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Target: Terrorism: The Investigation Continues; Intelligence Community Retraces its Steps; How Can Attacks be Prevented?

Aired October 6, 2001 - 12:00   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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I believe that additional terrorist acts are possible. And I believe the kind of attack which we endured shows that the risks of such possibilities are substantial.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DARYN KAGAN, HOST: The painstaking investigation continues. We'll ask former FBI associate director Buck Revell and former terrorism commission chairman Paul Bremer about the leads, the arrests and the unique challenges of this case.

Then, the nation's intelligence community retraces its steps. We'll speak to a CIA insider about what happened and what's next.

And later, California Representative Nancy Pelosi outlines a congressional plan to prevent these attacks from ever happening again.

Is your town ready for a biological attack? We'll find out how one city has prepared for the worst.

Plus, we want your questions phone calls and e-mails, on CNN "Target: Terrorism."

We are live today in Washington, D.C. A breezy afternoon blowing into the nation's capital. Started out as a rainy morning. Looks like it's getting chilly, and autumn is on the way to the nation's capital.

Hello, everyone. I'm Daryn Kagan. I'm here along with my colleagues today, CNN national correspondent David Ensor and CNN national correspondent Eileen O'Connor.

Over the next couple hours, we're going to explore some key issues as America targets terrorism. First, the investigation into last month's attacks and the case against Osama bin Laden.

Then we're going to take a look at U.S. intelligence. Why did it fail to uncover the September 11 plot, and how can intelligence- gathering methods be improved?

Later in the program we're going to be taking your phone calls. We also want to hear from you via e-mail, and you can send that -- it's a very simply address, just security@cnn.com.

Before we get started without discussion, though, we have a check of the latest developments in America's new war. There are new developments today coming out of Afghanistan, Washington and New York.

Taliban officials claim their anti-aircraft guns opened fire on a U.S. plane over Kabul but did not hit the aircraft. This is not clear what type of aircraft may have been involved, and so far the Pentagon has no comment on the report.

Meanwhile, the Taliban rulers have offered to release eight Western aid workers.

KAGAN: There is a condition though: The U.S. should stop threatening military action against Afghanistan. The aid workers are charged with trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. That is a serious crime in Afghanistan.

The White House says it won't negotiate with the Taliban, that the time for talk is over. The U.S. wants the Taliban to turn over the aid workers; also, to turn over Osama bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Taliban has been given the opportunity to surrender all of the terrorists in Afghanistan and to close down their camps and operations. Full warning has been given, and time is running out.

In the struggle ahead, we will act in accordance with American ideals. We are offering help and friendship to the Afghan people. It is their Taliban rulers and the terrorists they harbor who have much to fear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: And news from New York City, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also known as FEMA, is halting its search and recovery efforts at the former World Trade Center site.

There are some new developments in Pakistan today, including word that the government is deporting dozens of Muslims relief workers.

Let's go to our Nic Robertson, who is in Islamabad with the latest.

Nic, hello.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, indeed, the government says it's going to deport some 89 workers. Arab, many of them from Arab countries they say, from Gulf states as well, some from Saudi, some from Jordan, some from Egypt as well.

However, new news coming out of Afghanistan in the last half of hour, Taliban officials say in the western town of Herat, they have seen three aircraft flying over the city in the evening at dusk. They say these aircraft have been flying north to south, flying north to south, back again, and then around several times again.

Now they say this has been going on for some time. Dusk was a couple of hours ago, and they said it was carrying on through that as the sun went down.

They believe, the Taliban officials say they believe this is some sort of reconnaissance mission, some sort of probing mission by American planes. That's what Taliban officials say.

Now in the city of Kabul today, Taliban said they fired on what they called an American aircraft flying over the city.

ROBERTSON: They say they fired from three anti-aircraft positions. However, eye witnesses in the city say they saw a surface- to-air missile fired at that aircraft. Taliban defense ministry denies that a surface-to-air missile was fired. Certainly, they say that the aircraft didn't attack them, it didn't fire on them. But after they fired on it, they say it flew away.

Also, the Taliban earlier today offering to essentially trade eight foreign aid workers detained, accused of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity inside Afghanistan, essentially trying to trade them for what they say, if America stopped its propaganda against the people of Afghanistan, stopped their propaganda of trying to attack the people of Afghanistan, they said they would trade those eight aid workers.

The Taliban say what they want to do is ensure that all Afghans can come back to their homes, they say, because there's a desperate humanitarian situation. They say winter is coming and that they say they want their people back home in their cities -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Nic, I want to ask you more about this offer to trade those eight international aid workers, two of those being Americans. If indeed, and it doesn't sound like the United States is going to get involved in these talks, the trial of these eight international workers will go on?

ROBERTSON: Absolutely. Their lawyer is back in Pakistan at the moment. This was a lawyer that was offered to them before the September 11 attacks, offered to them by a corps of international diplomats who were in Kabul -- American diplomat, Australian and German diplomats -- there to try and secure their release and secure a fair trial for them.

This lawyer, their defense lawyer is in Pakistan. He is preparing a response to the position put forward by the supreme court in Afghanistan. And he will present that to the court, we understand, in a few days' time. And he does expect, this lawyer does expect, to get a response from the supreme court fairly quickly.

Now, the Taliban's foreign minister, just yesterday, ruling out what had been rumored as perhaps a quick trial and perhaps, the lawyer had speculated, that these aid workers may be sent out of the country quickly. The Taliban foreign minister just yesterday saying that was not likely -- Daryn. KAGAN: Nic, late this week, President Bush announced hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid for the Afghan people.

KAGAN: Where might that be used the most?

ROBERTSON: Well, the cities where many people live, and it's in those urban environments that people have often gone to, to escape the drought that's happening in the countryside. Normally 85 percent of Afghans live in the countryside. But these days many more have been collecting in the cities.

Kabul, the World Food Program, has bakeries there that feed several hundreds of thousands in the north of Afghanistan. The World Food Program and U.N. agencies say that, by the end of this week even, without more food supplies, some 300,000 people could be starving.

The western town of Herat, another place, a displacement camp, there are some 200,000 people. That's been growing throughout this last year. Again, those people fled their homes because of the drought. They sold their possessions. They couldn't plant their seeds. In fact, in many cases, they say that essentially they had eaten even their seed stocks.

So the displaced people from the drought are the hardest hit, but it is generally the cities where the food is needed most, where the urban population oftentimes really doesn't know where their meal is coming from at the end of the day. And they're very dependent, given the shattered economy, on aid handouts -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Nic Robertson bringing us the latest from Islamabad, Pakistan. Nic, thank you very much.

We mentioned President Bush. He once again is spending the weekend at Camp David. And we find our Kelly Wallace just outside of Camp David.

Good morning -- actually, good afternoon to you, Kelly. Hello.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello, and good afternoon to you, Daryn.

Well, we do know President Bush wrapped up from what was a 45- minute video teleconference meeting with his National Security Council team. His national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, his chief of staff Andy Card, and CIA Director George Tenet with him at the presidential retreat at Camp David. All other national security advisers most likely in the Washington area, again attending by video teleconference.

A big focus of that meeting, Daryn, likely to be an update on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's five-nation tour in the Middle East and to Central Asia.

Now a couple of developments to note to you, Daryn. As we've been saying all day, the White House and the Pentagon not commenting on the Taliban's claims that their anti-aircraft positions fired at an American plane flying near Kabul.

WALLACE: This is really no surprise. The administration continuing to say it won't comment about any operational details of this military campaign, and certainly not confirming if in fact that is an American plane that was flying overhead.

You'll recall a couple of weeks ago, about two week ago, when there was an unmanned surveillance plane that the Taliban claimed they shot down, the administration wouldn't say much. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld just a few days later just would confirm that a U.S. plane, an unmanned spy plane, was missing but wouldn't say more than that.

And one other development to note for you, Daryn, the administration flatly rejecting this latest offer from the Taliban. The Taliban, as you and Nic noting, offering to turn over those aid workers if the U.S. stops what the Taliban leaders call a massive propaganda military campaign against the people of Afghanistan. We have heard this administration say over and over again there will be no negotiating, that it is time for actions, not words.

And the message is that President Bush demands are very clear. And, Daryn, his demands include turning over those Western aid workers, as well as turning over Osama bin Laden, any other associates of that Al Qaeda organization and closing down the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

And certainly, as you noted with that soundbite from President Bush's radio address, today the first time the president saying time is running out for the Taliban. So, a clear indication that military action against the Taliban might not be too far away -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Kelly Wallace covering the president near Camp David, Maryland. Kelly, thank you. It looks like the nasty weather from earlier this morning has cleared up a bit and the sun is shining on you. Thanks for that report.

Well, it is the biggest criminal investigation in U.S. history. When we come back, we're going to look at what authorities have uncovered so far in the September 11 attacks, as well as the mounting case again Osama bin Laden. And remember, we want to hear from you as well, so can you e-mail us at security@cnn.com.

We'll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: I want to welcome you back to "Target: Terrorism." Of course, the first topic we want to look at is the investigation, and our national correspondent, Eileen O'Connor, has been following that pretty much since day one. This is story that evolves not just day by day, but hour by hour.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.

And we're just being told Justice Department officials that now 580 people have been taken into custody on visa violations or as material witnesses in this investigation.

So much evidence has been gathered in the last few weeks since the September 11 attack, but there are some questions: Why wasn't some of this evidence out there earlier? And were, perhaps, there some warnings that weren't heeded?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'CONNOR (voice-over): U.S. allies say the evidence presented by the Bush administration is solid. The conclusion? Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network planned, sponsored and executed the September 11 attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: There's no serious doubt in my mind that bin Laden organized these atrocities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'CONNOR (voice-over): A summary prepared by the British government says bin Laden himself asserted he was preparing a major attack on America. Close associates of bin Laden were told to return to Afghanistan by the 10th. Known associates were naming the date for action as on or around September 11.

