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No Reaction from White House on Iraqi Embassy in Berlin

Aired August 20, 2002 - 09:25   ET

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


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: The president is now -- quote -- "well- briefed," we are told, on the archive, and as the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan continues, the White House responds to those tapes, and calls them -- quoting again -- "serious reminders of the type of enemy we are up against."
Our senior White House correspondent, John King, with the president at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. John, reaction today is what so far?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the administration says, Bill, if you look at these tapes you see reinforcement, dramatic visual reinforcement of what the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have known for some time. The sophistication of the al Qaeda training operation. Administration sources say this was run very much like a school. Recruits were brought in, and as they learned skills they were promoted into more sophisticated classes about assassinations, about bomb making, and other terrorist activities. The administration saying that this is more proof to them that the threat continues because these tapes and these recruits have been exported into al Qaeda cells still operating around the world. The administration says perhaps in as many as 50 or 60 countries. Now we do know this, the White House press secretary Ari Fleischer telling us that U.S. intelligence agencies want to take a close look at these tapes, hoping there might be some information that helps them in the ongoing military campaign and in ongoing investigations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: From the president's point of view, there is ample evidence -- before the tapes, and with the tapes that al Qaeda, if allowed, would hit us again, and that is why the United States is working as hard as it is, to prevent that from happening either here in the United States or abroad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And so the administration keeping track of the tapes, again saying when you see the chemical test we saw yesterday, the recruitment tapes we see now, the assassination planning, that yes, al Qaeda can no longer operate like that in Afghanistan, but the concern the president will continue to voice is that the United States military and its allies must prevent al Qaeda from regrouping elsewhere so that that training can continue in some other part of the world -- Bill. HEMMER: John, while we have you here, I want to talk about Iraq. Significant developments just in the past hour. I don't know if it is too early to get reaction from the administration officials there, but number one, the Iraqi embassy in Berlin taken over by some group, some Iraqi opposition group, and second, what our CNN executive, Eason Jordan is reporting on the ground in Baghdad right now that essentially says the gig is up. Iraq has flip-flopped back and forth, between inspections and no inspections between the U.N. and a congressional delegation from the U.S., taken all this, a whole react is what thus far -- John.

KING: No reaction to actions in Berlin yet, the taking over -- the apparent taking over of that embassy. We will check in on that. When it comes to inspections, this line out of Baghdad today reinforcing what the administration has said consistently for months. They believed all along that the occasional, periodic offers of Iraq to come to the United Nations, to negotiate a new inspections regime, the administration has always believed that that is a stalling mechanism, it is a bluff.

They have said they are convinced Saddam Hussein will never let the inspectors back in in a way in which they could actually do their work, unfettered inspections, that is why Mr. Bush, Vice President Cheney have been consistent in their public messages that they believe the time for inspections has passed, and that is why the president, in the weeks and months ahead, will try to rally world wide support and the support of the American people for a much tougher posture, probably, down the road. Some sort of a military confrontation -- Bill.

HEMMER: Thank you, John. John King again in Crawford, Texas.

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