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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN

Aired January 14, 2002 - 20:00   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.
BILL HEMMER, HOST: I'm Bill Hemmer once again live in Kandahar, Afghanistan. A hundred days ago, the bombs started falling. What's the status right now for the U.S. war on terrorism? We will have an in depth look next, LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN.

ANNOUNCER: LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN with Bill Hemmer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICTORIA CLARKE, Pentagon SPOKESWOMAN: Today marks the 100th day since military action started in Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: One hundred days into a new kind of war -- the targets of today and the challenges of tomorrow. More detainees head for Cuba and controversy. CNN's Bob Franken on questions about conditions in Guantanamo Bay. And despite war, hatred and a cultural divide, one Muslim Marine puts his face into action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSSELL SCOTT, U.S. NAVY: No matter where I go, no matter who I'm with, where I'm at and what I do, I'm still a Muslim.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Now, LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN, Bill Hemmer.

HEMMER: Hello, again and greetings from Kandahar. It's early in the morning here in southern Afghanistan. Again, the U.S. bombing was quite intense on Monday, specifically, a terrorist training camp in eastern Afghanistan right along the Pakistani border. According to the Pentagon, that structure has been leveled.

Three days of intense bombing and eight days in total going back to Sunday a week ago. Kamal Hyder on the ground right near the border joins us live with an update now.

Kamal, good morning, how are things at this point?

KAMAL HYDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, indeed that bombing was very, very heavy and it lasted until yesterday afternoon. But there have been ground operations after that, and a lot of people on the ground, almost 13 helicopters in action and people trickling through the border again, trickling possibly after being screened on both sides of the border. Last night again, reconnaissance aircraft in the air, but they have not been dropping their ordnance - Bill.

HEMMER: Yeah, Kamal, the Pentagon has said for some time that it may be trying to rat out al Qaeda fighters or Taliban elements that may have reassembled or resurfaced in that area. Is there any evidence from you or others on the ground that would indicate that you have seen al Qaeda fighters around there?

HYDER: Bill, it's not easy to be able to locate this distance. It's about little over a thousand meters, plus, the bombing has been so intense that if there was anybody in this area, they would be deep underground in the complex. And, of course, that every time the bombing took place, choppers came in and their job would be to kill or flush out any terrorist that may have come out of the ground.

HEMMER: And Kamal, you also described seeing 13 helicopters. Is that the most you have seen in recent memory, watching that border and watching these attacks over the past week and a half?

HYDER: Yes, in fact, other people that we spoke to also told us that that this was the largest numb of helicopters that they saw and there was a lot of activity in that area with people on the ground moving from one tent to another, vergers moving from one point to another. This, of course, after the intense bombing that ended the afternoon. So, yes, as far as this place is concerned, this was probably the largest presence of ground forces or choppers.

HEMMER: All right, Kamal Hyder on the border and watching the bombs falling again there in eastern Afghanistan. Kamal, thanks to you.

It is already Tuesday morning here in Afghanistan, but on Monday, Monday marked the 100th day since the bombs started falling going back to the 7th of October. A look now at some of the milestones already achieved in the current war on terrorism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against the al Qaeda terrorist training camps, and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a very sad day. It's sad for the country and sad for the CIA. They're a very close family and Americans take note of this and any loss of life in the war in Afghanistan is troubling to this country and so too, today's loss.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I would it would be premature to suggest that most of them have surrendered, that therefore, we had to relax and say, well that takes care of that because it doesn't. There are still a lot of senior al Qaeda and senior Taliban people left. We went in there to root out the terrorists and find them where they are. Our job has got a long way to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Within 90 minutes time here in southern Afghanistan, the sun will rise once again and we will be well into day 101 of the current war here in Afghanistan. Let's talk about the progress made and the progress that has not been made now. From Chicago, retired Army Brigadier General David Grange our guest again tonight on LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN.

And General, let's talk about, right now, certainly, the Pentagon would like to see Mullah Mohammed Omar either dead or captured and certainly, Osama bin Laden is an elusive target as well. But given the two obvious points there, in your estimation, what would the Pentagon like to have to have accomplished at this point but it hasn't been done so far?

RETIRED GENERAL DAVID GRANGE, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the zymology of getting Omar and bin Laden would have been great, but -- and I think eventually that will happen, but it hasn't been done. But I think, looking on a positive side, 100 days is quite an achievement -- help topple an oppressive regime, the Taliban in Afghanistan, destroyed a good part of the al Qaeda and hard-core Taliban network in Afghanistan and disrupted it elsewhere around the world, hedged regional war at least to date, which was tenuous at the best in this part with Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and India as an example. We've gained great intelligence that's been used around the world to thwart other attacks, for instance, in Singapore, possibly aiding in the Filipino operations, and also, at our homeland itself.

