CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS
America's New War: Target Terrorism
Aired September 27, 2001 - 19:00 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.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight on Wolf Blitzer Reports: Target Terrorism. What if it happens again? New rules will have the military move faster if it must shoot down hijacked commercial airliners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. HUGH SHELTON, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Don't get the impression that anyone that's flying around out there has a loose trigger finger. That's not the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do not surrender your freedoms, get on board: that message from President Bush as he announces new security measures and tries to assure the American people it's safe to fly. We'll take a close look at the president's inner circle. Who are they? How are they influencing strategy in America's new war? And do they speak with one voice?
Also, news from the frontlines. We'll go to Nic Robertson live from the Afghan-Pakistan border.
And what do America's European allies bring to the table? I'll talk to the president of the European Union.
Good evening to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting tonight from Washington.
We'll get to President Bush's new proposal to tighten airline security shortly. But first, here are the latest developments as America targets terrorism.
Federal agents have arrested eight more people accused of fraudulently getting licenses to transport hazardous materials. That makes 18 people arrested on those charges in the last two days. Meanwhile Justice Department officials have released pictures of the 19 men they suspect of hijacking the four planes on September 11th. Five of them are believed to have been on American Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, including the suspected ringleader, Mohamed Atta. Five are also have been on United Flight 175, also from Boston to Los Angeles, and on American Flight 77 from Dulles Airport outside Washington to L.A. -- that's the flight that crashed into the Pentagon. And these are the four men authorities suspect of hijacking United Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco, which crashed in Pennsylvania.
Investigators say they hope that releasing these pictures will result in more tips.
Now to our top story -- safety in the skies. The Bush administration has put a new shootdown policy in place for hijacked jetliners. Word of this policy comes as a day that President Bush is urging Americans to return to the skies.
We'll get more on that now from CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King -- John.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the president had a flag-waving crowd of airline workers in Chicago today as he unveiled his new safety proposals. Two messages, one to the Congress: act on this plan quickly. The second one to the American people. He urged them to get back on planes soon saying that it was not only critical to help the U.S. economy but to send a message to the terrorists.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: And one of the great goals of this nation's war is to restore public confidence in the airline industry, and to tell the traveling public, get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots.
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KING: The president urged governors to immediately deploy the National Guard to beef up airport security while an array of permanent security measures are implemented. Armed federal sky marshals and more secure cockpit doors soon will be one legacy of September 11th. Another will be setting more of the nation's airspace off limits to planes. Keeping the military on alert to police violations. Airspace over the White House and the Capitol has long been off limits, but new government rules will restrict more airspace over things like dams, power plants, and other, quote, "key industrial assets and areas that are important to protect national security."
Before September 11th, pilots risked fines and losing their licenses if they wandered into restricted airspace. Now planes will be subject to military intercept and an administration memo describing the new rules says failure to follow instructions then, quote, "could result in the use of deadly force."
The Pentagon and the new regulations make clear use of lethal force is a last resort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHELTON: The last thing in the world that one of them wants to do is engage a commercial aircraft. So don't get the impression that anyone is flying around up there has a loose trigger finger. That's not the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Now the authority to shoot down commercial airliners rests with the president, but for now Mr. Bush has delegated that authority if he can't be reached to the Air Force. That has some in Congress nervous, Wolf. They want to discuss with the administration just how those rules work. They want the president to put that decision-making authority a little further up the military command -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, John, on that flight, there seems to be a very fine line the administration is walking, the president is walking between balancing national security requirements and trying to keep the economy robust if it's possible in the short term to get the economy going. How does he manage to do that in the short term?
KING: Exactly right and there's no easy answer, Wolf. That's the administration's response. On the one hand, they want tough new security measures, including in the short term National Guard troops at airports, still combat air patrols in the sky. In some ways that could make passengers feel more safe and get them back on planes, in other ways it might make them feel more alarmed. Why is there armed National Guard at my airport if they say it's safe to fly?
The administration says there are no easy answers here. The president, his advisers and as this debate moves to Congress, trying to do the best they can to strike a very difficult balance -- Wolf.
BLITZER: John King at the White House. Thank you very much.
