CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
America's New War: Congress Passes Airport Security Bill; What is U.S. Military's Next Move?; Mistreatment of Women Under the Taliban Regime
Aired November 17, 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.
JEANNE MESERVE, HOST: Better late than never, Congress reaches a compromise on the airlines security bill. We'll talk to one of the key players in the agreement, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Following a string of triumphs for the Northern Alliance, what's the military's next step? And who will run the new government?
Then, the Taliban may be on the run, but many Afghan women remain behind the veil. We'll debate women's civil rights in these changing times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we're talking about is a new relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: ... Presidents Bush and Putin pledge to reduce their nuclear weapons. We'll examine the new friendship between the United States and Russia.
And in wake of Flight 587, can the air travel industry regain passenger confidence and enforce safety standards?
This is CNN, AMERICA'S NEW WAR.
Welcome. I'm Jeanne Meserve in Washington. Joining me is CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel.
And we're looking for your phone calls and e-mails over next two hours as we discuss the war on terrorism and its impact on several key issues. E-mail our experts your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We'll get to our first guest, Senator Key Bailey Hutchison in just a moment, but first, the latest developments in America's new war.
The Associated Press is reporting that suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden has left Afghanistan. For the details now, we turn to CNN's Carol Lin, who joins us from Quetta, Pakistan -- Carol.
CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jeanne.
A little bit more about that Associated Press report. According to that press report that Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador, crossed at the Chaman border-crossing -- it is the main border- crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan -- and made these statements to the Associated Press that Osama bin Laden had left Afghanistan with his wife and family.
We can confirm that the ambassador did indeed cross into Pakistan from Afghanistan at the Chaman border-crossing. He is expected sometime here in Quetta at the consular office. The security there is extremely tight right now, so we are trying to confirm these statements.
Now, I just got a briefing from a representative from this Afghan tribal elders meeting that's been taking place, this is the group of people which has been negotiating with the Taliban for them to withdraw from Kandahar. And what this representative to these tribal elders is saying is that these tribal elders still believe that Osama bin Laden is still inside of Afghanistan. I interviewed one of these tribal elders earlier today, and he said indeed they do expect that Osama bin Laden has not left that country.
We do know, though, that Ambassador Zaeef has been traveling quite a bit between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the last week. In fact, over the past week, he left very hurriedly from Islamabad, and he traveled through this large province, the Baluchistan province, and CNN caught up with him where the ambassador had been meeting with some Pashtun tribal leaders, potentially as part of this ongoing discussion of what the political future for these tribal leaders will be in a coalition government inside of Afghanistan.
He has crossed, as we understand it, into Afghanistan twice in the last week for consultations in the city of Kandahar as the situation in Afghanistan heats up -- Jeanne.
MESERVE: Carol, is any sort of the proof being offered that Osama bin Laden may indeed have left Afghanistan? And any indication where he might have gone?
LIN: No. But logic dictates here from this province here that borders Afghanistan that if anyone were to try to flee the conflict inside of Afghanistan that the logical place at this point would be into Pakistan because of the historic connections between the Pakistani military, the Pakistani intelligence service and the Taliban. After all, the Taliban leadership was educated primarily and trained here in Pakistan.
So, logic dictates that, and certainly, the way the Pakistani government has been responding in recent days, it is expecting or certainly, at least, preparing for any of this conflict which may include Taliban fighters coming across into Pakistan. The Pakistani army has been massing troops along the border for the last couple of days. At least some 2,000 troops now line the border and are concentrated at this Chaman border-crossing -- Jeanne.
MESERVE: Carol Lin in Quetta, thank you.
And for U.S. reaction to the Taliban's claim, we turn now to CNN's Jonathan Aiken, who joins us from the Pentagon.
Jonathan, what are they saying there?
JONATHAN AIKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jeanne, they're basically echoing the comments of these tribal leaders. They feel that Osama bin Laden remains in the country, and they don't see any evidence that bin Laden has left Afghanistan.
In fact, the comment from spokesman Glenn Flood was, "Our search continues. Just consider the source." Flood pointing out that in the past, the Taliban has made statements that may have attempted to redirect or misdirect the search for bin Laden, who, of course, is the subject of a massive manhunt by U.S. special operation forces in southern Afghanistan.
But according to the Pentagon here, no firm evidence that he has left, though they do say there doesn't appear to be any indication that he has left that general area where they thought he may have been all along, which is in southern Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld also spoke to this yesterday, as he was addressing -- actually, talking to reporters after attending a graduation certainly at the Naval Lakes Training Center outside of Chicago in Illinois.
He was asked about bin Laden's whereabouts. Pardon me while I read this, but he said, "I don't doubt that well-hidden helicopters available to senior people can run down a ravine and not be seen. It's also possible that you could use a donkey or a mule and walk across a porous border. Nomadic tribes have been doing that between these two countries since time began."
So, Mr. Rumsfeld himself leaving open the possibility that Mr. bin Laden may be on the move, whereabouts unknown. But he still firmly believed yesterday, and the Pentagon believes today, that bin Laden is in Afghanistan -- Jeanne.
MESERVE: Jonathan Aiken at the Pentagon, thank you.
And now we're going to move up to Capitol Hill and a new development in the anthrax story. CNN's Kate Snow is following that and has the details for us -- Kate.
KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jeanne, they've just wrapped up a news conference involving Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont. He says his office is taking every precaution because of this newly identified letter that they believed to contain anthrax.
But he notes they are not taking antibiotics, because health officials say so much time has passed now since the date of this letter that they don't think they're at any health risk. Let's take a look at the letter itself. We've gotten our first view of it now. It's addressed to Senator Patrick Leahy in the Russell Office Building. That's his personal, private office, his office where he represents Vermont as a Democrat.
You'll note that the lettering looks very similar to the letter that was sent to Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader. If you recall, that letter had the exact same return address from a school in New Jersey. Both letters also had the same postmark, and both were dated on the same day, sent on the same day.
That letter was recovered within 250 barrels, actually 280 barrels of mail, congressional mail, that was unopened, that they took away from Capitol Hill. They brought it out to a site in Virginia for this very reason, to look through it and see whether there were any other tainted letters.
Investigators have been combing through that mail throughout this week. Yesterday, they identified this letter to Senator Leahy. Senator Leahy commenting on the fact that this letter could actually provide them now more clues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: I'm hoping that the one bright light in all of this might be that this letter will give us further evidence to find out who is doing this.
I, without any specialized knowledge, I tend to agree with the estimation that the FBI and the police have made, that this is the actions of somebody within this country who is acting out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: FBI officials say that the letter has been bagged. It's been sent to a lab. Tests continue on the letter. Again, the initial tests show preliminarily that it does contain anthrax.
And they are emphasizing Jeanne, that they want any American with any information to please call them. They talked again about a $1.25 million reward that's out there for anyone with information that might be connected to theses letters -- Jeanne.
MESERVE: Kate Snow on Capitol Hill, thanks.
And something a little different this Saturday, unlike other Saturdays, President Bush did not give the weekly presidential radio address. Instead, First Lady Laura Bush took to the airwaves to talk about the plight of women in Afghanistan.
CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett is at the presidential ranch in Crawford, Texas, with all of the story -- Major.
MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Jeanne. You know, the administration has said for a long time that the Al Qaeda terrorist network was responsible and a top suspect for the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Well, today, First Lady Laura Bush said that the Taliban regime that has given safe haven to Al Qaeda practices a terrorism of its own kind, a terrorism inflicted on women and children. She laid out the administration's case against the Taliban's brutal treatment of women and children in the Saturday weekly radio address, making a bit of history herself.
Never before has a first lady delivered the entire radio address. At times in the past, first ladies have joined their presidential spouses on the radio address, but this time the White House decided to have the first lady carry the message entirely herself.
And she said, not only under the Taliban's rule did women lose a chance to have a job, to go to school and enjoy higher education to be doctors, even the smallest, most humane moments of life were stripped away from them.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Life under the Taliban is so hard and repressive, even small displays of joy are outlawed. Children aren't allowed to fly kites. Their mothers face beatings for laughing out loud. Women cannot work outside of the home or even leave their homes by themselves.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GARRETT: The first lady conceded that now that the Taliban is in retreat, life has gotten better in Afghanistan for women and children there. But she said the point is that the Taliban regime and the Al Qaeda network it has supported want to export this brutal type of Islamic rule to other parts of the world. And that is the thing the world community must concentrate on, the first lady said, eradicate it entirely so it does not spread -- Jeanne.
MESERVE: Major, we've heard the Pentagon reaction to these reports that Osama bin Laden may have fled Afghanistan. What about White House officials, have they had anything to say?
GARRETT: Well, senior administration officials tell CNN a message very similar to that released by the Pentagon. No evidence that this claim by the Taliban is true. Administration officials also take pains to point out that almost nothing, in their view, that the Taliban has said about any situation in Afghanistan has proven out to be true.
The White House recently, through it's coalition information center, released what it called a catalogue of Taliban lies. They released that in Islamabad, Pakistan.
The administration official I just talked to a few moments ago said this most recent claim about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts is being viewed and greeted with skepticism administration-wide. This official went on to say, "The Taliban rarely says anything that turns out to be true" -- Jeanne.
MESERVE: Major Garrett, thanks so much.
And now we want to get some reaction from Senate Republican leadership to these reports about bin Laden. Joining us now, Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Thanks for joining us, Senator.
What's your reaction to these reports?
