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KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to California, the rest of the West and to all of our viewers across North America. This is CNN's SATURDAY EDITION. I'm congressional correspondent Kate Snow.
Coming up, why Congress, after more than 200 years, is going back to New York next week.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. West Nile virus continues its deadly march, but is it the threat that many people think?
JOSIE KARP, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I'm CNN sports correspondent Josie Karp. Owners and players play ball, but did those down-to-the-wire strike talks actually pay off?
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I'm justice correspondent Kelli Arena. New allegations that al Qaeda terrorists had people in the United States to provide guns, documents and other help.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: I'm State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel. Friend or foe: Can the U.S. and Saudi Arabia mend their relationship?
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And I'm White House correspondent Kelly Wallace in Crawford, Texas. Talk of war and how it plays among the public, the Congress and even the Bush Cabinet.
Plus, the president's weekly radio address is just minutes away, but first, a look at the headlines with Charles Molineaux in Atlanta.
WALLACE: And welcome back to SATURDAY EDITION. We, of course, want to hear from you, so send us your comments at email@example.com.
First, though, you can say the sales job for a possible military action against Iraq really got under way this past week. We saw Vice President Dick Cheney give two different speeches to war veterans. He was making the case that this administration must act. He says Saddam Hussein already has chemical and biological weapons, and he said the world community can simply not wait for him for one day to acquire nuclear weapons as well. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use them against our friends, against our allies and against us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Now, one top aide told me, look, we are not sending out any signals here, stressing that President Bush has not made any decisions yet. The goal, according to this top official, having the vice president go out there and reiterate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein so that people know what the debate is all about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAMSEY CLARK, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: A preemptive strike is a crime. What would you do if every time you thought someone was going to do something to you, you shot them? You'd spend your life in the penitentiary, wouldn't you? Of course you would. You can't shoot first, ask questions later and be protected by your government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: A little tape for you.
WALLACE: That, of course, we should say is a former U.S. attorney general under Lyndon Johnson, Ramsey Clark. Clark, who was in Baghdad, very much against any military action.
Andrea, I want to go to you right away. What are you hearing from the folks over at the State Department about the vice president's speech?
KOPPEL: Well, Kelly, Secretary of State Colin Powell was completely blindsided by the first Vice President Cheney speech. They had no idea that was coming.
I was told from one confidante of Secretary Powell's within the Bush administration that Powell does not agree with what the vice president and, in particular, what you hear from the Pentagon, in that the U.S., he believes, should not go to war with Iraq unless you have the support of key U.S. allies, which the U.S., by the way, doesn't have right now.
One aide told me, he said, it seems as if these folks aren't listening to history, don't remember history. And the fact is, as Winston Churchill said, the only thing worse than going to war with allies is going to war without them.
ARENA: Not only Colin Powell, but you also have a lot of former commanders that are saying the same thing, I mean, siding with Powell.
KOPPEL: Who, by the way, Powell is. Powell was a retired four- star general who was, at one point, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
SNOW: Kelly, did you want to add something quick?
WALLACE: Just very quickly. The interesting thing, the administration putting a united front, saying we're all...
KOPPEL: Actually, I'm sorry, Kelly, I've got to jump in and go to the president's weekly radio address.
President Bush now live.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning.
In all of the trials we have faced this past year, countless acts of generosity and sacrifice have revealed the good heart of our nation. Time and time again, our country has shown the strength of its character by responding to acts of evil with acts of good.
And in coming weeks, I ask all citizens to answer the call to help those in need and make this month a September of service.
I created USA Freedom Corps, a single organization to encourage and assist Americans in finding service opportunities both locally and around the globe, to harness and put to good use the service and idealism we saw after the attacks of September the 11th.
In addition, I called on all Americans to enlist in the armies of compassion and dedicate at least 4,000 hours in service to their communities, our country and to the world.
The response to the call to service has been strong. Volunteer Match, a group that matches volunteers to charities on the USA Freedom Corps webpage, reports that referrals have increased by more than 70 percent over last year. Requests for Peace Corps volunteer applications have increased 40 percent over the same period last year. Online AmeriCorps applications are up by 95 percent since January. And more than 48,000 individuals have signed up online to participate in the newly created Citizens Corps program.
The response we have seen is more than numbers though. It is a reminder that when people help each other, our entire nation benefits.
As I have traveled across the country, I've met with volunteers who have set an example with their uplifting acts of service. Volunteers like Maxine Phipps (ph), a 95-year-old Iowan who mentors and tutors local children through an online book club. She uses her computer skills as she and her students read and discuss books about the importance of citizenship.
