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CNN Presents: Witness to War

Aired August 8, 2009 - 20:00   ET




TEXT: Afghanistan and Pakistan are two of the most dangerous places on Earth. Coups, unrest and war have raged since the 1970s. Since 2001, both nations have been front lines in the U.S.-led "War on Terror." CNN recently debriefed six of its correspondents assigned to the region. These are their stories. CNN PRESENTS: Witness to War.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Afghanistan is a place that's been bypassed by the Industrial Revolution. It's been bypassed by most major modern developments -- and by modern, we can go back, you know, a century and a half.

Afghanistan doesn't have a railway network. It doesn't have a national grid for electricity that reaches across the country. It's very hard for people's lives to improve. And as the rest of the world races ahead in the computer age and advance medical techniques around the world, Afghanistan is very much stuck in the Dark Ages.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's the Afghan/Pakistan border, the tribal region. It's a primitive lifestyle. We've been to some of these local villages, the homes are made out of mud. It's very hot. It's one of the most mountainous and rugged regions in the world.

And these are people that were born to fight. You know, for ages their way of life is fighting.

STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thirty years of war, generation raised in war, children left orphaned, women left widowed, an economy flattened. People sickened by this endless conflict. They are fed up. Everyone you speak to, says, when will this end?

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Upon landing in Afghanistan, it was my first visit there. And what really struck me was how primitive and backwards that country was. There was no electricity. There was no running water.

There were no paved roads. But simply, some of the worst roads I've ever been on.

And as you explored that area, bouncing around on these awful roads, riding through river beds even to get from place to place -- another thing that struck me was the leftovers of nearly 25 years of conflict were littered across the Afghan countryside. Old Soviet tanks and armored personnel carriers just sitting on the side of the roads, ruined, pieces of tank shells, of cannon shells.

And it made me realize that this country was accustomed to living with conflict for a quarter century.

GRANT: How did it start? Look at this. I'm sitting on a shell of a Soviet tank on a hill overlooking Kabul.

Here -- this is where so much of it began. This battle with the Soviets and the mujahadeen, the control of Afghanistan. The local warlords rising up, backed by Pakistan, backed with money from the United States, from Saudi Arabia, fighting the Soviets, to drive the Soviets out. The Soviets leaving as a vacuum, the warlords turn on each other.

Who enters the fray? The Taliban.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's easy to argue that that's when 9/11 and a lot of other problems in the region were born. When America simply walked away once the Soviets withdraw.

Don't forget, there was a war under way in Afghanistan at the time of 9/11. They were front-lined active at that moment as the Taliban were fighting other Afghans.

Nine-eleven obviously changed everything. The reason why the West is there is to answer a security threat being poised by the al Qaeda organization in exporting terrorist attacks from its planning and strategic bases in Afghanistan and in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Afghanistan has always been a country where it's been a battleground of ideologies. And unfortunately, it's been the Afghan people who have to live through that battle.

WATSON: One narrative that I hear again and again, not only from Afghans but also from Pakistanis is the abandonment that they experienced after the withdrawal of the Soviets and the withdrawal of U.S. aid to that region. After pumping in so much money and so many weapons, both of these superpowers agreed to just stop, leaving huge numbers of armed militants, leaving a raging conflict, leaving millions and millions of refugees behind.





TEXT: Refugees in Afghanistan. GRANT: Let me talk about the latest experience we had. We were driving on the outskirts of Kabul and we saw in the distance this collection of tents and mud huts, and we pulled over. It was a refugee camp.

These are refugees from the fighting in the worst parts of the country, the people who are really caught in the middle of the battle between the Taliban and allied forces.

And the immediate impression, when I walked in there was just depression and hopelessness. Children with bare feet, ragged clothes, open sores on their faces, sores that are going to become infected and ultimately can kill them if they don't get medical treatment that they urgently require.

ABAWI: The first time we walked into a refugee camp in Afghanistan, it was actually a refugee camp in Kabul. It was our first few days into the country, I was shocked. I mean, there were acres and acres of makeshift tent homes and it was just astonishing to think that thousands of people still live in that kind of environment in the capital of Afghanistan.


ROBERTSON: The fear among aid organizations now, that if the drought continues, so will the displacement of people on a scale much greater than before.