Investigators learned one of bin Laden's closest associates was responsible for the detailed planning. But the specific evidence proofing bin Laden guilty of involvement in these attacks is missing, the British government insisting it is too sensitive to release. U.S. officials are likewise mum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHCROFT: I'm not in a position to verify or deny attacks -- I mean, allegations like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'CONNOR (voice-over): The summary presented in the United Kingdom largely compares the modus operandi of the September 11 suspected hijackers with that of earlier terrorists linked to Al Qaeda. Their dress: Western; no beards, no suspicions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDI DEKKERS, HUFFMAN AVIATION: They were just there in jeans, sneakers, regular American. They spoke very well American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'CONNOR (voice-over): And then there's the years of flight training and calculated moves from city to city, apartment to apartment. Some of the hijackers described as friendly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEKKERS: He was telling jokes. He had fun. I can't believe when you have a mission like this, that you have fun in your life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'CONNOR (voice-over): Such meticulous planning involving people willing to die, officials say, matches attacks on the USS Cole and the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Not mentioned in the summary, testimony from previous terror trials and investigations of alleged associates of bin Laden, revealing pilot training and the use of planes in terror activities.

The FBI denies the evidence ever provided a clear warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM CARUSO, FBI COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: The FBI had no warnings about any hijack plots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: But investigative sources say that there was some links between some of the suspected hijackers and previous attacks. And while the evidence is far easier to read after September 11 and tie to the other parts of the puzzle, it's too late for too many.

Now two guests join us now to offer some insight into the investigation and where it goes from here: Buck Revell is a former deputy director of the FBI, joining us live from Dallas. And Paul Bremer is a former U.S. ambassador at large for counterterrorism and the former chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism. He is here with us in Washington.

Thank you both, gentlemen, for joining us.

Now, first of all, I want to go to Mr. Revell and ask you, one federal law enforcement source told me that, in his belief, the FBI are great hound dogs after the fact -- that they're very good at getting on the trail, but they're not very good at reading the signals before the attack, preventing things.

Do you think the FBI should be in charge of counterterrorism, given their strengths?

OLIVER REVELL, FORMER FBI AGENT: Oh, yes. I don't think there's any question. And I think that's a bogus argument. There are certain restrictions on what the FBI can do, and we as a society have determined that we want those restrictions in place.

For instance, only two of the 19 individuals that have now been identified were even to the U.S. intelligence community. The FBI was looking for them but had no authority to arrest them because they hadn't done anything illegal at the time. We do not allow the FBI to collect files on people unless we have information that they are directly involved with a hostile foreign government or a terrorist organization or unless there is a criminal predicate.

REVELL: So there are many limitations on preemptive activity.

But once there is information that there is a plot afoot, as was the case when the July 4 planned attack in 1993 on the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the World Trade Center -- I'm sorry, the U.N. building -- the federal building, the Bureau and the joint task force moved very quickly and preempted those. During my time in Washington we preempted more terrorist attacks than actually occurred.

So I think this is people who really don't know the facts speaking in areas that they are not really expert in.

Now, as Ambassador Bremer's commission pointed out, we need to give more tools to our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. I don't question that. In fact, I advocate that.

KAGAN: Well, Ambassador Bremer, is that truly the case? And if your recommendations had been carried out, would this have been prevented? Or is there also a question that the bureaucracy in counterterrorism -- so many departments working at this, not just the FBI -- kind of works against us?

AMBASSADOR L. PAUL BREMER, NATIONAL COMMISSION OF TERRORISM: Well, it is the fact that our commission looked very hard at this question last year, and we concluded that both the intelligence community abroad, which is the CIA largely, and the FBI, which collects information in the United States, need to do a better job and, in some ways, need a change of culture.

It is certainly the case, as my good friend Buck Revell points out, the FBI is excellent once they get on the trail of somebody, but there are cultural differences.

The FBI, after all, is paid to capture terrorists or criminals and put them in jail, so they think in terms of evidence and they think in terms of guarding that evidence so it can be used in a court.

One of the problems that has come to light after this attack that our commission focused on is the need to get the information that the FBI does collect into the hands of intelligence analysts so that they can start to out together what is usually a very complex picture. And I think a lot of that can be done now and should be done.

KAGAN: And, Mr. Revell, we've had some information from the Philippines, the presidential spokesman and one of the police investigators, that there was some specific evidence. And we've had trial testimony about pilots and flight training.

What was done to follow up on that? Were flight schools actually constantly monitored?

REVELL: Oh, no. No, not at all. And the information to my knowledge wasn't that specific.

Of course, there was a plot in 1995 by Ramzi Yousef to put explosive devices onboard aircraft and U.S. wide-bodied aircraft flying to the United States, and have them detonate virtually simultaneously. That plot also was detected and preempted.

The information about pilot training, I think, has sort of come to light after the fact. But in many instances, we have people coming to the United States under student visas for vocational training, which flight training has been a significant part. And I think that issue is going to have to be reexamined as well as the types of studies and so forth that we allow foreign students from areas that are of concern to undertake.

But as far as specific information on the use of an aircraft for an attack, I'm not aware of any of that at this point.

KAGAN: All right, Mr. Revell, we're going to have you stand by there, and we will be back to you, also to Ambassador Bremer.

We're going to talk about some of the other possible solutions out there and see what out guests think about that, as our discussion about the investigation into the September 11 attacks continues. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: I want to welcome you back. We're continuing our conversation about the investigation into last month's terrorist attacks.

With us are former FBI deputy director Buck Revell. He is in Dallas. Also, former U.S. ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, Paul Bremer.

Also along for the ride today, our national correspondent Eileen O'Connor. And the joining the party here in Washington is our national security correspondent David Ensor.

And right up front, we want everyone to know that David is playing hurt today. He has a nasty case of laryngitis, but he's being a trooper. So he's going to try and hang in there and pick those poignant questions and save the voice.

ENSOR: Yes. I'll try to minimize the length.

KAGAN: As you will. There you go.

Eileen, before we go back to you, I just want to jump in here with a quick question and get to the ambassador, and ask you about Tom Ridge, who is going from governor of Pennsylvania to this newly created office of Office of Homeland Security.

You've been in the business. You've had similar-type positions in that, looking at counterterrorism and being ambassador in the position that you were. What does he need to be effective in that office? And is he getting it?

BREMER: He needs three things, and he's not getting any of the three as far as I can tell.

He needs to be established by a statute, not by an executive order, so that for political purposes, the new office is embraced on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and has stability beyond this administration. It's not enough to say Ridge is a good friend of the president.

Secondly, he needs to have political accountability. That is to say, he needs to be accountable to the American people by being approved by the advice of the Senate.

KAGAN: Which he doesn't. That's not happening either.

BREMER: Which is also not apparently a current plan.

And thirdly, he needs to have clear and specific budget authority, which also cannot be done except by statute.

KAGAN: So it concerns you that he doesn't have any of the three.

BREMER: It does concern me, and I hope that by the time -- I like to think that the administration wants to get him in place on Monday. Then he will have a chance to look around, and hopefully once he's got his feet on the ground he'll make recommendations to be sure he has those authorities. Because without that, no matter what his close relationship is with the president, he simply won't be able to coordinate these other agencies.

KAGAN: Eileen?

O'CONNOR: Well, I'd like to ask also Mr. Revell, what do you think the first thing should be that Mr. Ridge does when he comes into office to try to strengthen the hand, as you say, of the FBI?

O'CONNOR: As you say, it's needed.

REVELL: Well, I think Ambassador Bremer's point about additional analysis, area studies, linguists, is very important. This is going to a campaign that will require probably many years to complete, and there needs to be additional focus.

I certainly think that we need an improved international intelligence capability, both with the CIA on human intelligence and our relationships with foreign intelligence services. And that needs to come into a common analysis process so that we don't create artificial borders between foreign intelligence and domestic intelligence information.

We need the ability for the FBI to disseminate information that is now restricted by legal rules and regulations, such as grand jury information. We certainly need to involve state and local authorities to the maximum extent possible because, in working with the Bureau, they're going to be the first responders and probably the first to detect any type of anomalies that ought to be focused on.

O'CONNOR: Well, Ambassador Bremer, on that point, really, you know, a lot of the local agencies -- police, customs, ATF, even other federal agencies -- say that currently, under the system that's out there, the FBI doesn't necessarily share the information that they do have. If we're talking about strengthening their hand, should we also break down the bureaucratic barriers? I mean, is there...

BREMER: Yes, we have to do that. And in fact, the Gilmore commission, chaired by Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, on which I've served for the last three years, made very explicit recommendations on this. And I hope that is something that Governor Ridge does right away, which is to find a way to disseminate even classified material down to appropriately cleared state and local officials, so that they can get into the mix of knowing what is really going on.

But the key point is the one that Mr. Revell made just now: We have to have a seamlessness to our intelligence gathering, overseas and in the United States. We've got to be able to bring all of these resources together. It's going to take a lot more analysts, it's going to take a lot more money, it's going to take linguists, as Mr. Revell points out. All of that has to happen, and it needs to happen quickly.

ENSOR: Are there any particular steps you think might improve U.S. national security while perhaps involving a loss of civil liberties that people might need to consider and that haven't been suggested yet by the administration?

BREMER: I am very mindful that in fighting terrorism, one of the balances the president has to reach and our political leaders have to reach is the balance between being able to take effective action against terrorism and guarding our civil liberties. To me, most of the things that have to happen are inconveniences. They're not fundamental to our civil liberties.

And I think a lot of the information -- or a lot of the proposals that are now before the Congress, based on the proposals that the administration set up, are good ideas: getting more access to -- being able to get better wiretap authority, for example, for the FBI; being able to use information, as Mr. Revell said, that's gathered in grand jury or Title III and other kind of wiretap authorities.