Or Starr Wallen (ph), a college freshman from Mississippi, who founded Project Care in 1999. Project Care is an organization that has impacted so many lives through activities such as matching elementary school students with high school mentors, collecting food, clothing and furniture for impoverished families, and helping to refurbish the grounds of local public schools. I hope the work of these individuals and that of volunteers all across the country inspires others, especially our young people. Young people have the energy and determination to do important work. And volunteer service can teach them valuable lessons about responsibility, community and selflessness at an early age.
I urge our teachers in schools to begin service projects and activities in September and to make this new school year the start of a lifelong habit of service to others.
In an effort to assist educators and students in getting started, we've developed a new guidebook, CD-ROM and website called "Students in Service to America." These resources offer valuable information about planning service activities and working with community groups.
More than 130,000 public and private elementary and secondary home schools and after-school programs throughout the country will receive these materials in September.
In addition, we will encourage AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers to recruit more young people for service opportunities and to work closely with schools and community organizations to support in-school and after-school programs.
Through these efforts, young people will learn how important service is to our nation and how to get started today.
As September the 11th approaches, difficult memories of planes and buildings will resurface, but so will images of brave individuals coming to the aid of neighbors in need. That spirit of courage and selflessness has shown the world why our nation is the greatest force for good in history. I urge all Americans to honor the memory of those lost by serving others.
Thank you for listening.
WALLACE: The president encouraging community service in his weekly radio address. He heads back to Washington tomorrow. He will certainly be facing growing criticism from U.S. allies and from members of Congress about his plans for Iraq.
And, Kate, it was interesting this week. The message from the White House, the president would seek congressional approval before any military action, but exactly what form that would take has not been determined yet.
SNOW: And they were saying that maybe he doesn't really need it, but he's probably going to go and seek it anyhow, Kelly.
It was interesting on the Hill this week. You have not only -- this is not really a Democrat-Republican issue. You have all of Congress -- a lot of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle saying, he's got to come here, he's got to consult with us in some way. Whether it's a resolution or what, it doesn't maybe matter the format as much, but he's got to consult. You know, it's the classic battle between the legislative and the executive branch. They want some input into this.
You had a Republican, John Warner, coming out this week and calling for hearings. He wants to see Rumsfeld come up to the Hill and explain what exactly the argument is about Iraq. He said there's a gap right now between what the executive branch knows and what we in Congress knows. We want to you fill us in on that gap.
One political point, too, that a Democratic aide made to me was that, you know, the best thing that could happen politically to the administration -- this was a Democrat saying this -- is for them to talk about war between now and the election, because war sells really well, you know, with that Republican audience. So he was saying that's probably exactly what the White House wants.
WALLACE: And the other thing I want -- go ahead, Josie. You go, Josie.
KARP: I was going to -- trying to shift gears a little bit and say this talk that could lead to war, we're going to now focus on talks that actually led to a different kind of truce. We're going to talk about big-leaguers and big money, coming up. But before, we need to think about, hey, does anyone really care? We see this editorial cartoon in the Detroit Free Press answering that question. And obviously pumped up on steroids, a baseball player comes in screaming, "Crisis averted." The guy in the bar barely looks up. "I'll say, that pass was nearly intercepted." Another win, perhaps, for football.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUD SELIG, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL COMMISSIONER: All games will be played as scheduled. I think the thing that makes me the happiest is we can now once again turn our complete attention to the field.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARP: Welcome back to CNN's SATURDAY EDITION.
As Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced yesterday, baseball does play on. But it really did come down to the wire. About three hours before the strike would have started, before the first game was scheduled to be played yesterday, they got a deal done. It was close in that conference room where they were meeting at major league baseball headquarters.
And I'm interested, Kelly Wallace, if you can just tell us from your vantage point, how close did the president get to becoming really involved? We heard some talk from his spokesperson, but can you tell me a little bit more about what was going on over there?
WALLACE: Not close at all, Josie. It was really interesting. The message from the White House was President Bush was not going to be get involved in the negotiations, that he felt that the players and the owners needed to resolve this themselves.
Of course, as you know, you heard the president say he would be furious and that fans all across the country would've been furious as well.
We asked the president's top aide if the president felt his words may have helped bring about a settlement. Well, the aide said, "Look, the president made his feelings known, but more importantly fans all across the country made their feelings known."
So the president pleased, but, Josie, never was he planning to pick up the phone and prevent a strike.
KARP: I think that's interesting, because it was probably his words as a fan much more so than his words as a president that would have perked up the ears in that conference room where they were meeting, that could have had some sort of effect. It really did get down to the wire. And there's a chance that because there was so much talk that another strike would happen, that they're still going to feel some sort of hangover effect from the fact that they just very, very nearly averted another strike.
And again, to point out, it's complicated, all of the issues that they had to go through in terms of what the actual wording is in the contract, but in general the owners wanted to improve competitive balance. They wanted a team other than the Yankees to be the focal point every single October.
And this agreement sort of works toward that goal. The players wanted to make sure that their escalating salaries weren't cut back too much. And we're going to have to...
