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CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS

Yet Another Report of bin Laden Escaping Afghanistan; Was American Military Commander Fired Upon?; Richard Reid in Federal Courtroom

Aired December 28, 2001 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Now, on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS: Yet another report of Osama bin Laden escaping from Afghanistan. This one says he's greased the right palms. No matter where bin Laden is, President Bush claims the al Qaeda is losing authority and real estate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a guy who, three months ago, was in control of the country. Now, he's maybe in control of a cave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Did the American military commander come into the line of fire on a recent trip abroad?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL TOM FRANKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND COMMANDER: I have been told since I took that helicopter ride that someone took a shot at the helicopter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And, inside a federal courtroom, a clear picture of what might have happened to American flight 63 if the shoe-bomb suspect succeeded. While in England, his parents raise doubts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESLEY HUGHES, RICHARD REID'S MOTHER: I'm obviously deeply shocked and concerned at the allegations being made against Richard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Pakistan's foreign minister does not say Osama bin Laden is in his country, but he does leave open the possibility that the al Qaeda leader is hiding there. In just a moment, how bin Laden may have made his getaway. First, a quick check of the latest developments.

Two more officials of the Afghan government say Osama bin Laden has escaped into Pakistan. One says bin Laden paid an Afghan warlord to help him across the border. In a slight change of tone, Pakistan's president now says he cannot be certain bin Laden is not in his country.

President Bush vowed again today to find Osama bin Laden -- quote -- "dead or alive." He said if bin Laden has gone to Pakistan, Pakistan's government will help track him down.

Some Afghan officials want an imminent halt to United States bombing. They say the need for further airstrikes is diminishing fast. U.S. officials in Kabul say Afghanistan has made no formal request, and the Pentagon says it wants to keep its options open.

U.S. Army troops are pouring into Kandahar, and officials say the Marines will soon pull out, maybe in a matter of weeks. The Army is expected to enlarge the operation at Kandahar's airport to help with incoming aid and peacekeeping troops.

U.S. special forces were on the move today from the Tora Bora region. CNN crews witnessed convoys headed toward Jalalabad. The special forces have helped to spearhead the search of Tora Bora caves.

As President Bush vows to track down Osama bin Laden, a possible new clue today to his whereabouts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): Afghanistan's deputy intelligence chief tells CNN he believes bin Laden is in Pakistan, taken there by this man, Haji Zaman, Afghanistan's Eastern Alliance leader. None of this can be independently verified, but according to the Afghan intelligence official, bin Laden paid Haji Zaman a large amount of money to buy his way out of Afghanistan.

Get this: Zaman had been helping U.S. forces to root out bin Laden and al Qaeda from Tora Bora. Just three weeks ago, our Brent Sadler spoke to him during one of the more violent missions at Tora Bora.

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is al Qaeda finished now?

HAJI ZAMAN, EASTERN ALLIANCE COMMANDER: Is al Qaeda finished now.

SADLER: What about Osama bin Laden?

ZAMAN: You will see tomorrow, if is he is in the mountain, he must get out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: The Afghan deputy intelligence chief says Zaman was motivated by money and put bin Laden into the care of Pakistan Islamic grips with ties to Pakistan's military intelligence.

And joining me now is Rob Sobhani of Georgetown University. He's an expert on Islamic militant groups such as bin Laden's al Qaeda organization. What do you make of this, Rob?

ROB SOBHANI, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: I think what we're finding here is mercenaries, essentially, getting paid by bin Laden, the highest bidder, to ship him out of Afghanistan. Not necessarily into Pakistan, but other locations, as well. So anyone who has interest in making a quick buck is now a favorite of bin Laden.

BLITZER: Is that part of the tradition, though, in that part of the world, that former enemies can let bygones be bygones?

SOBHANI: Absolutely, because if you look at the recent history of Afghanistan, it is really a country where loyalties are essentially to the clan, to the family, not to the nation. So these are not necessarily people that Hamid Karzai, the new Prime Minister of Afghanistan, has any control over, unfortunately.

BLITZER: This one warlord, Haji Zaman, what do we know about him?

SOBHANI: Very little. But what we do know about him is that he's a maverick. He does operate on his own. He has absolutely no loyalties to anyone, which makes him dangerous.

BLITZER: And in terms of making a deal to allow Osama bin Laden perhaps to slip out of Afghanistan into Pakistan, that sounds credible to you?

SOBHANI: Absolutely. And from Pakistan, god knows where he can go. But I think the broader, really interesting question is this. Bin Laden's tapes, wherever he may be, dead or alive, has not had any resonance in the broader Muslim world. That's really the message from bin Laden's escape, and the fact that is he dead or alive is irrelevant at this point. The Arab world, the Muslim world has not listened to his message. His message has not resonated, which is very good if we go after countries like Iraq, after we finish with al Qaeda and Afghanistan.

