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Transcript: The Taking of Tora Bora

This partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, December 10, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.    

Other guests and topics for December 10, 2001 included:
• Bret Baier: The first American to die fighting in Afghanistan receives full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery
• Geraldo Rivera: The battle for Tora Bora, Usama bin Laden's last stand
in Afghanistan, has been tough going
• David Lee Miller: The U.S. takes a preliminary step towards normalizing relations with Afghanistan
• Steve Centanni: There's been a dramatic changing of the guard in Kandahar
• Jennifer Griffin: Questions are being raised about whether Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is really in control
Order the complete transcript

BRIT HUME, HOST: The aerial pounding of those cave complexes in southern Afghanistan continues, with anti-Taliban forces finding the going rough and the Al Qaeda fighters dug in there, a determined enemy. Could this be the place where things could bog down? For some insight on that issue, we turn to retired Air Force general and Fox News military analyst, General Tom McInerney.

Nice to see you, sir.

LT. GEN. TOM MCINERNEY (RET), FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: Brit.

HUME: What do you think about that? Could this be the place where things start to go badly?

MCINERNEY: Could be. But I think it also will be the place where our technology will really make the difference. Under normal circumstances, we would bog down here. I think we can show that technology will make the difference.

Let's take a quick look at the screenwriter. I think we can get a real good feel for that. First of all, when you look at some of the this technology, we've got fighters we've got here, we've got bombers, we've got AC-130s that have got infrared. We've got 20-millimeter cannons on them.

HUME: Now, they're capable of pretty close in...

MCINERNEY: Very close in, very close in. We've got the special ops forces.

HUME: And they're principally engaged, from the look of that little icon, they look like they're engaged in pinpointing, targeting?

MCINERNEY: They're close in, Brit. They're really close in. In addition, we have some pavelow helicopters that have infrared, that can fly around at night. Geraldo may hear helicopters.

HUME: He was reporting earlier today that he was hearing — it was night over there. He was reporting hearing helicopters.

MCINERNEY: That's correct. And so those are probably Pavelows. And what's happening — they're using the JDAM to bring this all together. And all these assets...

HUME: That's a computer-guided bomb?

MCINERNEY: That's a computer-guided bomb. And it's very, very formidable. It is the real enabler of the difference, because it can hit these pinpoint targets within 10 meters, say, or even less than that. We had the stray one went, but we've had over 3,000 of them with a 99 percent accuracy on it.

HUME: What would you hit with those? Would you hit personnel? Do you hit cave entrances? What do you use that for?

MCINERNEY: You hit cave entrances, anything.

Let's take a look at a cave and see what a cave would do to us, and what we would do with the JDAM. First of all, you could put one right down the air shaft, or you could go to an area like this and put three, or four or five or six bombs there, simultaneously, so you get a very large explosion, if there a 2,000 or 5,000-pound bombs.

HUME: Now, would they be able to penetrate the covering earth there, and rock, blast through?

MCINERNEY: Yes, particularly when they go in there simultaneously. In addition, you could close the cave entrance ways right here, that we have the cave entrance here. So you have a whole host of the things that you can do with this new weapon. Not only could you do that, you could do lasers. But lasers, you can't drop 10 of them at once. This weapon you can. It is very formidable.

HUME: So, assuming then that we're able to do this kind of damage to the caves, to the hideouts, what does that then do? Force those people the fight in the open? Leaves them exposed and therefore vulnerable?

MCINERNEY: A number of things. It forces them out, and can kill them in the caves. Can close the caves on them so they have no way out, or their air supply can be destroyed. And so there's a whole host of ways, when you're taking out caves, which means you don't have to put a lot of ground troops in. And that's what they're working on now. They're tightening this noose. And the caves that fight the stiffest really means there's something there to fight for.

HUME: Does that suggest to you that we do have, as General Myers said to me yesterday, a pretty good idea where Usama bin Laden is?

MCINERNEY: I think so. I feel very strongly about that.

HUME: And does the intensity of the fighting suggest that these are his defenders?

MCINERNEY: That's correct. And they're Arab fighters in there. They're Al Qaeda, so they're going to fight to the death. So that's the intensity that we're seeing.

HUME: What about Mullah Omar? They say he's still missing. What's the...

MCINERNEY: Mullah Omar is a little different. You know, they've split. He's down in the Kandahar region. What he did, he ran up, either to the west here, or to the east, up in a similar cave complex. He's No. 2 priority. They're hunting for him. We've got our Marines down here that are putting an interdiction line down there, moving in towards — to get any leakers that are coming out.

HUME: You mean to keep him or anybody else from getting into Pakistan?

MCINERNEY: That's correct. Yes. And moving out to the west, or down in towards Pakistan. You can see, though, this is a long border. And there are holes in it. And we're already seeing evidence, Brit, that they've gotten into Quetta.

HUME: If, in fact, significant elements of the Taliban leadership, or even forces, are able to get across the border into Pakistan, one assumes that there will be cooperation from Pakistani military. But what is the fear about where they might go from there? What do we know about that?

MCINERNEY: I think that's one of the dangers. If the Pakistani government isn't aggressive at it, and lets them come in, and they're coming in now, there's evidence, clear evidence, that they've come in...

HUME: Hundreds? Thousands? What do you think?

MCINERNEY: Hundreds, hundreds, coming in, just in Quetta alone. And so we have to always worry that if the local Pashtun population, Pakistani Pashtuns, supports them there, and the government doesn't aggressively get them, they're going to go back into Afghanistan.

HUME: And — but of course, they'd be greatly weakened?

MCINERNEY: Greatly weakened, but could create some problems, and some instability. That's why I think getting Mullah Omar and the leadership, and U.B.L., as they call Usama — getting both of them and destroying that leadership.

HUME: No reason to worry that Omar has gotten out of the country at this stage?

MCINERNEY: No, I think Omar is staying in because he's got Afghans guarding him. So that's the discrimination that they're getting. Who's got who, guarding who?

HUME: General McInerney, thank you, sir. Nice to have you, as always.

MCINERNEY: Thanks, Brit.

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