For more now on how the new shootdown orders would work, we're joined by CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre. He's live at the Pentagon.
Jamie, you were briefed on these new orders. Tell us your understanding of how they would work.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the main thing is, Wolf, President Bush still is the one who has the authority to take the extraordinary step of ordering a U.S. military jet to down a domestic airliner or other civilian plane. What he did, though, what they realized was after the September 11th incident, there was no back-up plan if the president either couldn't be reached for some unexplainable reason or if there simply wasn't enough time for the president to absorb and react. In that case, they put up a backup plan.
A four-star general in charge of the U.S. space command will be authorized to make that decision if he had to, and if he wasn't available as a backup to him, a two-star general who's the commander of all U.S. air forces, the first U.S. Air Force, which is responsible for protecting the nation, would be able to make the call.
But Pentagon officials stress it would only be under extraordinary circumstances in which it was clear that there was an attack under way, that there was potential for great death like you saw September 11th and there really was no time to bring the president into the decision. But all of the effort, again, is aimed at increasing the procedures so that no one has to make that decision. BLITZER: Jamie, these air patrols that we've seen flying over major cities like Washington and New York, how much longer are they going to continue or are they going to continue forever?
MCINTYRE: Well, they're going to continue certainly for the near future. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said today that those patrols were putting stresses on the force, and that they were rotating in some cases, they were keeping the planes just on the ground on strip alert. But they have been providing combat patrols, particularly in the New York and Washington areas, and that's going to continue for at least a while.
BLITZER: Jamie, what's the latest on the deployment front as well as call-ups as far as Reservists and National Guard troops are concerned?
MCINTYRE: Well, deployments are still continuing in the sense of U.S. troops moving overseas and getting in position and that's all under a veil of secrecy. The Pentagon today did release more of the unit identifications that are being called up as part of the overall Reserve call-up of 35,000 troops, bringing the number today to around 16,200 that have now been notified. Most of the ones that were called up today were security forces, particularly forces that provide security for air, airports and even overseas airstrips.
BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, once again. Thank you very much.
And a short while ago, I spoke with CNN military analyst, the retired NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark about the military front in this new war on terrorism.
BLITZER: General, thanks very much for joining us. First of all, based on what you know -- readiness, the military -- is the U.S. military ready to strike if ordered at any specific point?
RET. GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FORMER SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, NATO: Well, I think we're certainly ready if we had to strike with aircraft. Whether we're prepared to do something on the ground or not is not clear to me and I think that's an advantage. I'd like it not to be clear to our adversaries either.
BLITZER: "The Washington Post" reported earlier today that strikes did not appear to be imminent. I take it that's what other people are, other news organizations are reporting as well.
CLARK: I think that's a sound reading right now based on every piece of publicly available information, and if there's, if it is a sound reading, it's probably because we want to be very sure before we strike that we know exactly what we're striking. We want to get the best possible collection of information. We want to sift through that to develop the best possible targets. We want to strike them in the best possible way and narrow the focus and strike precisely as close to the heart of this terrorist network as possible. BLITZER: The key to success, many experts have pointed out, would be good intelligence, based on public information out there it would not appear that the United States at least at this point has excellent intelligence on what's happening on the ground in Afghanistan.
CLARK: Well, we've never had excellent information in the past and it seems now that we are deploying the assets and we're making the relationships solid that will give us a very good chance to get good information. But we won't get perfect information until we have our own eyes on the ground and that may take some time.
BLITZER: In other words, what you're saying is the satellite reconnaissance photography, the electronic interceptors, not necessarily all that essential. Right now it's important, but what you really need is the human intelligence: good assets on the ground.
CLARK: That's right. You need to now only identify who it is that you're going against and where they've been, but you need predictive intelligence as to where they'll be and you need to track them so that you can bring your force to bear against them.
BLITZER: There have been widespread, there've been widespread sense that Pakistan, especially the Pakistan military, has the best intelligence of what's happening in Afghanistan on the ground. But how reliable is the information they provide based on the fact that they probably have their own agenda at least at stake right now as well?