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Well, of course, I just want to find him. I want to make sure that we rid him from the earth and then go forward and try to destroy the entire Al Qaeda network. The things they have done in Afghanistan and throughout the world are just a devastating mar on civilization.
HUTCHISON: So, I just hope we can track him, find him and hopefully get rid of him.
MESERVE: Would complicate matters tremendously for the U.S. if he has indeed fled?
HUTCHISON: Yes, it will, because then, of course, unless we are tracking him and know exactly where he is, which is possible -- but if we have lost track of him and we are having to find him, then, with a trail, then it will be harder.
But, as President Bush has said, we will find him. If it's five months or five years, we will find him.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Senator, this is Andrea Koppel.
I wanted to ask you about a piece of legislation that I believe you and some other legislators in the Senate sponsored earlier this week about the plight or Afghan women. You heard what the first lady Laura Bush had to say today. Do you think they're hitting the right note?
HUTCHISON: Absolutely. I was so pleased that they chose to ask Laura Bush to give the address to rally all the women of our country and world around this insidious deprivation of women.
It's awful what they have done to the women in that country and the reports coming out. I mean, in the 21st century, it's unthinkable that you would treat women so brutally, and, yet, they have.
So, I thought what Laura Bush did was highlight the issue.
The women of the Senate came together, passed a bill this week to just assure the world that all of the aid that is going into Afghanistan and into the refugee camps will be spread equally. We will educate girls, as well as boys. We will allow health care for women who have been denied health care, because women have not been allowed to be examined by male doctors and they don't allow women doctors to practice.
So, we are going to all band together. Women members of the Senate and House are going to pass this bill.
I was very pleased that the first lady decided to make this a high priority. I think the president will also come in and assure the things that we are asking, that women and children now have a chance to live in peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.
KOPPEL: Well, as you know, Senator, one of the things that the Bush administration wants to do and is now trying to make happen is that Afghan women have a larger voice in deciding who their next government will be. What do you think the difference between that and nation-building is, which is what you have heard President Bush say he doesn't want to do?
HUTCHISON: Well, what I think our government is correct in doing is trying to make sure that whatever government is put in place in Afghanistan will last. We have seen evidence in the past where we tried to go in and tell the people that this is the right leader for your country but it isn't the leader that the people have chosen.
So, our government is saying we want to make sure there is a stability. And certainly, the women of Afghanistan, having a place and making sure that never again will women be treated this way, that girls will not be denied education and basic rights, I think is a very important message that we're sending.
MESERVE: And we're going to explore the challenges facing Afghan women in more depth a bit later in the program, but when we return, we're going to shift gears and talk with Senator Hutchison about aviation security and the new bill approved by Congress.
Send us your e-mail, make your calls and stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ERNEST HOLLINGS (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: This is not only a security measure but, more than anything else, the airline stimulus bill. Because once the confidence is re-instilled back in the American people, they will travel. And I think it's important we got it done here before Thanksgiving.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: Senate Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, after Congress finally broke a stalemate over new aviation security legislation.
The House and Senate yesterday approved a measure that requires airport passenger and baggage screeners to be federal employees. House Republican leaders originally opposed that provision.
Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison played a leading role in negotiating the bill. We're continuing our conversation with her.
Senator, a lot of congratulations going around on Capitol Hill for the fact that this legislation was passed before the Thanksgiving travel holiday. However, what impact, if any, is this bill going to have on the safety of travel in the coming week?
HUTCHISON: Well, first, the American people know that we now have a comprehensive system that will take place over the next year. But there are many detailees from other agencies that are doing what we would make permanent in the bill.
So you see the National Guard people, those will eventually be replaced with federal security officers. They'll be armed, and they will be supervising what is now being done by the National Guard.
The same for air marshals. We have detailees from other agencies that are acting as air marshals. We will start training air marshals immediately, put them on planes to replace the detailees from other agencies.
So, basically, you know that there's a comprehensive system that will be up and running. And the temporary people that have been filling in will be replaced with permanent, trained federal personnel.
MESERVE: Senator, we have already have an e-mail question for you, this one coming in from Sonoma, California.
Barbara asks, "For all our national efforts about the cockpit doors, security checks, et cetera, what about all the other planes flying into our country?"
What do you have to say about that?
HUTCHISON: Well, we have always had a high security for planes flying into our country. The scheduled air carriers will have sky marshals on them, and they have rigorous checks at the location from which they took off.
So, I think that foreign flights coming in will have the same scrutiny, but they've had that more than the domestic flights have already.
MESERVE: I want ask you about some testimony this week from the inspector general of the Department of Transportation, who said that, you know, we have some of these baggage screening devices in place already and that they are woefully underutilized, that less than 10 percent of luggage is being screened, that those machines could be used to screen four times as much.
What does this say about the commitment to security on the part of the airlines?
HUTCHISON: Well, I think that all of us were taken by surprise on September 11 but we're not surprised now. So, that's why the bill that has just passed says, within 60 days, all checked bags will be screened by whatever means is available.
If we don't have those EDS machines available yet in every airport -- which we don't, they're not even manufactured yet in those numbers -- but, as they become available they will go into the airports, but no later than 60 days, by X-ray, by hand-screening, by sniffing dogs, every checked bag will be scanned.
MESERVE: Now, am I correct in thinking that, at that point, in 60 days, the airlines will still be in charge of those machines? And if they're currently not using them to capacity, will they then? Will they live up to their obligation here?
HUTCHISON: The federal government is going to put a security person at every airport. They're going to begin immediately taking over the system. Now, that will take a few months. It will take probably 60 to 90 days for all of the airline responsibility to be transferred to the federal government, but it will begin immediately.
MESERVE: There was also interesting testimony this week from a flight attendant who pointed out that cockpit doors are now reinforced; the pilot and copilot are protected, but that stewardesses are not. She said that they even went to such lengths as talking about breaking wine bottles so they'd be able to use jagged edges to protect themselves from possible hijackers.
Does this legislation address, in any respect, the training or equipping or protection of the those people, those members of the flight crew who are still in the cabin?
HUTCHISON: It does not specifically address that. But, of course, beefing up the screening of the baggage and trying keep anything from getting onto an airplane that could be used as a weapon and having more air marshals on the flights, I think, does protect everyone better.
And the flight attendants are also using the carts more. If you have been on a flight, you notice that the cart stays right up there next to the cockpit door, and it goes up and down the aisle more that it did before.
So I think that there is more being done on top of the airplane. And I think we need to address every single issue that we possibly can, but not letting weapons on in the first place is the place to start.
MESERVE: And, Senator, from your state we have another e-mail. This one from Karl (ph), who asks, "How soon will these federal security troops replace civilian gate guards?"
HUTCHISON: I think you will begin to see it in the first month. It will become more and more apparent in the following months. We have a one-year deadline for the total transfer. That means hiring, training people, putting them online, and I think you will see more and more of that as we go through the months. Obviously, we do have to gear up, but I think having the full federal force is going to make it easier. We're going to go immediately to the people who have been laid off from the airlines. I think that is going to be a big source of new hirees. These are people who are familiar with airports and, I think, would be easily trained and are certainly looking for jobs. So I think we have a pool of employment.
I think we can do this fast. It has been our mandate to the Department of Transportation that they do it fast, and I think they will.
MESERVE: Are you going to have a transition problem here? You have people now at the gates, who are the employees of private companies. They know they're not going to be doing the job in a few months' time. How do you keep them committed to doing a good job?
HUTCHISON: Well, you have federal supervisors at every screening location. That will become very clear. So -- and you also will have some of those people, the ones who meet the qualifications, able to apply for the jobs.
And the qualifications are much stiffer now. You do have to be a U.S. citizen. You have to have an English proficiency, a vision proficiency. You have to have more hours of training.
But if those people want to apply for the job, they will probably get a preference if they meet the higher standards.
MESERVE: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, thanks so much for joining us today.
HUTCHISON: Thank you, Jeanne.
MESERVE: And just ahead, residents in the Afghan capital of Kabul are celebrating the departure of the Taliban, but many questions remain about the country's future.
We'll explore the military and diplomatic challenges of rebuilding Afghanistan when AMERICA'S NEW WAR continues. And remember your e-mails and your calls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are fighting and we are winning, because we will not permit a small group of vicious, violent men to impose their will on America and on the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: Vice President Dick Cheney talking this week about the Taliban. With that regime in retreat, the focus is shifting to what shape a post-Taliban Afghanistan will take. For some perspective on this we turn to two guests: CNN military analyst David Grange, who joins us from Madison, Wisconsin, and here in Washington, Frederick Starr, professor and chairman of the Central Asia Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. Starr, let me start with you and a question about these reports about Osama bin Laden having fled Afghanistan. The administration is viewing this quite skeptically. Are you?
FRED STARR, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Well, yesterday, the people in Pakistan were reporting this. And of course, it's a completely porous border, so going one way or another is simple as pie.
I'm skeptical. The easy thing for Taliban to do is say, "He's gone, not here any more. Look elsewhere."
MESERVE: And stop the bombing campaign.
STARR: You bet.
MESERVE: General Grange, is that your take as well?
GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I think he's still in Afghanistan. Could he get into Pakistan easily? Of course he could. And he might well be there. But I agree with the other analysis that's been going on that he's still in Afghanistan and they would love for us to quit this bombing campaign.
KOPPEL: Mr. Starr, I would like to ask you about the problem of trying to put together this hodgepodge of the groups to form a post- Taliban government. You have the Northern Alliance of former president, current president Rabbani, who is saying...
STARR: "I'm president."
