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America's New War: Reacting to a National Crisis

Aired September 15, 2001 - 19:19   ET


MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG, I'm Mark Shields with the full CAPITAL GANG -- Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson. Partisanship was laid aside as President Bush and Congress quickly doubled the $20 billion emergency appropriation.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I particularly want to thank the president and the staff of the White House, the OMB, who understood our request.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: We could quibble for days, or for weeks. We could argue the legalisms, we could parse over every word, but the Senate united, like I have never seen it before, chose not to do that.


SHIELDS: And in the House late last night, emergency aid for the stressed airlines was blocked by the objection of Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas.


REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D), TEXAS: Tonight, before all the bodies are removed, before the dust is settled, before perhaps all the fires are extinguished, there are those that are lining up here at the Capitol door at the public treasury, asking that they receive some public subsidy, right out of the Social Security fund.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have airline industry on the verge of collapse. And if we don't lay down a mark in the sand and say, yes, we are willing, because of action of our government, back up those airline industries for the loss of moneys, they will start going down.


SHIELDS: Tougher security was imposed in the nation's capital and at airports.


NORMAN MINETA, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We will discontinue curbside check-in at the airport, and passengers will be required to go to the ticket counters to check in.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are a free people. And the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, it's to alter behavior. And to the extent free people have to alter their behavior, they are no longer free.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, is our freedom being curtailed?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Yes, it is. And it isn't a question of making sacrifice. I don't understand how abolishing airport check-ins at the curbside hurts the terrorists at all. I don't understand how closing down Reagan Airport, National Airport perhaps permanently hurts the terrorists at all. I don't understand how make life more difficult for Americans enables us to win this war.

But there's something more important than that, and that's the economy. We are not producing any automobiles in this country right now, because you can't get the air bags, which are all made in Europe, to come in. They are no automobiles being made. And I really believe that it isn't a question of a greedy airline. It is these airlines, which are vital to American economy, may go under! And it's just outrageous to talk about this nonsense about a Social Security fund as a reason for not bailing them out.

SHIELDS: Margaret, in the rubble of Tuesday, what other casualties do you see?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: We have lost a few other things than our economic health. There was a looming recession anyway. Three hundred and fifty firefighters, those people who run back into burning buildings, and not away from them, and 50 policemen. Any sense of safety or certainty, 5,000 people non-found today.

And we proceed without any sense that it's over. And I think the freedoms -- that some freedoms we are going to have to get up. Pennsylvania Avenue is never going to be reopened now. It's the cost of trying to deal with that. Bob is right, curbside check-in isn't going to do much, and airport security -- it's like a cliche of journalism, to get onto the tarmac.

But Bush said today, he let the word out that he wants the football games and the baseball games to come back and to play as soon as possible, because he does want the world to go on. And for, as Rumsfeld said, as not to be giving into terrorists by not living life.


KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": But we have been endlessly told, Mark, in a distant time, you are more likely to be hit by lightning than you are to be killed by a terrorist. Well, I don't have a friend who I have ever lost through a lightning strike, but I have a dear friend who a terrorist has now murdered, and there are thousands of Americans who have now had that same experience -- dear friends and family murdered by terrorists. So that is one you won't be hearing any longer.

And it struck in America, in a way none of us could have ever expected. As a result, in some part, perhaps, to a colossal intelligence failure, one of the things, Mark, that obviously people are going to be looking into in the weeks ahead. I don't know if there is an institutional problem with our intelligence services, whether or not the liberals have so stymied them in the kinds of methods they can use. Is it a lack of resources, although they get $30 billion a year?

But that's just one of the many things that Americans are going to be asking, I think, when they begin getting over the shock and heartbreak of this week.


AL HUNT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Mark, I think you have to make a distinction between inconvenience and maybe even impositions and basic infringements, and I think that's what we have to be very careful about over the next couple of months.

I think air -- making airline travel harder, tougher, longer in this country is an imposition. I don't like it, but so be it. We are going to have to be El Al. If we are going to have a war on terrorism, it really requires a war, and we are going to have to do that, and people -- it's going to be inconvenient.