Getting that information out to people who need to know in the intelligence community will help these guys put together the puzzle. It's a very difficult thing to piece it together, as we're finding now after the event. There's a lot of pieces lying around. We still don't have the full picture.

KAGAN: Well, we're going to keep trying to put the picture together here on CNN. Ambassador Bremer, I want to thank you for your time.

Buck Revell in Dallas, thank you very much for your insight as well. We've put the FBI in the hot seat. Coming up next, it is the CIA on the hot seat. We're going to look at why U.S. intelligence failed in the terrorist attacks and what's being done in that area to prevent future disasters. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: Welcome back.

Time now to focus on U.S. intelligence which is getting some heat for its failure to detect last month's attacks. Our national security correspondent, David Ensor, is back. He has details on the past failure, also what's being done about the future. And, as we mentioned before, I just want to mention what's being done about your voice. We've got the tea, we have the lozenges.

ENSOR: Right.

KAGAN: Everything. Just power on through.

ENSOR: I'll just keep sipping.

But, you know, everybody right now is looking for ways to improve national security just now, and yesterday the House of Representatives took a step in that direction. The House voted to authorize another 9 percent more for U.S. intelligence. According to sources on Capitol Hill, that's 2 percent more than the president even asked for.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ENSOR (voice-over): Prompted by the magnitude of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the House, Friday, passed a bill authorizing billions more for U.S. intelligence gathering. The bill also orders the CIA director to make it easier to hire informers or agents who have criminal and human rights abuse records.

REP. DOUG BEREUTER (R), NEBRASKA: We must allow our foreign officers to recruit assets that are some rather unsavory characters.

ENSOR: The budget numbers in the bill are classified, but it would pay for more spies; for work on the next generation of surveillance satellites, smaller and more numerous; and to higher more photo analysts and language experts to sift through intercepts and photos for the National Security Agency, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency and throughout the intelligence community.

REP. PORTER GOSS (R-FL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We've got stuff on the cutting room floor, as it were, that's not even been looked at, and some of it may be very valuable.

ENSOR: The House Intelligence Committee report attached to the bill also says a fresh look should be taken at restructuring the CIA, possibly even setting up a separate clandestine service to run the nation's spies.

Critics say the U.S. is dangerously weak on human intelligence. SEYMOUR HERSH, JOURNALIST: I don't there's one agent undercover inside the fundamentalist circles in the Islamic world. We don't have one.

QUESTION: Not one?

HERSH: I hate to say not one, but if there's one, there's one.

ENSOR: CIA officials say they won't discuss how many spies they have in the Middle East and Southwest Asia but note that, for example, the number of Arabic speakers at the agency roughly tripled in the last five years.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Porter Goss, is himself a former CIA officer.

GOSS: To hone your skills to be able to speak the vernacular, to blend in the neighborhood, to understand the customs, to wear the right clothes, make the right hand gestures, all of that means living in the community or being ethnic to the community. Those are the kinds of people we need to be finding to do work for us, either as our officers or our agents. And, clearly, there's must work to be done in that area.

ENSOR: Much work to be done, and it will likely take years to make a meaningful difference. The U.S. intelligence community must try to detect and stop the next big terrorist threat to the U.S. with the assets it has in place right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ENSOR: We're joined now by CIA spokesman Bill Harlow.

Bill, what's been going on in the CIA and the U.S. intelligence community since September 11? How is the work and the life changed for you all?

BILL HARLOW, CIA SPOKESPERSON: Well, as you know, the war on terrorism didn't begin on September 11 at the CIA. We've been working on that for a long time. Our Counterterrorism Center, in fact, was set up in the mid-1980s. In the last four years, the size of it has doubled, and in the last four weeks, it's doubled again.

We have analysts, operators, people detailed to us from the FBI, from the FAA, from the Department of Defense, all working together on this target. Not just the Counterterrorism Center but throughout the agency, all of our assets are devoted to this very important target.

ENSOR: To the extent there was an intelligence failure that led to September 11, should anyone accept blame for that?

HARLOW: Well, it is a war against terrorism, and in wars, sadly, some battles will be lost. Obviously, the events of September 11 were a very serious blow, but I can assure you that all of us are focused on the mission of taking care of the terrorist target and working overseas. It is a very difficult target, much more difficult than the conventional wars that we've been used to, and one that requires a great deal of resources and assets.

In your piece that you just had on, Chairman Goss talked about the additional assets which are being provided to us. And we welcome that support and need it very much.

ENSOR: And some argue that -- and you've heard them already today -- that the CIA is actually rather weak on human intelligence, particularly against terrorist groups.

ENSOR: Is that a problem in your view? Is that something that needs fixing?

HARLOW: Human intelligence is the core of what we do, and we absolutely need to have more of it. The CIA, just like other agencies of the U.S. government, in the early '90s, was reduced in size, more than 20 percent.

But since 1997, when Director Tenet, George Tenet, came on board, we've been addressing that. It's not the kind of thing which you can fix in a day or a week or a month.

Our clandestine training facility this year graduated five times as many students as graduated from that facility in 1996. We're working on dealing with the question of language capabilities. As you pointed out in your piece, three times as many people with capabilities in Arabic. Our last graduating class from the clandestine facility had 22 different languages represented among the students there.

This is not enough. We need to do more. We appreciate getting the resources provided by the Congress, and we will be doing more.

ENSOR: But some argue also that there's a sort of bureaucratic and risk-averse culture in the U.S. intelligence community. Is that changing? If so -- or is that true even?

HARLOW: You generally hear that from armchair critics and from even some of our alumni who haven't been in the agency for years and years, and they have no way of knowing the way operations are now conducted.

I assure you that there are very risky operations going on as we speak and have been for quite some time. This is a very dangerous business. The way we go about doing the business has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War.

O'CONNOR: Mr. Harlow, I just wanted to ask you a question about, you know, we've heard a lot this week from the attorney general and the president, and senators were hearing this over the course of the week, that there is an increased threat out there. And we've had a report last night that law enforcement says there's similar activity to the hijackers that's causing a lot of concern about a future attack. How much should people be concerned about another attack soon? What is the threat?

HARLOW: Well, the president, as you pointed out, made very clear, and the attorney general and others have made clear, that there is a real threat to the United States. That threat is present, and no one should minimize that threat.

That's also something which is not new. Bin Laden and his organization have made it clear that it is their goal to target American taxpayers. They've said that it's their religious duty to kill Americans. And they said that years ago, which we widely publicized at the time. And you should assume that they continue to want to carry out that threat.

O'CONNOR: But they also said years ago that they were going to use flight training and terrorist activities. And they said years ago in 1995 that specifically they were going to use an airplane to crash into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the White House. What was done about that, those warnings?

HARLOW: Well, I would differ with you on whether bin Laden's organization said specifically those things. But there have been lots of threats and warnings and rumors and much information which is out there. And we, working with law enforcement, the FAA, other agencies, have tried to deal with them.

But in a country likes ours, as open as we are, with the vulnerabilities that go with the freedoms that we have, it's very difficult to guard against all of those threats.

There is a lot that's being done. Obviously much more needs to be done, and people are working on it now.

KAGAN: I want to pick off of Eileen's point there. You mentioned armchair critics. I'm going to be an armchair journalist for a moment, coming from outside of Washington.

I think it's a question a lot of Americans still have. When you look at September 11, and you see four airplanes, three airports and two airlines, what had to happen in order for this to be coordinated, for that much information to have to be transferred between all of these people who had to plan it?

Are you saying the CIA had no idea, or there was just so much information out there it just didn't have the right organization to process it? I think Americans still don't understand how its government could not know what was going on, or even have a hint.

HARLOW: Well, the terrorists' target, as I said earlier, is very difficult to penetrate. These organizations communicate among themselves very quietly in ways which are difficult, if not impossible, to learn exactly what their plans are.

They have sleepers, people who have embedded themselves in the U.S. society and been here for months and years on end. We have restrictions, as some of your earlier guests talked about. But what we're able to do, the U.S. intelligence community, is prevented from conducting operations in the United States. We're prevented from listening in on communications with people who are in the United States...

KAGAN: If I could just interrupt you here, because I don't think you're answering my question. Are you saying that didn't have the information, or you didn't have the right access to the information?

HARLOW: We did not have the information about specific time, place, location of these terrible attacks. Very difficult to obtain. And everyone, including law enforcement, FAA, need to work harder to prevent people from being able to get control of airplanes or being able to conduct these kind of attacks.

But those who think it's easy to do, to penetrate a terrorist cell, people who are often small groups of people who are related to each other, who do not communicate in the open airwaves, who do not advertise precisely what they're going to do, is a very, very difficult thing to do.

ENSOR: Bill, briefly, the House bill says the CIA should stop vetting people for their human rights and criminal records. Is that going to help?

And, secondly, you wrote a book about terrorism on U.S. soil a couple of years ago. Did you ever expect to see this?

HARLOW: On your first question about vetting people; the rules were put in place in the mid-1990s because members of Congress and members of the media criticized our officers for dealing with people with unsavory characters. And we have continued to deal with people with unsavory backgrounds, because we know better than anyone else that that's who you need to deal with in order to get the information you need on terrorism.

We do that, but we've tried to have rules that protect our people to make sure that everyone knows that we were doing it. The point is, we have never turned down an opportunity to recruit a terrorist because of a human rights background. We're just trying to protect our people. If these new rules help communicate better to folks, that's fine. We'll, you know, deal with that.

As far as the question on fiction, the authors...

ENSOR: And reality.

HARLOW: And reality -- the authors of this tragedy on September 11 cooked up a plot that I don't think any normal personal could concoct. The one thing I would say though is I think, at the end of the day, the end will be the same as in fiction and, in this case, the good guys -- the United States and our allies -- will win.

KAGAN: Bill Harlow with the CIA. It's not often we get a chance to talk with somebody from your organization, so we really do appreciate your time. HARLOW: Thank you very much.