BLITZER: But he doesn't really need the masses, the millions of Muslims or Arabs out there. He just needs a small group that can cause an incredible amount of damage, as we witnessed on September 11th.

SOBHANI: Absolutely. Not only that, but as with the gentleman from Britain, Reid, it comes to show you that there is a direct link between citizenship, immigration and terrorism. That's what makes al Qaeda very, very dangerous, still.

But broadly speaking, bin Laden's message has not resonated. And that bodes well for us, the United States, as we move on into Sudan, Iraq, and other countries.

BLITZER: If this warlord, Haji Zaman, allowed Osama bin Laden to escape from the Tora Bora region, what does it say about the U.S. ability to deal with all of the other warlords in Afghanistan, who effectively control big chunks of that country, despite Hamid Karzai's overall rule, if you will? SOBHANI: It's going to be very difficult, Wolf. But at the same time, it points to a fact that we need to do the job of recovery of Afghanistan very quickly. Hamid Karzai needs to have something to show to his people, to the warlords. That's why we need to build Afghanistan, sooner rather than later. He needs to have a success story. We need to help him on that.

BLITZER: All right, Rob Sobhani from Georgetown University. Thank you very much.

SOBHANI: Thank you.

BLITZER: President Bush, meanwhile, said once again today that regardless of where Osama bin Laden is now, he will not escape justice. The president's statement follows remarks from bin Laden himself, convoyed to the world the past two days via videotape. CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett is with the president at his ranch in Crawford, Texas -- Major.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president met face to face with his commanding general in the Afghan theater, Tommy Franks, and afterwards took a number of questions from reporters. The first question out of the box was had he seen this most recent bin Laden tape, and did he have any reaction to it? The president could not have been more dismissive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I didn't watch it all. I saw snippets of it on TV. You know, who knows when it was made. Secondly, he is not escaping us. I mean, this is a guy who, three months ago was in control of a country. Now he may be in control of a cave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: That was really the key point, Wolf. The president said, look, it doesn't really matter where bin Laden is, justice will be done eventually. He'll be found, dead or alive. The key is, he is no longer running Afghanistan, nor is the Taliban. And his al Qaeda terrorist organization has been dramatically dismantled in that country.

The president also took some questions about John Walker Lindh, the American turned al Qaeda fighter. He said he will not face a military tribunal, but will face civilian justice in the United States. He said Walker made a big, big mistake.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Walker's well berthed on a U.S. warship. It's a heck of a lot more comfortable on that ship than he was in the basement of that prison. When he decided -- when he was captured, Walker made a terrible decision, and our system is such that he will have proper justice. But, you know, he's working with the enemy. And we'll see how the courts deal with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: Wolf, the president also took time out to compliment that flight attendant on the American Airlines flight, that trans- Atlantic flight. That flight attendant and several other passengers foiled the attempt of Richard Reid, who has been indicted for interfering with a flight crew. In the process, trying to light his shoes on fire to set off a sophisticated bomb.

The president said that flight attendant's reaction underscores the fact that Americans are now very vigilant and on guard as the war on terror continues. He thought, overall, that was a good shift in American cultural sensitive to this issue. He complimented that flight attendant and the passengers as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Major, the president appeared to be rather irritated that one of his Secret Service agents, an agent of Arab-American ancestry, was not allowed to board an American Airlines flight, was delayed in getting down to Crawford to help protect the president.

GARRETT: That's right. The agent, whose name we don't know, attempted to board an American Airlines flight at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, heading down to Dallas. He was in civilian clothes and armed, as Secret Service agents typically are when they fly commercially. He produced the proper paperwork, but the pilot thought there were some inconsistencies there. Asked the agent to get off the plane. He complied.

The president said he would be very, very angry indeed if this was a case of racial profiling. He said the Secret Service is investigating. He'll wait for the full report from the Service -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Major Garrett in Crawford, Texas, thank you very much. And while answering questions with President Bush, the chief of the U.S. Central Command, General Tommy Franks, said the helicopter he was in last week in Afghanistan may indeed have been fired upon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKS: I have been told since I took that helicopter ride that someone took a shot at the helicopter. I didn't see it when it happened. I believe it may have happened. But then again, this is Afghanistan and we have pockets of Taliban still in that country. And that's one of the reasons that we're going to stay there until we have mopped all that up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That helicopter ride was last Saturday. Franks was also on his way to the inaugural ceremony for the new Afghan government.

