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Special Report With Judy Woodruff: An American Fighting Alongside the Taliban; Afghan Civilians Blame U.S. Bombs for Several Deaths; Bush Administration Considers Expanding War on Terrorism to Iraq

Aired December 2, 2001 - 22:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: In a CNN exclusive, a shocking discovery in Afghanistan: An American believed to be serving in the Taliban regime.

Hello, I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. This is a CNN special report, "America's New War."

More on the surprising story of an American serving in the jihad coming up. Plus, more Afghan civilians were injured overnight, with locals blaming U.S. bombs. Military -- American military official say they are sure their weapons are only hitting Taliban and al Qaeda targets.

The Bush administration is considering whether to expand the war on terror to Iraq, which is once again refusing to allow weapons inspections. We'll speak with the former U.N. chief weapons inspector in a few minutes. And late word tonight on extending the Iraqi "oil for food" program.

In Israel, suicide bombings have killed at least 25 people. The latest was today in Haifa. It came just 12 hours after three explosions in Jerusalem.

President Bush cut short his Camp David weekend to talk about the attacks with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the White House.

We begin with the story of a surprising discovery. Among the Taliban survivors of that prison uprising in northern Afghanistan, a wounded fighter who says he is an American, a volunteer in the forces of the Taliban and for Osama bin Laden. His story is compelling, although it's still not corroborated. Author Robert Young Pelton, working with CNN, found the man and tells his story.


ROBERT YOUNG PELTON, AUTHOR: I met John Walker in a hospital in Shpregon (ph), in northern Afghanistan. Someone had said there was an American among the foreign fighters that had survived prison uprising at Kali Jangi (ph). The admitting room, where they were doing triage was filled with the dead and dying. The Afghan doctors told me that most of these badly injured men would die that night. They have survived a week of bombs, grenades, fire bombs, and finally freezing water that was poured into the bunker. When I heard that an American was here, I brought along American special forces medics to attend to his wounds.

John Walker is 20 years old from Washington, D.C., and he is a member of Ansar, or the helpers, the Arab-speaking fighters funded and supported by Osama bin Laden.

He came here six months ago from Yemen where he was studying Arabic. He had told his parents he was leaving for Afghanistan to become an aid worker.

JOHN WALKER, TALIBAN FIGHTER: I was a student in Pakistan studying Islam. And I came into contact with many people who were connected with the Taliban. I lived in the region in the northwest frontier province there. The people there in general have a great love for the Taliban. So, I started to read some of the literature of the scholars and the history of the movement, and my heart became attached to them.

PELTON: Instead, he went to Kabul to join the Taliban. But because he could not speak Pashtun, they sent him to the Arabic speaking training camps run by bin Laden. He learned how to fire a Kalashnikov and was sent to Kashmir to fight. He saw bin Laden many times, usually when Osama would visit the camps and sometimes when visited the front lines.

John began his jihad on the front-lines north of Kabul, and later was sent to fight in the province of Takhar. Then the war began.

WALKER: When we withdrew from Takhar, we walked by foot maybe more than 100 miles. Afterward, I was very sick for the whole period.

PELTON: Surrendered as part of over 3,000 Taliban fighters in Konduz, he entered in General Rashid Dostum's fortress at Kali Jungi (ph). John is now a prisoner of war has been removed to a safe place to recuperate and possibly face prosecution. Others were not so lucky.

This is Robert Young Pelton for CNN, in Shrebregon (ph), Afghanistan.


WOODRUFF: When the Northern Alliance make their final assault on the Taliban in Kandahar, they may be joined by U.S. Marines. CNN's Walter Rodgers is going along with Marine forces in southern Afghanistan as part of the journalists' pool. He joins us live on the telephone.

Walt, give us the situation from your perspective now.

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this hour, Judy, a dawn has just broken across the southern Afghan desert, and the first thing we see here are Marines beginning to stir out of their holes they have dug around the perimeter of this air base on a dry lake bed. The first thing the Marines do is shake off the dust, and then they shake off the cold from the desert night.

The dawn sky in southern Afghanistan speaks to the overnight bombing raids around Kandahar to the north and east. The sun rises, crisscrossed with the contrails of American warplanes that have been bombing Taliban positions there.

No one here is discussing exactly what the Marines operational orders are, but one senior officer has indicated they might be used in the final siege of the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. "Folks, we are definitely prepared for what lies ahead," one Marine officer said. The same Marine Corps intelligence officer said: "The Taliban still have control, but there are other forces coming into play now." Among them, he said, the Afghan opposition groups moving toward Kandahar from the north, other opposition fores moving up toward Kandahar from the south, and he said, quote: "Us the Marines coming up potentially from where we are."