KOPPEL: ... "I'm president. We're not going to have this grand council outside of Kabul."
STARR: "We're going to have it right here."
KOPPEL: "We're going to have it right here."
KOPPEL: "Any by the way, the Taliban isn't welcome."
KOPPEL: This sounds like a mess.
STARR: It's very, very disturbing. There's genuine and understandable euphoria in the short term, but right under the surface you have people who were supposed to simply be caretakers for a few days simply moving in. They're taking over ministries. They are making deals with people who want to defect and are promising them positions in the new government. They are appointing governors. No one has stopped them.
KOPPEL: General, I would like to ask you a question if I could. You've got the Northern Alliance, that's in control of Kabul, and they're saying all of the right things. But as you just heard Mr. Starr say, their actions are not matching those words.
So, from a military man's perspective, how do you force the Northern Alliance now to accept the various ethnic and diverse groups, this multi-faceted government that the U.S. and international community says must be there?
GRANGE: Well, first of all, once some of these warlords taste power, they're not going to want to give it up. So the longer this takes, the harder it is to get some type of a multi-ethnic ruling participation in Afghanistan itself.
The two major missions of the United States of America and the international coalition, one is to destroy the Al Qaeda network and the Taliban hardcore regime that provides the security for that terrorist network. That should be our primary focus.
That being said, you have to be concerned the second-, third- order effects and the conditions of Afghanistan once the military operation is over, and that's a concern that we're talking about here obviously today.
But it's very difficult to force your will on other peoples that don't want their will forced upon them. They don't want to see a Western face on this government. They want their own government.
However, there is some ways that we can leverage some of this, shaping what this government will look like, and that is the future of Afghanistan is going to depend on very much a lot of outside aid, international aid. And you can always use that as a carrot.
To use a stick to force these tribal leaders to come about a certain type of government is going to be extremely difficult to do, and will drag in whoever is doing that into maybe a lengthy war.
KOPPEL: General, very quickly, just looking down the road. It sounds as if, from a military perspective again, things are going amazingly well, in this war. But couldn't it just go too well? If Kandahar collapses and the Taliban disperses into the mountains, then you're faced with a guerrilla war, aren't you?
GRANGE: Well, and I -- it will happen. There is no doubt in my mind there will be some type of guerrilla war going on with the Taliban, which -- I think those that will continue to fight are mainly the mercenaries, the outside influences that have come into Afghanistan, not the Afghanistan Taliban that have the Pashtun ethnic groupings. I think that it will come from Arab and other mercenaries in the country. That's going to happen. However, some type of Pashtun representation has to be within this new government, at least we think so. And hopefully we can persuade the Northern Alliance and those other tribal organizations, Mazar-i, Uzbek and Tajik, to accept that.
MESERVE: Mr. Starr, I saw you shake your head a couple of times during the general's comments.
STARR: Well, I would, unfortunately, disagree on one point that General Grange made, and that is, I think that unfortunately where we are at the moment is in a brief moment of euphoria as Taliban falls.
The Pashtun plurality of Afghanistan will then turn on the Northern Alliance. And it won't be just Afghanistan, it will unfortunately probably be the Pakistani Pashtuns, 16 million strong, as well.
We could see opening of a much worse new war of a very different character if we don't get the Northern Alliance under control. That's got to be done firmly.
And we have to hold Russia, who has been their principle sponsor, fully accountable. Putin, 10 days ago, announced publicly that Rabbani should be the president of the new government in Afghanistan. What's happened since is just carrying that out.
MESERVE: And we have to take a break. When we return, our guests will answer your e-mails and phone calls about rebuilding Afghanistan.
AMERICA'S NEW WAR is going to be right back.
MESERVE: We're talking about the military and political challenges of a post-Taliban Afghanistan with CNN military analyst General David Grange and Frederick Starr, professor and chairman of the Central Asia Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.
You have some questions. One is coming in on the telephone from Illinois.
Go right ahead.
CALLER: Hi, good morning.
MESERVE: Good morning. What's your question?
CALLER: This is for General Grange. It's a military question basically, and I'd like to know, as long as there's a top 20 most wanted FBI list, we must assume that these Al Qaeda members or a great deal of them may still be in Afghanistan. Should we not bomb the heck out them basically until we get most of them?
MESERVE: General Grange? GRANGE: Well, we're going to continue to bomb, I'm sure, the concentrations of the hardcore Taliban in Afghanistan to break the infrastructure of the Al Qaeda network as well as the Taliban command and control that supports that, or those that are the hardcore resistance to the current fighting going on in certain pockets in Afghanistan.
I don't think you're going to see a stop of the bombing right now at all.
MESERVE: I'd like to move on if I could, to ask you a little bit -- Ramadan has just begun today in the Muslim world, and obviously the military campaign, the very obvious bombing campaign is probably going to take more of a back seat.
How quickly does the military on the ground need to have to move and coordinate with all of this desperate groups to get that, that post government moving?
STARR: If there are adequate carrots, in the form of a real post-peace development program, and if we set out clear conditions that the new government has to meet to get those carrots...
MESERVE: Like what?
STARR: ... they'll come to terms very quickly.
The conditions are very simple. Forum, got to be national; has to represent all religious, ethnic groups; has to be out of the business of terrorism; has to be opposed to cultivation of opium poppies; and has to meet some minimum international standard of human rights. Any government that meets those conditions we should work with. And they'll make it very quickly if they know there's a real carrot.
MESERVE: And we have some international viewers. Right now we have a call coming in from Canada.
Go right ahead.
MESERVE: Hi. What's your question?
CALLER: Well, I was just wondering, if bin Laden has fled Afghanistan to either Pakistan or Iraq, will we go into -- or will you go into Iraq to try and get him out, or hopefully will they give him up to keep from getting bombed?
MESERVE: General Grange, what do you think?
GRANGE: Well, first of all, I don't think if he went into, let's say, Iraq, that Saddam Hussein would admit that he was in Iraq. They would probably want to hide that situation, for sure, because of our retribution.
But wherever he goes, I believe that we'll pursue him very aggressively.
KOPPEL: Well, I wasn't going to pick up on the caller's question, but I wanted to ask another question of Mr. Starr.
You have, again, just going back to Mr. Rabbani, who has said, "I'm in charge in Kabul," what happens if Kandahar falls in the next day or two? Who's going to fill the void there?
STARR: Well, there are now two different possibilities, both Pashtun. General Ismail Khan, however, who is a Persian-speaking from Herat, is also moving a force in that direction. He's associated with the Northern Alliance, so he's...
KOPPEL: And he's no friend of this coalition government, either.
STARR: Well, he's part of it, but he's a wild card at this point. So you could have this be the point at which the anti-Taliban war switches to a Pashtun-Northern Alliance conflict.
KOPPEL: So how do you prevent that from happening?
STARR: Decisiveness, at this point. It's absolutely crucial that the United States take a firm hand in the next two, three days.
MESERVE: And I'm afraid we have to leave it there, Mr. Starr and also General Grange. Thanks so much for joining us today.
STARR: Thank you.
MESERVE: And just ahead, we were talking a moment ago about Russia and the role it might play. Presidents Bush and Putin forge closer personal ties. We'll delve into what that means for the war on terrorism when we return.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We're both pledging to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons, offensive weapons, we have in order to make the world more secure. We're talking about ways to cooperate on anti-terrorism and anti-proliferation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: President Bush speaking at the conclusion of this week's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Joining us with some insight into the current U.S.-Russia relationship, Tobi Gati -- she served as assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration -- and Michael McFaul, a research fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Mr. McFaul, let me start with you. A few moments ago, we just heard Mr. Starr saying there was a role for Russia to play in Afghanistan to apply pressure to the Northern Alliance to allow a more broad-based government. Is it going to happen?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Well, it would have been nice, had they agreed to that and Crawford. And it would have been nice, had there been an agreement before the Northern Alliance had done what they've done, in terms of setting up their own government.
MESERVE: Why didn't that happen? Did the U.S. not press hard enough, or was Russia simply not willing to do that?
MCFAUL: I'm sure they pressed. I'm sure it was a topic of discussion. But you'll note, that there wasn't an agreement out of Crawford on it because the Russians, quite frankly, want to see the Northern Alliance take over in Kabul. We have a disagreement.
MESERVE: And tell us why?
MCFAUL: Well, these are the folks they've supported for several years. These are their allies there. This is the people they want to support.
MESERVE: So you've got to ask, what did the U.S. get out of this summit? We're cutting our nuclear arsenal to just about the level that the Russians want. We didn't get their assurances on putting pressure on Rabbani. We didn't get their assurances, I'm sure, on Chechnya, that we would have liked to have gotten. What did we get?
TOBI GATI, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I'd like to say, first of all, I think the Russians are probably asking the same thing and -- from the summit.
I think they got a lot of good press, a lot of feel-good, a lot of good tone...
MESERVE: And does that count for something?
GATI: It counts for a lot in politics. You shouldn't underestimate the ability to pick up a phone and just say, you know, "We'd started to talk about this. Let's pick up from where we left off," rather than, "How do you pronounce your name," type thing. So I think it's very important.
Putin is now not a former KGB person. He's a statesman. He's an international figure. He's someone to be reckoned with and someone who has ideas about the international system. So I think we got two out of three.
What we didn't get is the substance. And while, five years ago we would have said it's great to reduce nuclear weapons to the level that we're going to, remember, President Bush said we would do this, no matter what the Russians were going to do. So if the chair next to him were empty, he would have had this -- he would have said this.