CLARK: Well, there are many agendas at work in Pakistan and they've been big supporters. Their intelligence service has been a big supporter of the Taliban and no doubt some of the people there are still supporting the Taliban and perhaps even know of the connections with Osama bin Laden. And so any time information is received, it has to be evaluated as to its reliability from whatever source it comes. And I'm sure we're in the process of doing that. I hope that the information is highly reliable from Pakistan because they have, really they have the most to lose in this.
BLITZER: The other fear that some U.S. officials have expressed to me, some information that the United States passes on to Pakistan may be compromised given the fact that Islamic fundamentalists support for the Taliban, if not for Osama bin Laden, could be within Pakistan itself, especially within military, perhaps in military intelligence.
CLARK: Well, that's exactly right and that's why the information that will be passed on about what we might do and when we might do it and how we might do it will be very, very closely guarded. Even during the campaign in Kosovo, we were very careful to protect in close channels exactly what it was and what targets the aircraft would be going for and when. So it's one thing to know the target array and it's another thing to know the means of attacking it.
BLITZER: General, tell us why it's so important for the United States to include Islamic and Arab nations as part of the military coalition that's being assembled. CLARK: Well, it is important, Wolf, because this is a campaign strategically in which Osama bin Laden would like to set the West, and particularly the United States, at odds with the Islamic world. He'd like to be able to do that in order to rally more support for his cause and perhaps to go after moderate Arab regimes, including the regime in Saudi Arabia, which is closely aligned with the United States. And so what we want to do, we want to have the broadest possible coalition and the greatest possible support from Islamic nations to turn against this perversion that Osama bin Laden and his organization have started here. So we don't want it to be a campaign of the West against Islam. Rather, it's a campaign of all civilized people against some people who've done very terrible things.
BLITZER: General Clark, once again, thank you very much for joining us.
BLITZER: And just as it did during the buildup to the Persian Gulf War, diplomacy is playing a critical role in the current administration's current strategy in its war on terrorism.
CNN State Department Correspondent Andrea Koppel joins us now live to update us on those efforts -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as we've already seen in the last couple of weeks since the coalition-building began in full force, securing the unconditional support of the international community comes with a price.
KOPPEL (voice-over): The war on terrorism has fast become the new centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy. It's already changed the way the Bush Administration views the world and interacts with it.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: As you know we're deeply engaged in the Middle East.
KOPPEL: Case in point, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Arab leaders have made clear progress is essential to sustain their support. And that is why administration officials tell CNN Secretary Powell and others have stepped up pressure on Israel to ease up on the Palestinians.
In Chechnya, before the September 11th attacks, the Bush administration had resisted Russian claims Islamic terrorists were driving the conflict, but now in exchange for Russia's help in securing support from Central Asian states and financing Afghan rebels fighting the Taliban, the Bush administration has changed its tune.
BUSH: We do believe there's some Al Qaeda folks in Chechnya.
KOPPEL: And in the case of Pakistan, economic sanctions imposed after nuclear tests and a military coup are now gone. A reward for Pakistan's support in the new war. And in an effort to build a broad coalition the Bush administration has sought out and won the support of 46 international organizations and has also signaled its willingness to work with countries it considers state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Sudan, Syria and even Iran.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: But I am concerned about trade-offs. When you form very large coalitions, you in fact end up making a lot of compromises.
KOPPEL: But the Bush administration says although the war is a new priority, it hasn't eclipsed other concerns.
POWELL: I can assure you that we are able to cover all the other bases and recognize that the United States has global responsibilities.
KOPPEL: But clearly, Wolf, the administration has reshuffled its priorities and made new issues, key issues for them, top priority, and it's going to have to change the way it does business around the world as a result. What we don't know is what the effect will be on issues like international treaties, the Kyoto global warming accord, the germ warfare treaty, issues and treaties that the administration had previously shunned. We just don't know. Maybe they'll be forced to change their mind.
BLITZER: But Andrea, I think it's fair to say based on your reporting that the ramifications of this shift could be pretty significant.