What is the real issue and not just a matter of convenience is things like more wire tapping, you know. What kind of infringements are we going to have on Americans? And I think that's a very real issue. Finally, I would say, Bob, you may be right about the airlines, I don't know. But darn it, the House of Representatives shouldn't pass that in 34 minutes. If we are going to be handing out multibillion dollar bail-outs, let's have hearings, let's talk about it, let's act on it.

God bless Lloyd Doggett, he was right.

NOVAK: I think he was very wrong. I think this was only an authorization, it wasn't an appropriation. No money came out, but it would give a boost to them to start operating again. I think Continental Airlines could go under because of this, and I really believe that if have a meltdown of the great American economy because of these bloody terrorists -- of course Margaret, we mourn these brave firemen and policemen, but if they have succeeded -- they have succeeded if they bring this economy to its knees, and I think we are in a very dangerous position right now, where we have for security reasons closed down the airline industry.

SHIELDS: Let me just get this straight. The economy was in trouble heading into heading into Tuesday.

NOVAK: Not this kind of trouble.

SHIELDS: But I mean, it's hard to accept that five days of the economy stopping is somehow going to tip it over, and what it basically turns out now politically is -- it becomes that it's not George Bush's economy, it -- it -- not the Republicans' economy or anybody else's economy, it's the terrorists' economy, and therefore they are the ones you can run again.

NOVAK: But we are not talking about running, Mark! For once, let's not talk about running in the election, let's talk about the American economy and whether this is a great victory for the terrorists who hate capitalism and hate this country.

SHIELDS: Bob, I'm sorry, I mean -- the idea that this is the capitalist failure brought on by the terrorists' act is hard to believe. Do you accept that, Al?

HUNT: No, I don't. I don't think these were people who hate modern life. I mean, it -- they hate women to have rights, they hate democracy, they hate all sorts of things, and the fact that we are a capitalist society just made it more convenient.

O'BEIRNE: We are the object of this murderous hate because we are powerful, because we are rich, because we are modern, because we are Christian, because we are good, as President Bush said this week. That's why we are the object of this.

HUNT: And because we support the right of the state of Israel to exist.

O'BEIRNE: Right.

SHIELDS: On the day of the terrorist attack, President Bush issued a warning to Afghanistan for playing host to terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.


SHIELDS: Elaborated today.


BUSH: They will try to hide, they will try to avoid the United States and our allies, but we are not going to let them.


SHIELDS: The U.S. government came close to identifying Osama bin Laden as the guilty party.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have not yet identified Osama bin Laden as the direct perpetrator, but the evidence -- we have a lot of evidence, it's mounting, which will allow us to determine in the near future who it is. But he certainly is the leader of that kind of organization.


SHIELDS: Meanwhile, members of Congress assailed the CIA for another intelligence failure.

Margaret Carlson, is President Bush ready to attack Afghanistan?

CARLSON: Mark, he is ready, as we all are, but he is probably not able at this moment, other than perhaps to drop a few feel-good bombs, because it's not going to be easy. It's going to require ground troops, and it's going to require alliances that we don't yet have.

The one thing he said this week, which sets up what has to happen is if you are not with us, you are against us, there is no middle ground now, and you know, Pakistan is going to have to become the 51st state, or we are going to treat it as Osama bin Laden's stand, and they are going to be our enemy as well.

But to get these alliances so that we can get into Afghanistan and root him out is going to take things we are not good at. That terrain, and how he is hidden and how that network operates, as someone said, is a general's nightmare and a guerrilla's dream.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Well, Afghanistan should maybe be made to find him and turn him over to us. I think he -- the president was exactly right, and I think it is exactly what -- the way the public now views this, and the early signs our allies certainly agree. You are either with us or against us on this one.

And so, I think we can expect and deserve the kind of cooperation he is going to need. Certainly, it's not going to be easy, but look, in the past we have fought terrorism, and we have had a war against terrorism, in case you haven't noticed, for years now, with lawsuits and resolutions and diplomacy. And the polls tell us -- and I'm not surprised to see it, that the public is 100 percent practically in favor of a massive military response to this attack on us.