In Boston today, shoe bomb suspect Richard Reid was ordered held without bond during a probable cause hearing. Reid is accused of trying to ignite explosives in his shoes during an American Airlines flight last week to the United States. During the hearing, new details were unveiled about the power of those explosives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: Special Agent Cronin (ph) indicated that the device was described as TATP, I believe, and that it was an explosive material. She described the extent of the damage, potentially causing a hole in the fuselage, if the sneakers were put against the fuselage. Beyond that, we're not going to comment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We're learning a lot more about Reid's alleged plot to bomb that American Airlines jet. CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti joins us from Miami with the latest on the case, and some background on Richard Reid -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Wolf. Yes, we are learning more details, in particular, about the powerful explosives inside those shoes, and the deadly damage that they could have caused. According to a U.S. government official, Richard Reid told the FBI he made the shoe bombs himself. That is a claim that investigators doubt is true.

They are looking into where Reid got these highly volatile ingredients. Take a look at them. We put together a list for you here. According to information from government sources and FBI testimony, the bomb is PETN based. That's a powder you need to mix with other plastic chemicals to make the explosive moldable. And TATP -- that's another dangerous explosive that, according to experts, takes a lot of smarts and a lot of courage to work with. So touchy that if you don't handle it right, we are told you could blow yourself up.

According to an expert, the chemicals needed to make TATP can be bought in stores here and overseas. And again, you see the plastic chemicals you would also need to put into the mix to mold the explosives into a shoe. Also, a safety fuse involved, which contained black powder.

Now, an FBI agent testified in court today that if the alleged sneaker bomb was detonated near one of the inside walls of the plane, the fuselage, it could have caused enough damage to blow a hole in the plane. We're also told that if that sneaker had been close to the floor and had detonated, it might have blown a hole in the floor, and its possible cables could have been, depending on location, located beneath the floorboards. And some of those cables do lead to the steering mechanism of the plane, in particular, the tail.

There was also testimony in court this day that confirmed earlier reports that Reid was given sedatives three times to try to control him when he was being restrained by other passengers aboard that flight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Susan, as you have been reporting, he basically had no real job, no real home. He had been in prison. Yet he was doing all of this extravagant traveling, not only to the Netherlands, but to Israel, to Egypt, in recent months. Paid cash for that American Airlines flight over the weekend. Any more information on where he was getting all of this money?

CANDIOTTI: No, but that's a key area that investigators are trying to track down. And they're doing so with the help of authorities in Israel, in France, in the Netherlands, in Belgium. Trying to learn the source of this funding -- and in the Middle East. And it's obviously a big concern of theirs, and makes it a key point of the investigation: was he working alone?

The U.S. attorney said today outside the courtroom, that it appeared this is a man who had no roots, Richard Reid, yet as you indicate, he was doing a lot of traveling.

BLITZER: And that one flight, that American Airlines flight, he apparently paid $1,600 in cash, for that flight from Paris to Miami. That's a lot of money for someone who doesn't even have a job. Susan Candiotti, doing some excellent reporting for us. Thank you very much for joining us.

CANDIOTTI: You're welcome, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Reid's parents say they're standing by their son during the trial. Robin Reid told a London newspaper today -- quote -- "My son is a determined boy and I can imagine him being determined to blow himself to bits.... But I just can't believe that he would want to hurt anyone else in doing it, unless, that is, he has been brainwashed, which seems to be the case."

Reid's mother said she was troubled by the charges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUGHES: Other than what I've heard or read in the media, I have no knowledge of this matter. As any mother would be, I'm obviously deeply shocked and concerned at the allegations being made against Richard. We need some time to come to terms with the current situation, and would ask you now to leave us alone and to respect the difficulty of our position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Reid may have ties to an alleged conspirator in the September 11th terrorist attacks. Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, who is awaiting trial in Virginia, attended the same mosque in London. CNN's Greta Van Susteren spoke exclusively with Moussaoui's mother earlier today, and Greta joins us here in Washington to tell us about that conversation -- Greta.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST, "THE POINT": Wolf, what struck me is that listening to the mother of Mr. Reid is almost exactly what I heard today from Mr. Zacarias Moussaoui's mother. She was deeply concerned. She flew here yesterday from Paris, so that she could speak to her son. She knows nothing about what may have transpired involving her son. And one of her greatest concerns is whether or not he would get a fair trial here in the United States. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AICHA EL WAFI, MOUSSAOUI'S MOTHER (through translator): It's not because he was in a school with this guy or that guy, that's not proof enough to say that he's a terrorist. You need something other than that. It's not because I meet you in the hallway, that I say hello to you, that I talk to you for five minutes, that if I'm a terrorist, then you're a terrorist, too. That's not the way it works.

My son tells me that he has real proof to show that he did nothing. So I hope that justice will do its work, and that there will a fair trial.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Wolf, she had not yet spoken to her son. She was hoping to do that in the next couple days before he goes back to the court. But the other interesting thing is, of course, he's charged with six counts. Four of them could carry the death penalty if he is convicted.