KAGAN: Thanks for stopping by.

Now, when we come back, we're going to have a chance to talk with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. She will weigh in on how to sharpen -- how she thinks the U.S. can sharpen intelligence and prevent future attacks.

CNN's coverage of "Target: Terrorism" will be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: You know, George and I have been spending a lot of quality time together.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: There's a reason: I've got a lot of confidence in him, and I've got a lot of confidence in the CIA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: That was President Bush during a visit last week to the CIA.

Welcome back. I'm Daryn Kagan, along with Eileen O'Connor and David Ensor. We are talking about U.S. intelligence. This, of course, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

And joining us in our discussion now is California Congressman Nancy Pelosi. She is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congresswoman, hello. Welcome. Thanks for joining us today.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: It's a pleasure. Thank you.

KAGAN: Coming off the news of the day -- or rather, news of yesterday -- the House passing this $30 billion intelligence-funding bill...

PELOSI: Is that how much is in the bill?

KAGAN: That's -- according to what I read this morning, that's what it is.

PELOSI: We don't know now, do we?

KAGAN: What's it going to do, and is it enough?

PELOSI: Well, I certainly hope it is enough, but what is does is have an emphasis that we were placing there even before September 11 on human intelligence, on more recruiting of personnel for the CIA and the other intelligence agencies to analyze and disseminate the intelligence that has been gathered.

It has a focus on linguistic skills because, as you know, the array of languages now that we need people who are fluent in them has vastly increased. So it has a focus.

You know, we do SIGINT, where you hear signals and listen; we do imagery and, again, hardware in the sky to take pictures. But HUMINT on the ground is the great exploiter of all of that. And, so the emphasis on the bill pre-September 11, but all the more necessary since September 11 is on the HUMINT intelligence piece.

KAGAN: I want to ask you about another bill, the anti-terrorism bill that Attorney General John Ashcroft has been very much in favor of. Made it out of the House Judiciary Committee -- a compromise of it -- and it still has yet to go to the full house. What's its status, and why is it taking so long to give law enforcement officials the help they really think they need in fighting terrorism?

PELOSI: Well, it really isn't taking so long, because there's some pretty serious changes that had been requested by the administration. But I'm pleased to say that the bill came out of the committee unanimously.

There's some things that just technology warrants a change in. One, for example, that had been resisted in the past is the roving wiretap. With the use of cell phones now, it's so different than a hard line in a home. So you're taping the person more than a phone. It makes sense in light of the advances in technology.

There was a concern about, if you need a wiretap, Title III that we were talking about before, the standard for getting a wiretap for criminal cases is a higher threshold than a FISA -- Foreign Intelligence Security Act. There was concern about using this lower threshold to have information going back and forth, and they have a compromise on that.

But it was only a couple of weeks to get to this bill. And I think that at least the 10 more days or so that they took was time well spent. Now the full House will be subjected to that scrutiny.

But coming out unanimously abodes well for its quick passage now.

O'CONNOR: Congresswoman, do you think that some of the proposals though, perhaps using people who have perhaps a bad human rights record, or these kinds of things, lower thresholds on wiretaps, is that letting the terrorists win? Some people are saying that, where we're giving away our freedoms perhaps too much, our Constitution...

PELOSI: Well, being a representative of San Francisco and California, I would certainly a watchdog on that. But as I said, most of the changes in terms of the wiretap relate to the changes in technology, which we cannot ignore. That doesn't diminish anyone's civil rights.

As far as the recruiting of assets with unsavory backgrounds -- tortures, murderers, rapists, people how have committed acts against the United States and its people -- the fact is that the CIA has always said that, quantitatively and qualitatively, the assets that they have recruited are better than ever.

However, to remove all doubt that the U.S. is prepared to stop terrorism no matter what, we had a compromise in our bill, which rescinded the guidelines -- now we're back to the intelligence bill, not the attorney general's bill -- rescinded the guidelines but did not revert to the former practice, which was quite malevolent, but one that has common sense. It has balance in it in order to say the risk, the gain, what is the opportunity.

And to protect the agent recruiting the asset so that the CIA is responsible, not that individual. Because we owe to our agents who are so courageous to go out there and recruit assets however unsavory. But without any protection, if something goes very wrong, that they are the only one responsible.

So I think we will always have a good, balanced approach now. Our bill is in furtherance of that. A good compromise was worked out that maintains our values but has common sense in it.

ENSOR: Can I just ask you about yesterday? I watched you on the floor of the House arguing forcefully for a change in the structure and in the membership of the Commission of Inquiry into the intelligence community's role in this matter.

Why were you fighting for that? You didn't win. Are you worried about that?

PELOSI: Well, I'm not really. I was responding to concerns expressed by many members in the House, to have an independent review of the events leading up to September 11, to assess the performance of the agencies which had any responsibility for terrorism.

The independent review meant that the makeup of the commission would not be confined, as it now is in the bill, to those with military and intelligence, et cetera, experience, but could be people on the outside who could think differently and put fresh eyes on this.

It was not to assign blame. It was not to point fingers. It was instead to say, everybody, everyone may have been doing his or her job perfectly well, but a lack of coordination or some additional collaboration may be needed.

I think it's quite -- almost impossible for us to prevent terrorism from happening in the future, unless we have a clear picture of what happened leading up to it.

What did prevail is a very good commission proposed by my chairman, Mr. Goss, that does something different. It uses people who are more inside to determine what obstacles there are to the collection, analysis and dissemination of information. And that's a perfectly fine commission. It happens to be different, though, from an independent review.

But the Congress has worked its will. And, you know, we will hope that at some point there will be some presidential commission or something that would say, we want people on the outside to review it, rather than people on the inside.

KAGAN: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi -- and so much of the focus of the coverage has been on the East Coast. We should remember of course that those four flights were headed to the West Coast, including United Airlines Flight 93, which was going from Newark to San Francisco.

KAGAN: And on that note, our condolences to those that lost loved ones in your district, Congresswoman.

PELOSI: To everyone in the country.

KAGAN: Yes.

PELOSI: And we lost personnel in the intelligence community, but we mourn every single person.

KAGAN: Absolutely.

Congresswoman Pelosi, thanks for stopping by. We do appreciate your time and your input this morning -- or this afternoon actually. Time is flying as our discussion goes on, and it will go on.

Just ahead, homeland security. We're going to talk with a mayor whose city is already preparing for other attacks; also hear from a bioterrorism expert on the threat of germ warfare. And they will be able to answer your questions as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMMY THOMPSON, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: There's nothing that we know of that would warrant such actions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: That's a "keep cool" message from Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson as he spoke this week.

But the truth is, so many Americans are, indeed, afraid. And we keep hearing warnings from intelligence officials that retaliatory strikes are likely if the United States attacks Afghanistan.

Joining us now to talk about preparedness for future attacks, two guests: Martin O'Malley is the mayor of Baltimore. He is already taking steps to safeguard his city from terrorist strikes and is working with other mayors on the issue of preparedness. Also with us is Dr. Donald Henderson. He is the director of the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Doctor, we'll ask you to stand by.

Mr. Mayor, I'd like to start with you. MARTIN O'MALLEY, MAYOR OF BALTIMORE: Sure.

KAGAN: Is the city of Baltimore ready for a bioterrorism or other type of attack?

O'MALLEY: Well, I'll tell you, we're a lot more ready than we were before September 11. We've taken a number of steps just in the last few weeks to become as prepared as we can possibly be.

And one concrete step that's very easy and every mayor in America should do is to create a bio-surveillance system, which is just a big word for saying that you need your paramedics, your emergency rooms, your clinics, your animal control people and your schools all reporting basic information that would indicate whether or not we'd been the victim of a biological attack.

So we look for common symptoms in uncommon numbers, and now we have a network that allows us to do that. We'd all been talking about it for five years, but with the urgency of this, our hospitals, including some great leadership from Johns Hopkins, we've really cobbled together what I think is the only one now in the nation, where we look for those symptoms every single day. And soon we'll be doing it in real-time, like almost on an hourly basis.

KAGAN: And we want to hear more about that; what you've learned, what you've figured out and how much more there is to learn ahead.

Also talking with Dr. Henderson just ahead. Stay with us, we have a quick break to fit in here.

Also, when we come back, we're going to continue our conversation with Mayor O'Malley, also Dr. Donald Henderson, about preparing for future terrorist attacks. And the gentlemen will be by here to take your phone calls and your e-mail.

Plus, a former CIA officer with sharp criticism of U.S. intelligence in the terrorist fight ahead.

One more time, the e-mail address is -- tell me again -- security@cnn.com. Send in your questions, we'll pass them along. Thanks. Quick break now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: Welcome back to CNN, "Target: Terrorism."

A reminder that we'll be taking your phone calls and your e-mail during this hour. In fact, we have a couple already in; we'll be getting to those in just a moment. Also getting back to our guests in a moment.

First, though, let's bring you a check of the latest developments. And for that, we're going to go ahead and start in Afghanistan, where Taliban officials confirm that their troops fired on a high-flying aircraft over the capital of Kabul. They say it must have been an American plane, they believe, since it was not one of theirs, they say, or from the Northern Alliance. The plane was not hit, and the Pentagon is not commenting.

Neither, for that matter, is President Bush, who had another teleconference with his national security team this morning. The president is at Camp David. In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush again made a distinction between the Afghan people and their rulers.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BUSH: The Taliban has been given the opportunity to surrender all the terrorists in Afghanistan and to close down their camps and operations. Full warning has been given, and time is running out.

In the struggle ahead, we will act in accordance with American ideals. We are offering help and friendship to the Afghan people. It is their Taliban rulers and the terrorists they harbor who have much to fear.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KAGAN: The White House is also reiterating that there will be no negotiations with the Taliban who, earlier today, offered to release eight Western aid workers if, according to the Taliban, the U.S. stops what it calls mass propaganda of military action against the people of Afghanistan.

