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.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Again, just a few short moments away, a few minutes away from the release of bin Laden tape from the Pentagon. Again, we are told, through guidance through Bob Franken and others at the Pentagon that that tape will start 40 minutes with bin Laden at a meeting with a few others in a room there, then is has some helicopter shots, and then goes back to bin Laden.
The explanation, the reason given there, is the person who is recording this meeting apparently ran out of tape, and in the middle rewound the tape to the very beginning, so it will be out of sequence. However, we are told we will hear and see the entire tape when, indeed, that is released.
And,certainly, on the streets of New York they are feeling this one today. Michael Okwu, near Ground Zero, gauging reaction thus far this morning -- Michael.
MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, good morning to you. This restaurant is called "Nino's," and since September 11th, it has not been opened to paying customers. In fact, as you can see, they are serving food here, and in the past three months they have served over -- over 400,000 meals, all served by volunteers and mainly to recovery teams, which, of course, has largely comprised New York City police officers and firefighters.
I want to get some reaction to some of the volunteers who are here. Find out what they are thinking about the Osama bin Laden tapes. There are very -- obviously, very deep and profound feelings about what happened on September 11th, and clearly, there are strong feelings about Osama bin Laden. Michelle, you've been working here for many weeks.
MICHELLE, RESTAURANT VOLUNTEER: Yes. Well, I started last week.
OKWU: What are you thinking about -- what are you anticipating from these tapes?
MICHELLE: Well, I'm anticipating seeing Osama bin Laden in a more natural, and not staged, environment. He had some of his other tapes, I believe, have been more propaganda. So, from what I've heard, I'm hopeful that we'll see a more spontaneous, and maybe not broadcasting to the world, what his feelings are.
OKWU: You've obviously thought enough about this cause to spend your precious time here. Do you have strong feelings about Osama bin Laden, and do you think that your feelings will be swayed either way depending on what the substance of the tapes are?
MICHELLE: I don't think it will affect my judgment. It may strengthen it in some ways to see that -- him brag about certain incidences, so that may reinforce what I already feel.
OKWU: Appreciate your time. Roseangel, working next to you, she's been serving up lots of scrambled eggs.
ROSEANGEL (ph), RESTAURANT VOLUNTEER: Oh, yes, I have.
OKWU: Very tasty I should say. You have feelingS, obviously, about these tapes, you told me earlier. What are you anticipating?
ROSEANGEL (ph): I really anticipating to see what -- what's on the tape, his reaction, what the media has been saying and the government, and seeing what the government has seen. Hopefully, there is not, like, any, like, hidden messages, like what the government had, like, the fear of releasing the tape. And also, I have, like, the feeling that we don't want to give people, like, the media time (ph) for bin Laden, like more face time on TV. But, at the same time, like any person, the curiosity, like, what's in that tape.
OKWU: Thank you, Roseangel. We're told that in about a little less than an hour from now, that this place will be full of police officers and some firefighters who continue to work several blocks just south of here at Ground Zero. We are very anxious to gauge their reaction to those tapes. Back to you -- Bill.
HEMMER: Michael, thank you. Michael Okwu in Lower Manhattan, gauging reaction there, and certainly we can all sit back and wonder what we will all feel when we hear the words and see Osama bin Laden in this tape. Those who seen it already describe him as evil and disgusting. One senator calls it "the smoking gun" as evidence against him. To the White House, now, and John King where we all know where they have been quite cautious. Is there any concern, any frayed nerves at this point, that there may be a possibility that this may backfire for the P.R. standpoint?
JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, administration officials expect some to question the authenticity of this tape, the credibility of the translation, but they also say that you are about to hear Osama bin Laden, in his own words, brag about the September 11th attacks on the United States. One senior official I spoke to a short time ago calls this a -- quote -- "compelling, damning indictment." He says we will see Osama bin Laden discussing the attacks of September 11th, and saying that when the planes hit the World Trade Center, that he believed only the floors above the point of impact would be damaged, only the people above the point of impact would be killed, and you will hear Osama bin Laden, we are told, say -- quote -- "that is all we had hoped for."