ROBERTSON; Conditions in these camps are horrific, I've seen camps in Afghanistan where, you know, there's been hard for people to find any wood to cook their meals on, hard for them to find any water. Where the tents have been what looked like just rags tied together -- rags and, you know, a few humble possessions.

There's a resilience. But there's an utter desperation, because when you see food coming in, and when that food is in limited supply, unless there are people there sometimes quite physically beating people back in the crowds, that food will be torn from the weakest people's hands. So, there's a -- it is a survival of the fittest.


TEXT: Refugees in Pakistan.

WATSON: We walked into a refugee camp in western Pakistan in spring of 2009, and there were hundreds of Pakistani men, refugees, milling around, waiting for food distribution and increasingly agitated.


WATSON: And they wanted to tell their story. They wanted us to hear what they had to say, and they were furious that the camp administrators, whom they accused of stealing the very aid -- food aid, that they were supposed to be distributing, were charging money for it. Those were allegations that I could never really confirm.

It was a dangerous atmosphere. And you can see how it can leave these people living in these conditions for longer periods, they will become breeding grounds for all sorts of problems, from crime to insurgencies. They could become recruiting grounds.

SAYAH: Because of these terrible conditions here, these children are developing conditions that are difficult to treat.

Doctor, tell us what we have here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's some kind of allergic skin reaction which has gone chronic, it's been there for about a month.


I've never seen anything like the scenes that I've witnessed in refugee camps. And sometimes, it was so overwhelming, it didn't seem real.

Tent after tent after tent, families, husbands, wives, children, and it didn't seem real to me that so many families, so many millions of people had been displaced, lost everything, lost their homes, their livelihood and they were now living in tents looking forward to one meal a day with an uncertain future.

There were so many times when I asked them, "What now? What do you do now?" And it was a shrug of the shoulder, "We don't know." That was, you know, heartbreaking. You know, seeing the children, obviously, in distress.

They were so excited, you know, to see us whenever we came with cameras, whenever we came with our crew. There was not a time when we didn't get a rush of people coming to us, telling their stories. And to me, that was a desperate cry for help, saying, "We are here, help us, somebody do something." Because nobody else appeared to be doing anything.

And you know, I think the refugees are key -- because you are not going to beat the militancy in Pakistan if you don't have consensus, if you don't have the support of the people. And if the people aren't being taken care of by the government, if the people are living in tents without food and water, with uncertainty, how are you going to get them to support your cause?




TEXT: Decisions.

GRANT: Taliban had been routed, 2001, after 9/11, and then the pushing to Afghanistan by U.S. forces. The way that the U.S. and others were able to tap into the existing militias here, who've forced the Soviets, to then rise up and drive out the Taliban. The Taliban were defeated in Afghanistan. But the U.S. left.

WARE: The Bush administration shifted the focus of the counterterrorism operations, its anti-al Qaeda operations, its so- called "War on Terror" to Iraq -- Iraq!

We now know that there was no causes behind (ph) for that. Al Qaeda wasn't here. Saddam wasn't projecting a terrorist threat beyond his immediate borders, certainly not the United States. Heck, the regime of Saddam Hussein didn't possess weapons of mass destruction. The U.N. kept saying that.

So, like it did, after the Soviet withdrawal, invasion of Iraq took America's eye off Afghanistan. And America is still paying a price for that to this day.

GRANT: The decision to go to Iraq diverted attention and resources from the fight in Afghanistan, opened the window for the Taliban to come back. It slowed the rate of reconstruction and progress and development in Afghanistan. It made people feel here as if they had been deserted -- and deserted again.

WATSON: The shift from Afghanistan to Iraq was palpable. I mean, we in the media did it as well. I closed the National Public Radio bureau in Kabul because we all knew a war was coming in Iraq.

ABAWI: When there's media attention on the country, the country improves. When the media attention goes away, the country falls apart.

WATSON: Now, you have NATO fighting against Taliban insurgents, you have a very unpopular Afghan government, and Afghan population who no longer trusts the international community, no longer has great hope for the international community for the Afghan government the way they did in 2001, and there was an incredible window of opportunity there. And I fear that that window has closed. And now, the country is mired in yet another chapter of its endless civil war.