The aid workers, of course, are on trial, accused of preaching Christianity. The parents of one of those aide workers spoke with CNN's Tom Mintier in neighboring Pakistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MERCER, DAUGHTER HELD IN AFGHANISTAN: Anytime I hear the words "release" and "detainees" in the same sentence, I become encouraged. And these recent words out of Kandahar, I'm encouraged by them. And I just hope that our government will also be encouraged, and try to work a favorable solution for all sides in this matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: Meanwhile, hundreds of Afghans continue to make their way into Pakistan, but thousands more are stuck behind the border. And relief workers say nearly a half million Afghans could be cut off from emergency supplies when winter sets in next month.

To New York now, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, plans to call a halt today to its search and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center. However, it will continue providing other assistance. Nearly 5,000 people remain missing.

The September 11 attacks turned a bright spot on the many thousands of potential terrorism targets in the United States. House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt, like many of the rest of us, ticked off just a few.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: We need to deal with homeland security. We've got lots of problems. We have lots of transportation facilities, including trains, that don't have adequate security today. We have borders of this country that are not adequately secure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: And we have with us today -- once again, to reintroduce you to our team -- national correspondent Eileen O'Connor, also national security correspondent David Ensor. They are here to talk with us.

Our current guest right now, the mayor of Baltimore, Martin O'Malley, and Dr. Donald Henderson. He is the director of the Center for Civilian Biodefense Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

And, Doctor, since we kind of ignored you in the last segment, we're going to start with you this time around. And we're also going to bring in some of the e-mail that we've been getting from our viewers out there.

Once again, to remind our viewers, the e-mail address is security@cnn.com.

That's the address that Darnell (ph) in Chicago used, and he has this question for you, Doctor. He says -- rather, he asks: "I keep hearing reports from government official that the Florida case of anthrax is not related to terrorism. What is the probability of a case of anthrax appearing so soon after the September 11 attack?"

And just once again, to wrap up that story, a 63-year-old man dying of anthrax in Florida yesterday. And yet, doctors and health officials saying that that probably is just a select, random case and not a case of terrorism.

Dr. Henderson?

DONALD HENDERSON, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: I think that's a fair judgment, that we've had a single case. And to leap to the conclusion that this might be a bioterrorist event is wrong.

We do have occasional cases of anthrax in this country that occur usually as a result of contact with animals. In this case, the source of the infection is not known, but I think there is a saying in medicine that we had, if you hear something scratching on the back door, you think first of the family pussycat and not a mountain lion. I think we should think in this case, most likely this is a sporadic case of anthrax.

KAGAN: All right, but let's talk about that proverbial mountain lion; it is out there, and a lot of Americans are scared. Are they justifiably so, Dr. Henderson?

HENDERSON: It's hard to draw a balance and say you should be scared but, at the other hand, you shouldn't be too scared. And I think this is what we're trying to say.

First of all, it is our expectation that a bioterrorist -- biological weapons release is not a likely event. There are many obstacles in releasing an organism, whether it's smallpox or anthrax or plague or whatever it is. And it takes a certain amount of planning, sophistication and so forth in order to do this.

However, the risk of this is not zero. And it's entirely possible that we could have a release of anthrax or smallpox or several other organisms. And if this did happen, it could be really, very serious, indeed. And I think at this time, we have no option but to be prepared to respond quickly, should such a release occur.

KAGAN: And that's Mayor O'Malley's job as a government official, not necessarily what's out there but knowing what's out there. And when you find out all stuff that's out there, how do you know, as a leader, as a government official, which one you're supposed to be ready for?

O'MALLEY: Well, you've got to be ready for all of them. Dr. Henderson has been a tremendous resource to us in Baltimore. And I would encourage everyone watching to, if you have a second, find him on the web site, the Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense, and read up and educate yourselves.

In the conference of mayors that I've been working with, under Mark Moriales' (ph) leadership, we've been doing sort of web broadcasts, if you will, to other cities to try to inform local officials about the most likely agents and what can be done to identify them immediately.

And there's -- the most important thing you have to realize as mayors is that your hospital workers really become your first responders in these cases. And you've got to work with them, you've got to communicate, and you've got to be on this as quickly as possible, because that can save thousands of lives in the event of one of these sort of attacks.

ENSOR: Dr. Henderson, can I ask you something on smallpox? I mean, can we be reasonably sure that there isn't going to be a terrorist using a smallpox weapon anytime soon?

And the smallpox vaccinations that most of us got years ago, are they any good against it now?

HENDERSON: Well, I wish I could tell you that we would be confident that we would not have a smallpox outbreak. But the fact is, we cannot provide that assurance at all.

The Soviet Union actually developed smallpox as a weapon from the time, primarily from 1980 onwards, to the point that they had manufacturing facilities that could produce as much as 80 to 100 tons of smallpox virus in a single year.

In the course of this, they trained a lot of in how to produce the smallpox virus. We know that the virus is in several places in Russia. The question is, has this gone to other countries? And it's hard to answer that question. But we know many of the scientists that were involved have gone to other countries.

So we're faced with a situation that that smallpox virus, which we had hoped was only in two places, two laboratories, may be in other places. And if that's the case, is it accessible to such as an Osama bin Laden group or perhaps others? And we can only answer it is possible that they could have access to that.

O'CONNOR: Well, all of these...

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: Excuse me.

O'CONNOR: I'm sorry.

HENDERSON: I was going to answer the question on vaccination.

O'CONNOR: Go ahead, sorry.

HENDERSON: OK. The vaccination that we all had many years ago is probably not going to be of much value. Smallpox vaccination, a single vaccination usually did not protect much beyond five to 10 years.

We stopped vaccinating in the United States in 1972, when the risk of smallpox being imported into the United States fell to a very low level. And finally in 1980, when it was declared eradicated, vaccination stopped everywhere in the world.

Well, people say why did we stop, and should we not reinstitute vaccination now? Smallpox vaccine was not an innocuous vaccine at all. And, in fact, we had a serious case, one in 300,000 people would have a serious reaction from the vaccine that might result in death, and some of them in permanent neurologic disability.

HENDERSON: In addition, there were many who had not just the one lesion or one pustule on their arm, but would have this spread over the body. They would be quite sick and have to go the hospital.

So that in fact, although it's an excellent vaccine, it bears with it a certain risk. And as we've looked at it, and certainly there have been several times that groups have looked at this and said, "What is the risk that small pox might be introduced, and what is the risk of vaccination," and we've said, the risk here is greater on the side of the vaccine itself. However, if we found somebody walking through O'Hare Airport next week carrying live smallpox virus, we might change our minds very quickly.

KAGAN: That indeed, we might. Dr. Henderson, we're going to have you stand by. A lot of our viewers have more phone calls and e- mail questions for you. Also for Martin O'Malley, the mayor of Baltimore. When we come back, we'll get to more of those. Also, we'll get that web site up for you that the mayor mentioned from Johns Hopkins, where you can learn more about how you can be prepared for any kind of bioterrorism attack, or the potential of that.

So stay with us. A quick break right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: And welcome back. We are in Washington, D.C., continuing our conversation about preparing for future terrorist attacks. With us, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

A lot of "M"'s there, Mr. Mayor.

O'MALLEY: I'm alliterative.

KAGAN: There you go.

We also have with us bioterrorism expert Dr. Donald Henderson of Johns Hopkins University. We'll get to the doctor in a moment; also to your e-mail questions.

Eileen, you had a question, I think, for the mayor?

O'CONNOR: Yes, I have a quick question for the mayor.

Mayor O'Malley, we talk a lot about preparations, but we've been talking the last hour a lot about prevention.

O'MALLEY: Right.

O'CONNOR: Do you believe that there should -- what do you think should be done to prevent these things from happening?

O'MALLEY: You know the common denominator in all of this; the best vaccine against chemical attack, bio attack, nuclear attack, planes, bombs bullets is a better intelligence network here at home, which includes your local law enforcement. And we don't have that right now.

You know, we're fighting a very unconventional war and it's on two different fronts: One of them is over there in the Middle East and in Afghanistan. The other front is right here.

Now, overseas, we have the best equipment, the best support and intelligence that goes rapidly to the front, to the people that have to respond to that front, to that theater of war. Now, here at home, we don't have good equipment, we don't have good technology, and we have nothing resembling rapid intelligence rushing to the front lines, which is our local police forces. So when we pass information up, we're never employed to fight this on the ground.

O'CONNOR: Well, that's the problem. What do you say to people -- I mean, I've had local police officers say to me that they are frustrated with the fact that the FBI doesn't share some of this information. Do you think that there is a problem here? Everyone keeps tell us, "No, we just throw some more money at it."

O'MALLEY: Yes, there's a tremendous problem, but it's a tremendous problem that can be fixed, I think, pretty quickly.

You know, you look at the math, there's about 7,000 agents -- I read in the newspaper -- FBI agents, who are following up on 260,000 leads. Now, you do the math. You tell me how many of them they actually get to.

I think the local law enforcement could be a tremendous help if the FBI would share with local law enforcement -- especially in your big cities, which are the prime targets of these guys -- the information so that we can help them follow up on those leads.

I'm sure that whatever the FBI is doing, they're now doing very well, but I think that there's a lot more that all of us can be doing and that all of us should be doing. And I suppose a part of it is a cultural holdover; I guess they don't want us to tip off Ma Barker or something, if we have too much information.

But this is a different world we're in, folks, you know. And I don't think that it's at all unpatriotic when big city chiefs say that we would like to be more helpful and when mayors say that, you know.

If there was a watch list out beforehand and local law enforcement had pulled over people that were about to commit these terrorist acts that the FBI was looking for for the two weeks prior to it, you know, things might have been different. And still, there's an opportunity to disrupt them if only we know.