ARENA: OK, Josie, this is what I want to know, bottom line, what does this mean to me as a fan? Higher ticket prices? I mean, is this what this comes down to?
KARP: I don't think so. And ticket prices aren't going to down in most cases. They're always going to keep going up.
But what it does mean is, hopefully, the goal is, when you go to the ball park, you're not going to know who's going to win nine times out of ten, because the small-market teams that don't have a lot of money normally that can't shell out the big bucks for players, might have a better chance now to use more money to put it toward player salaries. And there might be an evening of the playing field. So...
ARENA: So better games?
KARP: ... there's a little more intrigue. Yes, exactly.
ARENA: Better games, OK, to keep the kids interested for a while.
Well, how much did 9/11 play here? Because I had heard some comments that that was really putting some pressure on both sides, that this was right before the September 11th anniversary and that it would have just looked terrible for the national pastime to go, you know, unravel at this point.
KARP: I think it's interesting, the Mets pitcher, Al Lighter (ph), is the player representative for the union. He's also very political. You see him now around Mayor Bloomberg all of the time. And one thing he said is that, in this climate with the WorldComs, with the Enrons, with everything that's gone on in this country, the players knew that they couldn't walk out this time.
However, that's one sentiment. A lot of other people think, "How dare you bring 9/11 into this. This is baseball. Who cares?"
There's another date, September 5th, Thursday, when the NFL season starts. I think that was really playing on a lot of people's minds too. Because the political, the editorial cartoon we saw makes a good point: A lot of people have already forsaken baseball, and they're ready to go with football. What if they walked out now, the football season starting, who knows if they could ever get those people back.
SNOW: Hey, Josie, I wanted to ask you about a different subject -- golf, Masters tournament down in Georgia. Today some news came out that they're not going to worry about their advertisers. There's been some talk that perhaps advertisers are going to start pulling money from the Masters because of this issue over letting women in.
So what does that decision mean, that they're not going to be concerned about their ads?
KARP: Well, I think it's interesting in two ways. One, it means nobody is going to tell Hootie Johnson (ph), the chairman of the Masters, Augusta National Club, what to do. He's making a point: We have enough money, we doesn't need those corporate sponsors, we're going to do things our way.
And then from the television perspective, we're going to be able to sit down and watch an entire golf tournament with not a single commercial interruption?
Because on the humanitarian front, the front of women's rights, it's a terrible thing for people who want to see women admitted. For the guy or the woman sitting at home who wants to watch golf, this could be very, very interesting.
SNOW: Do we want to talk about Serena Williams also? I think we have a little...
SNOW: Josie, bring us in to that. We've all seen the outfit. KARP: OK. Serena Williams, she's played a couple matches now. Her first one at the U.S. Open, she came out in this, like, catsuit outfit, and a lot of people, their eyebrows were raised a little bit. But apparently Serena came out and she actually sent a swath of her fabric to the U.S. Open people to make sure it was OK. That's interesting on one level.
On the other level, you had a guy, Tommy Haas, the number-three seed in the U.S. Open, warm up in a tank top that showed his biceps?
He wanted to play in it. They came and said he couldn't do that. And it's just -- it's such a statement on the state of women's and men's tennis right now.
KOPPEL: Well, explain to us, Josie, why it is that Serena can be showing all her curves and leave very little to the imagination, and many women do -- why is it that the men have to be so prim and proper?
KARP: Well, it's funny, because the U.S. Open is, of all the grand slam events, where you'd get away with the most. Women's tennis has completely surpassed men's tennis, in terms of popularity at this point and intrigue. They've always done the things...
KARP: And a lot of people -- it was so funny, Serena said that she thought it was discrimination against Tommy Haas, that they wouldn't let him wear his shirt. I guess -- I forget what the exact wording is, but they can actually make a determination right there on the court about what you can wear and what you can't wear. Some people think that the women, though, are going too far. I think a lot of people are going to think now that the men -- they didn't let them go far enough.
COHEN: And, Josie, the Brits have much tighter rules, don't they? I mean, she would not have gotten away with that at Wimbledon.
KARP: No, absolutely not. But, you know, what she wore, she's not the only one. Have you ever seen Anna Kournikova wear an outfit that didn't reveal her belly button?
There are a lot of things that the women have done to...
COHEN: Well, when you look like Anna, I think you can reveal your belly button.
(LAUGHTER) But I think a lot of people thought that the U.S. Open officials made the wrong decision when it came to Tommy Haas, and so he went and put on one of those boring old shirts that you always see.
But he's not the first one. If you remember, Andre Agassi at one point played in denim shorts. That's when men's tennis was a lot more popular than women's tennis. They might need to look at something there.
COHEN: Well, on a much more serious topic right now, we want to talk about the national alert about West Nile virus. Does the public concern outrun the public health reality? Stay with us, when CNN's SATURDAY EDITION returns.