In the view of the United States government, that is a damning indictment that Osama bin Laden knew in advance of these attacks, and, indeed, we are told he will say on this videotape we are about to see, that he knew the exact details of the operation the Thursday before the attack happened, and we will hear him brag, we are told, that most of the hijackers were told only just before they boarded the planes that they were on a suicide mission. U.S. officials say that when you see this tape, you will have no doubt that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were the masterminds of the terrorist strikes on the United States three months ago.
HEMMER: John, hang with me just a moment here. Getting word through the Pentagon that it may happen at any minute, but as we go toward that tape, John, tell us what we can anticipate seeing. It's been described, basically, as three men sitting on the floor in a living room. There is a Saudi Arabian sheikh in the room. What more do we know about those details?
KING: It is a dinner in Kandahar. It is people sitting around, and talking around. We are told at times you will hear several voices at once, that parts of the tape will be very difficult to understand, that at times you will hear Osama bin Laden clearly, at times you will hear others talking as well, but we are told sometimes you are hearing voices that you cannot see on camera.
We are also told, as Bob Franken has reported, that some of it is disjointed. Apparently, this was recorded, then the tape stopped, then went back to the beginning of the tape. So, some of it is not in chronological order, but, again, U.S. officials say you will hear clearly Osama bin Laden talking in great detail, bragging about the death of Americans, saying this operation far exceeded what he had hoped for in terms of its devastation.
HEMMER: Also, John, we are told that part of the reason for this delay, despite the translation procedure here, was to protect intelligence sources on the ground. You mentioned is was recorded at that dinner in Kandahar, but found, we are told, in a home in Eastern Afghanistan, the town of Jalalabad. Security concerns, certainly, are of the utmost concern given the current conflict. Was that, in part, why we've been put off for a few days' time?
KING: Well, it will be interesting later today, after the release of the tape, just what the administration is willing to say about what the intelligence operatives would call the "chain of custody." Some have suggested that a Northern Alliance soldier found this tape and passed it on. Others have said U.S. intelligence operatives came into possession of this tape first.
The government has been quite murky about the exact chain of custody, how this tape was handled from when it was found, and who found it, and how it was passed up the chain. They do want to protect intelligence sources, but they say this was a recovery operation, if you will. The question is, in whose hands first did someone have this tape and realize what they had brought into their possession.
HEMMER: John, I'm watching the monitor now, and it -- from the Pentagon is blank right now, but at any moment we do anticipate that videotape to pop up there, and one of the things we're curious to see right now, as I look at it -- let's go to it. Some of what you're seeing here, quite clearly, is a map. You saw Baluchistan, there, in the bottom corner, and that's a southwestern region of Pakistan. It might drift off, though, into Afghanistan. John King at the White House knows a bit more on this. John, what it is exactly we're looking at here?
KING: Bill, as we have been saying, the tape is shot out of sequence. The dinner recorded over other events on this tape, including what you are seeing here. This section runs about 12 minutes long, we are told. It is a taping of the affects taken from downed U.S. military helicopter. That map you just saw was the pilot's map outlining the terrain of Afghanistan. This shot, you see the wheel there of a helicopter. This has nothing to do with the dinner we were watching.
What we saw at the top was the end of the dinner with Osama bin Laden and several associates. In a few minutes, when this helicopter sequence is over, we will go back, we are told, to the beginning of the dinner, and more discussion of the events of September 11th. This is a -- the person who has this video camera obviously went -- and we are told this is in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan. A U.S. helicopter had gone down, and they are shooting here, obviously, the damage and affects. You saw gas masks, at one point, or masks from the helicopter cockpit. You saw one tape on a bag identifying the U.S. military personnel whose bag that was. You see the pilot's map and you are seeing other affects from that helicopter.
This has nothing to do with the dinner which we will see again. In a few minutes, we will return to the dinner, but you see here videotape of the affects of a U.S. military helicopter that crashed as part of the operations in Afghanistan.