Five years after the overthrow of the Taliban, I met with a Taliban fighter who had been in the front lines in the trenches, facing off against the northern alliance during the U.S. bombing campaign of the Taliban. He described to me the retreat of the Taliban from that area, and basically how Taliban fighters, they got the order to run and they just picked up and left, and went back to their villages.

And he went on to say that many of these fighters were back in the movement again. They were back involved again and wanting to fight against the U.S. and the NATO forces in Afghanistan.

WARE: For a year after 9/11, I lived in Kandahar, pretty much with the Taliban. They changed uniforms. The turbans might have been the same. They might have been the chiefs of police in districts and local administrators, but they were still the Taliban.

ABAWI: All they did was shave their beard and blend into the crowd and live normal lives just so they wouldn't get caught, they wouldn't get in trouble. The Taliban have been around, and will still be around, and right now, they're in disguises that you won't ever guess. I mean, lately, we had a suicide bombing, it was a suicide attack within Kabul, an infiltration where eight Taliban suicide bombers went to various ministries and how they got in, they were wearing a suit and tie, perfectly shaven, gelled hair, had men pretending to be their bodyguards, and they got into these ministries.

WARE: The Afghan Taliban is a complex base, with many, many faces and many, many applications. One thing for sure is that it has proven its capability to endure. What we now also see, however, is the emergence in recent years of Pakistani Taliban. These are two entirely different organizations, yet in many ways, they share similar philosophy and ideology, and a war-fighting capability. In essence, the concept of the Taliban is flourishing and growing across the border.

ROBERTSON: The natural place they ran to was Pakistan, because that's where many of them had come from, that's where they got their training, that was a way to escape U.S. and coalition forces that were arriving inside Afghanistan after September the 11th.

So they brought with them the same values they had in Afghanistan, their sort of extreme religious views, et cetera, et cetera -- and slowly imbued that into the communities that they were living in along the border with Afghanistan and inside Pakistan.

WATSON: The Pakistan military made several attempts to try to dislodge the Taliban that created a lot of refugees, did a lot of damage, killed civilians and ultimately failed. And then the Taliban would just come back again.

SAYAH: Even in the established settled areas, like Swat, this is not the tribal region. If you look at what's happening in Swat. That place is supposed to have governance, but it's not.

That's a region where there was conflict and what security forces do? They ran away. What did the government officials do? They ran away. And that's why you had the Taliban come in and take over.

And when you have the people of Pakistan see this, that a group of militants easily -- just like that -- are able to wipe away the government, the security forces from a region like Swat, which was a jewel of Pakistan, how are you supposed to have confidence in your government?

GRANT: I remember meeting one woman who refused to show her face, she was still in fear of the Taliban recognizing her. She left the Swat valley after the Taliban rule of terror there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have three kids for God's sake. The whole point is, if it's not contained in Swat, it's going to spill all over. It's going to spill all over in Pakistan and the West doesn't realize the seriousness of the situation. And probably your next 9/11 is going to be from Swat.

GRANT: She said the next 9/11 will come from the Swat Valley. This is what the people who have emerged from the societies are telling us.

TEXT: While the situation remains fluid, Pakistani forces have now claimed victory in the fight against Taliban militants in the Swat Valley.



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon live here at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

"CNN PRESENTS: WITNESS TO WAR" continues in just a moment, but first I want to tell you some of the headlines here. We're following breaking news tonight. A press conference is expected at any moment in that midair crash over the Hudson River.

There you see the microphones there, and the reporters and producers are preparing. We're waiting for the NTSB personnel to come out and brief us. Nine people have apparently died in that collision of a tourist helicopter and a small plane over the Hudson River.

Now here's what happens we know right now, three bodies have been recovered so far, two adults and a child. The adults were believed to be aboard the helicopter, and the child was believed to be on the plane. Parts of the helicopter have apparently been located at about 30 feet of water. The plane has not been found.

Recovery efforts are halted for the night. We're expecting, again, a news briefing from the NTSB at any moment now. CNN will bring it to you live when that happens.


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: ... under the Constitution and laws of the United States...

SOTOMAYOR: ... under the Constitution and laws the United States...

ROBERTS: ... so help me God.

SOTOMAYOR: ... so help me God.

ROBERTS: Congratulations.