COHEN: The West Nile death toll is going up. More than two dozen people have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the number of cases is more than 550, with Louisiana having the most, more than 200 cases.
Now, before we continue about West Nile, I want to say thank you to Josie Karp, who left us to go work hard...
... unlike the rest of us.
But I wanted to say, what I thought was interesting while reporting on this this week is that, what doctors have been saying to me is, "You know, this is obviously serious. It's obviously not a good thing when people die, especially such an unpredictable way, a mosquito just bites you."
But they said, "You know what, we think people are getting way too frantic. I've had too many patients come in saying, Oh my God, I've got a headache. What am I going to do? I think I have West Nile virus."
I mean, there's almost sort of a tone of being a little bit sort of angry with the public and angry with the media, saying that people are more paranoid than they need to be.
SNOW: So this is a summertime thing, right? I mean, it's mosquitoes, obviously. So are we looking at the -- are we near the end now of how bad it's going to get? Or is it going to be bad in September?
COHEN: We're near the peak. It hasn't quite peaked yet. So we're near the peak, expected to peak, you know, sometime in the next couple of weeks.
But this is sort of, you can kind of think of West Nile as being like the flu. It's a seasonal thing. It is probably here to stay, and it will be the opposite season as the flu. And it will peak, and then it will go away, and then it will come back next year. KOPPEL: What is it going to take for this to end? I mean, are doctors working on some kind of a cure? Obviously, mosquitoes are almost in every state.
COHEN: Right, right, can't get rid of the mosquitoes. But what they're working on is a vaccine. And they have one for horses already. They're working on one for humans. There are a couple of different companies that are trying it. But it's -- I think it's safe to say that that's years away. I mean, that's not going to happen any time really soon.
ARENA: Well, another issue this week was the smallpox, talk about vaccinations. And I heard something that if you were vaccinated years ago -- I mean, I still have that little mark on me -- does it still work? Am I still immune?
COHEN: You know what, the answer is that they don't know unfortunately. I mean, it would be nice if they could provide an answer. But there was some evidence this week that people like us who are over the age of 30, I assume all of you over the age of 30...
COHEN: ... that we are perhaps -- it's more likely that we're protected than they thought before. Before they thought, "You know what, it's probably waned. You're probably in trouble." But now it's thought that it might have conferred more protection than we think.
ARENA: Well, I asked the doctor too if my kids need to be vaccinated.
COHEN: Well, right now there is no plan to vaccinate your children. He couldn't vaccinate them even if he wanted to right now.
ARENA: Right, but I mean, is there a plan to do that...
COHEN: And the reason why, you might think, "Well, gosh, we were all vaccinated as kids. Why don't they just start vaccinating again?"
COHEN: And the reason is, is that the smallpox vaccine is very dangerous. And so, you could vaccinate the public, but you're going to get a lot of people sick, and you're even going to kill some people. So is it worth it for a disease that's not even here? It's not even here.
SNOW: Kelly Wallace?
WALLACE: Elizabeth, I wanted to jump in. Of course, you know, we're approaching the one-year marking point of September 11th. I'm sure a lot of people are concerned, what has the federal government done to protect this country in the case of any bioterror attack using smallpox? Has there been any significant, you know, preparation to protect the American people? COHEN: Well, one of the things that they've done is they've tried to get the stockpile up so that there's more vaccine if it was needed.
Another thing they're trying to do is get the public health infrastructure built up. Because, for years, nobody really thought about bioterrorism. It wasn't on anyone's agenda. There was cancer, there was AIDS, there was all sorts of stuff. So the labs are outdated. There's a lot of training that needs to happen. So they're trying to put their efforts into that to get people trained.
I mean, I know when I was in public health school 10 years ago, we talked about AIDS, we talked about all sorts of things. We did not talk about bioterrorism.
SNOW: But while they have all of this stockpiled, they're not using it now, right?
SNOW: The states are waiting -- are the states waiting for the federal government to say, "Go ahead and give that to..."
COHEN: They're waiting for some kind of a directive. Should everyone get vaccinated? Should just first responders get vaccinated?
ARENA: Well, they have a few days. I mean, if there was actually an attack -- I know this just on the homeland security side -- that they said they have a few days to get people vaccinated.
The big question is having the infrastructure in place so that you have, "OK, go to P.S. 32 in your neighborhood, and there will be the medical personnel there and available," and that's what is not in place in many cities, is the local infrastructure to get people to a site. I mean, that's from the homeland defense part. But...
COHEN: Right, exactly. Infrastructure is huge. We forget about that sometimes -- Kelly.
WALLACE: Yes, I was just saying to Kelli and to you, Elizabeth, as well, is there a sense that maybe cities, states, even the federal government, not moving fast enough? You know, you had a lot of activity obviously months ago, certainly when anthrax was in the news. Is there a sense you're picking up from your sources of some complacency even on the part of local, federal, state officials?