BLITZER: This is a mother, obviously, in an enormous amount of pain. You spent some time talking to her, she was being translated from French, obviously, into English. But is there more there, as just a mother would react in a normal kind of way in a situation like this?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, it's hard to jump into her mind. But what's so interesting to me was watching the piece with Susan Candiotti, with Mr. Reid's mother, is that both mothers are pretty much the same. Look, they love their sons. They're not endorsing the conduct for which they're charged, and in both cases, they seem somewhat perplexed.

Here is a woman who flew all the way over from France to see her son. In her mind, in her heart, her son could not have done that. Of course, the United States is convinced it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did commit these six charges. Now, he will have a trial, the prosecution will have an opportunity. But this is a mother who obviously is distressed and has no idea how this could have happened.

BLITZER: And Reid's father told that London newspaper he thinks his son may have been brainwashed. Did you hear anything along those lines from Moussaoui's mother?

VAN SUSTEREN: No, not at all. In fact, it seemed just like sort of a normal course of events. Her son went off to the United States and she had had periodic contact with him. And had no clue -- in fact, one thing I asked her, is I said, was there any indication that your son hated the United States? Has he ever said anything about it? And she said no.

So, at least from what she told me, is that she was completely in the dark. And she knew virtually nothing that might be going on. And of course, we have yet to see exactly what it was. BLITZER: OK. Greta Van Susteren, we will watching your program later tonight. This very important note: You can watch the entire interview that Greta conducted with the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui on "THE POINT," at 8:30 p.m. Eastern, 5:30 on the West Coast.

And how to put trial of others accused of terrorism in its proper context. We'll examine the proposed guidelines for military tribunals when we come back.

And, reconstructing Ground Zero: hallowed ground, or lucrative real estate? We'll debate what should be done.

And, a missing child reunited with a worried mother. Stay with us for a Friday, feel-good story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Pentagon officials tell CNN that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld plans to review new recommendations for the use of military tribunals. Among the proposals, suspects would be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and a unanimous vote would be needed to impose the death penalty.

Joining us to discuss these recommendations, Eugene Fidell. He's a military law attorney. Welcome back, Mr. Fidell.

What do you think about these proposals? They sound, considering the other alternatives, relatively reasonable.

EUGENE FIDELL, MILITARY LAW ATTORNEY: I think these were in response to some of the up-welling of concern that was expressed when the president originally issued his military order on November 13. This is a glass that's getting fuller. Whether it's to the point that people who have expressed concerns will be satisfied remains to be seen.

Actually, we don't really know what the details are going to be. There was just a leak. And indeed, earlier today, the president expressed some concern that this had hit the papers before it hit his desk.

BLITZER: Let's get some context now of what we're talking about. The president of the United States has determined that he, and he alone, could rule when a suspected terrorist should be brought before a military tribunal, as opposed to a regular civil procedure?

FIDELL: That's exactly right. He set the stage by issuing an order that would permit the creation of military tribunals. Of course, the last time that was done was in the aftermath of World War II. So it's been quite a while. We don't have a recent track record on this. And a lot of the parts of the canvas have to be painted in. And there has been a lot of law that's evolved since the last time that military commissions were used in this country.

BLITZER: And so far, no one, not even Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged conspirator in the September 11th attacks, has come before a military tribunal.

FIDELL: That's absolutely right. Indeed, in that case, where there was an opportunity to bring him before a military tribunal, since he's not a U.S. citizen, the Justice Department elected to try him in U.S. district court, in Alexandria, Virginia.

BLITZER: And only non-American citizens would be subject to this kind of military tribunal.

FIDELL: That's correct. President Bush prescribed that limitation in his military order of November 13th.

BLITZER: Assuming these recommendations are approved, if there is a unanimous decision in a military tribunal to impose the death sentence, is there any review that a suspect could have?

FIDELL: Well, under the leak that occurred yesterday, apparently there will be some tier of review by a multi-person board of some kind. We don't really have any details on that. And thereafter, the matter would be reviewed by the secretary of defense, Don Rumsfeld, and ultimately by the president of the United States himself.

Interestingly, under military law, no one can be executed under uniform code of military justice without the president's personal, affirmative approval.

BLITZER: Why do they have to rewrite the rules, as far as military tribunals, if, as you point out, accurately, there have been these military tribunals in the past? Why not just use the rules that were used the last time around?

FIDELL: For one thing, the entire legal framework has changed since the aftermath of World War II. In 1950, Congress passed the uniform code of military justice, the Geneva Conventions took effect around the same time. There has been a lot of change in American criminal law in the intervening 50 years.

So it's appropriate that someone take their time and do a thoughtful job. So this is not something where there should be a rush. And I do understand why President Bush would be concerned at potentially being preempted from exercising his own personal authority as commander-in-chief.

BLITZER: Eugene Fidell, thanks again for your insight.

FIDELL: My pleasure.