LEMON: Well, she is now Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. History was made today at the United States Supreme Court. The first Hispanic and only the third woman took the oath from the chief justice. The court is set to hear arguments September 9th in a campaign finance case. Justice Sonia Sotomayor now.

I'm Don Lemon. I'll see you back here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern also. I'll be back here for the news briefing, the NTSB news briefing at any moment happening in Hoboken, New Jersey. Don't go away. CNN PRESENTS: "WITNESS TO WAR" continues right now. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATSON: An interesting thing that I experienced this spring in Pakistan was there were a number of people I talked to, Pakistanis, who liked the Taliban, who think they're good Muslims, who believe that the Taliban is fighting for something honest and noble.

It sounds like the Taliban are heroes to you.

(voice-over): "We love the Taliban," this man says. Poor people only like those who care for the poor.

(on camera): The Taliban come in and they say, we will defend you, you are our fellow Muslim, we are going to protect you against this corrupt system of government, against these corrupt policemen and judges and ministers, and that resonates with ordinary Pakistanis.

GRANT: The one that really stands out for me was a Taliban member I found I met along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. He had been captured by the Pakistan army. And this was a striking image, here was a man, bound in chains.

What struck me about him was that this was a gentle man. This was a man who was incredibly soft-spoken. It was disarming to see him there. He was defeated. He was hollow. We asked him, why did you do what you did? He said, I was misguided.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am sorry. I'm very much sorry. And I'm ashamed of my action. And I will not fight again, inshallah.

GRANT: It wasn't the Taliban that we associate with bravado. It wasn't the Taliban with the gun raised in the air. It wasn't the black turban and the dark glasses. This was a man who had been on the front line and was defeated. It was a very unnerving moment when I met him. And it will stay with me forever.

WATSON: Afghans are probably the toughest people I've ever met. These people have lived with conflict for a quarter century and they have a sense of humor that I've never really seen anywhere else in the world. And they put up with more hardship than I think most any society has ever seen.

ROBERTSON: You know, one of the strongest images that I remember was this old man in a burned-out building, it was a mud building, and it was a windy day, and there were dark clouds coming over the sky, and I remember he was digging through the ruble of this building and he was pulling out from this burnt rubble of a mud house this torn- apart, battered, twisted metal frame of a bed, that is who the Afghans are.

They won't be beaten easily.

SAYAH: One of the things that sticks out in my mind was when we went...

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEMON: Back now to "WITNESS TO WAR" in just a moment. But first we want to take you to Hoboken, New Jersey, a National Transportation Safety Board briefing.

DEBBIE HERSMAN, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: ... and the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Good evening.

On behalf of the NTSB, I would like to offer our condolences to all of those who lost loved ones in this tragic midair collision that occurred over the Hudson approximately noon today.

There were two aircraft involved, the first was a helicopter. It's a Eurocopter AS-350. The N-number is November 401 Lima Hotel, it was carrying one pilot and five passengers. It was registered to Liberty Helicopters and it had departed the West 30th Street.

The second aircraft was a Piper Saratoga, PA-32R that had departed Teterboro, N-number November 71 Mike Charlie. There was a pilot and two passengers.

They collided in midair shortly before noon over the Hudson River near Stephens Point. Three victims have been recovered, dive operations have been suspended for the evening and they will resume at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

They have located the helicopter. It has been marked with buoys and the site has been secured by the Coast Guard and local authorities who will there be throughout the evening. They're using side-scanning sonar to locate the airplane and any other wreckage.

Once that wreckage is pulled up, they will try to do it tomorrow, depending on the current and the circumstances and the conditions, if they can remove it, they will pull it up and it will be taken to a secure lotion for further examination.

Our team did talk to a witness to the accident today, it was another Liberty Helicopter pilot. He was hot fueling his aircraft at the West 30th Street Heliport. He said he was looking west and the accident helicopter was heading south.

He saw a small, single engine aircraft approaching behind the helicopter. He radioed the accident helicopter and told them "One Lima Hotel, you have a fixed wing behind you." There was no response from the pilot. He stated that he saw the right wing of the airplane contact the helicopter. He saw helicopter parts and the right wing fall, and then both aircraft descended into the Hudson River.