MESERVE: I didn't mention missile defense, but going back to it, I mean, atmospherics are important, but isn't substance important, too?
MCFAUL: Well, of course substance is important. And I think, if you look at what they had hoped to get out of the summit, they wanted a Crawford accord. That was what the expectation two weeks before the summit, whereby they would have some general principles agreement on ABM and simultaneously they would announce these lower numbers on the offensive side.
And Putin didn't budge on that. He didn't want to do that. And so, now they're going to have to go back to the drawing board and to try to get him to go along.
And I should say, the politics in both cities, Washington and Moscow, the conservatives are mobilized now. President Bush is having to deal with those that say we just should get rid of this thing no matter what, forget principles, forget amendment. And back in Russia, Putin has to deal with his hard-liners who are not that excited about (inaudible) troops in Central Asia are not that excited about this new rapprochement. He's got to deal with them back home, as well.
MESERVE: We've seen the plus side of what the war on terrorism has done to the U.S. relationship with Russia. It's made things a lot friendlier and a lot more pleasant.
But have we lost quite a bit of leverage with the Russians now, when we try to -- when we try to do things, like push for missile defense, knowing that, gosh, if we push too hard, they're not going to help us as much as we'd like, keeping the coalition together?
GATI: I would say, if we still had a Clinton or Gore administration, that might be the way people would be thinking. But just remember, when Bush was elected, the last thing he wanted was leverage on the Russians. He basically wanted to forget them, said they weren't important, it didn't matter. We were going to do what we were going to do, and we do it on our own timetable.
What happened is 9/11, the tragedy that was -- actually saved the Crawford summit. Think to yourself what the results would have been if you hadn't been able to say this was a great strategic alliance between the two countries.
Condi Rice, in one of our her statements, said, you know, missile defense, it's only just a part of the relationship. Well, excuse me, but six months ago, it was the relationship. It was the litmus test.
And in a sense, if Bush wanted to, he could abrogate the ABM Treaty tomorrow. What's happened, in a way, is the Russians have gained leverage on us, in a sense, because they left Crawford saying, well, we'll see you soon. And when you're friends, it's not very nice to have someone go home and then say, gee, I've changed my mind.
And of the negotiations that went on in Crawford, those are important, but really, Mike is absolutely right. The main negotiations are now when you get home and someone says to you, "What did you think you were doing?"
MESERVE: So look down the road and tell us what else you think is going to be on the Russians' wish list in the months ahead?
MCFAUL: Well, they want to preserve the ABM Treaty or some version of it, first and foremost. They would like to have a set of new trade agreements. And there was progress on that. I think it's important that President Bush said, we're going to push to repeal the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which sets up a new bilateral trade agreement, which is the precursor for Russian membership into WTO. That's significant and that's significant in Russia.
And let's give them some time.
MESERVE: What about NATO expansion?
MCFAUL: NATO expansion, they want to have a role in NATO that is -- the Russians do -- a voice in NATO decision-making. I don't think they're going to get it.
MESERVE: And we have to take a quick break. More of our conversation, plus your phone calls and e-mails when we come back.
MESERVE: Well, we were talking about U.S.-Russian relations following this week's Bush-Putin summit with Hoover Institution Research Fellow, Michael McFaul and with former assistant secretary of state, Tobi Gati.
Mr. McFaul, you mentioned a moment ago, conservatives having some disagreements with President Putin. I am wondering how out of sync or in sync is he with political opinion in Russia, when it comes to the U.S.-Russian relationship.
MCFAUL: Well, he cut against the grain of what the military and the military industrial complex in Russia want. Obviously, the Russian military is not happy about having American troops in Central Asia, and the military industrial complex, the Russian arms traders, they have contracts with Iran, Syria, would like to have more contracts with Iraq. They can't be excited about this new transformation.
Having said that, it's important to remember, Putin has a 70 percent approval rating. He's the strongest leader we've had in Russia in terms of domestic support for some time. He's still in charge, but he has to worry about his right flank.
KOPPEL: We were just talking before the break that Putin is no longer viewed in this country as the former KGB head. But can we trust this guy? I mean, he is the former head of the KGB.
GATI: He certainly is, and it must be fascinating if we could know what he was thinking, to think that when he looks at Bush, you know, are these changes...
KOPPEL: What does he make of him?
GATI: ... are these changes because I've done a really good job, you know, in convincing him I'm for real, or is Putin for real?
I think it's a combination. I think Putin didn't change on September 11. For several years he's been talking about Russia as needing economic reform. He's been quite realistic about its weaknesses, and we just really haven't noticed, because we've put him in one box and we've seen him one say.
So I think he has changed, but I'm not -- I'm pretty sure that he and no one else in Russia really have no idea where this is going. Once you unleash these forces in Russia, you can never be sure. You know, modernize, yes, lean towards the West.
But what happens? Putin, if you will remember, was just in China talking about some kind of multipolar, strategic alliance with the Chinese? What happened to that? Kim Chong-il, North Korea's leader, was in Moscow. So you know, he's been moving in several directions.
MCFAUL: And Putin is not going to be president of Russia forever. Let's remember that. There could be some nasty guy after him.
GATI: Well, we don't think so.
MCFAUL: We don't think so.
The one thing I thought was most disturbing in terms of what happened in the summit itself, was when President Bush said, "We don't need to write anything down; I gave my handshake."
I want to go back to Ronald Reagan and say, "Trust but verify," because I've had contracts, informal contracts with some very good friends of mine, but down the road our memories aren't so good, we forget what the original ideas are...
MESERVE: And they're not such good friends anymore, are they?
MCFAUL: Right. Because a lack of transparency, bad memories, that can create tension. So I think the more transparency in a relationship, the better, and I hope we do write things down.
MESERVE: If I could, I just want to get in our caller questions. And someone's on the phone from Arizona.
Go right ahead, please.
CALLER: Yes. I'd like to know why the U.S. doesn't offer to share the technology with the Soviet Union as far as the missile defense system and actually deploy it in Russia too.
MESERVE: Well, I believe that they have. The Russians -- remember, they haven't been the Soviet Union for a few years -- but the administration had offered the Putin administration to share some of the technology with them.
GATI: Well, the caller is actually right. Ronald Reagan, when it was the Soviet Union, did offer to share technology. And as we know, nothing came of that. And I think, you know, when you start sharing technology, you're really sharing the crown jewels of your country, and that's going to be really difficult.
And certainly we would want a written-down agreement, for example, that that technology wouldn't be used to transfer to third countries, that it wouldn't be used in a way that would be hostile to the United States. So, you know, we would quickly get into the details.
Which goes back to the previous point: Bush is more like a CEO of a major company. He talks to Putin, and then he says, "Your guys and my guys can work out the details." And Putin is really like a headmaster. He knows he's got a lot of unruly students, and he's determined that he's going to tell them how to organize their country. And, of course, the Russians do like paper and they do like agreements.
So I think you have a real difference in style, but both of them were determined that that would not ruin the summit.
MCFAUL: Right. That said, it's much better to have a cordial relationship, I think, as we said at the beginning of the program, than a hostile one.
And the fact that they are developing this relationship, I do think Bush believes very strongly in personal relationships and that this is his strong suit. He's not a geo-strategic thinker, but he does think that through personal relationships he can advance the ball. This time he didn't do it, but he's investing for the future.
GATI: So the theme of the relationship in the next few months is really comes from a poem by Robert Frost, "Promises to Keep," and both sides have to really work hard at this because the bureaucracies are going to want to backtrack, they're going to want to go back to their old positions, and the presidents are going to have to stay really engaged.
MESERVE: And I'm afraid we have to take a break. I want to thank you both, Tobi Gati and Michael McFaul, for joining us.
And coming up in our next hour, the past, present and future role of women in Afghanistan, plus the latest on this week's crash of Flight 587 and a conversation about what's really being done with the money you donate to charity.
Also, a reminder that at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN "PRESENTS" an encore presentation of "Beneath the Veil." CNN's coverage of AMERICA'S NEW WAR continues right after this.
MESERVE: Welcome back.
The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan now says he never told the Associated Press that Osama bin Laden had departed Afghanistan. The report had quoted the diplomat as saying that bin Laden has left Afghanistan with his wives and children. U.S. officials said they were skeptical about the claim to begin with. The Pentagon says it has no evidence to suggest that bin Laden has left the country.
We're told that U.S. warplanes bombed Taliban positions today in two villages near the northern city of Konduz. That's where Northern Alliance troops are confronting thousands of hold-out Taliban fighters. But the Northern Alliance has yet to mount a full-scale assault on Konduz.
The situation in the southern Afghanistan city of Kandahar is still confused, and it's still unclear who is in control. The city's newly appointed administrator tells CNN, local tribal law is beginning to take precedence over Taliban authority. But a spokesman for Taliban leader Mullah Omar says reports of a Pashtun tribal takeover are, quote, "lies."
He is calling it a mission for peace. Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani is in Kabul at this hour. During a news conference this morning, Rabbani said he came not for political reasons, but to prepare the ground for peace. This is his first trip to Kabul since 1996, when he and his government were deposed by the Taliban. There's no word on how long Rabbani will stay in Kabul.
First lady Laura Bush is taking aim at the Taliban. During this morning's weekly presidential radio address, Mrs. Bush fired the first shots in what she calls a worldwide effort to focus on the brutality against women and children by the Taliban and terrorists in Afghanistan. This is the first time a president's wife has delivered the radio address on her own.