BLITZER: And let's check our newswire right now. In Tampa, Florida a tanker truck overturned this afternoon near a freeway underpass. The wreck ignited a wall of fire and sent clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky. The freeway was closed and the driver described as -- quote -- "shaken," but no one was injured.

A second person has died as a result of an accident in front of New York's Macy's department store. The van that plowed into a group of pedestrians yesterday also injured six people. Police are looking into whether a defect caused the van to lurch out of control. So far, no charges have been filed.

A water main break at a Baltimore-Washington airport caused a massive traffic jam for several hours earlier this morning. Frigid temperatures caused the water to freeze, making the road impassable. Flights were delayed for several hours.

An update of today's developments in "America's New War" is next. And the scene now at Ground Zero. The debate over Ground Zero. What should New York City build there? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

You're looking at pictures now that were taken just moments ago. You're seeing firefighters. They have just removed a body from the site of the World Trade Center. You see firefighters, others, lined up in honor, an honor cordon, as these men remove this body that was just found at the World Trade Center, discovered there -- a very, very sad moment. But at least the families will now have a body. And they are continuing this very, very arduous and difficult, painful work.

In a moment, we will have a debate on what should be done at the site of the World Trade Center, but, first, the latest developments in America's new war. Two more officials of the Afghan government say Osama bin Laden has escaped into Pakistan. One says bin Laden paid an Afghan warlord to help him across the border. In a slight change of tone, Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, now says he cannot be certain bin Laden is not in his country.

President Bush vowed again today to find Osama bin Laden dead or alive. He said if bin Laden has gone to Pakistan, Pakistan's government will help track him down.

U.S. Army troops are pouring into Kandahar. And officials say the Marines will soon pull out, maybe in a matter of weeks. The Army is expected to enlarge the operation at Kandahar's airport to help with incoming aid and peacekeeping troops.

U.S. special forces were on the move today from the Tora Bora region. CNN crews witnessed convoys headed toward Jalalabad. The special forces have helped to spearhead the search of Tora Bora caves.

Yesterday, in his official farewell to New York City, the outgoing mayor, Rudy Giuliani, discussed the future of ground zero. More than 100 days since the terror attacks, the cleanup of course continues. When it is finally completed, Giuliani believes the site should be used to memorialize the victims. He also says he feels an obligation to keep the space free of development.

There has been a lot of discussion about the future of ground zero. And the city's mayor-elect seems not to necessarily share the passion of Giuliani's vision. The mayor-elect, Michael Bloomberg, says he would prefer to see a mix. That includes some sort of development. To talk more about this, we have invited Guy Tizzoli of the World Trade Center Association and Michael Goodwin. He is the executive editor of "The New York Daily News."

Why do you believe, Mr. Goodwin, it's appropriate just to build a memorial there and have no more development, per se?

MICHAEL GOODWIN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, I don't think you are ever going to get 100 percent either way. But I think what the mayor has done is make the very forceful and compelling case for why it should be a memorial first and foremost.

And then laying out Normandy and Gettysburg as examples, I think he has put this in the right context, which is: This was an American battlefield. The people who went to work that day didn't know that, but this turned out to be a battlefield. And I think that that -- that, for most of the families -- given, as you showed there, they are still finding some bodies.

But the fact remains that, for most of the 3,000 people who died there, 2,000 of the bodies probably will not be found. There will not be funerals. There will not be cemeteries. And so, for 2,000 families or more, that's going to be their cemetery.

And I think the mayor made a second point which shouldn't be lost in that. And that is that, in talking about this as a memorial, he is talking about I think a larger idea than just a kind of grassy, quiet spot. He is talking about a place that teaches about the history of America, about this seminal moment in American history. He is talking about an educational place that could link up to all the great historical sites in Lower Manhattan.

So it could -- the economic development, I think, in his plan will be from the incredible tourism who will come to this place for hundreds and hundreds of year.

BLITZER: What about that, Mr. Tizzoli?

GUY TIZZOLI, WORLD TRADE CENTER ASSOCIATION: Well, I think that's a very, very good idea. No question, there should be a very fitting memorial to the people who died there, people not only from the United States, but from more than 60 or 70 countries who died there.

I also hope that the group that's been appointed by the governor and the mayor to study the problem will do a good study. You know, there are World Trade Centers in every major capital in the world. And they create a great deal of economic development. They create jobs. In the United States, 22 percent of our gross national product comes from international trade. And the association is in 91 countries.

And I think that you could possibly combine the two and still do proper tribute, if you would, to the people that died, to those heroes who did such valiant work there. I think the two could go together. BLITZER: All right, what about that, Mr. Goodwin? Why not split the difference, have some development, not necessarily rebuild the World Trade Centers, the twin towers, but at the same time have some development there, yet also have a memorial?

GOODWIN: Well, I think that there are a number of questions that have to be answered before you do that. I mean, what kind of development? How much of the space? It is roughly a 16-acre site. So how much are we talking about?