KOPPEL: Absolutely, and that concerns many, especially in the human rights community. When you look at whether it be China's proliferation, its treatment of the Falun Gong, of many of its own people. Some say that there could be, as you know, you have to make a deal on issues like that. Certainly issues that we had heard a lot about before -- remember national missile defense -- well, we haven't heard about that in the last couple of weeks. That's because there's been an about-face, a change in the way the Bush administration views its top priorities -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Andrea Koppel, doing some good reporting at the State Department. Thank you once again.
And up next, the president makes the tough calls on America's new war. But behind the scenes, his top advisers help shape his decisions. Coming up, find out who the president looks to as the nation looks to him and signs of support in Pakistan for a crackdown on terrorism. We'll have the latest live from the region. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back. As the president targets terrorism he relies on counsel from his well-seasoned inner circle. But are Mr. Bush's closest advisers speaking with one voice?
Here's CNN Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Rice. Separately they have racked up decades of serving Republican presidents from the Cold War to the Vietnam War to the Gulf War. Together they're one of the most experienced foreign policy teams in history, advising a president new to the global arena facing a new kind of war.
In late December, he viewed what he had put together and pronounced it good.
BUSH: General Powell's a strong figure and Dick Cheney's no shrinking violet. But neither is Don Rumsfeld nor Condi Rice. I view the four as being able to complement each other.
CROWLEY: Over time, the four pillars of the new construct against terrorism have crossed each other's paths and served in each other's jobs. During the Gulf War, the current vice president was the defense secretary. Secretary of State Colin Powell, the nation's chief diplomat, was then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the nation's top warrior. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the oldest of Bush's power quartet, worked in the Nixon administration in 1969. His deputy was Dick Cheney.
The commonality of experience and differing roles has led to both rivalry and understanding. Powell is a soldier and knows the limits of warfare, particularly against the unknown.
POWELL: It isn't always blunt force military, although that is certainly an option. It may well be that diplomatic efforts, political efforts, legal, financial, other efforts may be just as effective against that kind of an enemy.
CROWLEY: Rumsfeld on his second tour of duty as defense secretary is a close-mouthed, tough and savvy administrator, tasked with preparing for war.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: But I'm inclined to think that if you're going to cock it you throw it and you don't talk about it a lot.
CROWLEY: Looking for ways to bring nations together and preparing for war are often opposing tasks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL: One question and then we have to leave it.
QUESTION: Did you discuss at all how close you might be rounding up Osama bin Laden?
POWELL AND RUMSFELD: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: But despite talk of friction between these two alpha males, there is little sign of it in public and in private, the president long ago invited it.
BUSH: There's going to be disagreements. I hope there is disagreement, because I know the disagreement will be based upon solid thought.
CROWLEY: Less public, but no less the players, Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who enjoy the most treasured of Washington assets: proximity. Sources say Cheney, who fought a war with Powell and has a 30-year relationship with Rumsfeld, is the natural bridge in any nuanced difficulties between the two. Rice, the president's foreign policy tutor during the campaign, is with him most often and knows best what's on the president's mind.
Said one source, Condi's a contemporary, the president's most comfortable with her. But when the four are together, the source added, it's Powell who dominates.
(on camera): A friend of Rumsfeld and Powell says any friction there is more institutional than personal. If you talk to Don and Colin, says the source, they're fine. Adds another source, they talk to each other daily and neither hides the football from the other.
Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
BLITZER: President Bush's circle of advisers includes people with a highly varied range of backgrounds in addition to military expertise. CNN national security correspondent David Ensor joins us now for a closer look at these individuals.
David, you've looked at the dynamics of this relationship. You've covered it. You've dealt with these inner circle, the top advisers. How much, if at all, has it changed among themselves since the September 11th attack?
DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the pressure is on, Wolf. This is a very, very tough campaign, and they know it's going to be a long one. Seasoned though they may be with previous wars, this is a war like no other, a campaign like no other.
There's a huge role for intelligence. They're seeing a lot of CIA Director George Tenet over at the White House -- as the president put it, spending quality time with the president -- both because of intelligence and because of his knowledge of some key players in the Middle East.