And in the anthrax investigation, Senator Patrick Leahy says he is confident those behind the recent anthrax attacks will be brought to justice. The FBI is conducting further anthrax tests on a letter sent to Leahy. Early results have come back positive. Authorities say the letter is almost identical to the anthrax-tainted letters sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and to NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw.
And that's a look at our latest developments.
This week's events in Afghanistan are raising hopes for a vastly different future there, particularly for the country's women. Joining us from Boston is Fatima Gailani. She is the spokesperson for the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan and an advocate for Afghan women.
And in New York, Jennifer Seymour Whitaker. She is the director of the Project on Womens Rights at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Thank you both for joining us.
Ms. Gailani, if I may ask you, the Bush administration today launching an offensive to talk about women in Afghanistan. Is this a bit late?
FATIMA GAILANI, NATIONAL ISLAMIC FRONT OF AFGHANISTAN: Well, I mean, if it is a good deed, even if it's a little bit late, it's always welcomed.
We were very disappointed for such a long time with all the suffering of women in Afghanistan, it was sort of ignored by governments. Although it was never ignored by people, it was always supported by people. But with governments, it was almost ignored.
Yes, I'm happy that, at last, they have focused upon it.
KOPPEL: Ms. Gailani, this is Andrea Koppel. Why is it critical that there be women in part of this transitional authority leading up to an eventual post-Taliban government?
GAILANI: Well, I mean, more than 60 percent of population of Afghanistan are women. Women had a very active role in the past, especially during the 10 years of democracy in Afghanistan from 1973 to -- from 1963 to '73. Women were in the parliament, in the senate, in the government, and women had equal right of education, work and political participation. So what you're seeing today in Afghanistan is not what Afghan women did have before.
KOPPEL: Ms. Whitaker, if I could ask you about what you see as being the potential fallout within the Arab world, within the Muslim world, for that matter, if you force the fact that women must be part of this decision-making process and not just allow it to happen naturally?
JENNIFER SEYMOUR WHITAKER, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, I think that we have to, in thinking about the participation of women in this process, it's important to understand that we are not trying to impose the Western traditions on Afghanistan, but instead we are trying to give women who are, as Fatima points out, the majority of the population of Afghanistan, a say in what their traditions are and in which traditions they embrace.
Tradition is not a static phenomenon, it is -- traditions evolve and they are dynamic. It's very important that women should be able to help shape the traditions for Afghanistan's future.
MESERVE: Ms. Gailani, let me ask you about the risks of having the U.S. pushing apparently so hard to have women play a role a role. Does this potentially alienate some factions within Afghanistan and, in fact, make it more difficult for women in the end rather than easier?
GAILANI: No. I mean, today, everything has to be pushed inside of Afghanistan, whether it's peace, whether it's rebuilding of the country, whether it's stopping the civil war. And why not one more good thing, which is the right of women?
These things that were essential for women has always been in Afghanistan and it was -- I agree that it was not in every village or in every corner of Afghanistan, but it was something which was starting and starting strong.
So it is very important that whatever starts in the future of Afghanistan, it has to be corrected from the beginning. The situation of women has to be there in black and white, on the paper. Then it is up to the women of Afghanistan to prove themselves.
I don't agree that it will alienate people. I don't agree that the -- look at the other Muslim countries. Look at the sultan of Oman. I mean, in 20 years, they have achieved for women what would be unbelievable, and many other Muslim countries.
So why shouldn't we look to them? Why shouldn't we look in the past of the women in Afghanistan? I agree that it is not an easy thing, but like the rest of the things in Afghanistan, which is not easy, but it is not impossible.
MESERVE: Well, on that very point, we have an e-mail that has come in from Dale, and Dale asks, "What is the condition of women's rights in the rest of the Muslim world?"
What would you tell him? Ms. Gailani?
GAILANI: You are talking to me?
GAILANI: The situation of women may be, not only in the Muslim countries, in lots of countries like some in India, it is not maybe so good. But why should we let it be and stay that way? We want the situation of women to improve.
And I don't want to compare Afghanistan with other Muslim countries or, for that matter, for any other country. I want the women of Afghanistan to have what they deserve regardless of comparing Afghan women with other countries.
KOPPEL: Ms. Gailani, I would like to ask you about whether or not you think -- Jeanne had mentioned this publicity campaign that's going on now here in the United States by members of the Bush administration to encourage the incorporation of Afghan women in the next government.
But by the U.S. being so public about this, isn't this going to at least have the potential of backfiring within the country?
GAILANI: I don't think so. I mean, it will be much more helpful if the United Nations and some other Muslim countries would also put some emphasis upon it. But I think it is just an excuse when they say that it will have a backfire. There are -- if this has a backfire, then many other things will have a backfire. I think the time is ready for Afghan women to take a very active role. We have lots of educated women. We had educated women in the past, an we have many more now. And they should be used, and it will be just shameful not to use them for the future building of the country.
MESERVE: Ms. Whitaker, if I could jump in here. We have former President Rabbani returning to Kabul, and it has raised questions about the amount of influence the Northern Alliance will have in the next government.
What is the Northern Alliance's record vis-a-vis women?
WHITAKER: Well, the Northern Alliance was the first part of the problem, really, for women, because when they were -- when the Soviets were overthrown and left the country, the Northern Alliance took over and began the repression of women, which the Taliban pushed much further and implemented much more effectively.
But I think -- the point now, I think, is that we need to make it clear, the U.S. needs to make it clear that women have to participate for several reasons. The first is that we've got to make the point that when we say, as President Bush has, that we are in favor of having Afghans choose their political future, that we are not only referring to male Afghans but we are also referring to the majority of the population, which is female.
And their voices, the women's voices and their wisdom, their experience and their awareness will bring a very different perspective to the negotiating table. And it needs to be there are the outset, because every stage of the process -- the process for transition has been laid out by U.N. Ambassador Brahimi two days ago at the U.N. in an address to the Security Council. And he laid out a four-stage process with four meetings in series, and the first meeting is being organized now.
I understand it has been reported that the Bush administration has chosen its delegation to this first meeting. And I am concerned that this delegation may not have any women represented in it.
This would be a major mistake, because in order to signal our real commitment to this very key human rights issue and issue of freedom, which is the moral basis for our case against terrorism, we need to have women represented at the very first stage.
KOPPEL: Well, let me ask you this then, and please, Ms. Gailani, jump in if you'd like.
The Bush administration has said that it isn't into nation- building. But by forcing this issue, as you're saying they should, or at least being very vocal about this, doesn't that sort of cross the line?
And if I could, just to quickly follow up, as well, on Jeanne's question with the Northern Alliance not necessarily having a good track record with the incorporation of women in their government, how do you square that circle? How do you force them to include women?
WHITAKER: Well, the U.S...
OK. Please, Fatima, go first.
GAILANI: Yes. I just wanted to say that, although we talk about the record of Northern Alliance not to be so good about women, but since they went into opposition, they have been talking about women's issues and emphasizing upon it, so let's take them on their word.
And the other thing is, if this is a right thing to do, why should we be scared? If it is a thing that, even from the point of view of Islam is a correct thing to do -- we had a constitution in Afghanistan for 10 years of democracy. It was an Islamic constitution. In that constitution, women did have these rights, so why are we this scared today?
And I think that it could be done, and it should be emphasized upon.
MESERVE: And we're going to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with our guests, and we'll be taking your phone calls and your e-mails, so don't go away.
MESERVE: We're talking about the plight of Afghanistan's women with Fatima Gailani of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan and Jennifer Seymour Whitaker of the Council on Foreign Relations.
We have a caller on the line from Virginia.
What's your question for our guests?
CALLER: Yes, hello. My name is Camilla Thomas (ph).
My -- I have, first, a remark to make. First, I would like to inform the audience that the Prophet Mohammed's first wife, Khadijah, was a businesswoman...
MESERVE: What's your question for us, please? I'm sorry, we don't have time for a long explanation.
CALLER: My question is, the women in sixth century Arabia had been very active in war, in marketplace and so forth. I'm just -- I'm very optimistic that this can be restored back into the Muslim world, particularly in Afghanistan and others, and I'd like to know what your panelists think. Thank you.
MESERVE: Ms. Gailani, do you want to take that?
GAILANI: Yes, I agree with her. It was just not Khadijah. There were other personalities, like Aisha, the other wife of the prophet, who was a very important politician in the history of Islam, and the other wife, who was a cobbler. And he could make money -- and she could make money. And she didn't have -- she didn't need to take some money from the government fund.
We had all of this in the past. It is the present which is a problem for us. It is in the present that people with ignorance, they are imposing things upon women in the Muslim world, because unfortunately, the women of our part of the world are not educated and they don't know about their rights. There is no problem, whatsoever, for education, work or political participation for women in Islam.
MESERVE: And we want to take another call from a viewer. This call is coming in from California.
Go right ahead.
CALLER: Hi. This is Janice Harper (ph).
I was wondering if there were any plans by the United States or anywhere else to help the women of Afghanistan before September 11? Or did it take thousands of us to die before, you know, anybody got any help over there?
MESERVE: Jennifer Seymour Whitaker, what's the answer?
WHITAKER: We were involved in some programs for aiding Afghan women and for relief for refugees. But these were on a very small scale compared to the need.
It is clear that September 11 certainly has heightened our awareness of women in Afghanistan, as well as the plight of the country as a whole.
KOPPEL: Ms. Whitaker, while I am sure that you and many others welcome the statements of the Bush administration encouraging the role of women in the next government, do you find any hypocrisy in this in that this is the same administration that has a very close relationship with other governments who also suppress women, for one, Saudi Arabia?