COHEN: I think there is a sense of complacency. I think there is a sense that there was a lot of complacency before September 11th, and then it kind of peaked with September 11th and anthrax, and that perhaps we've gotten a little bit back the way we were before.
But I think the folks at the CDC are really trying to use some of the anxiety from September 11th and anthrax to keep that going, to keep the sense of awareness up and high, because it's so easy to forget about it.
SNOW: Elizabeth, the L.A. school district made an interesting decision this week that I would love to talk about, this soda ban.
SNOW: Get rid of the soda machines. Is that -- I mean, obviously it's not good for kids to be drinking a lot of soda, right? But they seem to be blaming the obesity in the school district on those soda machines.
COHEN: Well, the thing is, is that kids can get a ton of calories just from drinking sodas. I mean, no one's ever calculated it's responsible for X percentage of the epidemic. But if you can get rid of soda, you can get rid of a chunk of the cause. How big a chunk is debatable, but you can get rid of some of it.
And why have it? I mean, there are reasons to eat other foods that are high in calories, like, let's say, red meat or dairy, but there's really not a health reason to be drinking sodas.
KOPPEL: I was listening to one of the radio stations, and they were interviewing some kids in L.A., and they said, you know, don't think about getting rid of the soda machines, they should just improve the food in the school systems..
... that's where all the fat and calories are.
COHEN: Right, that's probably true. But those foods also probably do give them some nutrients, whereas soda doesn't.
SNOW: But the big deal in L.A. was that they get hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. Each of the schools makes a lot of money off those soda machines, so they're taking a big hit to do this.
COHEN: Right. That's schools from around the country, get a lot of money from the companies. They have these contracts that give them a lot of money, and...
ARENA: This sounds like a marketing concept. Start sticking the vitamin C in the Pepsi, right?
COHEN: There you go. Maybe that's what they'll do.
But it was, it was a tough decision, and I wouldn't be surprised if other school districts follow, because as you see, they can physically see these kids getting heavier and heavier, and at least you can do something about one of the things -- one of the food sources.
KOPPEL: Well, we are going to turn from deadly disease and public health to public diplomacy. Both the United States and Saudi Arabia are worried about how they're being perceived, how they will co-exist if the United States goes to war with Iraq, and whether they are true partners in the war on terrorism. We'll talk about that as SATURDAY EDITION continues, but first, this news alert with Charles Molineaux in Atlanta.
KOPPEL: Still ahead, friends or something less? The rocky marriage between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. New indictments claim al Qaeda support cells were operating inside U.S. borders. And what happens when Congress goes back to New York City for a ceremonial session before the 9/11 anniversary? Straight ahead on CNN's SATURDAY EDITION.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI ADVISER TO THE CROWN PRINCE: There were 15 Saudis on the planes without a doubt. This is a source of great shame for Saudi Arabia. We're very sorry than our sons were on those planes and that they committed this crime, this horrible crime in which over 2,000 people were murdered. There's no justification for it whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOPPEL: Abel Al-Jubeir, adviser to the Saudi crown prince, confronting head on the conflicted feelings between the United States and his country.
Welcome back to CNN's SATURDAY EDITION.
The Bush administration, from the president on down, and the Saudi government are all working hard to convince the world that Washington and Riyadh can be good allies and partners.
In fact, earlier this week, President Bush invited the Saudi ambassador, Prine Bandar, down to Crawford for what was billed as a private visit. The two met for about an hour. And one Saudi official told me that it was, in their eyes, a way to show the world, for President Bush to show the world that in fact these two countries really are friends.
Why are they doing this? Well, as you heard Adel Al-Jubeir say there, since September 11, suddenly the United States has looked at the Saudi kingdom with very different eyes as potentially enemies of the United States.
That report that came out of the RAND Corporation didn't help matters, in which...
ARENA: Actually, an analyst that was contracted by RAND.
KOPPEL: It said -- an analyst who was on contract to RAND said that the Saudis in fact are enemies of the United States and the U.S. should treat them that way. So they went down, Prince Bandar went down to Crawford to do some damage control. Obviously, on the agenda there, how to get the Saudis on board for a possible military campaign against Iraq. That was something neither side seemed to resolve.
But, Kelly, you were down there at the time, I believe. What did you hear?
WALLACE: Yes, and neither side did resolve it, because, you know, the Saudis, Andrea, went into that meeting opposed to any military action against Iraq. They came out very opposed as well.
It's interesting, we were kept very far from that meeting. No coverage of it. We just got a still photograph of the president and the prince, not making themselves available for interviews.
But its interesting, the message very much the U.S. and Saudi officials want to convey is, "Look, there's no problem here. This is a strong relationship, and the two sides can work together even through their differences."