HEMMER: All right, John, stand by there while we have this break in the tape. Again, we'll continue to roll it, talk over it, and one can only imagine if family members, survivors of the victims, who are watching and listening to this tape what they must be feeling at this time. Osama bin Laden, at some times, leaning against the wall, casually sitting and smiling. At one time, breaking out into laughter when talking and recalling the events of September 11th. Turns your stomach. David Ensor in Washington.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Bill, in a way, listening to Osama bin Laden himself speaking these words is anticlimactic after hearing various others who have watched this tape, repeatedly quote it for us, but, at the same time, to see it, it really has an impact. To hear Osama bin Laden saying that, as he put it, "the brothers who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a martyrdom operation, and we asked each of them to go to America, but they didn't know anything about the operation, not even one letter, but they were trained, and we did not reveal the operation to them until they are there, and just before they boarded the planes." That means that some of the people who -- indicating that some of the people who hijacked the planes did not know until the moment they boarded them that was going to be the last day of their lives. And he said that one group amongst the hijackers did not know the other group. He talked about a dream that one of the individuals in Kandahar that he was speaking to, one of the brothers, as he put it, had about a tall building in America, and says he interrupted that man worried that the secret would be revealed if everyone starts seeing it in their dreams. Bin Laden indicating, quite clearly, that he had plans to attack the World Trade Center, that he was afraid the word might get out and he asked this man not to describe his dream, and not to talk about it anymore. He talks about his joy, and we saw him laughing as -- as the word came that the first plane had hit the building.
He talks about tuning in to the radio to hear the reports, and telling his colleagues, "wait, wait, there's going to be more," after that first strike. He talks about Mohammed Atta, the Egyptian former policemen who U.S. intelligence officials have said and, in fact, I think the attorney general, if I'm not mistaken, has also said was the organizer of these attacks on September 11th.
Here we have Osama bin Laden himself saying so. He says, "not everybody knew. Mohammed Atta, from the Egyptian family, was in charge of the group."
So this -- this is very, very revealing evidence from the organizer of the attacks himself. How it was done, who he put in charge of it, how long ahead of time he knew, and how he tried to keep the secret -- Bill.
HEMMER: Details are precise too.
At one point, he says, David, "the difference between the first and the second plane hitting the towers was 20 minutes. The difference between the first plane and the Pentagon was one hour."
Indeed, he did know. Another person sitting on the floor, there, is believed to be the head of the Islamic Jihad, Ayman al-Zawahri, who has been identified for the past three months running now as a top lieutenant, possibly the second or third man in charge as al Qaeda and the Islamic Jihad recently merged their two operations there in the deserts and the mountains of Afghanistan.
You also heard, there, toward the end of one story that Osama bin Laden was telling there, he said, -- and quoting now -- "we will not stop our raids until you free our lands."
There have been references in the past to the American military presence in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf area, and, certainly, what is happening between Israel and the Palestinians in the Middle East. To Bob Franken at the Pentagon -- Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, there are two things that are probably very important, and it's the Pentagon, the administration's concern about the credibility of this tape.
Number one, the explanation why it is out of sequence, and it's something that might be familiar to anybody who shoots videotape. According to the explanation, whoever was shooting the tape began about forty minutes into the tape, and shot the beginning of the meeting, which we have yet to see.
Then, he rewound the tape and shot the last part of the meeting, which, of course, would be at the head, at the first, and that's what we have seen. We're now seeing what was second on that tape, and that was, as described, the visit to a helicopter -- downed helicopter in a province in the southern part of Afghanistan. We'll be seeing in a few minutes the beginning of the meeting which will be the last part of the tape. It's always so difficult to explain that.
The other credibility concern, of course, is the one about the translation. I'd like to read to you, if I could, the transcript that was handed out at the very head. They go to great pains to explain exactly how they arrived at this translation, and I'm going to read to you: "transcript and annotations independently prepared by George Michael, translator, Diplomatic Language Services, and Dr. Kassem Wahba, Arabic language program coordinator, the School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University."
Continuing to read, "They collaborated on their translation and compared it with translations done by the U.S. government, for consistency. There were no inconsistencies in the translation."
So that is the explanation, right at the top, of carefully they believe that the translations were done to make sure that this was accurate.
Of course, there are still going to be questions. A lot of this is hard to see. As you've been able to tell, it was clearly shot by somebody who is amateur. The audio leaves a lot to be desired, of course, and so does, sometimes, the image.