And there's a second row of pillars as Candy pointed out. There's Deputy National Security Adviser Steve Hadley. There's the chief of staff of the vice president, Lewis Libby, so there's a lot of key people involved in this. It's a very high-stakes game, so there has been a certain amount of debate amongst them, and although it's a disciplined Republican team that doesn't like to air its linen in public, at least one of the debates has come out into the open.
Early on after September 11th, you say Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz arguing that there should be a broad campaign against any state that has sponsored terrorism. Here is how he put it and here is how Secretary Powell, who disagreed, responded to a reporter a few days later.
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PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think one has to say it's not simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism. And that's why it has to be a broad and sustained campaign. It's not going to stop because a few criminals are taken care of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL: Last week, Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz used a phrase ending regimes that sponsor terrorism. No administration official has repeated that formula. Are we really after ending regimes or are we simply going to try to change? We're apprehending terrorism, and if there are states and regimes, nations that support terrorism we hope to persuade them that it's in their interest to stop doing that. But I think ending terrorism is where I would like to leave it. Let Mr. Wolfowitz speak for himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ENSOR: And that is where the administration has left it so far, although as senior White House officials say this is going to be a very long campaign.
One other difference of opinion, one other debate has been over whether to go after the Taliban government, and just have a regime change in Afghanistan. So far, officials are arguing it's Al Qaeda, it's Osama bin Laden, and in fact, Secretary Rumsfeld said that if it came to it they'd work with members of the Taliban to get bin Laden.
BLITZER: So what does all this mean in terms of the future of the war on terrorism?
ENSOR: They are settling in for a very long campaign. One official said to me tonight they will pick off the people who did this in New York and Washington if necessary one by one. And if they're still doing it by the time the president has to run for re-election, so be it.
BLITZER: David Ensor, once again, thank you very much. And coming up next a live report from Pakistan where Afghans seeking refuge are being stopped at the border. And more on the report that soldiers may be abandoning the Taliban. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Let's take another look at some of the latest developments now in America's new war. New York City's Fire Department wants to triple the number of recruits in its next training class. The attacks on the World Trade Center Towers left more than 340 dead or missing.
On the money trail, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill reports some progress in finding and freezing the assets of the prime suspect in the attacks, Osama bin Laden.
And on the diplomatic front, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson says he is considering an invitation from the Taliban to travel to Afghanistan to try to negotiate a peace deal.
Today Pakistanis rallied around a national day of solidarity while across the border in Afghanistan, there is word the Taliban regime may be losing some of its men.
CNN's Nic Robertson joins us now from Quetta, Pakistan with more. Nic, tell us the latest. What's going on?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, these could be the first indications of divisions within the Taliban ranks. We understand from reports coming from inside Afghanistan that there were fewer checkpoints than there might have been on other days. The reports saying as well that perhaps low-level and mid-level Taliban soldiers deserting their posts. Report also that a governor of a province within Afghanistan, a province close to Pakistan, had written a letter to Mullah Mohammed Omar asking him to make sure that there were no Arabic troops, no Arabic fighters in his province.
Now we talked with a Taliban officials earlier about this. They said they couldn't confirm or deny that there could be defections. And they said that could be in some of the eastern provinces of Afghanistan.
However they did say, in the south around stronghold their heartland of Kandahar, they said they believed that they still had a lot of support behind. However, they said that their government, the Taliban government, is concerned about these rumors of defections at this time -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And what about in Pakistan today, the latest developments there on the Pakistani front, support, opposition, to President Musharraf and his decision go along with the United States?
ROBERTSON: Yes, thousands of people coming out on the streets of several cities in Pakistan today. People calling themselves the silent majority. They came out they said to show their support for President Musharraf, to show their support for the United States and President Musharraf's decision to back to United States in their war on terrorism. These were demonstrators who were in favor of the government. It was, in many cases, government organized demonstrations, very unlike the demonstrations we've seen in Pakistan in recent weeks. There were no burnings of U.S. flags. There were no burnings of effigies of President Bush.
This was a pro-America, pro-President Musharraf, pro-Pakistan's official government position. This was very much a positive signal and a positive message for the government of Pakistan -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And Nic, from your vantage point along the border with Afghanistan, how serious is this humanitarian crisis that's exploding, namely the refugees flowing out of Afghanistan or at least trying to get out of the country?