I arrived here at about 5:45 with a team of seven additional investigators from our Washington, D.C., office. We were also accompanied by two transportation disaster assistant specialists who are here to support the family members of the victims.

We joined two local NTSB investigators who have been on scene today. Our investigator in charge is Mr. Bob Gretz (ph), and he was here at the incident command center on the New Jersey side here in Hoboken.

We will were also joined today by our investigator who did the stakedown on the New York side at the incident command center at Pier 53 in Manhattan, Mr. Luke Schiata (ph).

Our investigators have been working, those who were on-scene throughout the day, with local responders, conducting witness interviews, and gathering additional information. The investigators that came down from D.C. are now at -- some of them are at Teterboro at the control tower, gathering records, radar information, any flight plans, reviewing air traffic control tapes for communication.

Additional investigators are out gathering information with respect to operations. They have talked to the fixed base operator the Teterboro Airport where the Saratoga was this evening -- or this afternoon before they departed.

We were advised that the Saratoga did stop over at Teterboro and they brought a passenger on. They did not refuel. And they were there for about a half an hour.

We are going to be continuing our investigative work, interviewing witnesses, gathering records, looking at maintenance and other information. There may be parts that will be washing up and some citizens may have information that would be helpful to the investigation, such as video or still photos that they can provide.

And I will let the mayor communicate to you all how to provide that information to us.

We've just arrived on scene. We're beginning the factual work. We will have an organizational meeting tomorrow morning. At that organizational meeting we will establish the parties to our investigation and we will continue our work.

As additional factual information is put together, we will provide factual briefings to you all and we will announce those. I would not expect that we will have another briefing until tomorrow.

And once we have an opportunity to see what our investigators have found tonight, then we'll put some more information together for you tomorrow.

Again, our condolences go out to all of those who have lost loved ones. I think the mayor would like to say something, then I'll take questions -- Mayor.

MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER, HOBOKEN: My name is Dawn Zimmer, I'm the mayor of Hoboken. And on behalf of Hoboken, again, I would like to express my condolences to the family members and the friends of the victims in this tragedy.

Again, Hoboken is going to do everything that we can, working with the local authorities to help the NTSB with this investigation. And so we, through the police, will be taking calls from members of the public. Again, if any debris comes up, please, one, do not touch it. Please call 201-420-2100. Again, 201-420-2100. And we'll work with our local police and NTSB to recover that debris.

So we ask for your cooperation in that matter. Thank you.

QUESTION: Has the black box been found?

HERSMAN: The question was, have any black boxes been found? The NTSB does not expect to recover any specific recording devices like cockpit voice recorders or flight data recorders because they are not required on aircraft of this size.

However it is possible that we might find some nonvolatile memory on board the aircraft, if it was not damaged, this could be from some of the displays, GPS equipment, things like that. We don't know if they would have been damaged in the collision or if they might have been water damaged, and we will not know whether there's any data that might be usable to us until those aircraft are recovered and examined.

We do expect to have some information that we could use from air traffic control radar data and other sources, even if we do not recover the black box -- even if we do not recover any recording device or an aircraft does not have a black box, the NTSB can still determine the cause of the accident and that's what we're here to do.


HERSMAN: The question was: Is there any required separation between two aircraft in airspace like this?

One of the things that the NTSB will be looking at is exactly where these aircraft were located at time of the collision. This is a VFR corridor, that means visual flight rules prevail. You are supposed to be alert and see and avoid other aircraft in the vicinity. We will need to look at air traffic control information to see what kind of communications and the location and altitude of these aircraft.

QUESTION: Have you located the plane yet?

HERSMAN: The question was, has the plane been located yet?

I mentioned that the helicopter had been located today. They've placed buoys near that location so that they can pull it up, hopefully tomorrow, or when circumstances can permit. They are using the side- scanning sonar to try to locate the airplane.

Due to the currents and some of the challenging conditions on the river today, they did not mark the location of the plane, but I think that they are coming back with some promising returns and they will continue to look tomorrow.

QUESTION: Which aircraft did the bodies come from? You mentioned three bodies were recovered from the plane or the helicopter, do you know? HERSMAN: The question was, the three bodies that were recovered, which aircraft did they come from?

I do not know the answer to that question yet. We will have to look for positive ID for those victims and then that will be determined.

