December 19, 2001
| TERENCE SMITH: Outside
the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, the first Taliban prisoners captured
in Tora Bora arrived at the recently constructed stockade at the Marine
Corps forward operating location known as Camp Rhino.
MAJOR CHRIS HUGHES, U.S. Marines: We have received 15 battlefield detainees; they will be safeguarded, provided food, water, shelter, medical care. They are free to practice their religion and to meet with representatives of the international committee of the Red Cross.
TERENCE SMITH: FBI Agents and CIA officers are on scene to conduct interrogations.
AGENT Tom KNOWLES, Senior Supervisory Agent, FBI: The detainees, while they are being held in accordance to the Geneva Convention and receiving all the treatments, we're still trying to decide who we want to talk to, who's got information, and we've got to figure out how we work by our laws over here under this particular matter.
TERENCE SMITH: As the FBI And CIA were arriving in the south, 12 members of U.S. Special Forces were leaving the North. They bade farewell to the Northern Alliance soldiers with whom they fought.
CAPTAIN MAR: I thank you for coming today. We have accomplished much together in our fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida.
TERENCE SMITH: At the Pentagon today, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, just back from a tour of the Afghan theater and a NATO meeting in Brussels, was asked about the status of the Taliban and al-Qaida fighters fleeing the Tora Bora region.
DONALD RUMSFELD: I think what's happened, basically, is that we have 100% of the problem people, and that exactly what I've said has happened. Some have been killed-- not a trivial number, a lot. Second, some have switched sides and joined the anti-Taliban, that some of the Taliban fighters have now become anti- Taliban. Third, some have just gone home, dropped their weapons-- these are Afghans-- and they've gone back to their villages and said "to heck with it. I'm not going to do anything." Some have just drifted away in the mountains and into the villages, and maybe they're laying in wait. And maybe they're going to cause mischief later. Maybe they still like the Taliban. The al-Qaida do not drift into the villages, particularly. They're still in some pockets. They're still fighting, in some cases. Some have gotten across borders. A lot have been killed. A good number has been captured most recently. And they are dangerous and armed and have more difficulty blending into the Afghan villages or mountains, because, in many cases, they don't know the language. In many cases, they just don't fit in. And in many cases, they're not wanted. Now, so it's all of those things that are happening, and we intend to pursue the al-Qaida who do leave the country and try to find them and try to stop them.
TERENCE SMITH: Rumsfeld was asked specifically about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.
DONALD RUMSFELD: He's either dug in some tunnel or he's alive. And if he's alive, he's either in Afghanistan or he isn't. And it does not matter. We'll find him one day, and we'll know what's happened.
REPORTER: Mr. Secretary...
DONALD RUMSFELD: And he is not the problem, the entire problem. The al-Qaida is the entire problem, and the other terrorist networks are the problem. So he is important. We're after him. We intend to find him. I believe we will, but we haven't.
REPORTER: And if he turns up somewhere thumbing his nose at you...
DONALD RUMSFELD: We will go see about that thumb.
TERENCE SMITH: As for possible havens for fleeing al-Qaida fighters, the secretary pointed to the border area between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, where the Yemeni government is pursuing suspected al-Qaida members.
DONALD RUMSFELD: There's a portion of Yemen that the government of Yemen has difficulties with. It has been known to be a haven for terrorists, and I suppose, criminals and various types of bad people, including al-Qaida. We have made it very clear, from... for a period of months, that if these people go somewhere else, we'll go find them. Therefore, if I were involved in a country that was a likely prospect for their next home-- and certainly that area is familiar to the al-Qaida, as they've lived in Somalia, they've been in Sudan; there are other places that they might logically go-- I would want to try to clean out that crowd, too. And apparently that's what happened.
TERENCE SMITH: Rumsfeld said that no U.S. forces were currently involved in the anti-terror efforts in Yemen. When asked about reports that the U.S. might expand the war against terror to Somalia, Rumsfeld replied "nonsense." 200 British troops, the vanguard of an anticipated 3,000 5,000 member United Nations peacekeeping force, prepared to move south to Kabul from Bagram air base today. The full force is not expected to be in place until January. U.S. troops are not scheduled to be part of the mission, but will support it logistically and with intelligence. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan sounded a cautionary note on the upcoming peacekeeping mission and the prospects for establishing a stable Afghan government.
KOFI ANNAN: When you start an operation like the one the U.N. is about to undertake in Afghanistan, a country that has been at war for over two decades, you do worry about getting the population to work together.
TERENCE SMITH: Meanwhile in Rome, Hamid Karzai, the interim Afghan leader, said he welcomed the peacekeepers. After meeting with the former king of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zaher Shah, Karzai spoke of his new responsibilities and of his duty under Islamic law.
HAMID KARZAI: The human rights is very much within the confines of Shar'ia. Shar'ia protects human rights.
REPORTER: What will be your first task when you get home?
HARMID KARZAI: Peace. Security.
TERENCE SMITH: To guarantee that security, Karzai said, Afghan forces would continue efforts to root out the remaining pockets of Taliban resistance.