I mean, if you or I don't show up for a speeding ticket in court, you can bet your bippie that the state of Maryland will get that information to local law enforcement in case we roll through a stop sign. The same is not happening when it comes to the FBI forwarding that information to local law enforcement, and it needs to. It's a no-brainer.

KAGAN: Mayor, I want to ask you quickly about lessons learned. In your city, back in July, you had a serious train accident.

O'MALLEY: Right.

KAGAN: It did not turn out...

O'MALLEY: Looks like a little accident.

KAGAN: Yes, relatively, it does look like a little accident, but it was very serious at the time. It wasn't a terrorist attack, and, yet, it was a scary moment and in a way a freebie run-through for your city and for your...

O'MALLEY: Right.

KAGAN: ... for the resources you had. What was the biggest lesson you learned in that?

O'MALLEY: The biggest lesson we learned is that the training, the tabletop scenarios, the equipment, programs offered by the federal government like the Chemical Warfare Improved Response Program that our fire department was a beneficiary of, are all very important things.

We had a chemical train derail inside a tunnel running underneath our city near Camden Yards with a fire in it that disrupted our city for about four days. We handled it without a single fatality. We had to evacuate everybody in the middle of a double header. But the tabletop scenarios that we ran, the preparedness, the emergency preparedness, was very important, and our fire department did a great job.

So the less learned from that is that you can't put these things off as something that might happen sometime. You have to prepare as if it will happen, and you've got to have your city ready to respond.

KAGAN: We have a caller coming to us, a caller from New Jersey.

Caller, go ahead. Who's your question for?

CALLER: Hello?

KAGAN: Hello. Go ahead. You're question is for the mayor or the doctor?

CALLER: Good afternoon. Yes, I have a question for the doctor.

KAGAN: OK.

CALLER: We talk a lot about preparing in our town and in our city, but I'm wondering about our homes. What if we were to seal off the windows and doors in our basement?

CALLER: Would this help protect us from any outside chemical or elements? Are we safer inside our homes in case we have a small warning?

Thank you.

HENDERSON: Let me answer this with a statement, that I don't think there's very much that a householder really can do to prevent a problem. There are those who are going out and getting gas masks. I think you are more likely to suffocate in a gas mask than ever be exposed to something.

People are stocking antibiotics. But are they stocking the right antibiotics? Are they going to be outdated by the time they use them?

There are many things here that are not very good to do.

Can you seal off a room in your basement in such a way as to prevent things from coming in? Well, I suppose you could, but then in fact, if you really have done a good job, eventually you're going to suffocate in that room. And that probably is not a good idea.

O'MALLEY: But, Doctor, if I could -- this is the mayor. If I could interrupt for one second, I think part of her question had to do also with a chemical attack. And in many cases, you know, all of us look at evacuation, but the fact of the matter is, the shelter in place is a very important concept in the event of some sort of chlorine or other chemical, you know, creating a gas in your city.

And what you need to do is listen to the radio, because with regard to chemical -- and I think the doctor was talking about biological -- but with regard to chemical, shelter in place, staying in your house is an important concept. And you need to listen to your local authorities when such a thing happens.

O'CONNOR: Well, I have a question now. If people are scared now about this future threat and they stay in their houses, isn't that going to ruin your city's economy?

O'MALLEY: Well, look, let's be real folks. I mean, if people want to take precautions to avoid the most likely cause of a premature death, they should refrain from smoking, they should wear their seat belt and they should exercise two or three times a week. I mean, that's the fact of the matter.

KAGAN: Mr. Mayor, nobody wants to hear that.

(LAUGHTER)

O'MALLEY: Now, that's not to make light, that is not to make light of the fact that local governments and the federal governments need to do a lot more to make us as prepared as we can possibly be for the sort of collective and governmental responses at state, local and federal levels that need to happen in the event of such an attack. I'm not making light of that.

But as far as individuals and their own personal conduct, I mean, you're far more likely still to be lost in a traffic accident than you are to be lost in a terrorist act.

KAGAN: And we'll continue our conversation. More e-mail, more phone calls ahead. Stay with us. Right now a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: I assure you that there are very risky operations going on as we speak, and have been for quite some time. It's a very dangerous business, and the way we go about doing the business has changed dramatically since the end of the Cold War.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: And that was CIA spokesman Bill Harlow. We had a chance to speak with him earlier in our program.

David Ensor is with our next guest, who has a very different perspective on the CIA and on intelligence gathering within and outside of the U.S. -- David. ENSOR: Reuel, it's very nice to have you here. Reuel Gerecht, former...

REUEL GERECHT, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Pleasure.

ENSOR: ... CIA officer, now a writer.

What's wrong in your view with the way the U.S. goes about spying on terrorists?

REUEL GERECHT, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Well, I mean, essentially, the way the agency operates against terrorism is not all that different from the way the agency operated during Cold War. And the agency would like to pretend that the world has changed and that it's a totally different institution. I would suggest that you be very skeptical of that.

It's a big bureaucracy. It's an ever-expanding bureaucracy, both at headquarters and its mirror images, on a slightly smaller but no less stultifying level, overseas in the stations and bases. The vast majority of agency operatives are playing under official cover. They're fake diplomats.

They know the cocktail circuit a hell of a lot better than they will the outside world. And the notion that you are going to have operatives overseas who are under official cover, whether they have the languages or not, and they usually don't, whether they have the right education or not, and they usually don't, that they are going to somehow be able to come out of their day jobs and go find radical Muslims, recruit them, send them on their merry way, and effectively penetrate an organization like Al Qaeda, bin Laden's organization, isn't serious.

ENSOR: And you're saying that you don't think the U.S. has any agents or informers in fundamentalist Islamic groups?

GERECHT: Well, one should never say, you know, "any." But I think it's fair to say if you look at the pivotal moment, which is the attempted attack on the USS Sullivans in January 2000 and the successful attack on the Cole in October of 2000, it should tell you a lot.

That first attack on the Sullivans was a failure. From the Yemenis, we know very clearly they attempted to attack that boat. They loaded up a skip with conventional explosives. They sank the bloody thing. The cell broke up. Everybody was mad. Some people even quit the organization, it appears.

Al Qaeda from on high said, "Let's try it again." They brought in C-4 plastic explosives. They brought in the necessary knowledge to use it. They put their plans into action. They blew a whole the size of a house on the side of the Cole and almost sank the bloody boat.

We would have heard something about what was going on if we had even agents on the periphery of that organization, particularly after the failure of the Sullivans. There's nothing like failure to introduce recriminations and a little bit of gossip, particularly in Middle Eastern society. And, yes, Al Qaeda is a compartment, an institution, but it's still a Middle Eastern institution.

If we'd had anywhere, anywhere near agents and based in the Gulf or based back in Afghanistan, we would have heard something of it. We didn't.

ENSOR: Well, but if the U.S. doesn't have agents, who does? I mean, who can most help the United States right now in the region? And will they help us?

GERECHT: Well, we've always depended upon liaison services. I mean, it's their terrain. It's as if you can imagine in the United States, you have the FBI. The FBI obviously has control of the terrain. They would be the ones who would be able to best find somebody to work on whatever subject, target they wanted. The same is true motadus motandus (ph) overseas. You have the local security services who really are the ones who do the work.

Now, the problem is that many of these security services really do not have, or at least up until now, a terribly strong, compelling reason to put themselves into harm's way. I mean, bin Laden is immensely popular overseas particularly in someplace like Pakistan.

And the Pakistanis who probably would have been in the best position, obviously have mixed motives. They have been essential to the triumph of the Taliban, and it's important to remember that Mullah Omar, the spiritual head of the Taliban, is really correctly seen as almost a spiritual brother of bin Laden.

The links between Pakistani military intelligence, ISI and the Taliban and even Al Qaeda go back probably a long way. That's not to say Pakistan doesn't have many friends in the United States.

GERECHT: That's not to say that the Pakistani military doesn't have senior officers who hate the Taliban and hate bin Laden. But it does say it makes it very, very complicated for them to give us reliable, secure information.

ENSOR: Right. What about the Taliban and the North Alliance? We hear reports the Taliban might be collapsing sometimes, and we also see that the Russians have supplied some more weapons to the North Alliance. Might this whole thing sort itself out without too much U.S. involvement?

GERECHT: I doubt it. I think the Northern Alliance is limited -- it's a very effective fighting force, at least it was under Ahmed Shah Massoud, the assassinated leader of the Northern Alliance. They have roughly 15,000 men, but only about probably 7,000 of them are mobile, that can move about. They have a lot of logistical problems.

There is now Russian aid which, I believe, it's origin is actually the United States, that is now coming to them. It was originally promised to them by the Clinton administration, and it was never delivered. It is very unlikely, unless that aid is substantially increased, and it may -- we can only hope that it is -- will they be able to actually directly take on the Taliban just because of the manpower difference.

I think there is a decent chance that once the United States commits itself, you will see the Taliban line fracture immediately, and certainly the geographic and political map of Afghanistan will change within weeks.

O'CONNOR: What are we risking in terms of going in in that region, in terms of others coming to the aid of the Taliban? Is this a farther-reaching war than, perhaps, people are prepared for, bringing in other states, perhaps, or other groups?

GERECHT: Well, I mean, I think the idea of bringing in allies into the military operations -- outside maybe the British of the French -- isn't necessary and is a bad idea.

Whether the war will extend beyond Afghanistan, it's quite likely. I mean, I would make an argument it ought to. I think you need to send a very clear signal that after 6,000 Americans die, this simply will not be tolerated. And the way that you demonstrate that is that by using the awesome firepower of the United States wherever and whenever you need it.

But we should not, particularly on the issue of intelligence, we should not live with the illusion that intelligence is somehow going to provide us a silver bullet, an easy way out. It hasn't in the past; it won't in the future.

KAGAN: All right. With that, we'll have you stand by. I know there's a lot of folks in our audience who'd like to ask some questions of you, and you have that chance right after this break.