SHIELDS: A massive military response, Bob, but I mean, come back to what Margaret said, you are talking about troops on the ground, you are talking about occupation, you are not talking about some -- 30,000 feet above, 10 miles away interceptically.

NOVAK: Let's try to put this in perspective.


NOVAK: After all the talk that has gone on all this week, I will bet you there are no terrorist leaders in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. I think they've cleared out of their terrorist camps. Where they are, we don't know. Do we send in the 101st airborne? Ask the Soviets. Soviets, not as good as we are, I guess, but they're a pretty good army. They got creamed. Ask the British, a long time ago they got creamed in Afghanistan.

This is not a conventional army like the Iraqis; this is a guerrilla army. Just what do we do? The American peoples are desperate for action. Let's do something -- let's knock them. But when what do we do? It is not like getting the Iraqis to move out of Kuwait.


HUNT: I think Bob is too pessimistic. I think we may do something quickly, sort of like a do-little raid when we raided Tokyo six months after -- whatever it was after Pearl Harbor. That won't be much.

But I think we can -- if the Taliban won't turn over Osama bin Laden, I think we'll go get him. And I think we'll send the Delta team in there and I think we will get him. And I think we'll get him dead or alive, and more likely the former. And that will be a great victory. We're not trying to occupy Afghanistan; it's different than what the Soviets did in 1979.

It won't be the end of this, Mark; it's only the beginning. This will go on. This is a long-term, protracted issue. And I think one of the ultimate goals of this administration, at least major people in this administration, is not to get Osama bin Laden, but to get Saddam Hussein. And that's what's going to become the big picture item here.

SHIELDS: Bob made the point about what do you do, and the desire for action. There is -- I mean, revenge is in the air, there's no question about it. I mean, in every measurement public attitudes -- and I've never seen it as high. I mean, that sense of vengeance. How long will that survive?

I mean, just from your own experience and your own analysis, how long is that -- does it have a shelf life of a month, six months or a year?

CARLSON: Well until last week, as a matter of principle this country was willing to commit no ground troops, it seemed, for any reason. A body bag was unacceptable.

SHIELDS: Is that over?

CARLSON: I don't think it is over. And I think the tolerance is much higher now. I do think you're going to have to have some successes, however, and not get, you know, mired in a country where, as Bob says, neither the Soviets nor the British were able to succeed.

But I agree with Al, I think we are going to be able to get him. What we're not going to be able to do is to get the whole network. This is going to be very difficult.

HUNT: This is going to involve -- you know, we're talking about years, we're not talking about months. We're talking about the loss of a lot of American lives in this over the long-run...

NOVAK: Where are we going to lose them?

HUNT: In Afghanistan; in the Middle East.

NOVAK: We send an expeditionary force to Afghanistan?

HUNT: Bob, if we're going to have a war on terrorism, you have to get them and you have to kill them. You don't have any other choice. Now, if you want to say -- if you want to stop it -- but if you do that, there are going to be tremendous casualties, and there are going to be retaliations.

O'BEIRNE: Mark, I'm not a military planner, so I'm not exactly sure what our military planners spent much of today planning. I do know this though: I do think that the people who think that the American public will not stand for casualties really exaggerate the American public concern.

Polls showed, Bob, during the Persian Gulf War -- people were being told constantly that that war was going to cost us thousands of body bags. It, thank God, didn't. But the American public still, if they know it is in our interests -- and boy after Tuesday -- defending America from future attacks like this, there is every reason to believe the American public will have, I think, a realistic view of what the cost could be.

NOVAK: That isn't the point. The point is -- I think the American people ought to be willing to suffer, to have their sons and daughters killed for a cause they believe in.

But where do they go? That's what I'd like to know. In the 19th century when the British avenged Chinese Gordon in the Sudan they knew -- it took them years to get ready, but knew where to go; they went into the Sudan. They don't know where to go now.

HUNT: There's no place easy we're going to go, whether it's Afghanistan...

NOVAK: Where? Tell me where!


HUNT: ... it's going to be awful, Bob. But you can't -- but if you're going to root out terrorism...