QUESTION: Do you have any estimation how high these planes -- the aircraft were when they collided with each other?

HERSMAN: The question was, is do we have an estimate on the altitude of the two aircrafts when they collided?

At this point in time, I do not have that information. We will need to verify that information with air traffic control radar returns and other sources of information. I expect that we could provide that information to you tomorrow once our team completes some of the work that they are doing this evening.

QUESTION: Where did the plane take off from originally?

HERSMAN: The question was, where did the plane take off from originally?

The aircraft, I believe, was registered in Pennsylvania, but we will have to look and see if we have flight plans, both where the aircraft originated and what the final destination was.

And that again, is information we believe we could provide to you tomorrow.


HERSMAN: The question was: Do you have any information about any distress calls being made?

At this time, I have not been made aware of any distress calls. But again, we have a team right now at Teterboro tower reviewing air traffic control communications and tapes.

I'll take one more question.

QUESTION: Will the divers be back in the water tomorrow? What happens at 7:00 a.m.?

HERSMAN: The question was: Will divers be back in the water tomorrow? And I have been advised I was sitting in on a briefing this evening, they plan to get back in the water tomorrow. I think that they are going to be looking closely at some expert information on the currents and the tides and the best time to potentially raise the equipment that -- the wreckage that's in the water.

The divers will be getting in, I've been advised that conditions were very difficult. The visibility was no more than two or three feet today. They will continue to work expeditiously both on the recovery operations, which is the first priority, and removal of the wreckage.

Thank you all very much. We will provide additional factual briefings when we have more information. Good evening.


LEMON: All right. NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman heading the press conference there, the briefing in Hoboken, New Jersey. The interesting thing that she said was there was an off-duty pilot at the 34th Street Heliport who happened to look up -- 30th Street, I should say, 30th Street Heliport, and he saw the plane approaching. I want to bring in John Wiley, who is an aviation expert, a pilot here.

What does that tell you? She said that the pilot radioed -- the off-duty pilot on the ground who was refueling, radioed the helicopter and said, you've got a fixed wing coming up on you. What does that say to you?

JOHN WILEY, FORMER AIRBUS PILOT: Well, the thing that surprised me is that they said that the right wing struck the helicopter first. So if you've got the helicopter here, this airplane is coming up, I originally thought that it was going to be the left wing.

But with the airplane coming up in this position here and striking the right wing, separating the right wing, taking the rotor off of the helicopter, the guy in the fixed wing probably never saw the helicopter, he's coming up from behind the helicopter. His friend tried to radio and call him.

The guy in the helicopter didn't see the guy either. So see and avoid, you can't avoid what you don't see.

LEMON: Boy, oh boy. And also, just from that press conference, they're saying that the aircraft, the airplane, is registered in Pennsylvania, that they believe Teterboro was just a stopover to pick someone up, they didn't refuel, and then they went back up to Teterboro and then went south down the Hudson River from -- down the Hudson River and then once they got to the 40th -- down to the pier, 40th Street Pier -- or the -- what was it, 40th Street Pier, yes, that's when the collision happened.

But then the helicopter took off, they said from 30th Street, and then went over the city and then went south down the river as well. So possibly when all of this is happening, as you said, they didn't see each other.

They did find in this briefing the helicopter and they said they put some buoys around it to sort of -- but they won't bring it up tonight because of the visibility.

WILEY: No, no. They've called off the search. They've called off all efforts. They'll resume at 7:00 a.m. This is still going to be difficult. I mean, this is the Hudson that is going to have currents that we saw that created problems for them in the recovery of USAir 1549. This is not going to be easy. LEMON: And I hate to say a freak accident, but it's certainly unusual. You said this is -- usually accidents are oddities. But when you're looking at the windshield through an airplane, I mean, for him it would have to just be -- all be the circumstances...

WILEY: Unique?


LEMON: Yes. Because if you're in that plane and you can see above and you happen to be rising to a certain altitude and you've got this other aircraft coming that's in your blind spot, I mean, it's just -- you know, it's amazing.

WILEY: And we're talking about, as we mentioned a little bit earlier, you take off a minute earlier, you take off a minute later, this accident doesn't occur. It's just an incredibly unique set of variables that come together and produce a tragedy.