And I think, finally, there are market conditions that go to development. And right now, that area has a very high vacancy rate. It has a higher vacancy rate in Lower Manhattan than it had on September 10. So, that is not exactly a prime area right now. And then, finally, I think there is the question of: Do people want to work, or perhaps live, as mayor-elect Bloomberg said, in mixed youth setting, do people want to work or live on what is a huge cemetery?

I think there are real taste questions that will have to be decided, along with: How do you divide it up? I don't think you can just take 16 acres and say, this four will be for this and this 12 will be for that. I think it is a much more complicated issue. And I think it also goes to the heart of: What kind of a memorial do you want? Do you want to memorialize every individual, for example?

If you have been to Normandy, as the mayor cited, it stretches sort of beyond the eye. It is breathtaking in its beauty, because that's where the American soldiers died. This is where these people died.

BLITZER: Mr. Tizzoli, this is hallowed ground to those families, indeed to millions of Americans out there who witnessed, who saw what happened on September 11. How do you split the difference and say part of it could be used for commercial purposes, but other parts will be a memorial, a cemetery, if you will?

TIZZOLI: Well, I think it is very possible. Remember, there were more than 10 million square feet of space in that spot before. And I know that there is a customs house that does a great business in that area. And I'm sure that there is a way to study the problem so that we can give proper homage to the people who died.

BLITZER: But what about the point that the mayor has made and others have made that people really don't want to go work in that area; they don't want to necessarily take elevators up a new building that might be built on that specific ground; it's probably a waste to go ahead and try to build some commercial structures there?

TIZZOLI: I would say it is possible that we might be able to relocate the World Trade Center part of it or join it with the World Financial Center, which is across the street. That's a good possibility.

GOODWIN: Right. I think, if a lot of that land just west of the Trade Center, for example, was reclaimed from the Hudson -- and I think that there is lots of possibilities there for increased commercial development. But I think, on this site, it is going to be very difficult to do a lot of development if you are going to have this kind of significant memorial the mayor is talking about.

BLITZER: All right, Michael Goodwin, thank you very much for joining us. And, Guy Tizzoli, thank you as well. I'm sure this debate is going to continue. And the new mayor-elect is going to obviously have his hands full with this issue. Thank you very much for joining us.

GOODWIN: Thank you.

TIZZOLI: Thank you.

BLITZER: And profiles of those killed in the September 11 attacks can be found on our Web page. You can also post tributes to them at CNN.com/memorial.

The terrorist attacks are going to have a significant impact on New Year's celebrations next week in Times Square. Security will be extremely tight, to say the least. Thousands of police officers will be patrolling Times Square with radiation and metal detectors to keep the area as safe as possible.

Robert Esposito is president of Times Square Business Improvement District. He joins us now from New York with more on this situation.

Are you encouraging people to go to Times Square and bring in the New Year, Mr. Esposito?

ROBERT ESPOSITO, PRESIDENT, TIMES SQUARE BID: Yes, we are. People should feel comfortable into coming into Times Square for New Year's Eve.

BLITZER: How safe should they feel, though, given some of problems, as we know, New York has had, especially, of course, since September 11?

ESPOSITO: Well, New York City Police Department has a rich history of keeping people safe, especially at large events. And we have had some large events since September 11, various parades. And everybody has been safe.

They have asked me to get out one message out to people. And that is, if you're coming into Times Square on New Year's Eve, not to bring backpacks or duffel bags or large packages. And, of course, New Year's Eve in Times Square is an alcohol-free event.

BLITZER: Will there be metal detectors and special security procedures in place to take a look at all the folks coming in?

ESPOSITO: The New York City Police Department, whatever action they take will be the appropriate action. And we back them 100 percent. I'm not sure exactly what they are going to have, though.

BLITZER: How would you compare the security that you are gearing up for this New Year's Eve as compared to the millennium celebrations two years ago?

ESPOSITO: Well, the millennium celebration was a 24-hour celebration. It was the largest celebration we ever had in Times Square. Over two million people came into Times Square. We expect more of a traditional New Year's Eve; 500,000 people is what is normally in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

BLITZER: Five hundred thousand people, that seems like an awful lot of people to handle, especially given some of the heightened security concerns. And, as you know, the federal government has continued its high state of alert at least through January 2.

ESPOSITO: Yes. Well, you know, we have listened to the president. We've listened to the mayor. They want us to live our lives as normal as possible. And this is normal for us here in Times Square. This is what we do on New Year's Eve.

It has been a gathering place for people since 1904. People are going to come. They are going to want to celebrate. And we are very mindful and respectful of what happened on September the 11th. And we are going to have a special ceremony at 6:00 p.m. to honor the folks that were lost, the citizens that were lost on September the 11th.