ROBERTSON: U.N. officials are concerned that it could grow to very large proportions, perhaps as many as a million coming towards Pakistan. They do not, the U.N. does not have a good concrete assessment of exactly what is going on inside Afghanistan at this time. They don't have access.
International U.N. workers cannot get inside Afghanistan. They're not even allowed at this time by Pakistani officials to have good access at the borders. But what they are being told is that perhaps 10 to 20,000 refugees beginning to build up on the other sides, the Afghan side of the border.
Pakistani officials still not allowing the refugees to come into Pakistan. They say that they need valid paperwork. However, Pakistani government says it will on case-by-case allow in people whose humanitarian, whose health conditions are deteriorating on the other side -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson, along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Quetta. Thank you very much once again.
And protesters took to the streets of Iraq's capital today, with much of their anger aimed at the United States. Demonstrators burned American and Israeli flags. They condemned Israel's policy toward the Palestinians and U.S. support for Israel.
And from Iraq's government, more denials of U.S. claims that it sponsors terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Those who are accusing Iraq are the war mongers in Washington. We know them very well. They want to create false pretext to attack Iraq or to hurt Iraq in any way, but Iraq is very well-known, is very well-known in the region and the Middle East, and in Europe, that Iraq is not a country that harbors terrorists or resorts to terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Iraqi leaders say they're sorry for the deaths caused by the terrorist attacks on the United States, but they will not express condolences to the U.S. government.
It's a key player in the coalition Washington is trying to build. So how will the European Union help the U.S. as it targets terrorism? We'll ask the current president of the European Council. An interview with Belgian Prime Minister when we come back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. European support is critical for the United States, as it targets terrorism.
Joining us now is the Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for joining us. You met with President Bush today.
How far is the European Union prepared to go in supporting the United States' fight on terrorism?
GUY VERHOFSTADT, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN UNION: Yes, we have already indicated with -- unanimously with the European council and with other countries, because our conclusions were backed by 28 European states that first of all, that the action of U.S. in our point of view, is legitimate based on the 1368 Resolution of the Security Council.
Secondly, that we want to participate in such actions, if these actions are focused targets. And I think I repeated today this very clear statement of the European Union and from the other countries.
BLITZER: So you support the United States engaging in military action. Will the Europeans join the United States in direct focused, as you say, targeted military action?
VERHOFSTADT: What they have done today with the president is I have asked him a list of what we could do. And it could be on different levels, military if necessary, but there has to be a demand, the request of United States.
Secondly, on the diplomatic field, there is much to do. Also, in fighting terrorism, in fighting the terrorist organizations, for example, in freezing their assets. And we are doing that for the moment inside the 15 member countries of European Union.
So he indicated to me that he shall put to me, to transfer to me, a list of what we can do. And it shall be help on different levels and on different matters.
BLITZER: Whether it's economic, intelligence, diplomatic, or military. That list has not yet been presented. When do you anticipate...
VERHOFSTADT: I hope to -- I offered to him, I hope that I can receive it in the next days. Because certainly, it's important that we have this list for the cooperation between the police forces, to have this list for cooperation between the different agencies who are responsible for the information. And also, again I repeat it, to freeze the assets of the terrorist organizations.
BLITZER: As you know, here in Washington, the Bush administration has no doubt that Osama Bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization were responsible for the attacks on September 11. Is there any doubt in Europe?
VERHOFSTADT: Maybe there are some doubts in Europe. But every information that we have on this question, on this issue, is very clear, Bin Laden is the origin of these attacks. And I think what's now is important that the fastest as possible between the European Union and the United States. There was another proposal put forward to the American president, is that we have joint meetings to have the same fight against terrorism, which -- the same instruments.
We shall introduce a European arrest warrant. We shall make -- create a list of terrorist organizations. We shall have the same definition of terrorism inside the European Union. We shall have joint forces inside Europe poll to fight against terrorism.
And what I have asked to the American president is that in the next future, in the next days, we should have meetings between our political leaders who are responsible for that and the American administration, to have a joint action coordinated.