But the translations have pointed out what we had already heard at one point about this, and that was the clear claim by Osama bin Laden that many of those he had sent on the mission weren't aware that they were going to be suicide missions, one part of the translation saying the brothers who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they would have a martyrdom operation and would go to America, but they didn't know anything about the operation, not even one letter. But they were trained, And we did not reveal the operation to them until they are there and just before they boarded the plane. There's been a lot of discussion about that, and we heard it as translated for us on the videotape.
We're still seeing some of the peripheral tape that was shot before we get back to the meeting. Obviously, this is on the ground.
The meeting, by the way, according to translation provided by the government occurred in Kandahar, Kandahar, which has subsequently fallen to the opposition forces that the United States has been backing. But this was a meeting where an obviously relaxed Osama bin Laden was meeting with a Saudi Arabian sheik who is unidentified in the tape. They had this lengthy discussion that we've been witnessing together -- Bill.
HEMMER: Bob, thank you.
Clearly haunting to hear Osama bin Laden speaking there in such a candid form about the attacks. Those trained to fly, he said, did not know the others, in reference to the other hijackers on board those four airliners back on the 11th of September.
Michael Okwu, southern Manhattan, clearly there is profound reaction in that part of New York. Good morning again.
OKWU: Bill, we've been here all morning at a restaurant called Nino's, which is just several blocks due north of ground zero. And all morning, it's really been buzzing with New York City police officers, who over the course of the past two months have become accustomed to getting their meals here, served by volunteers. But when the Osama bin Laden tape was played, there was about a group of 40 to 50 people here in the restaurant, and you could literally hear a pin drop. Sometimes some sighs, when Osama bin Laden seen to be laughing about what happened on September 11.
One of those people who was deeply moved but what he saw is a sergeant with the police department, Rudolph Hugenboom (ph).
Sergeant, what were your thoughts as you watched the tape?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like it's kind of the icing on the cake. It's just shows that, obviously, we are after the right people.
OKWU: It doesn't change your opinion, then, at all about Osama bin Laden?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I mean, obviously, it seems like the government has had a lot on him in the past. I have faith in our government. It seems like they're after the right people.
OKWU: Sergeant, thank you. I appreciate your time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take care.
OKWU: We want to talk to some other people who might have been watching during the course of the dinner. I'm joined now with one of the volunteers here who has been working for quite some time. Tracy (ph), what were your feelings as you were watching that tape?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't remember ever feeling that kind of hatred towards any -- I have to call him a specimen; I can't call him a human being. The anger and hatred. He's the Antichrist.
OKWU: A specific part of that tape that touched you any more profoundly than any other part of the tape?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say that when he was looking at the backpack that probably belonged to somebody in the military, and that was very difficult to see, seeing the name of what was probably a soldier. And his family going to be watching this. That was very, very painful. Talking about the Americans and laughing -- it very difficult to watch. OKWU: Thank you so much.
Arlene, you've been a volunteer here as well. It was interesting. As I was watching this tape of the rest of you, it seemed as if the anger wasn't manifest with -- people didn't seem so angry as much as they were completely shocked.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't believe it.
OKWU: All along the U.S. government has been telling you that this was is man, Osama bin Laden, and yet you and so many others here appear to be shocked. What was it about seeing the tape that caused that reaction and the feeling in you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we had never heard anything from his mouth regarding his prior knowledge of what was going on. Secondly, to see him laughing, to see them all laughing and having such a good time talking about you know the horrible tragic event. I don't understand people who have absolutely no regard for human life.
And what are they talking about? When their lands are free, they want to impose their kind of rule on all of the Muslim countries -- is that what they want? Because, I mean, it's stupid even to think they could do it. But evidently, they're not very bright people when you come down to that.
OKWU: Arlene, thanks for your time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
OKWU: Bill, a very, very emotional scene at this particular restaurant. Again, people are much more shocked than angry. The anger is certainly inside, but it came across as complete and total disbelief -- Bill.
HEMMER: Michael, thank you.
To our viewers again, stick with us here. We will go back to the ending area of that tape. Again, it was process where the meeting started. The videotape ran out. It was rewound inside and then started again. What you're watching here is stuff outside on the ground in Afghanistan. The meeting will continue momentarily.
