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BETTY ANN BOWSER: Pentagon officials said today American warplanes continued to hit 85% of their targets as they pounded Taliban positions across Afghanistan. Overnight, some of the heaviest strikes were on the capitol city of Kabul since Operation Enduring Freedom began. (Gunfire) Near the airport, bursts of Taliban antiaircraft fire could be heard, as U.S. fighter jets were seen for the first time by daylight over the skies of Kabul. At the Pentagon in Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in spite of the five days of bombing the Taliban air defense is still a threat.
DONALD RUMSFELD: There are a lot of Stingers and a lot of man-portable surface-to-air missiles. There are still some SAM’s, some Surface-to-Air Missiles, of greater capability, and there are, as you have seen, a great deal of AAA. That is a fact, and we have been attempting to reduce that. We have also been attempting to reduce the ability of Taliban to fly by addressing the airports and by addressing their aircraft and helicopters and transport planes. They do have, as you know, some Migs there. Third, we have been going after military installations.
REPORTER: And also, there are reports that Pakistan is now permitting U.S. ground forces of some kind to be based there in Pakistan. Is that the case?
DONALD RUMSFELD: You will not hear Don Rumsfeld characterizing the way other countries are assisting us. It is for them to do it. In each case, they have… And when I say that, it should not either confirm or deny any element of any question one might ask, because it is going to be my answer. Our goal is to get the maximum help from countries all across this globe. And there is no question but the way to get maximum help is to let them characterize what it is they are doing for us. And I must say I am just delighted with the help we are getting from the region and from all across the world.
REPORTER: Are you fully encouraging the Northern Alliance to move in?
DONALD RUMSFELD: (pause) We certainly are encouraging the forces that are opposing Taliban to be successful. We are encouraging the forces within Taliban that are against al-Qaida to be bold. And our hope and effort is aimed at applying continuous pressure in that country, and elsewhere around the world, so that life becomes difficult for terrorists and difficult for people who harbor terrorists: The number of recruits go down, the people supporting them decline, the numbers of dollars available go down, and the cost of their doing business goes up.
REPORTER: Did I understand you… (Inaudible) …You dropped bombs on sites where bin Laden is suspected to have been experimenting with weapons of mass destruction– chemical, bio?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Needless to say, if we had intelligence that led us to believe that we had good coordinates on an area where any terrorists or Taliban or al-Qaida had been or are engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction, we certainly would wish to do something about it.
REPORTER: Rumsfeld also confirmed 5,000-pound bombs– so-called “bunker busters” — like these are being used against underground Taliban hideouts. At an afternoon press briefing, Pentagon officials showed before and after pictures of several attacks.
MAJOR GENERAL HENRY OSMAN, Joint Staff: Today we have several photos available to show you that would depict some of our efforts. First, I have a pre-strike image of the Mazar-e-Sharif division regiment headquarters. This garrison has troops, tanks, armored and support vehicles, as well as other facilities. Now, you note the building in the center and the one just up and to the right of it. These are maintenance buildings. Next is the post-strike damage to those facilities.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: The first videotape of a missile striking its target was also shown. Defense officials said the videotape was from a camera mounted on a fighter jet firing on a surface-to-air missile site.