WHITAKER: I hope that our commitment in Afghanistan is real, and I think that if it is, and if the situation of women in Afghanistan evolves to a situation of full participation in both the economy and in politics, this will have an enormous effect in terms of the way other women in the Middle East see their own situations, including women in Saudi Arabia.
MESERVE: The calls are coming in. We have another one from Chicago, Illinois.
Go ahead, please.
CALLER: Hi, my name is Erphan (ph).
My question is, since you have the world's largest Muslim country -- Indonesia has a Muslim prime minister, and Bangladesh has a Muslim prime minister, and Benazir Bhutto was the Muslim prime minister of Pakistan twice -- why can't the Afghan women look at that as a role model rather than looking at the Arab world, which is basically all dictators?
MESERVE: Ms. Gailani?
GAILANI: Well, I mean, I would like to look into all of these female prime ministers in the Muslim world.
But I repeat it again, that I would like to look at what we did have in Afghanistan when we had a woman in the senate. In Switzerland, women couldn't vote. When we had equal pay for the same work in Afghanistan in the time of the democracy, in Europe women were struggling for it. And all of that we had under an Islamic law. So we can have it.
And I agree with the person who called earlier, that the question of women in Afghanistan just come up because of the news and then go away. Like when Madam Bunino (ph) was imprisoned by Taliban, all of a sudden women's issues came on focus, then slowly it was forgotten. Then again, with such unfortunate, unfortunate situation which happened the 11th of last September, then again women's issues came up.
This time, let's have it right. And let's have -- put it on the paper, black and white, that nothing will change for women again in Afghanistan.
KOPPEL: Ms. Gailani, could you please just very briefly describe to our viewers what life was like before the Taliban, what women did in Afghanistan, the variety of jobs that they held?
GAILANI: Well, I mean, before the Taliban, as you know, that we were fighting a superpower, Soviet Union, so the situation was not normal in Afghanistan.
Before that, during President Daoud, it was a continuation of democracy for women -- although we didn't have democracy, we didn't have parliament, but women had the same role.
And before that, the 10 years of democracy, that was the perfect time for women in Afghanistan. Women could look forward to see that any job that they deserve and they could have it.
So that's what I want to see again. I want to see every girl, when they go to school, to think that tomorrow I could be what I deserve to be, not, because I am a woman, I will be undermined for this reason or that reason.
MESERVE: Now, before I let the two of you leave, I want to try and get in one more...
GAILANI: ... the 21st century. We want to compete for the rest of the world. If you paralyze half -- more than half of a country, what would become of that country? It is not possible.
MESERVE: Ms. Gailani, let me jump in here, if I might, because we have another phone caller on the line and I really want to try and get this question in.
Go ahead. Virginia?
GAILANI: I'm sorry. I can't hear anything.
CALLER: Yes. I would like to know if the Afghani women have a firm commitment from the Bush administration that Afghani women will be included in the new government. And, if not, can they get one?
MESERVE: Jennifer Seymour Whitaker, is there a firm commitment or just lip service?
WHITAKER: I think there is. I think the firmer commitment has been expressed through the U.N., by the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, Ambassador Brahimi, who laid out in, really, quite specific terms, the series of meetings and mentioned specifically that women should be included, from the second meeting on. Women need to be included right now, the first meeting, as well.
MESERVE: Jennifer Seymour Whitaker and Fatima Gailani, thank you both for helping us out today.
Andrea Koppel, thank you also for your input.
KOPPEL: Thank you.
MESERVE: And this programming note, at 2 p.m. Eastern, CNN presents Beneath the Veil: A Look at Life for Women in Afghanistan Under the Taliban Rule. It's an encore presentation. It's coming up at the top of the hour.
And once again, Andrea, thanks.
When we return, the crash of Flight 587. The initial fear of terrorism has now subsided, but how can we prevent future accidents and keep the airports safe? We'll hear from two guests who have been following the investigation, so stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARION BLAKEY, NTSB CHAIRWOMAN: All of the evidence we have points toward an accident. It does not point toward sabotage or some act of terrorism. But certainly, again, I would not want to rule anything out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: National Transportation and Safety Board Chairwoman Marion Blakey speaking yesterday about the investigation into this week's crash of Flight 587 in New York. The incident raised more fears and concerns in the wake of September 11. And joining us to talk about the investigation: Jim Burnley -- he served as transportation secretary during the Reagan administration -- and former NTSB chairman, Bob Francis. He is also an aviation analyst for CNN.
MESERVE: Let me ask you both. Mr. Francis, why don't you start with this. What about sabotage? Is it still a possibility, or do you think that's a very remote prospect?
BOB FRANCIS, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I think very remote is a good way of putting it. In these investigations, whether it's a criminal act or whether it's an accident, we're led by the evidence. There is absolutely no evidence, at this point, that this was a criminal act, that it was anything other than an accident.
MESERVE: Mr. Burnley, you agree?
JIM BURNLEY, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION VICE CHAIRMAN: I do agree. And it's unfortunate, as happened in 1996, the investigation Bob led of TWA 800, that we have voices out there who immediately jumped to that conclusion.
MESERVE: Although, understandable in current circumstances.
BURNLEY: Well, it's not understandable for this reason: Airplanes don't just fall out of the sky. There's always a reason. And I think it's very irresponsible for people to jump to conclusions, until the NTSB has a chance to really start delving into the data and start, at least, sharing some of the data with us.
MESERVE: And so, I presume that you think it's fully appropriate that NTSB, at this point, still spearhead the investigation, that it not be turned over to the FBI?
FRANCIS: Absolutely. And, you know, the important thing to recall is that, in any investigation, the FBI has the right to be, and almost always in initial stages is, present. So they are there very -- in some numbers, even though the NTSB is running this investigation.
MESERVE: The current discussion of this crash seems to resolve around wake turbulence. In your opinion, in your experience, does this seem like a plausible explanation for what happened?
BURNLEY: It could be, but it's very important to keep in mind that airplanes are, one, very complex and, two, they have a lot of redundancy and they're built to handle things like wake, to an extent.
Airplanes, typically, when they come out of the sky because of an accident, come because of a confluence of things going wrong, not just one thing. And it could well be that wake was a factor, but it could also the case that there are several other important factors here. And we just don't know yet.
MESERVE: Do you share that assessment? FRANCIS: I'd love to disagree with Jim.
MESERVE: Just -- boy, I...
FRANCIS: We seem to be in tandem here.
But I think it's -- I think that it is possible at this point, given what we know, and it certainly warrants serious examination, that the wake turbulence of the JAL 747 was an initiator of a series of events that took place.
Ordinarily -- I mean, wake turbulence and getting a good bump in a big airplane from another airplane is not an unusual thing at all in the system. This happens fairly regularly. So why is this different than the hundred others that happened on that day?
MESERVE: Well, let's talk about some of the possibilities. Some people are suggesting that an incident this same aircraft had in 1994 with wake turbulence, perhaps, could have created some sort of structural problem with the plane. Does that sound feasible?
BURNLEY: Yes. And it's feasible. And one of the things that the FAA has just ordered is that all these planes in service in the U.S. be very carefully inspected. And they can use ultrasonic sound to actually tell whether or not there is subsurface damage.
So I think it's certainly feasible. But again, we don't know whether that's true. We'll find out eventually.
MESERVE: Is it also a possibility that the crew, in struggling to regain control of the aircraft, could have done something so drastic that it could have had an impact on the plane?
FRANCIS: That's a very good question. And the answer to that question is yes.
The thing that's going to be very interesting is, when there's a more comprehensive readout of the flight data recorder, because with a very large number of parameters -- almost 200 parameters -- you're going to see a lot of what the pilots did, you know, in terms of the yoke, in terms of the -- particularly important are the rudder pedals.
So, yes, that could happen, and that might over-stress the airplane.
MESERVE: What sorts of things might they have done?
FRANCIS: If they really -- if they took a very dramatic action with the rudder, that can stress the airplane pretty significantly.
BURNLEY: Or if they took actions with the rudder, Bob, to try to counter some other problem, and the rudder wasn't there because the tail had fallen off and they simply didn't know it -- I mean, they could have been doing that, instead of doing something else, because they literally didn't know that the rudder was gone -- I mean, that the -- yes, that the rudder was gone and the whole tail.
So again, as Bob says, if there's any good news -- never good news in a crash -- but if there's any good news about this particular incident, it's that we have -- I think, Bob, I'm correct in saying this, state-of-the-art data recorder in this instance. And I don't know that we've ever had a major crash before where that was true, because the data recorders tend to be of several different generations, based on how old the aircraft are. So there will probably be more data than we are accustomed to seeing out of this recorder.
FRANCIS: No, that's true. And it's a credit to Airbus industry that they have, since very early stages, put very, very good recorders on their aircraft.
And it makes -- in lots of accidents, it doesn't make too much difference. I mean, you sort of know what happened almost intuitively. But in a case like this, it's very, very important, where it's a little offbeat, in terms of an accident.
MESERVE: Now, the voice recorder, as I understand it, picked up rattling, the aircraft rattling.
MESERVE: Twice, right. Was that definitely the wake turbulence or could it, in fact, have been something else? Do we know?
FRANCIS: I think the answer to that is we've done a lot of -- we, the NTSB -- I'm no longer there...
MESERVE: Hard to take off that hat sometimes.
FRANCIS: I used the wrong tense.