NOVAK: You still haven't answered the question.

HUNT: Well, I did give you a couple answers, Bob.

But if you're going to root out terrorism, you don't do it by sitting in Washington.

NOVAK: A lot of them are in New Jersey...

O'BEIRNE: Then we'll go there. SHIELDS: All right.

President Bush did spent much of Tuesday traveling to military installations. He arrived back in Washington that night to address the nation.


BUSH: These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat.


SHIELDS: Two days later he was using the word "war."


BUSH: My resolve is steady and strong about winning this war that has been declared on America.


SHIELDS: On Friday he addressed a prayer service at the National Cathedral.


BUSH: This conflict was begun on the timing in terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.


SHIELDS: When he went to New York later in the day, workers at the World Trade Center said they could not hear the president over his bullhorn.


BUSH: I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.


SHIELDS: Kate, how did George W. Bush handle his first really big crisis of his presidency?

O'BEIRNE: Mark, I think he began the week fine, and I think he ended the week in a really strong position -- performing even better. I think he completely filled the suit of that office on Friday. I think his speech at the National Cathedral was very effective, and a difficult kind of speech to do. And I didn't see him more comfortable all week than in lower Manhattan with those rescue workers, where he just seemed utterly comfortable, talking with those brave individuals.

So I think he came through, and the polls certainly seem to indicate the public overwhelmingly agrees. I think he came through the week in a really strong position.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, the president's polls are stratospheric. The question -- does it -- is it a rally to the flag, and the president is the flag at this point? How strong and reassuring was he earlier in the week, did you think?

HUNT: We, of course the polls reflect the rallying around him. You know, the same thing happened with his dad back in 1991. I don't quite agree with Kate. I think he showed what we already knew: that he's not a Reagan, that he's not a Roosevelt and he's never going to be.

But I'll tell you something, Mark: A year from now if we have done away with Osama bin Laden, we have terrorism on the run, he's kept together a very important international coalition, doesn't matter how he did this week. And on the other hand, if terrorism has us on the run a year from now, it also doesn't matter how he did this week. He's going to be judged by deeds, not words.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: I think he was off to a shaky start in the first day, because if you listen to the security people, if you listen to the Secret Service, they'll never let you do anything. I don't think he...


SHIELDS: ... travel...

NOVAK: Flying around, going to Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. I don't think they would have even let him come that night. I know he wanted to come back immediately, but they said Air Force One was being threatened.

And that is the problem for any president. At the time of the Bay of Pigs -- I'm sorry, at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis they wanted Kennedy to go out to Camp David and he refused to do so. But I thought the president ended up very well.

But the American people really do gather around a president. And I think the "if" that Al mentioned -- if Osama bin Laden is in custody or killed...


NOVAK: ... killed, then he's a great hero. But this is an enormously high hurdle.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: You know, it helps that we're all rooting for him because you just kind of push him through those speeches and make it good because you want to feel -- we all want to feel reassured.

It was a bad beginning. I thought the phone call with Rudy Giuliani was particularly bad, not just because he was wandering around on the phone, but Rudy Giuliani had proved himself to be a great leader this week. And, I mean, somebody caught him Churchill in a Yankee cap. He was FDR in a fire jacket. He was everywhere, and he was in charge. And he gets to leave office on a grace note as a result of it.

NOVAK: He sure does.

CARLSON: But I agree with Kate; when to got to lower Manhattan and he was standing with his arm around the firefighter in the midst of the pipefitters and the steelworkers and the rescue workers, and thanked them for all of us, because they did keep the country together, he was at home among those heroes.

O'BEIRNE: All week he was totally authentic. And don't forget, he's president. Had he been governor of Texas, in like position as Rudy Giuliani, he might well have been operating differently.


SHIELDS: What a difference a week makes. A week ago the cover "TIME" magazine: "Whatever Happened to Colin Powell?" I think Colin Powell was seen. Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, seasoned team around him and all the rest of it. Where was Dick Cheney?