LEMON: Again, and I should point out, too, when we said the off- duty pilot who was refueling said, you've got a fixed wing on your tail, no response.

WILEY: No time. No time. I mean, the accident occurs.

LEMON: Do you think the airplane was going that fast, do you believe, at that point? I mean, if he had time to see it, I mean, it would appear that it's not going that fast.

WILEY: Well, I mean, when you're out driving, all you have to do for just a split second is not see the guy in the lane behind you, the next thing you know, you've got bent metal and broken glass.

LEMON: All right. And again, I just want to reiterate here that this is still very early on in this investigation. And what we're hearing from the National Transportation Safety Board is really preliminary things that they have found out since arriving there at about 5:00 today.

And they're trying to figure out exactly what's going on. They have a huge team that is on the ground that have descended on the ground there in Manhattan there -- and also in New Jersey where they held the press conference.

And they described exactly what they have found in the water and they did say that it was very promising looking for the airplane. They believe that they'll find the airplane soon, but it depends on the condition in the Hudson River as to how much further they can go, using that side sonar, how much longer they're going to be out there tonight.

They pulled the divers in and for the most part, they've taken operation out. But also, the river conditions tomorrow will determine when they bring the helicopter up and when they continue to look for the aircraft. Again, three bodies have been found. One of them a child. Two of them, adults. Very sad story. 10:00 Eastern, we'll follow the very latest for you on this breaking news story, including other news on CNN. We're going to get back now to "WITNESS TO WAR."



ABAWI: The Afghan people are tired. They're exhausted. This perception that the Afghan people are used to war, that that's their life, that that's their history? They're normal people. You have to see them as human beings.

No one enjoys 30 years of war. No one enjoys watching their kids starve to death. No one enjoys thinking that they could die at any moment. The next turn, there could be a suicide bomber.

WATSON: I find Afghans are really wise because they've dealt with a quarter century of war and they've heard every promise and lie from every different kind of politician possible, spouting every different kind of ideology possible.

And they're really clever at figuring out where the truth lies. Afghans, the majority of them may be illiterate, but they're not gullible.

GRANT: And right now they'll take salvation where they can find it. If it comes from the U.S., it comes from the U.S. If it comes from within Afghanistan, if it comes from movements within Islam, peace is what people want.

If someone can deliver peace, they'll happily latch onto it. That's the message we get time and time again from people. They just want a break. They've had enough.

ROBERTSON: Most Afghans absolutely want war finished. They want a peaceful life. They want to get on with their lives. And that alone should tell the international community that peace can be achievable, quickly.

SAYAH: In the time that I've lived in Pakistan, the overwhelming majority of people that I've met are kind, generous, peace-loving, moderate people.

They are not extremists. They are not fundamentalists. They don't believe in killing anybody for a cause. They're not suicide bombers. And I think it's important for the world to know that because that gives a sense of hope.

The suicide bombers, the extremists are a minority. But unfortunately, they are capable of making a lot of noise. Suicide bombs get attention. They make headlines.

GRANT: When people talk about the future here, it's hard for them to look beyond the past. The past is what dominates people's lives in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They've lived through war, particularly here in Afghanistan, 30 years of war. It's very difficult to imagine a future.

ROBERTSON: Until we have security here, the world cannot afford to take its eye off what happens here, and it cannot afford not to work for peace. The international community has to bring stability here. It has to keep an eye on what's happening.

GRANT: But we need to be very, very concerned that we don't create another generation of hate, another generation of insurgents. This is a fine line we're walking now.

It's a very, very fine line. There is a strong sense of anti- Americanism amongst many people here. The Taliban feeds off that, al Qaeda feeds off that.

Of course the terror that is hatched here, we can see transported. We can see carried out elsewhere. And that is a big concern for the rest of the world.

WARE: And in many ways, it's in the West's national interests to see these issues resolved. And in many ways, it's just the right thing to do.

WATSON: And there are efforts under way where people are paying with their lives and millions and millions and billions of dollars to try to stem this growing tide. And they've failed so far because the Taliban insurgents are still there.

ABAWI: I believe that certain generations are lost. My generation, the generation older than me, they're lost in Afghanistan. They've grown up with a mindset of war, with survival of the fittest. You have to focus on the younger generation. They're the ones that can improve Afghanistan.