The NTSB has done a lot of work on this, particularly for the accident outside of Pittsburgh some years ago. And those kinds of -- the kinds of noises that a wake makes when it hits the side of an airplane are pretty well documented. And if need be, they'll do it again. But I think that they sound pretty confident, for the moment, that that's what it was.
MESERVE: But are there other possibilities?
BURNLEY: Well, sure. I mean, there's something called clear air turbulence. I mean, you could have a disturbance of the air from natural forces. You can have some sort of a secondary effect. There are a lot of things that could have happened here.
But, again, we're maybe not very entertaining, because we agree on most everything...
... but I think Bob's right.
MESERVE: ... so intelligent.
BURNLEY: The most likely scenario -- thank you -- the most likely scenario is that it is the wake.
FRANCIS: This is bipartisan aviation here.
MESERVE: And when we return, Jim Burnley and Bob Francis will take your phone calls and e-mails about the crash. Stay with us.
MESERVE: We will rejoin our airline safety guests in just a moment, but first a check of the hour's latest developments.
There is conflicting information this hour on the whereabouts of suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan was quoted by the Associated Press as saying bin Laden fled Afghanistan with his wives and children. Contacted later by CNN, the ambassador denied making that claim. A Pentagon spokesman says the military has no evidence to suggest bin Laden has left Afghanistan.
Political chaos is the rule today in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The city's newly appointed administrator tells CNN that local tribal law is now in effect, but Taliban leaders say they remain in control. And the supreme leader, Mullah Omar, insists the Western news media is lying when they report otherwise.
Former President of Afghanistan Rabbani, still viewed by the international community as president of Afghanistan, is back in Kabul. It is the first time Rabbani has been in the Afghan capital since 1996, when he was deposed by the Taliban. Rabbani, who leads one faction of the Northern Alliance, says he will try to prepare the ground for peace, and he has invited all Afghans to join in that effort.
And now back to our discussion with former Transportation Secretary Jim Burnley and CNN aviation analyst Bob Francis.
Thank you both, once again.
I want to ask you about the separation of the tail from the aircraft and whether it's possible that the fact that was made of composite material rather than metal may have played a part here.
FRANCIS: Sure, it's a possibility.
I would just say, though, that the introduction of composites, particularly in to elements such as the vertical stabilizer in a big airplane like this, has been done very, very gradually. I mean, we're really talking about 20 years since the major airlines started to use composites. So the certification standards and the tests and the experience has been pretty conservative.
MESERVE: Investigators are now talking about a possible delamination of that composite material. What exactly is that? And what impact could that have had?
BURNLEY: Well, Jeanne, anybody who owns a fiberglass boat is familiar with that problem, because it is possible when you have a composite material, which is made of many layers, is that they start coming apart. And it can often happen below the surface where you can't see it.
And again, the FAA has ordered that tests be done on the approximately 135 aircraft in U.S. fleets -- there are only three carriers, two of them cargo, using those planes in the U.S. today -- to see whether that is in evidence anywhere. And I'm sure they're going to do those tests, the NTSB, on the tail of this plane.
MESERVE: OK. We have an e-mail question from Jean (ph) asking, "If the loss of the tail fin was the cause, why was the plane seen to be on fire by so many witnesses?"
Mr. Burnley, what's the possible explanation?
BURNLEY: Well, certainly there are a lot of reports, particularly of a fireball coming down. And as the engines separated, you've got fuel lines that start spewing fuel -- the engine has fuel in it -- and it would not be at all surprising that you would have, as a secondary effect of the fact that the plane is coming apart, some fire.
I don't think, so far at least, we have any evidence that there was fire though before some sort of cataclysmic event that started the disintegration of the plane.
MESERVE: OK, we have some viewers calling in. We have a question on the line from New Jersey.
Go right ahead.
CALLER: Yes, hi. My question is, has anybody ruled out the fact that anybody went in the hanger earlier and simply unbolted the tail?
MESERVE: Well, we talked a few minutes ago about the possibility of sabotage. Both of you felt that was unlikely, correct?
BURNLEY: Yes. I mean, that is possible, but it is highly unlikely. And you would have to, among other things, have the security you could do this in daytime hours without anybody noticing you. And it happened in the morning at a time when there would have been a lot of people around. And so, it is possible. Again, the NTSB is in the very early stages, and we know that sometimes we'll go a week or two, and suddenly, abruptly, the NTSB will come up with a new whole line of inquiry.
BURNLEY: So we've got to be tentative about all of this. But based on what we know today, that's not a likely scenario.
MESERVE: OK, we haven't talked much about airline security, but of course there was legislation finally passed, now on its way to the president.
We have a question about that from Jean (ph), asking, "Regarding the security of our airports, isn't there some approach that could be utilized to temporarily give our National Guard there a little more authority so they could apprehend an offender?"
BURNLEY: Well, the National Guard has that authority today, and it's just a matter of whether you can catch someone.
We had this instance in Atlanta yesterday where a guy ran down the concourse. And so, I don't think it's a matter of more authority. It's just a matter of whether you can catch someone before he disappears into a crowd.
MESERVE: Do you think there are still major loopholes in security, given what this legislation says and what it does not address?
BURNLEY: Well, I think that we've always got, even in a greatly heightened security environment, a basic tradeoff, and that's between absolute, 100 percent security, which you can only achieve by no one ever getting on an airplane and the airplane never taking off, and efficiency, moving people through the system to get them where they want to go.
And we have greatly tilted that, and I think appropriately so, toward the security side since September 11.
But it's not perfect. It won't be perfect. We are going to be in a transition period as a result of the legislation.
All I know is I fly quite a bit, and I'm very confident in the security that we have now. But it's irresponsible to suggest that it's perfect. It's not.
MESERVE: And back to the Flight of 587 and it's crash, if I might. Wake turbulence, we started out talking about that and its possible impact on this particular flight.
I am wondering if you think the FAA should ask for a greater time between takeoffs or whether it's just too early to make those sort of changes.
FRANCIS: I think it is too early, although I think that some examination of the standards for aircraft separation, particularly on takeoff and landing, may be in order.
And the interesting thing is that some of these standards were established for takeoff, for instance, before we had as sophisticated avionics as we currently have.
And there may be ways that, instead of sending every aircraft off every two minutes on exactly the same route, you can use the new flight management systems to say when the next guy goes off, he's going to go a quarter of a mile or a half of mile further out than the JAAL so that you'll potentially avoid this without having implications in terms of the capacity of the system.
Because the same thing applies to air traffic, as Jim just talked about, with security. It's not perfect. You're never going to have perfect safety. It's incredibly safe to fly in airplanes, but people make mistakes and things happen, and occasionally you get an accident.
MESERVE: Let's get in another viewer call, this one coming in from the state of Oregon.
CALLER: Good morning. My name is Katie Loy (ph). Can you hear me all right?
MESERVE: We can hear you just fine. What's your question?
CALLER: OK, I've been listening a lot to CNN and Fox and all of those networks, and I noticed all of the thing that Senator John McCain has said since they decided to federalize the airport security.
My concern is, how can we feel safe with the federal government watching over us, when, excuse me, we have the FAA who should have been watching over us even prior to the September 11 incident?
MESERVE: Let's get Mr. Burnley to react to that.
BURNLEY: Well, you know, that's a question that I think we all have on our minds. And the answer is that I think we are all, in the federal government and outside the federal government, in a very different environment now, and the sensitivities are different. The balancing of efficiency versus security has titled, as I said before. And we're going to pay people more. We're going to have much higher training.
I don't think, frankly, it makes any difference whether they're on the federal payroll or on a private payroll. The question is, what kind of enforcement and oversight do you have and what standards do you have? And those have clearly gotten better, and they're going to continue to improve.
MESERVE: And we have to leave it there. Jim Burnley and Robert Francis, thank you both.
And concerns over how some charitable organizations are spending the millions of dollars donated following the terrorist attacks. We're going to get two views on that when we come back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID MCLAUGHLIN, RED CROSS CHAIRMAN: We are making a course correction for the Red Cross Liberty Disaster Fund. A hundred percent of that fund and our efforts will be devoted to support those who are affected by the terrible tragedies that occurred on September 11.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: The board chairman of the American Red Cross, announcing changes in the way the organization will administer donations for September 11 victims.
The Red Cross came under criticism after it was discovered that not all of the money had been going directly to the survivors and the families.
Joining us now from Philadelphia is Frank Donaghue. He is executive vice president for policy and public affairs at the American Red Cross. And here in Washington, Stacy Palmer, who is editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Thank you both of joining us.
Mr. Donaghue, let me start with you. Was is this a colossal miscalculation by the American Red Cross?
FRANK DONAGHUE, AMERICAN RED CROSS: I wouldn't say it was miscalculation, but I think we would say that, initially, when -- what happened on 11, when we saw what was happening -- I was there for those first two weeks -- I don't think any of us were prepared for what we saw, nor did we know what was going to be next. And I think the miscalculation was really fully hearing the donors' intent.
And, you know, clearly, America told us, as did the elected officials and others, that the people who gave their money, they wanted it to go to the people who were directly affected by the events of September 11. So it was clearly not hearing -- certainly not hearing what the donor was saying, and I think we've corrected that.
MESERVE: Would you agree?
STACY PALMER, "CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY": I think that they've made a very made big course correction that the American public heard, and they are publicizing this very well now. But there were number of weeks where people were very, very upset. So I think it's still going take a while for people to calm down and regain their trust not only in the Red Cross but in charities overall.