The consolidation of Taliban forces in Kandahar suggests the war is approaching what the Marines call, quote, "a culmination point." They still do not know here, however, whether they will be committed to battle or whether the fighting will be left to these Afghan opposition groups.

The strategy, however, is self-evident: Put pressure on the Taliban by heavy bombing from the air, then squeeze Kandahar like a snake, putting increasing pressure on its defenders. It is not at all clear, however, whether the Taliban will decide to capitulate under this pressure or whether it will force the opposition forces into the bloodiest of all fighting, house-to-house street battles, which would be the costliest way to take the city -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Walter, what is the Marines' attitude toward going up a force much of which is saying it's prepared to fight to the death?

RODGERS: Well, look, the Marines are as gung ho and outfit -- and as motivated and outfit as you are going to find in any of the U.S. services. They are more than ready to move forward.

We were talking to some of the attack helicopter pilots; they are extraordinarily confident of the capability of their Cobra attack helicopters. These are two-seat helicopters that can fly 200 miles an hour across 20 feet across the ground. They believe that if they are indeed called into action, they have been superbly trained, and they want -- and they're more than ready to follow orders to take Kandahar, should that order come.

And again, we have to stress it is not at all clear the Americans will commit U.S. troops to that siege at this point, because perhaps as the Americans were successful in doing in the Mazar-e Sharif area, we used American bombers up there, pounded the Taliban force there, and then the Afghan opposition forces moved in and took the city. In a perfect world, I suspect that's what the Americans would like to do here, but at this point we cannot be at all sure they are going to be that fortunate. The Marines are terribly motivated, however, and if they are ready, no one here -- if they are ordered to go, no one here has forgotten September 11. They talk about it fairly frequently -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Walter Rodgers, who is on the ground in southern Afghanistan with the contingent of U.S. Marines. Thank you, Walter.

Meantime, after almost a week of grueling negotiations there is finally a working plan for a new Afghan government to replace the Taliban. CNN's Jim Bittermann has details from Bonn.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After six days of discussions, Afghans trying to restart government in their homeland now at least have a draft outline on paper of how that government will look.

Under the outline, which could change, a temporary ruling council, in reality, the government, to include 29 members; 23 of them ordinary members, five deputy chairmen and one chairman. The top six officers must include at least one woman, and one member of each of Afghanistan's four main ethnic groups. The 29 members will serve for six months. The draft agreement said a fixed date shall be set when a government is to be created. On that date, the ruling interim administration takes charge of the banking system, will be recognized as a sovereign government and will take over Afghanistan's seat in the United Nations.

The draft specifies that the former king declines the role of head of government, and will serve only to open and preside over the tradition ruling assembly, which will be convened at the end of six months. As well, the document requests a multi-national peacekeeping force for Kabul, and perhaps other parts of Afghanistan.

A German diplomat at the talks says he hopes there will be a new beginning for Afghanistan at the end of this month.

HAN JOACHIM DAERR, GERMAN OBSERVER AT AFGHAN TALKS: The parties all agree that the start to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), they start from scratch with the new government, so they have indeed to get all together in Kabul, and start on a different day.

BITTERMANN: But still ahead is perhaps the most complicated issues, who gets what job in the new administration. Yet when asked diplomatic observers here, they said success is at least now probable.

(on camera): In your view, it's no longer a question of whether but when, Mr. Dobbins?

JAMES DOBBINS, U.S. OBSERVER AT AFGHAN TALKS: Well, I think it's increasingly a question of when rather than whether, but with these kinds of things you can never be sure.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): German sources indicate the conference, which was meant to end Saturday, will now go on through a seventh day, Monday, and perhaps longer.

(on camera): The final agreement will no doubt differ from the draft version that we have seen, but all parties to the talks here concur that it must include the one element no one has seen on paper or at the bargaining table, and that is the list of names of those who will form Afghanistan's new government.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Koenigswinter, Germany.


WOODRUFF: The body of the first American killed in combat in Afghanistan is back in the united stated tonight. A Marine honor guard was on hand as the coffin of Mike Spann arrived at Andrews Air Force Base. The 32-year-old CIA agent died in a P.O.W. uprising while he was gathering intelligence from Taliban prisoners.

The residents of a village near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, say they are victims of the U.S. bombing. It is a claim that the U.S. military strongly denies. CNN's Brent Sadler reports from Jalalabad. And we must warn you, some of the images you are about to see may be disturbing.


BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scenes of devastation and heavy loss of life in a remote region of eastern Afghanistan. The tragic aftermath, claim regional authorities, of two successive days of American air strikes in Nangarhar Province.

These are the first harrowing pictures to emerge from a district called Agam (ph), two hours drive from Jalalabad, a village they call Madokolay (ph). It's within eyesight of a mountain range which conceals Tora Bora, a suspected hideout for al Qaeda or Taliban diehards, a high priority U.S. military target.

Survivors dig for the remains of victims in Madokolay (ph), two days after the destruction, delivered, they claim, by the U.S. warplanes, a claim U.S. military authorities deny.

This man holds up what he says is a bomb or missile fragment. "This is their humanitarian aid to us," he says angrily, "they want to rebuild Afghanistan, but this is their gift to us."

Sorrow is turning to anger here. By day, they can see American bombers flying overhead. By night, they say, aerial weapons are hitting them, not terrorists.

"Find the Arab or Osama here," he says. " If they're here, burn me to death, but they're not."

In Jalalabad's hospital, casualties fill the dirt-stained wards and corridors. Bodies are laid out in the morgue. The city's mujahideen corps commander who tells me he's in contact with unnamed U.S. authorities acknowledges the depth of the problem. "Scenes like this," he believes, "undermine efforts to win Afghan support for the war on terror."

MOHAMMED ZAMAN, MUJAHIDEEN CORPS COMMANDER: Of course this is our problem, the dead bodies our problem, the complaints our problem, villagers our problem.

SADLER: And he claims the district office for his own mujahideen security personnel for the area was destroyed in the attacks, inflicting more deaths, casualties of what's being attributed by authorities here as targeting errors, errors which they insist must stop.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Jalalabad.


WOODRUFF: The Pentagon continues to deny U.S. led airstrikes are targeting civilian areas. In a statement released today, the U.S. central command spokesman said, quote, "We know targets near Tora Bora, south of Jalalabad, fall into the realm of al Quaeda and Taliban strongholds. And al Qaeda and Taliban members who choose to bring their innocent civilians or family members into these complexes, put these non-combatants at risk."

The statement continues, "The United States regrets any loss of innocent lives. We will continue, however, to destroy al Qaeda and Taliban leadership in the places they do business."

As preparations continue for a possible final assault on the Taliban in Kandahar, CNN's military analyst and retired Army general, David Grange joins us now from Chicago, to look at what might happen next.

First of all, General Grange, these accusations by people on the ground near Jalalabad of civilian casualties, how do you interpret what you are hearing and seeing there?

GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: It's very painful to watch. It may have been a target nearby that did kill civilians and cause collateral damage to structures in the area. It is hard for me to believe that it was targeted on purpose. It may have gone after some cadre of al Qaeda, or the Taliban that were hidden among civilian population. But as you know, it's not the policy of the United States of America or the international coalition to target civilians at all.

WOODRUFF: Do you believe that al Qaeda and the Taliban might well -- might be putting civilians in the midst of military targets?

GRANGE: Absolutely. It's a technique used by paramilitary forces, terrorist organizations in this war and in times past to hide in structures like mosques, hospitals, put their tanks and equipment inside civilian homes, knock out one wall in the back of a wall and put a tank inside and then camouflage the back of the building. It's a technique used to attempt to survive. It puts civilians in extreme danger. That could very well be the case here, but I'm sure it's being researched, and we will probably find more out about it in the next few days.

WOODRUFF: General Grange, let me also ask you about this report that we led with tonight, this American being discovered among the Taliban prisoners at that fortress in Mazar-e Sharif. Do you take that at face value? Are you shocked, or what is your reaction?

GRANGE: I'm not shocked. Historically we have had Americans fight for enemy forces, you know, in the past. If this is true, and this American citizen, if it is an American citizen, wittingly fought for an enemy of this country, then that person is a traitor and should be dealt with appropriately.

WOODRUFF: But you are saying this happens all the time?

GRANGE: Well, when I say "all the time" it has happened in conflicts in the past. On numerous occasions we have had American citizens that have fought for other causes. When it's against a force that is an enemy, an adversary of the United States of America, then it should be treated as treason.

WOODRUFF: General, what about the situation in Kandahar? You have the Northern Alliance coming in presumably from the North, different groups there. You have got the forces, other anti-Taliban groups in the south. We keep hearing the description, trying to squeeze it like a snake. What exactly are the allies up against there in Kandahar?

GRANGE: It appears that Kandahar does have a hard-core resistance force in it or around it in some pockets, some areas. And wean you look at a city like Kandahar, on an attack that is imminent, you don't just look at the city itself. In other words, the attack doesn't start as soon as you put your the feet in the street, amongst the first several buildings that you approach in the city.

