CNN BREAKING NEWS
Interview With Ambassador Joe Wilson
Aired March 7, 2003 - 10:19 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting an important story just coming in from the Associated Press right now.
Two sons of Osama bin Laden, according to a Pakistani provincial minister, two sons of Osama bin Laden have now been arrested in southeastern Afghanistan, an indication that the U.S. and its Pakistani coalition partners in this war on terrorism are moving closer, tightening the noose, potentially -- potentially on Osama bin Laden himself.
This is a significant development. Two sons of Osama bin Laden close to the al Qaeda leader who has, of course, been on the loose ever since 9/11 now apprehended, according to the Associated Press.
A significant development coming in the aftermath of the arrest last weekend of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the No. 3, the operations chief, of the al Qaeda network.
Presumably, he is now talking to interrogators, providing some information, though we don't know whether any information Khalid Shaikh Mohammed may have provided could have led to the arrest of these two sons of Osama bin Laden.
But this is a significant development. We're also told it has been a joint operation, a joint operation involving U.S. and Pakistani officials finding and capturing these two Osama bin Laden sons, key players in the al Qaeda network. An important, important development that, of course, comes just as the U.N. Security Council is considering the possibility of war with Iraq as well.
Paula, a lot going on. Incredible developments even as we report right now.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: I think it's going to be pretty much like we did this the last time, Wolf. We are going to have three different frames of reference here. We are going to try to keep our eye on what is happening at the U.N., and also pay attention to this very important development.
Now, to help us put this arrest news into context is Ambassador Joe Wilson. We know that U.S. officials disclosed for the first time yesterday that special operation forces had gone into Pakistan's northwest border province...
JOSEPH WILSON, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Right. The "wild west." ZAHN: The "wild west." What does this mean, and how close do you think this team is -- this team work of the Pakistanis and the U.S. to getting Osama bin Laden?
WILSON: Well, assuming he's in the northwest provinces...
ZAHN: Which everybody believes he is.
WILSON: ... they are a lot closer. If he is down in southwest Pakistan, they are not close at all. But, nonetheless, the fact that they've captured two of his sons, I think, is a good sign. Symbolically, at a minimum.
It says that they're putting pressure on the family. Depending on which sons they are, one of the sons was the one who was slated -- or assumed to take responsibility of al Qaeda if anything happened to Osama.
If that son has been captured, it's a substantive blow. But the clearly, the noose is being tightened around the organization, and it has been badly, badly disrupted.
ZAHN: Do you think it has the added benefit of bolstering the president's argument that, in fact, you can wage a war on terror the same time that you could potentially be waging war on Saddam Hussein?
WILSON: Well, I always thought that you would be able to do that in the sense that the battle for Afghanistan has been won. The military has gone in and fought that particular war. The rest of this, finding al Qaeda, is much more a judicial, police, and intelligence-type operation.
They're taking the lead with the military providing support in various activities.
So, there are not a lot of military assets deployed to Afghanistan which would cripple our ability to fight another war if we needed to.
ZAHN: We're going to try to get as much information as we can to you about this latest information confirming that two sons of Osama bin Laden have, indeed, been arrested in southeastern Afghanistan.
Before we go back to Wolf, just a really quick thought on what we might be seeing unfold at the United Nations within ten minutes or so, if this report ever gets underway.
WILSON: Blix will make his report. There will be all the speeches, a lot of which will be canned, and then there will be some discussion afterwards as to where they go from here.
ZAHN: But you don't think it changes the outcome. You are absolutely convinced, even though the president hasn't announced or made a declaration of war, you believe we're at war already.
WILSON: I believe that the minute that the president changed the rules of engagement related to the no-fly zones from hitting anti- aircraft batteries that might be targeting American aircraft, which is a self-defense action, to hitting surface-to-surface batteries on Iraqi soil, which is offensive action, that that essentially was the first shot in the beginning of hostilities.
ZAHN: Please stand by, because we're going to have you analyze the reports with us here as our coverage goes on.
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