NOVAK: That was what I was going to say. The most humiliating thing about this week was on Thursday morning they sent the vice president to Camp David because they didn't want the president and the vice president together in Washington. Now that is another victory for terrorism. And we haven't heard of him because he's out for safekeeping in Camp David.

That is when you listen to the security people, you make bad decisions.


HUNT: ... I mean, I am so stunned that these people would do -- they are so experienced. I mean, I agree with you totally. But why does a Dick Cheney not say, no?

NOVAK: You disagree with me?

HUNT: No, I agree with you totally. I'm wondering...

SHIELDS: My question is: Where was he the first three days -- I mean why -- I mean, if you're looking for reassurance, which is what the country's looking for -- I mean Karen Hughes is not reassurance. I mean, she's a counselor to the president -- why wasn't the vice president speaking?

CARLSON: When Bush was in that bunker, Cheney should have been on TV at the White House. And his absence is mysterious.

NOVAK: That would have made the president look bad.

HUNT: That's exactly right.


HUNT: ... instrumental in all the deliberations, but I think...


NOVAK: He shouldn't be in Camp David now, though.

CARLSON: He should not be out of sight.

SHIELDS: I mean, I saw more of Paul Wolfowitz than I saw of him.

HUNT: I also want to add my voice to Don Rumsfeld, I thought behaved incredibly well at the Pentagon. He tended to the casualties over there, he was in charge, and I thought it was a very impressive performance.

SHIELDS: OK. Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Democratic Congressman Robert Matsui of California. Robert Matsui. Age: 59. Residence: Sacramento, California. Religion: Methodist. Graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the Hastings College of Law in California. Sacramento city council member for eight years, elected to the United States Congress in 1978.

Al Hunt sat down with Congressman Robert Matsui earlier this week.


HUNT: Congressman, after Pearl Harbor, Americans rallied around a great cause. The one sour note was the anti-Japanese American hysteria. As a child, you were interned in one of those infamous camps. Do you have any fears today that there is a similar reaction to Arab Americans?

REP. ROBERT MATSUI (D), CALIFORNIA: I don't think there is any question that we would never see an internment camp situation again. I think there are too many good Americans who have the history of what happened and would never let that happen, but a prelude to the internment camps right after Pearl Harbor, there was a lot of violence, there was a lot of vandalism against Japanese Americans' stores that had anything symbolizing Japan, like grocery stores that might have sold Japanese products, and there was a lot of race- baiting. We're seeing that now.

HUNT: We sure are. In Gary, Indiana, a gas station attendant who happens to be of Arab descent window shot out, 300 people marched down on mosque in Chicago. Jim Zogby, the head of the Arab League, says he is getting death threats.

MATSUI: It's a real dangerous situation. Thank goodness, President Bush, former President Clinton, all the major elected officials have been saying we need the temporary restraint. The danger is, of course, is the public out there, who may not be able to distinguish between somebody who happens to be an Arab American or a Muslim and what people perceive to be the terrorists.

HUNT: But you make a very interesting point about the political leaders, because back in 1942 it was Earl Warren and Franklin Roosevelt, two of the great liberal heroes who orchestrated the internment camps, and the Supreme Court, in what should have been unconstitutional at its face ruled six to three it was constitutional.

MATSUI: That's right, and that's why I think you would never see anything as extreme as the internment camp. But there are significant sporadic events of beatings of Arab Americans and vandalism of their property, and we need to speak out on this.

HUNT: Congressman, on the issue of ethnic profiling -- there are many calls for far more vigilance of people of Arab descent who are boarding airplanes, for instance. Is that legitimate?

MATSUI: I think it's always legitimate for a law enforcement tool that if a certain group, ethnic individuals has been accused of committing a crime, that you have got to look for that person, you've got to describe that person. But a random stopping of people, of Arab Americans, would be certainly intolerable, and that should be a violation of the constitution of the United States.

HUNT: The Bremer Commission report on terrorism last year recommended there be much more intense tracking of foreign students studying here in America, with a particular emphasis I think on Arab students, so the government would know, for example, if a student switched majors from English to physics. Should we do something like that?

