighborhood, I want to be with my neighbors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, MAXONS RESTORATIONS: We want to make them comfortable again. I mean, there's no place like home, so that's where people want to be. And we want to give that back to them.

NISSEN: That's a huge job. More than 270,000 people live in southern Manhattan in the area surrounding ground zero.

GERSH: From those buildings collapsing, you have dust and debris covering all of lower Manhattan. All of these buildings, this one, that one, this one, office buildings, residential buildings, all of these are going to have to be cleaned.

NISSEN: One windowsill, one lamp shade, one book at a time.

Beth Nissen, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Tomorrow, New Yorkers will vote in the first phase of choosing a new mayor. A primary campaign, a primary vote that was put off because of the disaster. Some say they'd like to keep the Mayor they have. But can Rudy run? And will he try? We'll talk about it in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: In the first few days following the terror attacks, Rudy Giuliani was asked if he wanted to extend his term as mayor. It ends at the end of the year. He laughed.

He did not laugh today at a press conference filled with persistent reporters. New York's mayor is now clearly thinking about it. His friends want him to do it. Many in his wounded city do as well. Today, the Mayor was keeping his plans to himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK: It is true that I have a future. I don't know what it is yet, and therefore I don't have announcement about it. I have not, I have not had time to think about it. And until I have time to think about it, I really can't talk about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: We're joined now by Mort Zuckerman, the publisher of " The Daily News". The cover story today: "Rudy Wants To Stay" said the cover of "The Daily News." He's also the editor of "U.S. News and World Report." And columnist Michael Wolff from "New York" magazine.

Good evening to both of you.

Any doubt in your mind that Rudy wants to stay? We all call him Rudy -- the mayor wants to stay?

MORT ZUCKERMAN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": Not in the slightest. I think if there is way that he can become mayor for the third term, that's exactly what he wants to do.

BROWN: Any doubt in your mind, Michael, that he wants to stay?

MICHAEL WOLFF, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: Not in the least. To me, this is -- I put my head in my hands that this is just another -- this going to be just another Rudy moment.

BROWN: What do you mean, a Rudy moment?

WOLFF: This is a man, who at this point in his career, could probably have any office he wants in this country, except for one; to be the mayor of New York again.

BROWN: But the mayor of New York, I mean, the guy, in some ways, you think was born to be mayor of New York.

WOLFF: Absolutely. Certainly, he thinks he was born to be.

BROWN: Do you think it's a good idea?

ZUCKERMAN: Well, you know, this city has just been in a world- class train wreck, car wreck, and somebody took the very badly damaged driver and kind of got him on the road to recovery. And when you see how well he has done that, you kind of don't want to lose the pilot, so to speak, at this stage of the game. The guy who has sort of been really pulling this city back on to its feet.

And therefore, I think people recognize what extraordinary ability he has, what extraordinary stature he has. And given the fact that the city is going to be facing a very difficult time as we go forward, well beyond the end of his current term. I think there's a huge sense that he is the man of the hour; that nobody else who is going to be running, or who is running, has anywhere close -- not only to the experience he that he has, but to the stature that he has.

And so I think as we look forward to the future, nobody want to give up the mayor whom they think has brought them through an extraordinarily difficult time. BROWN: I'm not sure nobody wants to give him up. Michael?

WOLFF: I would be delighted give him up, yes.

BROWN: You think it's a bad idea.

WOLFF: Well, I actually it's -- I actually agree with everything that Mort said. This has been -- this has been just an incredible period, certainly for -- I mean, for all of us in all ways -- but certainly for Rudy's time as mayor.

But, but, the you law says he cannot run. And what we do know, only thing that we know, is that you don't replace inconvenient laws with convenient laws just because they are convenient to you. He can't do it.

BROWN: Twice, I believe, the city has voted for term limits, right?

ZUCKERMAN: Yes. I mean, I think there are ways of getting around this. I mean, whether they will happen or not is another thing.

BROWN: Well, but -- one of the things that would have to happen is the law would have to happen is that the law would be have to repealed.

ZUCKERMAN: That's right, and the question is, what would cause the politicians, a number of whom would not like -- particularly the Democrats in the Assembly -- would not like to see him, a Republican, control City Hall. What is going to prompt them and force them, really, to change?

And what will do that is if he gets, in effect, if he gets a line on the, on the vote, the ballot, for the final election and he gets a huge majority, it's going to be a different kind of ball game, because at that point, whatever they may thing, they're going to be under great public pressure to change.

WOLFF: But what you would have, what it would come down, in the end, is another election in this country decided in the courtroom. And I just think that no one is going to have any patience for that whatsoever.

BROWN: I saw a poll today, and it's a few days old maybe the numbers have significantly changed since then, but only about, in this poll, only about a third of New Yorkers thought it was a good idea, anyway, for the mayor to run again.

So, for all of what has gone on, and he's gotten enormous attention and he has performed admirably, there is still a kind of unease with the idea that he would stay on.

ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think the unease, at least in the poll that I saw, where something like 91 percent gave him a good or excellent rating -- so, he has very high approval ratings. But also, only about a third were willing to change the term limits law. And I guess if he manages to get on the ballot, we're going to find how just how strongly they feel about for or against the man being mayor for the third term.

As I said, I think the city has gone through an extraordinary trauma and he guided the city with a quality of leadership that almost no one thought he had. Not just the tough-minded part, which everybody knew he had, but the balance of that with a certain kind of empathy and compassion for the people who have been hurt. And I think he has really transformed himself in the last couple of weeks and is really an extraordinarily -- a remarkable political figure.

BROWN: I've got literally ten seconds: yes or no. Do you think that it will happen, Michael?

WOLFF: Absolutely not.

BROWN: And Mort, you think it'll happen?

ZUCKERMAN: I think there's a 50/50 chance it will happen.

BROWN: 50/50?

ZUCKERMAN: Yeah.

BROWN: thank you both. I suspect, then, we'll revisit this.

ZUCKERMAN: Yeah.

BROWN: Nice to see you both.

WOLFF: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you. The election, the first phase of the primaries, as we said, is tomorrow and on this program we'll take a look and how it shakes out as well. We have more to do tonight. We'll take a break and be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: One more note for this hour. We came across this item this afternoon: the House of Representatives has established a subcommittee on Homeland Defense. And among the members named to that committee, a California Democrat, Gary Condit. And you thought you'd never hear his name again.

CNN's coverage of "America's New War" continues after this break.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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