When we come back, we're going to take your phone calls and your e-mail for former CIA officer Rueul Gerecht. We're looking forward to that. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: Welcome back to CNN, "Target: Terrorism."

We welcome more of your phone calls and your e-mail; and, in fact, we have some right here.

Also, we have with us David Ensor, our national security correspondent.

David, pick up where we left off.

ENSOR: Reuel, do you think there is any chance that the U.S. could get come intelligence help from Iran on this, even though we've not had such a terrific relationship over the last decade or two?

GERECHT: An absolute perfect zero.

ENSOR: No chance at all?

GERECHT: No chance whatsoever.

ENSOR: And would there be any point in trying talking to them?

GERECHT: No, it would be very counterproductive, particularly since we know beyond a shadow of a doubt Iranians have engaged in counterterrorism operations against the United States in the past. And I think it's a serious mistake to live with the belief, which I think is an illusion that because you have President Khatami in office, that there are going to be significant differences in the way Iran operates.

One, Khatami, even if you think he is well-inclined, he certainly does not have control over the security services, over the intelligence services. Khamenei, the spiritual leader of Iran, does.

And I think it's certainly an arguable case, the Clinton administration certainly believed so, that Iran was beyond the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. And I think it would actually, the attempt to reach out to Iran makes us look rather silly.

KAGAN: Let me jump in here and get an e-mail question because lots of viewers are writing in. This one is from Abraham. It's a comment, and I will let you go from there. Abraham writes that, "The CIA needs to be of the same caliber of Israel's Mossad. They need to be an offensive weapon like our special op forces, not just a defensive mechanism to protect America from future attacks."

How would you comment on that?

GERECHT: Well, I'm not terribly sure how good the Mossad is actually right now. If you look Mossad's operations in Lebanon, they often got chewed up by the Hezbollah. So I would be -- Israel isn't terribly plugged in to the Muslim world anymore.

The first wave of immigration that allowed Israel to have a surplus of Arabic speakers, individuals who knew the streets of Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and every place else, these people are very old now. Israel has become a much more westernized society. So I would be skeptical of that first part.

So far as being an offensive tool, I'd probably say no.

KAGAN: Not a good idea?

GERECHT: That is a job -- I mean, special operations is a military tool. It's a military weapon. And that's for rangers, that's for special forces, that's for, under certain limited circumstances, Delta Force and the SEAL teams. It's not something spooks do. It's a different muscle, it's a different mental reflex.

KAGAN: A different job.

We have a phone call now. The caller is from Kentucky .

Caller, go ahead.

CALLER: Thank you. This question is for Reuel. I would like to know your opinion on what's our chances of Saddam Hussein getting in with bin Laden and working against the U.S. on terrorist attacks?

GERECHT: I think the odds of a liaison relationship between bin Laden, Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein are quite strong.

KAGAN: Wouldn't some suggest that it's already taken place?

GERECHT: Well, I think there have been dialogues between them...

ENSOR: There have been meetings certainly.

GERECHT: Yes. And whether you need to presuppose that for this particular terrorist attack aid from Saddam Hussein was required, I don't think that's necessary. This isn't the type. The Cole, for example, would have been a much more reasonable assumption, because someone brought in C-4 explosives, large quantities. Someone brought in the tutorial assistance to tell them how to do that.

This one, however, is really a function of having Islamic holy warriors in teams who are willing to off themselves on cue. That is not something that Saddam Hussein is known for. People do not die for him unless they have a gun in the back of their heads.

However, I do believe -- I think that we're fooling ourselves if we think that Saddam Hussein is not the most serious threat. He is. He's been spending a fortune since the end of the Iran-Iraq war, since the end of the Gulf war, on truing to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Revenge is what defines his life. And I think it's only a matter of time before he comes for us and others in the region.

O'CONNOR: I wanted to ask you, do you think that -- now there's all of this talk about another threat, more of a threat. Do you think it's more of a threat? Or do you think we're just paying more attention to the intelligence that was already there?

GERECHT: What? I'm not sure I follow you.

O'CONNOR: Well, the president and the attorney general are saying that the United States, that there is an increased threat. And clearly, when we're threatening military action, there is an increased threat of retaliation or a counter-strike.

But do you also think that after September 11, what intelligence that might have been beforehand, that might have been disregarded, is now being looked at in a much stronger light, and being seen, as "Gee, we should take this stuff seriously"?

GERECHT: Well, I think that, certainly, domestically people are going to, you know, beef up the program.

They're going to try to figure out ways that they can spot these individuals before. However, the idea that you are going to successfully profile this type of group, I think, is being very optimistic. These individuals, you know, they come from more or less a westernized background. They are not poor, they are not socially awkward.

I have to say that this particular strike is daunting, not so much in its complexity, though it was certainly a complex operation, and the fact that these individuals were really prepared and were able to suspend their death wish for such a long period of time, and then more or less, on command executed this operation, which, from the eyes of an Islamic radical, is truly glorious.

ENSOR: You know, Reuel, I think a lot of people back in the agency you used to work in who may be listening to you now would say, "Well, this guy tells us what we're doing wrong, but he never says how to do this."

Now, Secretary Rumsfeld said that it probably won't be a cruise missile that solves the problem of Al Qaeda. It'll be a scrap of information. How does the U.S. get that scrap of information, assuming he's right, in your view?

GERECHT: Well, one, I would say I don't think it will be a scrap of information that solves Al Qaeda. I think the solution to Al Qaeda and the solution to Islamic radicalism is really -- Islamic terrorism is really going to be a military solution.

However, the intelligence aspect of this, I think that more or less it's very doubtful that the organization, as it is presently structured, is going to be able to supply information that is really the type of tactical intelligence that you need.

It's possible, but, again, I think that most likely it's going to come because the U.S. forces are in Afghanistan -- unless we get lucky on the first strike -- that U.S. forces are in Afghanistan and because of our presence in Afghanistan, Afghans come to us and volunteer the information that we need.

Now, so far as restructuring the service, I think you always have to build the service according to the target. And that means, more or less, that you have to rebuild a service -- a very small service, not a big one -- that is outside of normal official channels. That means you're not going to have operatives in embassies, in consulates. You're not going to have these people serving at headquarters.

You're going to have to think long and hard and look at the individuals that you want to try to either recruit, or probably more likely because the odds of recruiting a radical Islamist are very small -- but trying to seed that organization with the right type of individuals, you're going to have to figure out what the pattern is and put them into place. It's hard.

ENSOR: It sounds very hard.

O'CONNOR: Well, one of the things you've also talked about in your -- wrote an article recently about, that American officers just don't like to get out in the field that much.

Is that really true, that you believe that it'll be tough to get Americans to kind of get their hands dirty and live in mud?

GERECHT: I think there are individual officers who would have no trouble with it. The problem is it's just not necessarily efficacious, it's not necessarily going to work.

Certainly, the bureaucracy is very resistant understandably for them doing that, that it's really not -- if you are located overseas in any official capacity, the notion that you are going to, you know, at night change your clothes and become a native and go out and get your hands dirty is just a little silly. It's not going to happen.

So you're going to have to structure a new service whereby you actually appear truly as a native, whether that means founding your own Islamic charitable organization, whether that means operating as a local businessman and planning long-term. Nothing is going to be quick, particularly now since they're going to be on guard.

ENSOR: It's not going to stop the next attack, is it?

GERECHT: No. No.

KAGAN: Long-term, a long-term problem.

Reuel Gerecht, thank you for your time and for giving us a different look inside of the intelligence community. Appreciate it.

GERECHT: My pleasure.

KAGAN: Good to have you with us.

We have much more to do here. Just ahead, how much of a threat does Afghanistan's Taliban government really pose to U.S. forces? We're going to talk about that and more with our reporters' roundtable. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: I want to show you this web site that we talked about earlier with Dr. Henderson of Johns Hopkins University, telling you more about bio-defense and the potential for bioterrorism and how you can get ready.

The address is www.hopkins-biodefense.org. And you can get a lot more information there about the topic that clearly is bringing up a lot of viewer interest.

Also, a lot of you are interested about what is happening in Afghanistan and neighboring countries. Joining us now with some special insights into the story is our Nic Robertson. He is going to join us from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Also with us, of course, for the entire two hours has been our Eileen O'Connor and national security correspondent David Ensor. Nic, let's go ahead and start with you. It's been while since we've checked in with you. So bring us the latest from the region, including the reports of Taliban forces firing on some kind of aircraft earlier today.

ROBERTSON: Well, Taliban officials, Daryn, are telling us that they think there's been some probing exercises by U.S. aircraft on them today.

Late this evening, just after the sun went down, they reported that in the western town of Herat, they had seen three aircraft flying over that city. They said that they were flying north, south, back again, coming back again, coming back again. They said that they could see lights flashing from those aircraft. The aircraft didn't fire on them.

In Kabul today, they said that they had fired on what they said was an American aircraft flying over the city. That aircraft could clearly be seen circling over the city. They said they fired from three anti-aircraft gun positions.

And also, residents of the city say that Taliban fired a surface- to-air missile at that aircraft. Now, the Taliban defense ministry denies that, but clearly some air activity going on there above Afghanistan today -- Daryn.

KAGAN: All right, Nic, we'll have you stand by.

I also want to bring in now Eileen and David at the same time.

We've got an e-mail question from a viewer at home, the question being, "Do you think that the Russians are at all concerned with U.S. troops being in such close proximity to their borders?"

And this obviously talking about the follow-up to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's trip overseas and the commitment from Uzbekistan, a former Soviet Republic, saying to the United States, "Sure, come on over. For now, it's just a humanitarian mission that you can use our base for." But the idea that U.S. military would be within what used to be a Soviet republic and so close to Russian borders.

Eileen, as you were mentioning and reminding me, thank you very much, you only spent 10 years in the country.

(LAUGHTER)

KAGAN: How do you think the Russians are responding to that kind of news?