Andrea, though, I have to ask you, we know the Saudis are doing this incredibly through and multi -- many thousands of dollars on a PR campaign to change the image in the United States, but it just doesn't appear to be working, because if you look at how the American people feel, many people feel the Saudis simply are not doing enough in the fight against terrorism.
KOPPEL: It's not just thousands. It's millions. I was told that from now until the end of the year, the Saudis will be spending $6 million on television ads, on newspaper ads, trying to let the American people know that they are in fact friends and not the enemy.
COHEN: And I understand we heard from that soundbite, how that Saudi official sort of said "We're sorry so many of our sons were among the hijackers." But how are they going to explain why most of the hijackers were Saudi? How are they going to explain that?
KOPPEL: They haven't really explained it other than the fact, in their eyes, that this was just pure coincidence. But in point of fact, the Saudis have been promoting and exporting their form of extremist Islam, know as Wahhabism.
Saudi charities, Kelli, you can speak to this well.
ARENA: Well, I'll tell you...
KOPPEL: Saudi charities have been paying...
ARENA: Here's a perfect opportunity. They have in their possession Saud Al-Rashid (ph). That's the 21-year-old Saudi who they put the global alert because they found his picture with pictures of four of the September 11 hijackers. So obviously, U.S. investigators want to get their hands on this guy.
Well, sources that we spoke to, officials from the intelligence community and the law enforcement community have said, "We will not get direct access to him. At best, we can maybe submit some questions, have the Saudis ask the questions." And at the end of the day, if history is any guide, if they find any connection, they'll behead him. That will be the end of it. You know, and traipse that around, and that's the end. And they said, if there's really an interest on the part of the Saudis to cooperate here, that is a gesture they could make, is to at least give investigators direct access for questioning at the very least.
WALLACE: This is -- also, I want to throw in there, Kelli, to you especially, you know, it's interesting, the administration has to walk sort of a fine line here. Because, just as you said, a lot of concern from law enforcement officials not getting enough cooperation from the Saudis, concerns that wealthy Saudi individuals, maybe not connected to any government or to the kingdom, are contributing to charities, that money going to terrorism.
But you also, of course, have this administration very much needing support from the Saudis -- political support, tactical support -- for any military action against Iraq.
So clearly, the administration having to balance some concerns about terrorism, but very much -- Andrea, you probably see this as well -- wanting the support, in some way, to deal with one day toppling Saddam Hussein.
KOPPEL: Right, and it could be one day soon.
In fact, it wasn't just the Saudis this week that news came out about their PR campaign, but also the U.S. State Department. It was interesting, over there this week, 17 Iraqi dissidents were brought in for what I like to refer to as sort of the Eliza Doolittle training.
It wasn't "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain," but they were being coached, really, to speak to the American public, to speak to the international community about Iraq and make the case in their own words for why Saddam Hussein should be overthrown.
I believe, in fact, we have a soundbite from the State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BOUCHER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: The goal is to give them a bit of experience and training in how they can interact with you all to tell their story.
QUESTION: Right, so can I just go back to, specifically, what does that mean?
BOUCHER: Means hold your head up, don't mumble, talk to the camera...
(LAUGHTER) ... all the things they told me before I stood out here the first day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOPPEL: As one reporter during that briefing said, the U.S. wanted to teach them the art of spin control.
So they were at the State Department for three days this week and hopefully, in U.S. eyes, will go back out into the great big world out there and will start writing editorials and...
SNOW: And who are these? There are 17, but they never identified, did they, who exactly we're talking about here...
KOPPEL: They didn't, but I...
SNOW: ... but it's Iraqi opposition?
KOPPEL: Exactly. I know just they were from the U.S. and Europe. Some of them were from California. These are Iraqi exiles who, in some instances, had been living in the United States for 25 years.
SNOW: Who might be low-profile people, right?
KOPPEL: Very low-profile.
SNOW: Just regular community members?
KOPPEL: Exactly. These are not the INC, the Iraqi National Congress, that we've been seeing on television almost more than we see President Bush at some times.
SNOW: Kelly Wallace?
WALLACE: And, Andrea, what is the focus there too? I mean, how much of a sense are you getting that the focus is not just trying to spread the word about the, quote, "brutality" of Saddam Hussein and get a message to the Iraqi people, but to direct it to skeptical Arab allies and skeptical European allies? Doesn't that appear to be, according to your sources, a bit of the focus of this media training?
KOPPEL: Oh, I would say so. I think the U.S. recognizes the fact that it has not been hitting homeruns recently when it comes to selling its case overseas. We were just talking about Prince Bandar being down at Crawford because the Saudis aren't on board. In fact, we could just tick down the list. It would be easier for us to say who is on board. You can count them on, really, one finger -- the British. Everyone else, it seems...