BLITZER: And I would assume that a lot of people will want to come to Times Square simply to make a statement that New York is back, that the terrorists have lost, that the New Yorkers have won. Is that what you are hearing from a lot of New Yorkers?

ESPOSITO: Yes. You know, we've got a very busy staff. And I have been answering the phones myself. And we are getting calls from all over the country from people who are going to come into Times Square: where to go, what to do, what to say. So we are encouraged by this.

And there is a patriotic theme to it. We are going to be handing out American flags. The confetti that comes down at midnight will be red, white and blue. The music that will be played will be patriotic- type music.

BLITZER: Mr. Esposito, thanks for joining us. Good luck New Year's Eve. We will be watching it on television, as we do, of course, every year. Thank you very much.

ESPOSITO: That's great. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

And in just a moment, the latest on the India-Pakistan border buildup: continuing signs of tension, but some signs -- some signs -- of goodwill -- and later, welcome news for stranded visitors in Buffalo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Hopeful signs this evening from a region on the brink of war: The Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, said today he would be willing to meet with the Indian prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, in an upcoming summit in Nepal to try to diffuse the dangerous standoff on the Kashmir border -- no response to the offer yet from India.

In recent days, an outbreak of war has grown increasingly likely. But President Musharraf today said his military would not fire the first shot.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): It's a war neither side says it wants, but both are ready to fight. India and Pakistan are massing troops on the border of the disputed Kashmir region: tens of thousands of infantry, combat jets, artillery pieces, even ballistic missiles.

Villagers are fleeing by the thousands. Many say they are certain the current skirmishes will lead to a replay of the 1971 war, with a big difference: Both sides now have nuclear weapons.

BUSH: Colin Powell has spoken to both sides today, urging restraint, urging calm. I was pleased to -- I'm pleased to note that President Musharraf has announced the arrest of 50 extreme terrorists -- extremists or terrorists. And I hope India takes note of that.

BLITZER: Thursday night, Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged mortar fire for five hours in the Poonch sector of the border that splits the Muslim-Kashmir region in half. Kashmir is at the heart of the conflict. Both sides claim the province. And, on the Indian side, Muslim separatists have been waging a bloody insurrection for more than a decade.

The rebels' most dramatic strike: a deadly December 13 suicide attack on India's parliament, an attack that precipitated this latest slide towards war. The international community is hoping that diplomacy can bring Kashmir back from the brink. But, so far, the diplomatic moves have not met with much success, with both sides banning overflights by the other's planes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: One concession on this point from India, which now says it will allow President Musharraf to fly over Indian airspace to attend that January 4 summit of South Asian leaders in Nepal.

And more on the tensions between India and Pakistan here in the CNN "War Room" later tonight, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 Pacific. You can participate. Go to my Web site: CNN.com/Wolf. Click on "Send Questions." I will get as many of those questions answered by my panel as possible. That's also, by the way, where you can read my daily online column.

And will Buffalo get a break? Up next, New York's governor lends a helping hand -- also, a Christmas present that came late for a mother of an abducted girl.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Checking our "Newswire": The governor of New York has declared a state of emergency in the Buffalo area. The city is buried under as much as 7 feet of snow, setting an all-time record for the month of December.

And joining us now on the phone from Buffalo with more on the situation is Doug Hartmayer. He is with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, which, of course, runs the airport.

How bad is the situation right now, Doug?

DOUG HARTMAYER, NIAGARA FRONTIER TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: Well, right now, Wolf, it is clear. Maybe the worst is behind us. We have been able to get the runways and the taxiways clear of snow. And we are ready to open the runways at 7:00 p.m. this evening.

BLITZER: How long has the airport been closed?

HARTMAYER: It's been closed since approximately 2:45 this morning.

BLITZER: It is really unusual -- I grew up in Buffalo -- to have to close that airport, isn't it?

HARTMAYER: Yes it is. And it is certainly due to the record amount of snow that we have had. And our professionals have been out there cleaning and sweeping and doing the best they can. But the snow has just gotten the best of us at this point, based on the volume.

BLITZER: What about the snow-removal equipment on the streets in general? Are any streets passable?

HARTMAYER: Yes, I think most streets, especially the main thoroughfares. The various municipalities and the cities have done a great job in getting the snow removed. There are still some snow bans in the area, which allows the street crews to get these streets cleaner faster than possible.

BLITZER: Give us a sense of perspective. This is a record amount of snow within only a few days. Have you ever, in your experience over at the airport, had any experience like this?

HARTMAYER: Of course, last November was a tough one, that November 20 storm just before Thanksgiving. But this certainly is a record. This amount of snow in the last five days, as was just reported, is a record for us. But we are going to get through it. We have got them all cleaned up. And we are ready to go. And, as strong Buffalonians, we will certainly survive again.

BLITZER: And once these planes start taking off, I assume the wings will be de-iced. Is this going to be a serious problem?