A the fight in the city, within the city itself, key places within the city, as well as key terrain around the city; dominating terrain that you can observe targets from. The road network that surrounds the city and enters and allows vehicles to move into or through the city.

So, the fight of Kandahar itself will include miles around the city proper as well as within the city. And the Marine part of this may just be interdiction or a supporting role on a road network outside the city. It could be a piece of the city, a quadrant within the city that is very critical to the success of the take-down. And it might be in a reinforcing raid mode to attack fleeting enemy targets once the anti-Taliban enters the city.

WOODRUFF: So, you don't think it is at all certain that the Marines will be part of the final assault on the city?

GRANGE: I believe they will be a part of the take down of Kandahar that may not be within the city itself.

WOODRUFF: If these people though, General, are saying the Taliban and al Qaeda in there are saying we are going to fight to the death, what are allied forces up against there?

GRANGE: You have some tough people that fanatically will fight to the death and consequently they have nothing to lose. So, they have some strength through fear or strength through hopelessness, like, you know, a cornered animal, and they will fight. So, it's going to be like some of the things we say up by Konduz maybe, or Mazar-e Sharif, in the compound, people that will hold out to the bitter end.

You don't want to waste lives on your forces against people like that unless you have assured a victory with minimal loss of life to your side. So, as they play this out, it will take a little while for that reason. You don't want to just do a frontal assault against fanatics.

WOODRUFF: So, we may not seeing anything in the next day or so?

GRANGE: Exactly, or you may just see pieces a fight that will take some time. Again, you can dominate a good piece of the city by not even going into the city just by controlling a key terrain around it.

WOODRUFF: CNN's military analyst and retired Army General David Grange. general, thank you very much. It's good to see you; we appreciate it.

GRANGE: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, how far beyond Afghanistan will the United States take the war a terrorism? There are concerns that the actions of Saddam Hussein could lead to a powerful reaction in Iraq.

Also, implications for the Middle East in the wake of this weekend's violence in Israel.


WOODRUFF: Israel's full government will meet tomorrow in response to this weekend's suicide attacks. A spokesman says any decisions it makes will be binding, since it acts as the extended foreign and security committee. The spokesman also said that Israel will not resume negotiations with the Palestinians until Yasser Arafat acts against all the terrorist organizations.

Palestinian security forces are rounding up members of radical militant groups in response to yesterday's deadly bombings in Jerusalem. Two top Hamas officials were detained today. About a dozen militants in the Gaza Strip and more than 50 across the West Bank have now been arrested. Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat also declared a state of emergency, and warned that any faction that does not respect the decision is considered to be against the law. The latest attacks in Israel make the White House goal of a cease-fire, let alone a final resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, all the more elusive.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports from Israel on the implications of this weekend's events.


JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There had been warnings, but few expected it to be this horrific. Before even the dead have been buried from Saturday night's double suicide bombing in Jerusalem, Israel's agony shifted to its northern port city of Haifa.

The target here, something everyone uses: The city bus. A man was seen boarding number 16 at a regular stop. Coolly, he paid his fare, and second later detonated himself. The bus, now a fireball, careened down the road, striking other vehicles and leaving a trail of devastation and death.

The chilling account of one eyewitness, who said afterward such was the force of the blast that the victims didn't utter a word. "Not even a cry for help," he said, "it was complete silence. All that was left to do was to cover some of them and evacuate the rest."

Just as the mayhem erupted in Haifa, back in Jerusalem the special U.S. envoy, the man who President Bush had sent to make sure this sort of thing didn't happen anymore, laid a wreath at the scene of Saturday night's mall attack. Some Israelis jeered, yelling to the U.S. envoy, "Zinni, go home." Stone-faced former Marine general said he was sticking to his task.

ANTHONY ZINNI, SPECIAL U.S. ENVOY: This is the deepest evil that one can imagine, to attack young people and children, to attack rescue and emergency vehicles that are trying to come in. This is the lowest form of inhumanity that can be imagined. And I think it's important that we stay together to fight us, that we don't let it us deter us from our goal of peace, and that we stand together and make the world see that we will not tolerate this.

KESSEL: Pulling no punches, General Zinni said Yasser Arafat must act and act now. Palestinian leaders insist they are doing that, and that the only way out of this the ever-escalating violence cycle was to begin talking peace right away.