Two witnesses that Michael was talking with in New York. One says it's simply the "icing on the cake." Another says, "I can't call him a human being."
Stephen Push is in Great Falls, Virginia, an American whose wife was killed in the attacks on the Pentagon, and he's watching this videotape in his living room.
Sir, my condolences to you, and certainly my appreciation for your sharing thoughts and feeling with us this morning.
As you watch this and listen to it, how do you feel? STEPHEN PUSH, HUSBAND OF PENTAGON VICTIM: I feel angry, but none of this surprises me. It was obvious since September 11 that Osama bin Laden is a sociopath. It's disturbing to see him laughing about the murders of so many people. But I'm glad the government has decided to release this tape. I hope this will convince people in the Islamic world who have been skeptical about what motives that what we are doing in Afghanistan is just and necessary.
HEMMER: Some people have told us here at CNN that they choose not to watch this. Why did you?
PUSH: I chose to watch it because it's an important piece of information and history that we need to understand. This is very important to me, obviously, on a personal level, but it's important to the whole nation. And I wanted to see it because I wanted to know what the rest of the world is seeing. I want to know what people who may have doubted our motives are seeing and understand that we really do have a smoking gun here, we really have proof beyond any doubt that Osama bin Laden was responsible for this attack and that what we are doing is absolutely essential to protect not only Americans, but to protect the whole civilized world from terrorism.
HEMMER: Tell me about your wife, Stephen?
PUSH: My wife was senior vice president of government relations for a biotechnology company. She was a wonderful person, a thoughtful person who always had a kind word for people and was always questioning out and buying thoughtful gifts for everyone. She was someone who through her career had saved the lives of thousands of people by providing faster access to drugs for AIDS and cancer and drugs for other serious diseases. It's been a terrible loss, not just for me and my family, but for the whole country that she was murdered in this way.
HEMMER: Stephen, are you watching this, in part, for her?
PUSH: Everything I am doing these days is for her. I've organized a group called Families of September 11, which represents all of the family members who lost someone in this tragedy. And I'm dedicating my life to her memory, and to trying to do whatever we can to take care of the families that were devastated and to advocate for public policy changes that will help to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.
HEMMER: Stephen, do you have any children?
PUSH: No, we didn't have children.
HEMMER: So you are alone during this holiday season.
PUSH: I'm alone. I have my dog, and I have a lot of support from family and friends and neighbors.
HEMMER: All right, Stephen, Stephen Push, his wife was killed in the attacks on the Pentagon. He's in Great Falls, Virginia, watching that tape. Back now to the videotape. Apparently a group of children singing some sort of song there in the desert, presumably Afghanistan.
Another reminder momentarily that meeting will commence once again by way of videotape and we will shall pick it up and be quiet once again once it does. The group of children and adults are singing some sort of Arabic tune in the desert, presumably southern Afghanistan.
That is also where we find CNN's Christiane Amanpour, who joins us now live.
Christiane, you've been listening. It is nightfall there. I'm curious to know your reaction thus far and if there has any reaction thus far where you are.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, there is, obviously, no reaction. It is just being played, and here people have barely got television. They certainly do have international radio, and I don't know whether this is being played on the radio.
But in terms of what one might expect the reaction to be particularly in the Muslim world, let's go back to what happened after September 11. Many people whom we spoke to were quite horrified by what had happened, particularly that it was being claimed in the name of Islam and in the name of Allah. Many people were at pains to tell us that this was against Islam, this was against the preachings of the Quran and simply this was just a step too far in any kind of acceptable form of resistance for whatever cause.
But what they did tell us over and over again was that they must have evidence, they wanted to see evidence. The United States and other leaders have said they were convinced that Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network was behind September 11, but the people who we spoke to wanted to know for sure, and they said that if Osama bin Laden is proved to have done this and did do this, then he must be punished. But there certainly was a great deal of skepticism by people who simply did not want it believe it.
There are many, many people who are, quite frankly, conspiracy theorists who do not believe this could happen by what they said a simple Bedouin sitting in a tent in Afghanistan. They said this must be Mossad, this must be Israel, this must be the United States playing a con game. This is what we heard over and over again from people who refuse to believe that this could have been done by someone in the name of Islam.