BLITZER: So as far as the freezing of the assets of Osama Bin Laden and his group, you know about the banks that -- the action that the Bush administration took here. Are European nations, members of the European Union, going to do exactly the same thing?
VERHOFSTADT: There are similar actions at this moment. And there is Monday, a new meeting of the responsibilities of the 15 member states of the European Union, to finalize it and to see what is the outcome of this measure. So normally, we can publish on Monday a figure of the assets that has been frozen by these measures.
BLITZER: Will the coalition, the alliance that the European Union has now with the United States fall apart if the U.S. were to target other places beyond Afghanistan. Let's say Iraq?
VERHOFSTADT: We have always said that it has to be targeted actions, but we have also said that these target actions could be actions against countries that help terrorist organizations and helps Bin Laden. I think what is most important now is that we concentrate on Bin Laden, to concentrate.
BLITZER: But do you believe Bin Laden has received support from other governments, like Iraq, or Iran, or other...
VERHOFSTADT: I don't know. I -- we have not this information. I think what's important for the moment is to concentrate on Bin Laden, is to concentrate on the help that he has received from the Taliban regime because there is evidence.
BLITZER: In the past, he did have refuge in Yemen and Sudan, at least for his operatives. VERHOFSTADT: That's possible, but I think that the most important now is to have actions that they are limited, that are focused, that are targeted. And that's very important, I think, for the whole public opinion, the whole world, that everybody is seeing, that the U.S. is want to find these terrorists who are the origin of these attacks.
BLITZER: Targeted attack. Now I want you to listen to what President Bush said earlier today in defining his vision of this coalition he's putting together. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This coalition will exist to achieve the mission. And I can assure you, our mission will not change to fit any coalitions. America will stand strong. Others will tire and weary I understand that, but not our nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you think the Europeans will tire and weary if this mission gets dicey or dangerous, if you will?
VERHOFSTADT: I don't think so. I think for the first time, I have seen the last years, a very unanimous solidarity of the European Union. It is the first time, I think, that the European Council last Friday has decided on matters of international security. And not only the European Union, but also the candidate member states.
So in total, 28 states in Europe. And it's the first time that it's happening. So I think it's maybe we are living in a new era in the world after what's happened the 11 of September. But certainly, there is also another European Union that has been born the last days and the last weeks.
BLITZER: Guy Verhofstadt, prime minister of Belgium, the president of the European Union visiting Washington. Thank you very much.
VERHOFSTADT: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you. And when we come back, a look at the tools to detect a biological or chemical attack and to protect those caught in the middle. And later, new challenges for the people who cover war, the conflict over information. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. Arrests involving trucking licensed for hazardous materials has sparked new fears that another attack on America might involve chemical or biological weapons.
CNN science correspondent Ann Kellan looks at tools to fight such warfare.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Emergency crews want to quickly assess, detect, and clean up after a chemical or biological attack, and get out safely. An array of products are designed to do just that. This robot from Mesa scopes out a dangerous area before humans go in.
W. DRU MURPHEE, MESA ASSOCIATES: There are three cameras built into the unit to begin with. And then, we have two-way audio communication on the vehicle also.
KELLAN: This low-cost portable sensor under development at Georgia Tech uses lightwaves to scan for poisons in air or water samples, and can hunt for as many as 75 different toxins at a time.
This dustbuster-looking device by Meso Systems is one of the few devices that can suck biological agents, like bacteria and viruses out of the air for testing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It pulls in about 150 liters of air a minute. It pulls the bacteria through. Shoots it through the system right here and dumps it into this liquid cartridge.
KELLAN: That can be taken to a lab. Or if you're in a hurry, these test strips can analyze the liquid at the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within 10-15 minutes we could identify anthrax, if it's anthrax.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first responder, EMT, fireman, policeman, puts in vital information about the patient that he encounters.
KELLAN: In the event someone is poisoned, this Pocket PC developed at Georgia Tech helps crews on the scene identify the contaminant, check off the symptoms, help the computer zero in. In this example the "patient" was likely poisoned by a blistering agent like mustard gas. Protection gear for emergency crews workers is getting better all the time.