SAEB ERAKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: People can be angry. People must realize, irrespective of the level of their anger, that violence will breed violence, bullets will breed bullets and escalation will breed escalations, and it's time to revive hope in the minds of Palestinians and Israelis, and it's time to get back to the negotiating table.

AVI PAZNER, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: I think this is the height of hypocrisy, what the Palestinians just said. First, they kill our children and then they say, "now, let's negotiate." KESSEL (on camera): The Palestinian Authority has proclaimed a state of emergency, declared that it will not tolerate independent action by any group, and that its security force will detain all those that have backed the three suicide bombings. The big question, will that be enough for Israel and the United States, and will Israel wait for Yasser Arafat to act, or act itself?

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.


WOODRUFF: Well, President Bush returned to Washington today to a hastily called meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. They were scheduled to talk tomorrow, but the attacks in Jerusalem have changed more than their schedule.

CNN's senior White House correspondent John King explains.


JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president called the bombings "horrific acts of murder," and said Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat faces an immediate test.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a moment where the advocates for peace in the Middle East must rise up and fight terror. Chairman Arafat must do everything in his power to find those who murdered innocent Israelis and bring them to justice.

KING: A meeting with Israel's prime minister was moved from Monday to Sunday, and the agenda changed as well. Mr. Bush had hoped to nudge Prime Minister Sharon to relax his demands for seven days of quiet before embracing a cease-fire with the Palestinians. Instead, Mr. Bush used the one-hour meeting to voice condolences and promise solidarity; and the traditional calls for Israeli restraint were absent from the administration's public statements.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Mr. Sharon is a freely elected leader of a democratic nation, and he will responded in a way that he thinks is appropriate.

KING: The prime minister cut short his U.S. visit to rush home for an emergency cabinet meeting. Advisers suggest a firm response is certain.

DORE GOLD, SHARON'S ADVISER: Israel will have to do what's necessary to protect the people of Israel from the escalating violence, emanating from areas under the jurisdiction of Yasser Arafat.

KING: Secretary of State Powell openly questioned Mr. Arafat's authority and credibility, and said in a phone conversation with the Palestinian leader he warned him promises to crack down on groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad is not enough.

POWELL: Bring them the justice, arrest them and keep them in jail. Not just arrest them, and then they disappeared and back on the street in a few days' time. But more than that, he has to go after future perpetrators.

KING: The president's new special Mideast envoy, retired Marine General Anthony Zinni will remain in the region for now, but the timing of the bombings dealt a serious blow to the administration's new push to broker an Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire.

(on camera): One senior official put it this way: "We were hardly optimistic to begin with, and now this." This same official went on to say the window of time for Mr. Arafat to take decisive action is, quote, "tiny."

John King, CNN, the White House.


WOODRUFF: As we just saw, Secretary of State Powell has urged Yasser Arafat to use his full authority against those responsible for these bombings.

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy joins us now from New York

Secretary Murphy, to what extent does Yasser Arafat truly have authority over the people who did this?

RICHARD MURPHY, FRM. ASST. SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't think he has complete authority, Judy. I think the fact is that the administration does sense that he has more capability than he's using. They are not writing him off, they're saying he is relevant, as many Israelis have been saying, but it's -- he has to make the maximum effort, as Secretary Powell saying he has to arrest and keep under arrest -- true, all of these are true. That still doesn't say he has complete authority.

And what we are seeing is there's no shortage of suicide bombers out there now. This situation is deteriorating fast.

WOODRUFF: Well, that's my question: I mean, how realistic is to ask Yasser Arafat to do something about these dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, of young men who are willing to blow themselves up to prevent the peace process from moving forward?

MURPHY: Well, this why the Palestinians are saying, let us get to object negotiations. They don't see it a reward for violence, and they certainly don't see it, as the Israeli spokesman was saying, as total hypocrisy that they kill our children and then they say they want to negotiate.

But it's only when they get to negotiations that the Israeli government is going to be able to work out guarantees for its own citizens to protect them from this kind of violence. They can protect the state today, but not their individual citizens.

WOODRUFF: So I guess what I'm asking is, it -- is it realistic for them to wait for Yasser Arafat to do something before they take the next step?

MURPHY: Well, he started to do something. They may think it totally inadequate, but he is starting arrests. I think this is the first time he has declared the state of emergency and that those who don't obey are outlaws. That's for him -- I wish it was a statement he had made six months ago.

WOODRUFF: And again, I don't want to beat the subject to death here, but I just keep coming back to even if Yasser Arafat looked up everyone he could get hands on, isn't there every reason to believe that these kinds of things would continue?