And I believe we've discouraged a lot of sanctuaries or countries that would provide sanctuaries to terrorist organizations around the world.

HEMMER: And before we look to the next 100 days, let's look at eastern Afghanistan, General, if we could for a moment here. Eight days of intense bombing. You heard Kamal Hyder say the most intense yet on Monday afternoon. Is that an indication that this cave structure and terrorist camp was actually either larger or tougher to hit than previously thought, given the intensity and number of days carried out there, General?

GRANGE: Bill, it's hard to say. You know, it makes you wonder why this complex wasn't hit earlier in the campaign. Of course, we don't have the information that the military has and when they conduct, to make a decision on a certain target area, you know, its focus on Tora Bora and now down here in this area, which the Soviets called the "Wolves Hole," which has been known to be quite a complex, in the past when the Soviets had to fight bitterly in that area.

I think there will be more of these kind of complexes that we'll continue to go after, as we should. With a combination of air strikes immediately followed by some type of ground insertion of troops to kill or capture any stunned survivors or go in to get those underground that have not come out with the horrendous air strikes that have been pout upon them.

HEMMER: We've got, General, just about 30 seconds left here. A look down the road, the next 100 days, what do you anticipate from the military perspective and standpoint?

GRANGE: Continuous operations, sustained combat operations in Afghanistan for a while -- one, to accomplish our objectives of Omar and bin Laden and some other key lieutenants. I think six of the eight on our black list are still at large, that we have to get. We'll be continuing intelligence gathering activities around the world and other future target areas, which I'm sure will be -- we'll go to shortly. And then again, help the new government in Afghanistan to get on their feet and establish some kind of rule of law with the international community supporting them.

HEMMER: A lot of work to be done still. General David Grange in Chicago. General, thanks to you.

GRANGE: Thank you, Bill.

HEMMER: Back here in Kandahar now, let's talk about the latest on the detainees. We saw the second shipment head out here late Sunday night, 30 in the latest shipment. Now, arriving hours ago in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, there are now 50 being held there in the southeastern tip of Cuba. And the Pentagon insists the treatment, thus far, of suspected al Qaeda terrorists is fair and humane.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLARKE: Each day, the detainees are given three culturally appropriate meals. They have daily opportunities to shower, exercise and receive medical attention. So in keeping with and in accordance with the Geneva Convention, they are receiving very humane treatment. And we expect representatives from the ICRC to visit with them later this week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: The Red Cross again arriving in Guantanamo Bay some time, as you heard there from the Pentagon, later this week. We have seen representatives here on a 24/7 basis here in Kandahar for the past three and half weeks running and there are many things regarding these detainees that we cannot show you. The Pentagon has strictly forbidden us from that videotape. However, the reporters on the ground have - we've seen it here in Kandahar and Bob Franken has seen it in Guantanamo Bay. Bob is back in Washington now to talk to us about what he saw there.

Bob, behind the videotape that we cannot see, what did you observe, given the movement and the shipment of detainees that we are not able to show on television to our viewers?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we were told, Bill, that they were pretty much immobilized on the flight over there. They were manacled on the flight. They were in bright orange jumpsuits with bright orange sneakers. The reason being, it was cold in the plane. They had earplugs to protect against the noise of the plane. They had masks over their face, surgical masks. That was for the protection of the forces who were guarding them because a couple had tested positive for tuberculosis. And they were wearing blacked out goggles and that was purely an effort to make it more difficult for them to try anything dangerous. Of course, there was a great fear that the ones who were being transported were among the most dangerous, the ones who would be willing to kill themselves in the name of furthering their cause.

When they got on the ground, each was led out individually. Some of them, from our vantage point, about 200 yards away, some of them seemed to be resisting. Although the military officials said that wasn't the case. Nevertheless, we saw some go down to their knees and then be abruptly raised up. We heard some shouting. The military said that was U.S. forces and translators doing the shouting. It was hard to tell if that was the case or whether it was some of those who were the prisoners.