Having said that, there will, I'm sure, continue to be the core group of skeptics to refuse to believe it could have been done by Osama bin Laden, the core group of skeptics who believe that perhaps this was a doctored tape. And there will still be people, a minority of people, who believe that what happened on September 11 was what the United States had coming.
But over and over again, the majority of opinion we heard on the street and from officials was that if he did it, if there is evidence, then he must be punished. And perhaps this will go some way to building that body of evidence in people's minds -- Bill.
HEMMER: Christiane, thank you. As we look at that videotape once again, we are seeing some movement. Whether or not the meeting will resume -- indeed, there it is.
As they gather, quickly, we want to go to one of our translators we're using today. Magdy Rizk is standing by, in Washington, and watching the characteristics for this tape.
Quickly, sir, what have you gauged thus far.
MAGDY RIZK, CNN TRANSLATOR: Actually, much of it is garbled -- you cannot understand exactly what is exactly going on. This was kind of a collective song by some Bedouins praising what has already been done. They are praising the Prophet and saying such things.
But there is nothing out of that, to me, that you can say that there is something tangible.
HEMMER: You are saying nothing tangible thus far?
HEMMER: Clearly pointing out how two people can look at the same thing and get two different reactions. Is that your understanding? Is that what you are trying to tell us?
RIZK: Maybe, because you cannot say exactly -- unless you are sure beyond any suspicion -- that what you are seeing is who you can express it. But there's a kind of suspicion you cannot say exactly what is going on. It's not me. The voices are so far; there are so many people speaking at the same time; and in the background, there are people speaking from far off. You cannot distinguish what is going on.
HEMMER: But is it safe to say you can get a general idea based on what you are listening to in Arabic.
RIZK: Yes, if you are listening to -- but the voice is too low. You cannot hear what they are saying, actually. You see people are sitting and chatting together, but you cannot exactly know what they are saying, because you can't hear it. The voice is very low.
HEMMER: Magdy, thank you. Magdy Rizk, working for us as a translator out of Washington.
One can only assume that the four outside translators that came in to help the U.S. government interpret this went over it repeatedly. And also, there was the possibility of voice enhancement to get over some of the hurdles that Magdy was referring to. We will clear that up a bit later.
Back now to the tape.
: That's it. In his own words, Osama bin Laden on videotape. Perhaps the most incriminating evidence there we heard there was describing the towers and what the preplan had been for hitting those towers, and the calculation about casualties.
At one time, Osama bin Laden using his own words, he says -- quote -- "I was the most optimistic of them all. The brothers who heard the news were overjoyed by it."
To John King.
There was a whole lot there, that time, huh, John?
KING: A whole lot on that tape, certainly in the view of senior U.S. officials, Bill. Now, of course, we should note, this was recorded a month after the terrorist strikes, so certainly one could make the case that Osama bin Laden never said specifically that he was the organizer and one might even try to make the case that he's making it all up, that he's bragging about his involvement and that there there's no evidence at all on that tape that he was directly involved.
U.S. officials say, though, that they have other evidence, that they found this tape, the president saw it, was horrified by it, and wanted to release it to the public. They say now they have other evidence tracing hijackers to the training of the hijackers back to bin Laden and Al Qaeda camps, that they have other evidence tracing the financial support the hijackers used back to Al Qaeda and bin Laden.
But they say, in their view, this is a powerful indictment. Osama bin Laden, as you noted, in his own words saying, we did not tell the hijackers of the mission until just before they boarded the plane. In his own words also saying that in advance of the -- he knew of about the exact timing of the operation several days in advance.
And I want to play once again about a minute-long segment here that U.S. officials say is perhaps in their view, the most damning, Osama bin Laden saying, in advance, that he had calculated what he thought would happen, the devastation he thought would happen and the death toll he thought would come from the attacks on the World Trade Center. The outcome, Osama bin Laden, says right here in his own words, far greater than he had hoped for.