MURPHY: There is that reason, and the extremists are alive and well in the Middle East. And one of the problems is that when you declare, for instance, a period of -- that there must be a period of seven days, eight days, whatever, of total calm, you are putting your fate into the hands of the most extreme actors who will use that to force an end to negotiations, which is the only hope for both parties.

WOODRUFF: So you are saying the seven-to-eight-day demand is not realistic?

MURPHY: I don't think it's realistic, and I don't think it's something we ever should have signed on to.

WOODRUFF: You mean we meaning the United States.

MURPHY: The United States, yes.

WOODRUFF: Is there any doubt in your mind, Richard Murphy, that the Israelis will now retaliate?

MURPHY: There will be a retaliation. I think there has to be a retaliation. I don't know what form it will take, obviously. I'm a little concerned by the fact that the media is saying -- or drawing attention to the fact that there was no call for restraint on the part...

WOODRUFF: You mean on the part of President Bush?

MURPHY: By the administration. Condolences were certainly called for, but also a reminder that at the end of day there has got to be talks, and to get to those talks it is going to take some restraint. Obviously action on Arafat's part, but move toward peace on Sharon's part.

WOODRUFF: Why do you think the administration didn't, the Bush administration didn't call for some restraint now on the part of the Israelis?

MURPHY: This -- all I know is it was not stated publicly. What was said in private none of us know. But it was considered relevant to note that it wasn't said publicly, as we always have before. I think it was that this is a terribly emotional moment. Another night, a day of tragedies out there, and it is savage what's going on. WOODRUFF: The Palestinians say this happened in -- for their part, in retaliation for the killing of Hamas -- the leader of a Hamas military group. You know, for people on the outside looking in, the question is, where does it stop?

MURPHY: It stops when they can reach a full and final agreement. It stops when they get tired of killing each other. They are not yet that tired. That's the tragic part.

WOODRUFF: Well, we're going to leave it there. Former United States Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy, thank you very much.

MURPHY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you.

We are going to take a break. When we come back, we are going to speak with the former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, Richard Butler, about whether Iraq might be the next target in war on terrorism.


WOODRUFF: Here now are the latest developments, led by a progress in the anthrax investigation. The U.S. Postal Service reports finding traces of anthrax in a Connecticut facility that sorts mail for the town where a 94-year-old woman died of the disease last month.

One of the Taliban prisoners who survived last week's uprising near Mazar-e Sharif says he's an American. The 20-year-old fighter identifies himself as John Walker of San Francisco. He is being treated for grenade and bullet wounds.

Palestinian security forces are rounding up dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in the wake of this weekend's deadly bombings in Israel. Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat declared a state of emergency today, and he denounced those behind the attacks.

The "oil for food" program in Iraq is about to get a six-month extension. The Iraqi U.N. ambassador said tonight that his country will sign a memorandum of understanding tomorrow with the United Nations. It will permit Iraq to sell oil despite sanctions, with proceeds used for food.

The Iraqi government, meantime, is continuing to deny President Bush's request that weapons inspectors be allowed to go back into the country. Speculation has intensified that a continued reluctance to do so may motivate the U.S. to launch an attack against Iraq. Earlier this week, President Bush called on President Saddam Hussein to comply, or face the consequences.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In order to prove to the world he is not developing weapons of mass destruction, he ought to let the inspectors back in.


QUESTION: And if he does not do that, sir, what will be the consequences? If he does not do that, what will be the consequences?

BUSH: That's up to him; he'll find out.


WOODRUFF: Joining us now with his perspective on the situation is former U.N. chief weapons inspector, Richard Butler, currently with the Counsel on Foreign Relations. Mr. Butler, first of all, about this announcement tonight from the Iraqi ambassador to the U.N. about extended the "oil for food" program. Any surprise there?

RICHARD BUTLER, FORMER U.N. CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR: No, it's not surprising, Judy. What would have been surprising would be if they had turned it down, because that would have been the most aggressive stance against sanctions and against inspectors that they could have made. So, unsurprising. It means that the current regime of sanctions and humanitarian provision of food and medicines will continue, although, in that context, let me tell you that Saddam Hussein has never used all the money that is available under that program.

WOODRUFF: You mean not used it for food?

BUTLER: No. He's not used the whole amount available. His basic stance is that sanctions are dreadful, that they are harming the Iraqi people and so on. And of course there have been some deleterious effects, but he always ignores the fact that they always would have been relieved the minute he had handed over the weapons, and of course, he has never done that.

But secondly, he's never actually drawn down the full amount of money that comes from the legal sale of oil in order to provide for food and medicines for his people. I'm unsurprised by this move. In the current climate, had he refused to agree with the six-month extension, that would have been a pretty aggressive stance and would have made it easier for the United States to contemplate military action.