SNOW: Well, and even he is having problems. Right, I mean, even Tony Blair doesn't have full support.
KOPPEL: Tony Blair is under fire from the Labor Party for seeming to be too close to the United States. So really, the U.S. can use all the help it can get, and it figures it can turn to these Iraqi exiles to make this case.
ARENA: Well, still on the terrorism fight, we turn from international to domestic, and new information from the government this week about how al Qaeda may have built secret cells inside the United States. Just ahead, on CNN's SATURDAY EDITION.
ARENA: An important source of information about the news of the day, the war, and the terrorism investigation can be found online at CNN.com, AOL keyword CNN.
Welcome back to CNN's SATURDAY EDITION.
We learned more about the terrorism investigation this week, and the information hit very close to home. Law enforcement believes people here in the United States have been providing support such as weapons and fake documents, safe houses, to al Qaeda terrorists.
Right here at home. As a matter of fact, we also learned that there are currently about 200 people that are under surveillance, active, 24-7 surveillance, with possible ties to terrorist organizations here in the United States.
KOPPEL: Yes. Are these some of those sleeper cells that we've been hearing about out there?
ARENA: Well, that is what the government called the five men who were indicted in Detroit. They say that that was part of an active sleeper cell. And what they mean is these were not people who were necessarily preparing to commit an act of terror, but what they were doing was, alleged by the government, collecting information. They had videotapes of Disneyworld and the MGM casino in Las Vegas. They had documents describing airports in Jordan, certain sites in Turkey.
In Seattle, James Ujamma (ph), stands charged of providing safe houses, acutally seeking out a camp here in the United States in Bly, Oregon, for a possible terror training. And according to the government, he compared the terrain in Bly, Oregon, to terrain in Afghanistan.
COHEN: What I thought was interesting about James Ujamma (ph) is that he's not a sleeper. I mean, he's a well known guy in the community. He's considered a leader.
ARENA: A well known Muslim activist, yes, very well known. His family has been very vocal out there denying that he has any role, any connection to any terrorist organization, let alone al Qaeda. But he was first held as a material witness and was just charged this week.
SNOW: In Detroit, that's the case where there's -- one of them has sort of turned and helped the government, right?
SNOW: There is one guy who is giving a lot of information about the others.
ARENA: Sunisi (ph), right, has been providing information for some time, and was not -- he's been charged in the document fraud part of this, which doesn't sound like a whole lot, but Justice officials say that that is a very integral part of the infrastructure that exists in the United States to support terrorism. You have -- you need fake documents. You need people to take English language exams, you know, to get you into the country, if you couldn't pass that test for a student visa for example.
Kelly, you looked like you wanted to say something.
WALLACE: Yes. Are your sources giving you any sense they have any indication of any of these individuals being connected at all, even loosely, to al Qaeda? And any sense at all, even looking at what they gathered, of what potentially they could have been planning to do?
ARENA: Well, James Ujamma (ph), the government alleges, was directly connected to al Qaeda. And one of the charges is that he provided them with computer assistance, weapons, safe houses, so on.
In Detroit, that group was part of an Algerian-based terrorist organization, Salafia, which has loose connections to al Qaeda. And at least there they say that they were collecting reconnaissance on targets, including Disneyland in California and also the MGM casino in Las Vegas.
But you also have now -- none of these, though, by the way, was at all connected to September 11th. I mean, there's no -- there are no charges that connect them directly to that.
SNOW: Right. And all of those are the government's allegations.
SNOW: The guys in Detroit have, through lawyers, have denied that they have...
ARENA: Some of them have. We haven't heard from most of them. Only two have said that they're not involved.
But you also have the situation in Germany, though, that does get us directly connected to 9/11. And you have a Moroccan who was in Germany who was charged with providing help, financial help, managing bank accounts and also arranging for wire transfers to some of the hijackers that had established an operational base in Hamburg, Germany. And so, he does stand -- he's the only other person besides Zacarias Moussaoui, who stands charged in direct connection to 9/11.
COHEN: And you mentioned in this country under surveillance, 24- 7, a bunch of people. Is there a difference between in this country and Germany, what they're allowed to do, how they're allowed to trace them, how they're allowed to go about prosecuting them?
ARENA: Very strict rules in Germany. As a matter of fact, very privately there has been a lot of criticism about how the Germans handled the investigation. The Hamburg cell was actually under surveillance for some time, according to our sources, and there was never anything done because there are very strict restrictions around what they can do and when they can act. They have to have evidence of an actual crime in Germany.
SNOW: But amazing how much information came out from the Germans this week when they started talking publicly about -- I mean, for example, that one of the -- that this gentlemen allegedly was talking to people about how big the crime was going to be.