(SECTION OF BIN LADEN TAPE)
KING: Now the White House briefing just moments away here. It is certain to be dominated by discussions about just what the administration hopes this tape proves. Obviously the release of the tape, the beginning of a debate about exactly what we heard from Osama bin Laden, exactly what it means. U.S. officials would call it the smoking gun One calls it a damming indictment. Of course, though, at the same time, the administration says it had, in it's view, plenty of evidence even before this tape was discovered that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were responsible for the strikes of September 11th.
And as we wait for more details here at the White House about how the administration obtained this tape, the chain of custody once it was obtained in Afghanistan. Certainly it will be interesting to watch as well reaction around the world, especially in Arab and Muslim nations, where if not the government, certainly some people on the streets have raised doubts about the United States' case that Osama bin Laden is indeed directly responsible -- Bill.
HEMMER: John, quickly, a few moments ago, you mentioned a very critical point. We talked of Maggie Risk (ph), who is working as a translator for us. He speaks Arabic, was watching this in Washington. During the middle of that tape, when we got the bit of the a timeout between the meeting, he said it was a very difficult for him to make out many aspects of that tape. Do we know, or have we been led to believe that there was an enhancement aboard the audio of that tape, or not?
KING: Well, we know the Pentagon used it's technology when it had independent translators in, and it is also, as we know just from working in this business, that if you are in a closed soundproof environment, it is easier, if you will, to go back and forth over difficult parts of audio. Exactly what they did and how they did, we do not have the details, but we know one of the reasons it was not released yesterday was just because of that very point. They wanted the four outside translators to listen, rewind, listen again, compare notes, match it up to the CIA and other U.S. intelligence translations to see if that makes sense. That was one of the difficulties, and the point being, yes, the Pentagon has technology to voice enhance it, tweak the volume here and there.
They also know that the credibility of this would be called into question by some. That is why they took so much time.
HEMMER: Got it, John.
Many thanks, John King at the White House. Thank you very much.
I want to go back to Great Falls, Virginia now.
Stephen Push lost his wife Lisa in the attacks on the Pentagon. He was watching this tape, was with us about 30 minutes ago from his living room there in Great Falls.
Sir, thanks for sticking around with us this morning.
The second half of that tape...
STEPHEN PUSH, WIFE DIED IN PENTAGON CRASH: Thank you for having me.
HEMMER: You're most welcome. And again, my condolences to you and your loss.
That second half of that tape, was there any difference to you based on what you heard in the first half when we talked?
PUSH: None of this surprises me. The only thing that surprises me and actually he and I find in a way encouraging is how conceited and undisciplined Osama bin Laden is. To make a full confession on videotape was not the smartest thing to do, and it makes him seem like a less formidable enemy, and it gives me encouragement, you know, to continue with families of September 11th, to do everything I can to encourage public policies to defeat terrorism. He seems like a defeatable enemy.
HEMMER: Stephen, how did you feel watching that? Anger? More than that? Sorrow?
PUSH: Sorrow -- I mean, I have experienced sorrow as intense as I could ever imagine over the loss of my wife. Nothing in this tape made that any worse than it already is, but kind of a sorrow about the human condition, that we still live in a world where there are people like this who not only can give vent to their own perverted ideas, but actually can find a following among other people and encouraging them to commit acts like this.
We have a lot of work to do before we get to the point where we don't have to worry about things like this again. And it's -- I had hoped when we entered the 21st century, that maybe we should put it behind us, and obviously, we haven't yet.
HEMMER: You told us last half hour that this is now your life's work, to defend the loss of your wife and many others, your work toward terrorism, and you mentioned it in your first answer. Do you believe, based on what we saw and heard today, that it will fortify the fight not only against people like bin Laden, but others around the world?
PUSH: I think it will. I think we will bring more allies overseas. I think in the Islamic world where there was some skepticism about the evidence and our motives, I think we will win more allies there. I think this will cause people in this country to redouble their efforts to remain diligent and alert, to defend against terrorists at home, to prosecute the war aggressively overseas, to give the government and the military the support it needs, to take the fight against terrorism anywhere we have to take it, whether it's Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world. This is something that we must do.
PUSH: I want to get your reaction to what many will possibly perceive as the most incriminating part of the tape, and I want to quote now: "We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. He continued by saying, I was the most optimistic of them all" -- Stephen.