(on camera): Now this is what's called a "level A" suit. This one's made by Lakeland Industries. And it offers the highest level of protection against chemical warfare agents. Everything is sealed. You can notice that the gloves, the face. You have to wear a face mask with oxygen to use it. Nothing goes in. Air can go out.
Now you wouldn't want to buy this. This costs about $700, plus you need a 40 hour course to learn how to live in this suit.
(voice-over): Toxic cleanup just got better. A decontamination foam developed at Sandia National Labs can destroy chemical and biological agents in minutes. This simulates how the foam is used at a contaminated site, sprayed on objects, even people. It's not an antidote, but it prevents the agent from spreading, and could neutralize the agent before it infects the people who are poisoned.
PETER BEUCHER, ENVIRODAM TECHNOLOGIES: This foam will moisten and begin to decontaminate, kill these biological, chemical agents. The chances of survival, though, are still going to be problematic. The key is you don't want people exiting out into an urban or small town environment and really spreading the decontaminant. And you also want to give them a chance for survival.
KELLAN: Developers claim because it's a hydrogen peroxide base, there's little irritation to the skin. And it's much less toxic than the chlorine-based products used by the military today. Not all these products are ready for market, but the potential market for them has expanded considerably.
Ann Kellan, CNN, Huntsville, Alabama.
BLITZER: We all watched the September 11 attacks in horror on television. And Americans could see the carnage of war right in their living rooms. Coming up, the dilemma the news media faces as they bring home the images of war.
BLITZER: Welcome back. The Vietnam conflict was the first time the American public could watch the carnage of war on television. But throughout history, news coverage of wars has posed certain challenges.
CNN national correspondent Bruce Morton takes a look.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a war without borders, without big armies or big battles, a war of small units, commandos, parachute drops, codes, bank accounts. How will we cover it? Pretty tough for TV camera crews.
LAIRD ANDERSON, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: How are they going to respond to that? And how are they going to be included in any military operations? My thought is they will not be included.
MORTON: If reporters and cameras can't go along, they must depend on government officials. They promise truth.
RUMSFELD: I don't recall that I've ever lied to the press. I don't intend to. And it seems to me that there will not be reason for it.
MORTON: But you can simply refuse to answer.
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You have the right to ask those questions. I have the responsibility not to answer them.
MORTON: And CNN people at the Pentagon say it's much harder to get information now than before the attacks.
It's an old conflict. In World War II, war correspondents wore uniforms and submitted all stories for censorship. They were part of the war effort. Too much so, some felt later. Korea started with voluntary censorship, then went to the real thing.
In Vietnam, reporters and camera crews traveled freely with just a few common sense rules. Don't report an operation until there's been contact and the enemy knows we're here. So go ahead. But the military felt that didn't work. So the Gulf War coverage was controlled. Pools, lots of briefings, little contact little with the troops.
Some of those briefings got revised after the war, when the military conceded its Smart weapons weren't as smart as they first claimed.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, one Pentagon official said the government had an inherent right to lie when faced with a nuclear disaster. And in 1988, the Pentagon leaked deliberately misleading information about the movements of a U.S. aircraft carrier.
ANDERSON: They'll be a lot of spokesmen. And we are going to have to rely on the good will of public affairs officers at the Pentagon.
MORTON (on camera): A U.S. senator named Hyland Johnson said way back in 1917, "when war comes, the first casualty is truth." War has changed almost totally since then, but he may still be right.
Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
BLITZER: And I'll be back with a look at the day's latest developments in just a moment. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Before we go, we want to update you on some of the latest developments we're following tonight.
Sources tell CNN, President Bush has given mid-level generals the authority to order domestic planes shot down under, "extraordinary circumstances." The President traveled to Chicago today for an airline pep rally, where he promised better security and urged Americans to resume flying. And gridlock eased a bit in Manhattan today, the first day of mandatory carpooling at some entrances to the city. There also appeared to be fewer vehicle inspections.
That's all the time we have tonight. Please stay with CNN throughout the night for continuing coverage of America's new war. I'll see you tomorrow night. Once again, our new time 7:00 p.m. Eastern for our one-hour program. Until then, thanks very much for watching.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. "THE POINT WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN" begins right now.
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