MATSUI: No, and in fact I think that would be something that I would find to be somewhat intolerable. That's somewhat what happened to Japanese Americans. So, there was a belief -- you know, there was no espionage, there was no case of disloyalty among Japanese Americans, but there was a belief that Japanese Americans would be loyal to Japan, and so basically the profile all 120,000 Japanese Americans that happened to live in the United States.

My mother and father, they were in their early 20s, and I was six months old, and there is no way that I was a security risk, nor were my parents. I mean, they were both born in Sacramento, California, actually. And there is -- they lost everything.

And the real fear I have is that when you are attacked like this in a time of international crisis, when your country is being threatened, there is an issue of questioning one's loyalty. And when one is branded a potential enemy to one's country, I think that has some deep implications. It's a scar that really near heals.

When I hear Pearl Harbor, as some were relating the last few days to Pearl Harbor, it made me shudder somewhat, even though I had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor, I was six months old -- three month old when Pearl Harbor happened.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, do you share Congressman Bob Matsui's stated concerns that Arab Americans are in for really a tough time legally and constitutionally?

HUNT: Unfortunately -- and socially.

SHIELDS: Socially.

HUNT: I do, Mark. Bob Matsui is a product of one the most disgraceful chapters in American history. He was six months old, he was thrown into an internment camp, solely because he was a Japanese American. Didn't get out until he was 4 1/2.

And I think that is not going to happen today to Arab Americans, but we hear about Arab American gas station owners being -- their windows being shot out, people storming mosques, hate crimes being threatened. I think that is a real -- there are four million Arab Americans, and they are very loyal, patriotic people.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Well, for one of few times, I have to agree 100 percent with my colleague, Mr. Hunt. It worries me very much, and there is a -- there is a deeper problem, is that when all of us will get on planes again, soon, and we walked in a plane and we see an Arab American on the plane, how do we feel? Do we feel, oh, my God, this is it -- and that is racial profiling not by the government, but by the individual citizen, and I'm afraid it's unavoidable.

O'BEIRNE: Let me just say -- speak up in favor of some profiling, because I think some profiling is in order. I do not believe American's civil liberties will be jeopardized, of any origin including Arab Americans, if we profiled foreign nationals in this country. That's what we are talking about. These were foreign nationals.

And in reaction to this, airports and security guards are going to act as though Suzie Applegate getting on a flight with a car seat and a baby stroller is as likely to be a murderous lunatic as the guy behind her in line who is a foreign national on a passport from Syria. And that shouldn't happen to American citizens, when there are things we know about the kind of people who perpetuated this. And they are not Americans, they are not citizens of this country, and they ought to be watched more closely.

CARLSON: You know, the way we can reduce our own internal profiling, which we do if we get on an airplane, is if someone else is doing some of what Kate says. The FBI only had two of those hijackers in their sights, and one of them was bragging at a strip joint in Florida the night before he flew that plane into the Twin Towers, into the World Trade Center, that there was going to be blood flowing the next day, and he was giving chapter and verse, and no one knew about it.

So, the FBI is going to have to do a better job here, but we are not -- we are not a country that would intern anybody these days.


HUNT: ... down that road of racial profiling. After Oklahoma City, should we racially profile young, right-wing Christian men because they are members of militia? They blew up Oklahoma City!

O'BEIRNE: Oh, please! I'm talking about foreign nationals traveling from countries with a track record of producing these kinds of people.


HUNT: ... militia types, we don't want to racially profile them.

NOVAK: But it's going to make a very unhappy time for a lot of innocent -- not foreign nationals, but Arab Americans...


SHIELDS: But I will say one thing, when the Shields came to this country they were foreign nationals too, and...

O'BEIRNE: These people are not seeking citizenship, Mark! They are not seeking citizenship!

SHIELDS: But a lot of Arab Americans are.


O'BEIRNE: ... they are American citizens.

SHIELDS: And we're back to Margaret's point of specifically following those who are identified as troublemakers.

"Beyond the Beltway" looks at the reaction of the terrorist attack on America by the Arab world and Islam. The Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington described his conversation with senior U.S. officials.