WOODRUFF: Richard Butler, is it wise for President Bush or for any U.S. leader right now to be talking up Iraq as the potential next target in the war on terrorism?

BUTLER: Judy, there is no hard evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence that suggests links to Taliban and al Qaeda. Iraq's continued status as an outlaw state in the sense that it is refusing to obey international law with respect to its weapons of mass destruction, and of course, the general disruption that Saddam causes in the Middle East peace process, all of these things are matters of great concern. I think the United States has to take that seriously. I would like to see it go back to the security council one more time. WOODRUFF: What do you mean by that?

BUTLER: To seek agreement with the Russians. The Russians blocked a change this in the sanctions regime which may have led to a reinsertion of inspectors. They blocked that in February of this year. Now that we have a new relationship going with Russia, I would have thought it would be wise to try and go back to the council one more time to put together an international consensus that changes Saddam Hussein's political position quite considerably, and see if we can get those inspectors back in.

If Saddam refused in the face of such a consensus, well, then the United States would be in a stronger position to consider taking direct action.

WOODRUFF: Is there's any doubt in your mind that Saddam Hussein and his people have been continuing to build up weapons of mass destruction?

BUTLER: None. And I am a little bit mystified that the administration has been -- there have been several voices coming out of Washington about that. The president said Monday in the rose garden, if we see him developing those weapons, well, he has. That's well known.

The assistant secretary of state in charge of these matters said around about the same time, was telling a conference in Geneva that it is perfectly clear that Iraq has biological weapons, for example. It's well established that Iraq has those weapons. What we don't know is how much further they have developed them in these last three where there has been no inspection. And that is a matter of very serious concern. It is one of the reasons we must get inspects back in.

WOODRUFF: You said that if Russia were to join with the U.S. in putting pressure an rewriting these sanctions, Saddam Hussein would have to pay attention. What is the incentive for Russia to do that?

BUTLER: I think Russia has a lot of incentive to improve its relationship with the west, with the United States in particular. We see that now around the very crucial issue of the fight against terrorism. But at root, Judy, one of the biggest losses Russia had to face up to at the end of the Cold War was its virtual removal from the superpower stage.

Now, via the war on terrorism, via the new relationship that is being developed with the United States, a major Russian objective, which is to get back into being a main player alongside the United States, is able to be fulfilled. Contrary to that would be its continuing supports of Saddam Hussein. And I see that as the main incentive. If we can strike a deal with them, forge consensus again in the security council, we may have a chance of the getting the inspectors back and what Russia would get out of that would be its place back at the top table in a way that I think it deeply wants.

WOODRUFF: And short of getting inspectors back in there, what is to be done?

BUTLER: We have to be very careful. I know there are very strong voices in Washington saying, look, enough is enough with Saddam. Let's just go there and take military action as soon as we are done with Afghanistan.

That worries me slightly, and that's why I say I think we should try to build further consensus around this, because if prompt unilateral action were taken, I suspect we would see very considerable concern, maybe even some uprising in the Arab world. I don't know what it would do to the problem, the awful problem we now face in Israel and Palestinian.

And I think there could be a very great strain put on the overall coalition against terrorism. So, I think, look, I think the objectives of getting Saddam and his weapons out of our life are basically sound. But I think we have to proceed with very great care.

WOODRUFF: All right. Richard Butler, we are going to leave it there. He is the former chief U.N. weapon's inspector. Thank you very much. We appreciate your being with us tonight.

BUTLER: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Some of the day's other news when come back, including a very unusual site in the skies over the Midwest. The source of these mystery lights just ahead.


WOODRUFF: U.S. Justice Department records show that more often than not, federal terrorism cases go unprosecuted. The records review covered federal terrorism cases since September, 1996. And during that time charges were never brought in 68 percent of federal terrorism cases compared to 34 percent of all criminal referrals. When cases were brought, the judges often imposed relatively light sentences. The average prison term for international terrorists was ten months. Domestic terrorism brought 37 months.

By contrast, the average federal drug conviction brought a 45- month sentence. When rejecting cases, prosecutors blamed weak evidence or a weak legal case far more often in terrorism cases than in others.

A possible make-or-break test for the government's missile interceptor has been postponed. Bad weather scrubbed the launch of a dummy warhead from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Pentagon says it will try again tomorrow. If all goes as planned the target will be destroyed by an interceptor missile 4,800 4,800 miles out in the South Pacific. Two similar tests have succeeded, but two others failed.