MESERVE: Mr. Donaghue, what has the impact been on the Red Cross? Have you continued to receive comments from your donors that they're upset? Have you seen donations going down dramatically because of this? DONAGHUE: We've, obviously, we've heard from our donors. We've heard from our chapters around the country. We've hard from a lot of folks about how upset they were with the decision to take the funds and to consider other ways of responding sort of indirectly with the consequences of September 11, like a blood reserve fund or service to the armed forces, working with them. Some of the other things that were beside it.
Our chapters are hearing it. I have heard it throughout the country that chapters are getting phone calls from donors that are greatly concerned.
But at the same time, I must say, in last three or four days, we've heard, again, an overwhelming response from donors and friends of the Red Cross, saying, you know, you're doing the right thing and you've heard us and, you know, we're back with you.
MESERVE: Stacy Palmer, you mentioned in your response that this might have an impact on other charities beyond the Red Cross. What exactly are you talking about there?
PALMER: Absolutely. When donors make a contribution and, especially in this case it was a very emotional contribution, they want to know where their money is going. And I think many donors felt that they weren't really sure what was going to happen, and they heard that things very different than what they thought was going to happen were happening. So they got very upset.
And if they start thinking about that when they give to other causes that they care about -- their local United Way or their Girl Scouts, other kinds of things that people support -- they may ask new questions now and wonder what's going to happen with my money, is it going to go where I thought it should go. And that's a good thing; donors should ask a lot of questions. But it could be bad if they feel that they don't have enough trust in the organizations that they've loyally supported.
MESERVE: Mr. Donaghue, where is the Red Cross money going now?
DONAGHUE: We have really made a commitment, as you heard this Wednesday when our new CEO Harold Decker announced that every dollar would get spent on the people that were directly affected -- the victims, those seriously injured, their families, everybody involved in the September 11 events in all three episodes of that event, the Pentagon and western Pennsylvania and certainly in New York City.
Right now, we're working with about 25,000 families that we've provided financial support for in New York City. We have a group of families, about 2,300 of them, that entered our gift program. Those are people that, immediately after the incident, we offered three months' worth of financial support to pay the mortgage, their students' tuition, whatever they needed to just kind of make it through those months.
We've extended that program to a year, so that we'll now begin to work through casework -- and that's so important. You know, one of the big misunderstandings is that we should just go give money out, you know, to people that just come up to us and at will. We really are committed that what we're going to do is we're going to do it through casework, but we also promised that, by the end of this calendar year, we will have spent half of the money raised, $275 million.
The other half, we're looking at long term, how we're going to spend that money. What are the kind of long-term needs that these families are going to deal with and how the Red Cross is going to be there for them.
MESERVE: And do you know yet what those long-term applications of this money might be?
DONAGHUE: What Harold announced on Wednesday is, by January 1, we will roll out, if you will, the plan for how that money, the remaining funds, are going to be spent over the next couple years.
Look, in Oklahoma City and in other huge disasters, we're still working with families that were affected in those incidents. And I am sure we will be working with the families in New York, as well, for a long time.
It's important also to realize that the funds were used to help that were affected indirectly, if you will. There's 35,000 people who lived immediately around the World Trade Center in Battery Park. Firefighters -- we've literally served over 11 million meals to firefighters and rescue workers.
And so, there's a combination of ways the funds are being spent. It's all being spent directly to the people that were involved in that incident now.
MESERVE: Mr. Donaghue, there was another aspect to this Red Cross controversy, and that was blood, that the Red Cross collected a lot more than it needed, and a lot was discarded because it went past its shelf life.
Why did the Red Cross keep collecting blood when it knew that there weren't that many survivors who were going to use it?
DONAGHUE: This again is an area, I think, if you will, of misunderstanding. Again, being at ground zero for two weeks, we didn't know what to expect. And we clearly felt that the right thing to do in New York City the day of September 11 -- there was about a two-day blood supply on the shelves. If that had been an incident where there were many, many victims of -- who were taken to hospitals and needing surgery and needing blood, there was no way there was enough blood on the shelves to do that.
Right now, we have a 10-day blood supply in this country. We need 25,000 donors a day to maintain a 10-day blood supply. That's about the right level, that's where we should be.
In fact, when I was a ground zero that week, what I kept saying to people is, we should never have a blood shortage in this country, and we should make sure of that in kind of a living testimony to the folks that died in the World Trade Center.
And so, yes, people are saying, "Well, you didn't need blood for those folks because there weren't many people pulled out of the World Trade Center, unfortunately."
But it's a reminder to us -- and as we got ready -- I mean, suppose the whole East Coast had been affected with anthrax...
MESERVE: You know, we're going to have get back to this in just a minute, Mr. Donaghue. We've got a take a break right now.
So when we return, your e-mails and phone calls for our guests. We're going to follow-up on that question, so stay with us.
MESERVE: And we're continuing our conversation with Frank Donaghue of the American Red Cross and Stacy Palmer of the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Mr. Donaghue, I promised I would let you finish that thought on the blood donations. Go ahead.
DONAGHUE: You know, we didn't know what to expect. And if there had been smallpox, people needed to be vaccinated, if people were no antibiotics for anthrax, we felt and still feel we want a 10-day blood supply on the shelves.
People are very concerned because some blood products needed to be discarded. Every donation that was given, every donation, at least a portion of their donation is used to make plasma and other derivative products.
So blood is a living organism, yes; it has a shelf life. But everybody's donation made a difference. And we want to keep it at 10 days.
MESERVE: Stacy Palmer, I want to ask you about IRS and some rules it has changed. It now says that charities can distribute money and benefits without first proving that the families who they're giving the money to are in financial need.
Is that going to mean that we'll see fewer of those families that have been on TV in recent weeks saying "We're not getting anything"?
PALMER: I think so. That's what's been slowing things down, because the IRS has very strict rules, and charities have to make sure that they're giving money only to the very neediest people. And proving that can be difficult and time-consuming, and the charities were being careful not to run afoul of the law. So this should help a lot, in terms of opening up the floodgates of the money.
I think one thing we all have to think about, too, though, is what precedent do we want to set. Do we want this to be a rule that is changed forever and that, in all disasters, this kind of thing can happen? Or is it something that, just in this particular situation, with all this money, should happen? So that's what Congress will have to think about.
MESERVE: Well, we have an e-mail question here from Michael, which I think is quite relevant to this discussion. "I am a college student, and we have a lot of organizations around campus that try to raise money for September 11 charities. How can we be sure that we're raising money for charities that are going to distribute the money appropriately?"
Stacy, is there a way to check?
PALMER: There is a way to check. The attorney general in New York has been spending a lot of time, as you know, on this disaster. And it's always wise to check with that office and make sure that they know that it's, indeed, a legitimate charity that you're giving to.
And you should ask questions of the charity you want to support. When do they plan to give the money? What kinds of victims are they going to support? There's been a lot of talk about these indirect victims, as well as the direct victims. Everyone has a different feeling about who they want to help.
Ask questions about what kinds of money and programs the charity is actually planning on supporting.
MESERVE: Now, there have been some sham organizations uncovered...
MESERVE: ... and has that had a big impact? Are people pulling back and saying, I don't think I want to give because I'm not quite sure?
PALMER: I don't think it's been a very big problem. We haven't seen any more fraudulent charities than in any other case. And so, fortunately, people haven't overly taken advantage of this situation.
You still have to be careful and make sure that a charity is legitimate. But I don't think it's really caused people to be too fearful.
I think, actually, it's this Red Cross dispute that has caused much more controversy.
MESERVE: Mr. Donaghue, talking about the IRS rules and more, could it result in inequities in the way that charitable funds are distributed to the families of victims?
DONAGHUE: Well, I actually agree with Stacy. I really do think that this IRS latest statement really allows us to be more aggressive in providing support, financial support, to folks.
I mean, if you imagine 25,000 families needing casework and being able to, you know, provide the casework for that many people, is overwhelming. Lightening up on the rules a little bit in this instance -- and I agree with Stacy too -- in this instance, is really important, in order to get the money into the hands of the people.
I would also...
DONAGHUE: ... if I can, go back to Michael, because I really do think there are -- when students raise money for the Red Cross or students get involved, I think there's so many ways for them to verify and to see the services are rendered. And I do think that organizations like the Red Cross and the symbol we represent brings that credibility in a real, tangible way.
MESERVE: Mr. Donaghue, is more money needed? Millions and millions have been raised -- what is it, 543, just by the Red Cross. Is there enough money in the system now to take care of the victims and their families?
DONAGHUE: As you know, we stopped aggressively raising money or collecting money for our Liberty Fund for the victims of September 11.
MESERVE: But some other charities are still collecting, I believe.
DONAGHUE: We've given away more money than any other charity, so far, in New York City, by far. And, you know, we believe there's enough money. There's over 1.2 billion, I believe, is the latest number -- Stacy may have a better number than that -- for the victims of September 11.
And let's face it, there's other incidents. Monday's plane crash -- I was up in New York, and those families, the 300 families, or just shy of 300 families, that were affected, continue to need support, as well. And there's other disasters.
And so, we believe we've raised enough money to help the people of effected by September 11.
MESERVE: And I'm afraid we're going have to leave it there. I'm sorry, Mr. Donaghue. We're out of time.
Stacy Palmer, thank you, too, for joining us here today.
DONAGHUE: Thanks so much, Jeanne.
MESERVE: And thank you for watching CNN's coverage of AMERICA'S NEW WAR. I'm Jeanne Meserve in Washington.
Coming up next on "CNN PRESENTS," an encore presentation of "Beneath the Veil." Stay with CNN.
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