O'CONNOR: Well, some of that time with David as well.

They actually are responding very well. And it's what's been surprising and the silver lining in all of this is that now there's a new response. They have been greatly against NATO expansion, and there had been -- there is now a much more positive response to the potential of working together with the United States in these kinds of things.

But let's remember, the Russians also like the fact that the United States is recognizing, in a big way, Islamic fundamentalism. And Islamic fundamentalism in Chechyna -- the United States was very critical of the Russians in that war, in their actions in that war. And the Russians have always been justifying that by saying that they had been fighting a war against terrorism there, and they've been greatly concerned about this in the region.

ENSOR: You know, I was interviewing a Russian analyst the other day. And he was on the phone with a guy named Boris Nemtsov in Russia, who is a senior politician, who had just spoken to Putin. And Nemtsov said that Putin told him that he said, Putin said to his advisers, "This is what I think I'm going to do. I'm going to say yes to the Americans. I'm going to say they can go ahead and put troops there." And that Putin told Nemtsov, "I only had one adviser who agreed with me."

There are a lot of Russians who do not like the look of this one bit. They're afraid there's going to be an American sphere of influence in Central -- in what was Soviet Central Asia. And who are we to tell them that they're wrong? It's possible those troops could be there for a very long time. This is a very interesting shift. But the Russians, as Eileen said, they see some opportunities here too to change the whole relationship.

O'CONNOR: Right. It is worrying for them. But again, this is an opportunity for them. It was a very tough relationship in the last, say, year and a half since Putin has come to power, and this is perhaps an opportunity to get that on a more even keel. And I think the Bush administration recognizes that as well. They have to play it carefully.

KAGAN: But we did have reports during the secretary's visit as he was making his big tour, that this indeed might not be a temporary thing, and that maybe Uzbekistan is looking for this as a long-term situation, not just to protect themselves from terrorists, but also perhaps to put a little buffer between themselves and the Russians.

ENSOR: I think that's very likely, yes. There are lots of advantages for them to bring in another party, another big power and kind of play them off against each other a little bit. And obviously, the Russians are uneasy about that. At the same time, there are opportunities for the Russians too to completely change the relationship.

You haven't heard a lot of talk about missile defense lately, have you?

KAGAN: No, we have not.

ENSOR: Well, I mean, maybe they'll come back to it, but the U.S. has other priorities now. And all of a sudden the Russians and the Americans have the same enemy.

O'CONNOR: And the fact that they... KAGAN: Nic is listening in from Islamabad, so let's let him chime in -- Nic.

ROBERTSON: The Russians do have some very real concerns there in their former Central Asian states, formerly part of the Soviet Union -- Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan -- all bordering the north of Afghanistan.

And the Taliban have said quiet openly that once they get Afghanistan sorted out, they will then move further forward, further north into those countries with their own brand of Islam.

This is of great concern to Russia that this type of very fundamentalist Islamic state could becoming somewhat closer to their borders, through these particular countries.

So there is something in this for Russia's interest to see the Taliban dealt with and stop this northward expansion of such a fundamentalist version of Islam at this time.

KAGAN: I want to take up the point that you made, talking about how the Russians have had their problems with Chechnya and have had some pressure and some criticism from the U.S. It's interesting, as the U.S. and American officials go around and try to make this new alliance, the compromises that American officials are having to make and back-off and turn their heads away of certain situations that they might have been more critical of in the past.

O'CONNOR: Well, this is happening not just in the area with Russia but in a lot of areas as well. I mean, we're seeing a changing relationship with Pakistan; we're seeing a changing relationship with India. We're seeing also a lot of concessions being given across the board to a lot of countries that the United States has been resisting.

And this always happens when you build a coalition. The Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that last week, who was talking about this, says that this is what's dangerous about coalitions. You end up making compromises that you weren't willing to make a couple of months ago.

KAGAN: Right. And it's one thing to make the coalition, it's another to keep it together, David.

ENSOR: That's absolutely right, and it's going to be quite difficult, particularly if they start trying to bring Iraq in and go after Iraq, as we've all suggested. And that's a recipe for the coalition largely falling apart, quite frankly, most experts seem to feel. So it's going to be difficult. They're going to have to go at this one thing at a time.

You know, one thing I'd like to underscore, and I think our two hours here have underscored, we've heard a lot since September 11 about the military and troops going here and there, but right now this isn't military. This is an intelligence and a law enforcement campaign. There's a lot going on that we're not hearing about, as Nic knows, right around where he is in northern Afghanistan and Kabul, all kinds of activity. All sorts of special operations' units and God knows what else.

There are surprising allies coming. I gather from officials that the government of Sudan has arrested some people in connection with Osama bin Laden. That's not a government we usually think of as an ally of the United States.

And we've talked a lot of about intelligence failures and weaknesses, but let's also remember it's an extraordinarily powerful tool, the U.S. intelligence, unbelievable equipment they have. The surveillance satellites, the eavesdropping equipment and the brains of the U.S. intelligence are quite formidable.

So, you know, I just think that ought to be on the record also. They're working pretty hard too.

KAGAN: All your intelligence sources who have been watching, don't be angry at David.

ENSOR: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

KAGAN: He knows both sides of the story.

I want to talk more about that and wrap things up when we take a break. More of our roundtable when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAGAN: Welcome back to our reporters' roundtable. A couple of minutes left here. We want to bring our Nic Robertson, who is in Islamabad, back in.

And, Eileen, I think you have a question for Nic in our final minutes.

O'CONNOR: Yes. I was wondering, Nic, basically what is the risk of the Islamic fundamentalist movement in Pakistan going to aid the Taliban if the United States goes in and the risk, really, to the government in Pakistan once the United States does take an action in Afghanistan? How destabilizing will that movement be in their country?

ROBERTSON: Well, so far, Eileen, the government here has been able to control the reaction from the sort of Islamic fundamentalists here, those that have been allied with the Taliban.

The real problem is going to be in those areas of Pakistan that are close to Afghanistan -- Baluchistan, the northwest frontier province -- where typically ties with the Taliban and Afghans, in particular, are very strong. Now, the government does have a large number of security personnel at its disposal, and it can effectively lock down those areas. But, in effect, what it might really be doing would be essentially pulling back its borders.

But certainly, so far, the government has gone out of its way here not to be confrontational with those organizations. It believes that it still does have some pressure points on those religious leaders who fire up the crowds that we've been seeing.

So the government's still reasonably confident at this phase that it can contain it. But, really, it certainly hasn't seen the worst of it, and the worst of it would come if the Taliban were attack.

I do have to say that we've just had a statement from Mullah Omar, the supreme leader of the Taliban, who says in a two-sentence statement, he says that the Taliban should not be made the fall guys of the international community at this time; and that he went on to say that the United States should not jump to any conclusion before taking action against Afghanistan.

Now, this is a very new statement from the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar. This coming after a day when the Taliban have certainly seen a lot of air activity over Afghanistan. And, certainly, this very direct statement to the United States to not make the Taliban the fall guys of international intrigue.

Of course, the Taliban have long been saying that Afghanistan has been the center of international intrigue not only under their leadership, but under the Soviet occupation, under the efforts of the British empire, to subjugate the Afghan people back in the 19th century.

So that from the Taliban leadership, a very strong warning essentially to the United States not to make them the fall guys of what they say is international intrigue, and to look carefully before making any action on them in Afghanistan.

KAGAN: Nic Robertson, thanks for wrapping up that report with some news there at the end.

Before we wrap things up for the entire two hours, though -- and by the way, Nic, obviously, in Islamabad, Pakistan -- I want to end with some final thoughts from Frank Sesno.

The fight against terrorism offers up special challenges to the president and his team, and how to hold public support as well as public patience. It is a difficult balancing act.

More now from our Washington bureau chief, Frank Sesno.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK SESNO, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Images of the week, the secretary of defense on the road building support for the coalition against terrorism. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUMSFELD: We simply want them to understand, first-hand, face- to-face, as a representative of the president of the United States, that our interest is in a sustained effort...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: The president in New York with corporate bosses, trying to get America moving again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM CHENAULT, CEO AND PRESIDENT, CHENAULT SYSTEMS, INC.: It's important, I think, for the American public to understand that the long-term fundamentals that we have in our economy are strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: The British prime minister talking tough about military action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLAIR: Our enemy is Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network, who are responsible for the events of the 11th of September. The Taliban regime must yield them up or become our enemy also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: A Pakistani spokesman saying the U.S. has presented a convincing case against Osama bin Laden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIAZ KHAN, PAKISTANI SPOKESMAN: This material certainly provides sufficient basis for indictment in a court of law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESNO: Powerful images and words. And U.S. officials are perfectly happy to let surrogates do some of the talking. The message is better and more convincing, it's felt, if it comes from multiple sources, and not all of them American.

In fact, the Bush administration is providing little information, few specifics about what it knows or what it plans.

SESNO: Officials say they don't need to or want to. Secrecy must be preserved, they say, and in any case, the public doesn't need convincing about the nature or importance of this war.

Some foreign policy experts, however, voice private concern that if there's what they call a news lull, the absence of decisive action or information, debate and media coverage could take a more skeptical turn. So far, those concerns appear unfounded. A CNN-Time poll, for example, shows only about a quarter or Americans calling for quick military action. The rest say they're find waiting a month or longer if that's what it takes.

Three-quarters say they think the president is handling the situation just about right.

The information war, like the rest of it, will be different this time. Hearts and minds will still count, but as one senior official said, "September 11 doesn't need to be explained, only answered."

Frank Sesno, CNN, Washington.

KAGAN: With that, we will let Frank have the last word.

That's going to do it for this hour. I'm Daryn Kagan. I want to thank you for watching.

Also, many thanks to Eileen O'Connor and David Ensor.

Feel better. Take care of the voice.

Coming up next, CNN's coverage of "America's New War" continues.

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