In any case, it took about a half hour to get them on the ferryboat and then over to Camp X-ray. Camp X-ray has been converted from a refugee detention center, which it was in the '90s to a maximum, maximum-security facility. The detainees, they're prisoners, are being kept in eight-foot by six-foot cells. They're about eight feet high. Military officials object to the word "cages," but you can see for yourself whether you believe they're cages or not. They are outdoors. If it rains, the prisoners will get wet, we are told. They will be out in the elements. There are a lot of mosquitoes there at night. They're not getting their individual mosquito repellent, but we are told that the camp will be sprayed for mosquitoes. It's not a very pleasant existence.

HEMMER: Bob, there seems to be a very delicate balancing act. American officials insist that some of these detainees had specific plans some day to go to America and kill Americans. On the other hand, you have American Red Cross officials and International Red Cross officials who will be supervising the treatment of these detainees. Do you see a conflict here down the road when it comes to treatment and the issues that might arise from there?

FRANKEN: Well, we've already heard from some human rights groups that a cell is only eight by six does not really conform to human rights' standards. But this is really a vague area. First of all, the United States doesn't want to call them prisoners of war who would be the ones covered by the Geneva Convention. The U.S. is sort of picking and choosing. And for the most part, observing the Geneva Convention, at least the United States says that's what it is.

The reason that the U.S. doesn't want to call them POWs is because they would gain certain legal rights that the United States has not decided to give them. Specifically, if they were prisoners of war, they would be able to get a court-martial and they get certain legal protections if that's the case. So at the moment the United States is intentionally leaving their definitions vague.

HEMMER: OK, Bob. Bob Franken live in Washington, many thanks. And another word about the Red Cross and talking with officials here, apparently, they are quite pleased and satisfied with the cooperation they're getting thus far today with the U.S. investigators and those holding those suspected al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners. Bob Franken, thanks, again, live in Washington.

Also, one other detainee note here -- the more infamous detainee, John Walker, the 20-year-old American currently held onboard the USS Bataan in the Arabian Sea, we do not know about his movement toward Cuba or toward a port in the U.S. But at this point, again, Walker is being held on a ship there in there in the Arabian Sea, far from our location here in Kandahar.

In a moment, also in Kandahar, an American Muslim, serving the U.S. military right now, trying to rebuild a mosque here at the airport here in Kandahar. That's up next when our program continues, LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT: What was done in America on September 11 was not, in any conjunction, Islam. It was someone else's ideology and idea of Islam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Late on Sunday night, the remains of six of seven U.S. Marines arrived back at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. All seven Marines though were killed when their KC-130 went down in rugged terrain in southwestern Pakistan at midweek of last week. We were told that recovery operation still is ongoing at that crash site in that rugged terrain in Pakistan.

In the meantime, we know the involvement of U.S. Special Forces has been critical on the ground throughout this entire conflict. We saw that up close and center back in November during the prison uprising in Mazar-e Sharif. Mike Spann, a CIA agent was killed in that uprising and also, a Green Beret, a member of the A-team was injured. Recently, he sat down with CNN's Art Harris in an exclusive interview to talk about what happens when the U.S. bombs fall too close for comfort.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAPT. PAUL SYVERSON, SPECIAL FORCES GREEN BERET: Ten meters from the tank, about 30 feet from the tank, and the tank -- we were on a turret in the corner of a wall, if you can imagine a circular turret, like a rook on a chess board. And we were up there and the tank was on top, on the middle of this turret as well. There was about 20 to 30 Northern Alliance soldiers, this tank, and we, Americans. After the wall collapsed, I saw the tank, what was left of turret; the tank was laying on top of it upside down. The gun of the tank had -- was separated from it and was laying in a different location. Pretty graphic, but there were people, you know, trapped underneath the tank. Sort of horrific scene, but, at the same time, we were focusing on -- I mean, there was still a combat situation at hand, and there was still shooting.

So me being one of the wounded and me being one of the soldiers who received treatment, I will say that the men who were fully capable and there, they did a great job. They treated the wounded as quickly as possible, and we waited for it as we continued on with the mission until we were told to leave the location.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Special Forces on the ground in Afghanistan, playing a critical role right now in the current war on terrorism. Here in Kandahar, there's a mosque on the airport grounds here that was used as a Taliban headquarter and the last and final dying days of their work here. Back in late November, U.S. Special Forces helped rout those Taliban elements from inside the mosque. There is a fierce firefight that took place. Right now, there are four members of the U.S. military serving in Kandahar, American Muslims trying to fix up and repair that building. We attended the mosque with one of them to talk about his reflections and his efforts to pray and to rebuild.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT: When I land on the strip and I seen a minute and I seen the neon sign, which was in light, which said a law in it.