HARTMAYER: No, it's not a problem. It's a standard procedure. And it is not necessarily the snow. It's more the cold that causes the icing to be put on the plane. So that's not a problem.

BLITZER: All right, Doug Hartmayer in Buffalo, thanks for joining us. We wish all our friends there in Western New York our best wishes and best luck to get over this little crisis up there.

And we have this just in from New York City. The outgoing mayor, Rudy Giuliani, says there is an agreement with the city's baseball teams, the Yankees and the Mets, to build new stadiums next to their existing ones -- the price tag: some $800 million for each stadium. The incoming mayor, Michael Bloomberg, will have, however, the final say on whether to go ahead and actually build these proposed stadiums. We will be continuing to follow that story obviously as well.

Let's get a preview of "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE." Jan Hopkins is standing by to tell us what's in store -- Jan.

JAN HOPKINS, "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE": Thanks, Wolf.

Coming up tonight: President Bush says America's war against terrorism won't be over any time soon. CNN military analyst Kelly McCann helps us assess how long that might be. And, as we have been hearing, Buffalo is buried under more than 6 feet of snow. We will get a firsthand view. Hollywood's box office take this year was a record -- or was it?

That story and more coming up at the top of the hour -- now back to Wolf in Washington.

BLITZER: OK, thank you very much, Jan -- 6 feet, 7 feet, it's really not much of a difference when it comes to snow in Buffalo.

And, on Christmas Eve, they feared they might never see their baby again -- next: a happy post-holiday reunion.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Here you are looking at live pictures of a happy ending to a story we told you about exactly 24 hours ago right now: mother and daughter reunited.

Jeff Flock, help us. Explain to our viewers what is going on right now.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is Marcella Anderson, perhaps you see with her mom right there. And that is grandmom getting her first opportunity to pick up little Jasmine -- 16-month- old Jasmine Anderson reunited with her mom. There you see Marcella Anderson just to the right of your screen -- reunited on the plane in Charleston. She was flown to Charleston today by the FBI, Marcella was. It's the first time she has seen her daughter since Christmas Eve.

And, of course, Grandma getting -- and Marcella apparently doesn't want to give her up for very long. And she has been very cooperative, very thankful to reporters for putting this story out there, putting her picture out there. And this is quite a counterpoint to the picture we saw yesterday of little Jasmine in the arms of another woman, apparently the woman who abducted her on Christmas Eve from the Greyhound bus station here in Chicago, a woman who apparently was desperate to have a baby on Christmas Eve and abducted little Jasmine and wound up all the way in West Virginia.

And that is where her mom picked her up today. And Marcella is just smiling now -- no smile out of Jasmine, but a lot of smiles from Marcella. That's her brother, I believe, behind her and her mom off to the left. I'm not seeing her dad in the picture at the moment. He came on from Milwaukee after the child had been taken to provide some moral support -- but a very happy scene here now.

We thought that maybe Marcella might have a word or two to say, but we may just get a picture. But I think it is fair to say that that is worth all the words.

Well, maybe we will get some words.

Marcella Anderson and Jasmine, who has taken over the microphone.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

MARCELLA ANDERSON, MOTHER OF JASMINE: Joy that I got my baby back. She was sleeping when I got there, so she kind of didn't know what to do. And she gave me a big old hug. And it was just heaven- sent. It felt like she was just a newborn baby.

QUESTION: What were her first words to you?

ANDERSON: She said "Dada."

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Marcella, is there any evidence at all that she came to any harm? Or did she look just like she did when you saw her before?

ANDERSON: She looks just like she did. They took her earrings out. And I didn't get any of her clothes back. But it's OK. She was taken care of. It looks like she ate pretty well.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Do you think she had any idea what was going on or that she was in any danger?

ANDERSON: I don't know that she had any idea what was going on. I think she was kind of scared. They said that she wasn't as happy as she was when she was with me.

QUESTION: Can you describe for us the flight back here, from when you -- describe for us how the reunion took place. Where was it? When did you first see her? What were the circumstances? ANDERSON: We were in the airport in -- I can't remember. Is it Charleston? And the mayor was there, and the police who recovered her, and the lady from social services. They were all so nice. And I'm so grateful to everybody who helped.

QUESTION: Was it a hangar?

QUESTION: So she was asleep and she woke up and she saw you?

ANDERSON: Yes.

QUESTION: What was that like when she laid eyes on you?

ANDERSON: It was the most wonderful feeling in the...

BLITZER: And there you have it, a very happy ending to a story that we broke here 24 hours ago.

And I will be back in one hour with the CNN "War Room." We'll look at the effect of the India-Pakistan tensions on America's new war. And Sunday on "LATE EDITION," Senators Bob Graham and Dick Lugar of the Intelligence Committee join me at noon Eastern.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. CNN's coverage continues with "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE." That begins right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


 
 
 
 


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