PUSH: I think that just underscores the credibility of the tape, the fact that he was not merely bragging about something that he had not done, but that he had obviously thought about this in advance, and it was a thought that had occurred to me weeks ago, that it's unimaginable they actually believed in advance that they he could bring both of the towers down, and they were as surprised as we were, so that bit of candidness just to me underscores the credibility of this evidence. HEMMER: Stephen Push, in Great Falls, Virginia, thanks again for sharing with us today. And, again, the best of luck to you during the holiday season.
PUSH: Thank you.
HEMMER: In a moment here, the White House will hold a briefing. We will have it live for you, but before that happens, back to Kandahar and CNN's Christiane Amanpour in Southern Afghanistan -- Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Well, I think the key now will be to see, obviously, the reaction in the Islamic world, and of course around the rest of the world, too, but especially in the Islamic world, because it's going to be very interesting to see whether what clearly is appearing to be a clear taking of responsibility, a boasting of what happened, saying that we were eagerly awaiting the news, we knew it would happen, we were sitting around the radio and wondering why we had not heard about it, and when we did, we were overjoyed. These kind of words will sit very, very difficulty with the people of the Islamic world, because the majority of them, they have been telling us that this is something that no Islamic person, no Muslim could have done, because it is against Islam.
And they have all along said, that there is evidence about Osama bin Laden's guilt that he should be punished, but we are not really sure that he is guilty. And it will be very, very interesting and instructive about how far people in that part of the world and of that faith are willing to put themselves on the line now and say that this is the proof that we have unfortunately been waiting for, and to see whether they do really come forth and say now that he had to be punished and that they agree with what the allies have done in Afghanistan.
HEMMER: Christiane, you bring up a great point. At one point, in the second part of that tape, he was bragging about the converts to Islam that he has heard about, be it in the Netherlands or the U.S., at one point saying, this event made people think about true Islam, which benefited Islam greatly. One would assume, based on your answer, that, again, this will reverberate possibly with negative implications?
AMANPOUR: Most definitely, and I think this act of September 11th, from what we found by talking and being around people in the Muslim world has reverberated very, very negatively in the Islamic world and on the Islamic faith, and that is why so many people stood up and said this was against the principles of Islam, and I think this has been a turning point and a watershed moment for the people of Islamic faith, and many of them have stood and said, we do not accept this, and now it's going to be very, very interesting to see how many leaders, how many clerics, how many scholars will stand up and say that this is now the proof that we were looking for.
HEMMER: Christiane, thank you.
As we await the White House here back in the U.S., Ari Fleischer should be out momentarily. Again, we will have it live for you when it happens
But just to bring up a few more points that were brought up by Osama bin Laden, at one time he said -- I'm quoting now -- "I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no God but Allah, and again, there are questions here about how this will be heard and felt throughout the Islamic world.
Rob Sobhani is a professor at Georgetown University wit us live in Washington.
A quick thought from you, based on the discussion I just had with Christiane and the impact globally.
ROB SOBHANI, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: I think, Bill, one of the things that struck me was the strict Jahabish (ph) that I saw in the acute form of Islam that was being talked about between the Shaykh and bin Laden. Clearly, a very extremist form of Islam, number. But number two, more broadly speaking, though, Bill, it brought up the danger that Saudi Arabia faces because Osama bin Laden listed a number of clerics in Saudi Arabia who knew of this attack, and he listed their names, which tells me that he has a very extensive network, or at least he has a threat work in Saudi Arabia, that raises a very disturbing point for U.S. national security. After all, Saudi Arabia is our ally, and Saudi Arabia is the world's number one producer of petroleum.
That is disturbing, knowing that bin Laden's ultimate goal is the overthrow of the Saudi monarch.
HEMMER: You mentioned Jahabism (ph) may not be the most familiar term to many Americans, but that sprung out of Saudi Arabia, correct?
SOBHANI: Absolutely, by Abdul Wahad in the 17th century, but then taken up as a mantle of the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Haziz (ph). There was a marriage of convenience, King Abdul Haziz bringing the politics and Jahabism providing the legitimacy, the religious legitimacy, and that's the result, yes.
HEMMER: Professor, thank you. Rob Sobhani, thanks.
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