HEMMER: So you could see the mosque from the airplane?

SCOTT: Right, at nighttime. It was just a light on the moon, shining clear right over it. As I landed and got off the plane, right there.

HEMMER: There it was.

SCOTT: There it was. I was happy. I was like, man, I get to pray in a mosque in Afghanistan.

HEMMER: What did they say happened here? What have you heard? What's the story?

SCOTT: I heard so many stories, I don't know which one is right. I heard this was really like this for years. I heard that it was a stronghold for one of the Taliban squads. I heard that bombs had dropped on it.

Rubble is from wall to wall, this wall to that wall, above my ankle, above my boot line.

HEMMER: Really?

SCOTT: When I had to step up, actually, I had to literally climb. In order to get into the doors, we had to climb in through the window, which was full of glass and move dirt away. The glass right here, we had to take the glass out because it was destroyed. And you see the hole right there? It's stuff where you actually got some of that down. If that was going to fall, it would probably hurt somebody.

The carpet we had to remove because it was full of glass. Outside right here, is -- you couldn't walk at all because the rubble. Let me show you real quick, all this rubble we moved out here, this is all the rubble we moved.

HEMMER: That's a lot of carpet.

SCOTT: It's over 500 square foot of carpet. What was done in America on September 11 was not in any conjunction of Islam. It was someone else's ideology and idea of Islam. It's a mosque. No matter what they did in there, this is a mosque. This is a place to worship and love. I'm just trying to reach the story, just to get it back open, just so I can - Muslim brothers here, locals who work here, to pray, you know, because, you know, a prayer in congregation is better than any prayer alone.

I can use it. I can pray. I can take my shoes off. I can walk in without getting cut. I can pray safely without something falling and hitting me. But the other part comes when the locals themselves come in and start planting their seeds and saying this is our mosque and when they start saying let's pray in here with you.

This has got to be pulled out. And once again, see the signs are untouched right there, a law untouched. The minbar (ph) untouched. As you can see, the bullet holes going around everything. Everything is still legible.

HEMMER: In Arabic script, what does that translate into?

SCOTT: Which one? This right here?

HEMMER: Yeah.

SCOTT: It translates to God, a law. I'm still a Muslim, no matter where I go, no matter who I'm with, where I'm at and what I do, I'm still a Muslim. Islam is strong. It always be here. I know wherever I go from now on, Ii know there's a place to go pray. I know there's a home for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Russell Scott, Navy tourman, Brooklyn, New York now serving here in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

In a moment, is Saddam Hussein next? A lot of talk about that Monday back in the U.S. We'll talk about it next when our coverage continues, LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: All this week, during the 8:00 Eastern slot, we're going to be looking at next target for the U.S. war on terrorism. We're live in Kandahar today and also tomorrow, on Tuesday. Join us Wednesday and Tuesday of this week, Christiane Amanpour is reporting from Somalia. Is al Qaeda hiding in eastern Africa? Also, on Friday, back to where it all began, Nic Robertson travels to Ground Zero, lower Manhattan. That's all this week, 8:00 Eastern time, 5:00 on the West Coast here on CNN.

Another note from the region now, specifically in the country of Yemen. The U.S. apparently has taken more threats there from what they think are suspected al Qaeda elements operating there. The embassy has closed down a number of services in Yemen. Yemen is the location for the USS Cole bombing, the attack back in October, the year of 2000.

Yemen may be a target eventually, so too may be Iraq. On Monday, Joe Lieberman the senator from Connecticut was at Georgetown University calling on the White House to step up its efforts against Baghdad. Senator Lieberman says that Saddam Hussein is - should be the next target and should be in the gun sights now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: Saddam is a sworn enemy of the United States and is still seeking revenge for the humiliating Gulf War defeat. And remember, a decade ago, he tried to assassinate President Bush's father. Now, that's the worst kind of terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Joe Lieberman talking about Saddam Hussein. He says also that it would be best for the Iraqi people and the world to rid Iraq of the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.

Whatever the next target is though, it's quite clear, the activity and the military build-up here in Afghanistan has not stopped. Elements of the 101st Airborne Division, 2,500 strong will soon be dispatched here to the Kandahar Air Base, and every day, the Marines remind us that ongoing missions are part of the plan and the project in Afghanistan.

In eastern Afghanistan, the bombs continue to fall on Monday; more evidence that the U.S. campaign is still far from over. Good to have with us tonight. I'll see you again tomorrow. LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN. So long now from Kandahar.

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