PRINCE BANDAR AL-SAUD, SAUDI ARABIAN AMBASSADOR: We offered full support fighting terrorism and cooperation with all other friends around the world to help expose those perpetrators.


SHIELDS: But the Taliban leaders in Afghanistan issued a warning.


SOHAJL SHAHEEN, TALIBAN SPOKESMAN: If neighboring original countries, particularly Islamic countries, gave a positive response to American demand for military bases, it would spark off extraordinary danger. Similarly, if any neighboring country gave (UNINTELLIGIBLE) way or airspace to USA against our land, it would draw us into an imposed war.


SHIELDS: Joining us now from London is CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

Thank you for coming in at this late hour Christiane.


SHIELDS: Thank you.

Tell us: Can the Saudis and the Pakistanis -- can they stand up to the pressure from the Taliban?

AMANPOUR: Yes, well most military analysts don't give the Taliban any chance at all as a military force against any of those countries, against any of its neighbors. What those countries are more concerned about is political pressure from Muslims in their own countries, both in Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia there are you know, extremist Islamic groups who have constantly been putting pressure throughout the years on their political leadership. So that's the bigger concern.

But I think you'll find that both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will do pretty much as much as that I can to exceed to what the United States has asked for. They may sort of look for sort of wiggle clauses in public, for public opinion, not wanting their public to know exactly the extent of what they're doing, but nonetheless cooperating as, for instance, Saudi Arabia has not only in the Gulf War, but in the years that have followed, with U.S. military bases and military action in the Middle East since then.

And the United Arab Emirates, which is the only other country that recognizes the Taliban, has today said that it is reviewing its relationship with that militia.

SHIELDS: Now just one question further, and that is if, in fact, the United States did initiate military action against the home office of the Taliban, is enough indigenous Taliban support, sympathizers, ideological kindred souls in Saudi Arabia to threaten destabilization there?

AMANPOUR: Well it's hard to tell, because it's not really the Taliban that have the support in any of these countries. It's more the people who are around Osama bin Laden. He basically has what you might term as a foreign legion of supporters in Afghanistan -- people who have come throughout the Soviet occupation from Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, all sorts of Muslim countries. And those are the people who are the ones that have gone back to their countries, and to other countries as far afield as Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir and sort of taken the Islamic struggle.

So it's more those kind of people rather than the indigenous Afghanis.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Christiane, do I gather that you are optimistic about the ability of President Bush to put together the same kind of coalition that his father formed?

AMANPOUR: Well, I'm not optimistic or pessimistic. I'm just looking at what is coming out of the capitals since President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell have been talking about this coalition. And it is, so far, very much in terms of rhetoric, at least, almost unanimous support.

And I've been looking through a country list of those who have been pledging support -- political support, military support. There seems to be an overwhelming desire to help the United States. I think that it will be, in terms of action, a different action than what the first President Bush had to do.

I don't believe that people are thinking about a full scale, you know, military invasion of Afghanistan, I think there will probably be military action. But I think it will require, according to what foreign leaders are saying right now, a much more sophisticated and sustained country-by-country almost detective and financial, and all sorts of, you know, multi-pronged efforts to, you know, take the head off what they call this terrorist monster.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Christiane, I'm wondering if the assassination of Massoud was connected in any way to the recent -- to the hijackers attacking America, and whether there's any chance of overcoming the Taliban in Afghanistan now that he's gone?

AMANPOUR: Well, that is a really good question. I mean, you know, Ahmad Shah Massoud and the Northern Alliance controlled about 5 percent of the territory in the northeast part by the end of the day.

Basically, for a while those lines have been stable. Neither the Taliban could get that last remaining piece of territory, nor could the Northern Alliance push back in any significant fashion. There were only very small shifts of the balance of power there.

Did his assassination have anything to do with it? I just don't know. But certainly they're saying that the people who did that were perhaps Algerians who had come and got visas, apparently, through the Pakistan embassy in London and gone out and posed as journalists, and done what they did.

And it's certainly going to take away a huge, basically, military planning and the leadership of the Northern Alliance because Ahmad Shah Massoud is not only the charismatic leader of the resistance to the Taliban, but really known as the local mastermind and architect of the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan. I mean, he was considered, really, a formidable foe.