ARENA: Right. One of the hijackers, dating back to 1999, which shows you how long this thing was planned, was talking about hitting the World Trade Center, killing thousands of people. Said this to a librarian, really rare breach of security though. Because we know that this cell operated very much under the radar here in the United States. Anyone that the FBI has talked to and investigated said that there was absolutely no indication from neighbors or people who knew them in mosques about this operation. So it was a rare breach of confidentiality that went on there.
But they actually talked about it, naming the target and everything, in 1999. Went from there to Afghanistan for some training, came back to Germany and immediately started applying to U.S. flight schools to get into U.S. flight schools. So...
SNOW: Terrorism, how to defend the homeland -- all of that on the minds of members of Congress when they come back to work after Labor Day next week. But Congress also takes a road trip into the past next week. We'll talk about that when we come back.
SNOW: The U.S. Capitol today, with Congress out of session, a quiet symbol of government and democracy. A dose of history and civics and more symbolism coming up later next week when Congress holds a special ceremonial meeting in New York City instead of going back to the Capitol.
That happens next Friday. All of the members of Congress have been invited. I understand about 200 of them have already accepted, so they may not get the whole 535 of them up there.
But they're going to Federal Hall in New York City, which it's very symbolic for them. It's the place where Congress first convened back in 1789. This is only the second time since they moved to Washington, after going through Philadelphia, that Congress has met outside of its Capitol. They did meet in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial. They went up to Philadelphia and had a special session, much like what they're going to do next week. But it's going to be interesting. They're boarding a train Friday morning. They're going up there. They're spending just a few hours. They will do a ceremony at Ground Zero, laying a wreath at Ground Zero. And all of it's just going to take a couple of hours so that members can get back home.
ARENA: And are they actually going to do some work and consider legislation, or it really just for the cameras?
SNOW: Yes, not really. It is really -- it's not just for the cameras, but to show -- they would say to show their support for New York City. They've been talking about doing this ever since 9/11 last year. In fact, some members wanted them to go up, I don't know if you remember, right after 9/11, there was this talk about going up to New York and celebrating a session up there. It's taken them a year to sort of get the logistics right.
One interesting sidebar is I was told that they did think about holding it as official session of Congress, but that turns out to be really tricky because you have to have all of those things that they -- all of those props that they have in the Congress. You know, like the staff they use when they march in. And they didn't want to transport all of that up to New York and have to sort of make it a formal session.
So they're just -- it's more symbolic than anything.
KOPPEL: Well, about 9/11 Kate, when are they going to get down to having these hearings, the 9/11 hearings, into, you know, the intelligence lapses? When will we see that?
SNOW: There's been this House-Senate committee that was formed back in February, and you remember in the spring and into the summer in June, they started holding behind-closed-doors hearings that none of us could see. And then they said, "We're going to come out and have public hearings." And first it was June. And then it was going to be in July. And then it was going to be right after the recess next week.
Well, it's not happening next week. It's now put off until mid- September, about three weeks from now. They've had a lot of delays. There have been some internal, I'm told, disputes going on. Some members -- some staffers who are not real happy with the way that things are progressing, they wished they could have done this faster.
But bottom line, they're going to start in a couple of weeks. And interestingly, they may start off these open hearings about intelligence failures of 9/11 hearing from the victims, some of the victims of 9/11 as their first witnesses.
COHEN: And is that just -- I mean, obviously, we've all heard those horrible stories. Is there anything they hope to learn from the victims?
SNOW: I think they want to set the stage. I was talking to some aides about this yesterday. They want -- they, first of all, the victims' representatives groups have asked to speak. And of course, the committee is not going to say, "No, you can't come speak to Congress." So I think it's mostly their initiative.
But they feel like that will lay some of the groundwork for the rest of the hearings, which will ultimately -- the high point at the very end will be having Robert Mueller from the FBI and perhaps George Tenet testify.
COHEN: Is the point of this to figure out, "Gee, how did we goof up?" Like, "What could we do better next time?"
SNOW: Yes. Basically, they are looking backwards to look forwards is what they keep saying. They want to study what went wrong with 9/11.
WALLACE: Hey, Kate, quickly, November elections coming up. Politically, how much pressure both sides facing to come up with something before the November elections?
SNOW: Something in terms of 9/11? I think a lot of pressure. I think...
WALLACE: Something in terms of -- yes... SNOW: Yes, I think that -- you know, they've been feeling a lot of pressure from those victims' families. Remember, they've been calling for a blue ribbon commission to look into...
ARENA: A lot of resentment, a lot of resentment in New York over this. I get a lot of e-mails from victims' families representatives saying, you know, "When are you going...
SNOW: "We want answers."
ARENA: "We want answers. We want something to be done. It's almost a year."
SNOW: Yes, yes. They get going in just a few weeks.
That is our SATURDAY EDITION for this week. And thanks to my CNN colleagues and for you for watching.
Coming up, a news alert and People in the News, about Princess Diana and Elizabeth Taylor.
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