Well, from Texas to Nebraska, people looking up at the sky last night reported unprecedented streaks of brilliant light. U.S. officials say the spectacular show was caused by a junk Russian rocket reentering the atmosphere. They say the rocket will disintegrate in the atmosphere, and it poses no danger to anyone on the ground.

Well, for a sense of what else is going on up in the skies over our heads, let's go to Jacqui Jeras. She's at the weather map in Atlanta.


WOODRUFF: It was a who's who of the entertainment world tonight as the White House hosted recipients of this year's Kennedy Center Honors. President and Mrs. Bush held the reception for the honorees, who were cited for career achievement before the 24th annual gala. Being saluted at this year's celebration, actors Jack Nicholson and Julie Andrews, composer-producer Quincy Jones, tenor Luciano Pavarotti and pianist Van Cliburn. The Kennedy Center Honors program will air on CBS later this month.

A Connecticut couple has redefined the meaning of retirement. See how they are working out ways to help others, just ahead.


WOODRUFF: They have traveled the United States from coast-to- coast, and they've made several trips abroad. But you won't find this couple on any sightseeing tours; they're too busy looking for ways to help.

Maria Hinojosa explains.


MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A husky bear of a man, 77 year old Lou Paterno (ph) loves to show off his travel map.

LOU PATERNO, SENIOR VOLUNTEER: My neighbor next door says, "you know, if you keep doing this here, I'm going to put a sign out in front of your house, For Sale."

HINOJOSA: All over the world. Red tacks are for flying. Yellow for busses.

(on camera): Any of these your favorite. Oh, God! You have so much to choose from.

(voice-over): Across from the map wall, Lou's wife, Peg, shows off the family wall.

PEG PATERNO, SENIOR VOLUNTEER: This is our family history.

HINOJOSA: But behind these two walls, are the complicated stories of what moves the Paterno family.

P. PATERNO: Lou had Mary and Tom, and I had Bill, Dave. and Jim.

HINOJOSA: Because Lou and Peg were both widows before they were 30. Their marriage brought five little children together. (on camera): Where were you when you were a widow at 27? What were those memories? What was that time like?

P. PATERNO: If I get into that now, you know, this number of years later, I'll start to cry.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): But the sadness wasn't over. Their son David was diagnosed with AIDS.

P. PATERNO: She was a doctor, a chiropractor. And she said together, they were going to lick it.

HINOJOSA: His doctor, Connie, became David's wife. But months later, she is killed in a Luby's massacre in Texas, and he dies of AIDS.

P. PATERNO: We just felt like, this was our therapy. To get out and help other people.

HINOJOSA: Out of all of this sadness and tragedy, though, a rebirth, a calling, and a life of service for the Paternos.

(on camera): Where else did you volunteer?

L. PATERNO: Well, we went to Haiti. Haiti is the poorest of the poor.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): Vacations aren't just for rest, but to help people in need. In Indonesia, English classes for girls. And, ever since September 11th...

L. PATERNO: We certainly understand what you're going through...

HINOJOSA: This retired couple from Connecticut have spent their days comforting new widows and other parents who have lost their children.

JOANN BARBARA, SEPTEMBER 11 WIDOW: They want to connect with us. They know bad we're hurt.

HINOJOSA: Joanne Barbara lost her spouse, just like Peg and Lou.

L. PATERNO: I don't think you'll -- you'll ever find a disaster that will even compare with this sheer numbers of people that were -- were -- were killed in one particular spot.

HINOJOSA: A spot far away from their home, where they've just returned after weeks of volunteer duty. They're tired but invigorated.

L. PATERNO: Maybe I do it because I feel so good when I get back.

HINOJOSA: So good that the volunteering doesn't stop. Now they're bagging groceries for the church food bank. P. PATERNO: Other people have helped me, and I that feel it's my turn to help them.

HINOJOSA: It's help that has taken them across the country ,from disaster to disaster.

P. PATERNO: We loaded and unloaded 18-wheeler trucks full of water and supplies. And, you know, the most of us, we're retired people.

HINOJOSA: Retired people who should be relaxing, but who prefer to help others, just like others helped them.

P. PATERNO: I can remember my father-in-law taking me over to collect social security -- make the social security arrangements for my three boys, and I said, "how can I ever pay back all the people that have helped me?" And he said, "you won't, you'll pass it on."

HINOJOSA: Even if it means spending Thanksgiving dinner with other Red Cross volunteers.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.


WOODRUFF: Now that's a pretty special couple. A quick look at today's top stories, plus then an encore presentation "CNN PRESENTS": Are We Ready?




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