SHIELDS: OK. Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Christiane, about our European allies: This week a French editorial writer told fellow countrymen "we are all Americans." How long is that welcome solidarity likely to last?

AMANPOUR: Well, I think that -- the thing that I have been most bowled over by is the extent to which there has been solidarity, not just sympathy and shock, which is almost universal around the world, but solidarity. And it has been demonstrated in a way that should make those people who didn't know that they are almost entirely isolated, because it's not just Europe, it is -- all the mainstream Muslim communities in the Middle East have come out and said that this is against Islam. In Iran, an unprecedented joint declaration by the hard-liners and reformers condemning this, and there was even a moment of silence at a football match there. In Russia, in Yemen, in all the places, the most unusual suspects, if you like, have condemned this.

In Europe, I think there are very conscious that this is not just an American problem. Yes, the attack was directed at America, and make no mistake about it. But there are also extremist groups operating in Europe, threatening the European capitals and threatening the stability there. And they know that this is something that they have to get to grips with.

HUNT: Christiane, how central is Osama bin Laden to this terrorist network? If when eliminated, would it be the beginning of the end of the international terrorist network, or would there just be many others to fill the void?

AMANPOUR: Well, experts say that it probably wouldn't end it completely, but it would do a lot to disrupt it. And disrupting is very important. And that it would take more than just eliminating one person. It would have to be eliminating the ability of his key lieutenants and aides and that sort of top level of that structure.

And they believe that if they can disrupt it enough, they can at least buy some time while they try to do what they've said that they want to do, and that is conduct a sustained campaign against this, which is going to really have to be waged at every level. It is exceptionally complicated when it comes to financial support, the ability to forge travel documents, which is apparently quite easy in some European countries. I mean, there are so many elements to this that the leaders say require really sustained and multi-pronged effort.

SHIELDS: Christiane Amanpour, thank you so much for your contributions, for your insight, and just for your all-around perceptions and perspective. Thank you very much.

And now it's time for us for the "Outrage of the Week."

This week we saw the face of heroism in New York City. At last count 265 New York firefighters were missing and presumed dead. These were the brave who chose to risk, and ultimately to lose their lives to save the lives of strangers they had never met. In an hour of maximum peril each firefighters was truly the captain of his own soul. Let it be noted that each was also a public employee. This week we also saw the ugly underside of the private sector. When all flights were canceled Tuesday the Sheraton at New York's JFK Airport immediately doubled its room rates. Profit and greed were sadly written in blood and tears.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: In yesterday's "Boston Herald," Democratic Congressman Marty Meehan was quoted as doubting that President Bush sought safety Tuesday for valid security reasons, quote: "I don't buy the notion Air Force One was a target. That's just PR. That's just spin," unquote.

That caused so much commotion that a police guard was posted outside the congressman's office. Meehan says he was misrepresented, but added that he regretted making the comments. And well he should. There finally comes a time when Bush bashing is not appropriate.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: TV evangelist Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have blamed Tuesday's attack on the segments of society who don't agree with their beliefs. These are: liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, gays, lesbians and pro-choice women. These people, they say, have turned God's anger against America. Quote: "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."

You'd hope that such talk would vanish in a week when sectarian hatred wreaked so much death and destruction in the name of religion.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: They're a disgrace, Margaret.

Mayor Giuliani has performed splendidly during the awful hours since Tuesday morning. The man who was born to be New York's mayor has comforted and inspired all Americans. The outrage? Term limits that prohibit this urban statesmen from seeking another term. New Yorkers who realized this week that Rudy is irreplaceable should be free to keep him in office.


HUNT: Mark, late this week Bush administration intelligence briefings to Congress were virtually meaningless. Members said they got more watching CNN. Now if the administration thinks there's a problem with leaks -- and there may well be -- they should punish the specific congressional offender. But if we're in a war, it's not the executive branch war: Congress better be an equal partner, or there will be hell to pay.

SHIELDS: That is all for the CAPITAL GANG. Ahead, more coverage of "America's New War." Thank you.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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