Peter Bergen | Bio
CNN National Security Analyst
Eight years after September 11, the "war on terror" has gone the way of the dodo. And President Obama talks instead about a war against al Qaeda and its allies.
What, then, of al Qaeda's enigmatic leader, Osama bin Laden, who has vanished like a wisp of smoke? And does he even matter now?
The U.S. government hadn't had a solid lead on al Qaeda's leader since the battle of Tora Bora in winter 2001. Although there are informed hypotheses that today he is in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province on the Afghan border, perhaps in one of the more northerly areas such as Bajaur, these are essentially guesses, not "actionable" intelligence.
A longtime American counterterrorism analyst explained to me, "There is very limited collection on him personally."
Program Note: Tune in tonight for live coverage from Afghanistan with Anderson Cooper, Michael Ware, Peter Bergen and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Tonight AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Photos by Sarmad Qasiri
CNN's Michael Ware visits Kandahar, Afghanistan, birthplace of the Taliban. Local commanders say there's little hint of improvement in the country and that the Taliban keeps evolving and finding new ways to wage war.
Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ
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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/09/11/us.sept.11/art.obama.shake.911.gi.jpg caption="President Obama addresses family members and friends who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001."]
CNN Senior Pentagon Producer
The day stood in stark contrast to the sunny, brisk morning eight years ago. Chaos surrounded this patch of land at the Pentagon that day. But now a steady rain bathed it in a calm silence as the memorial service began.
Holding umbrellas, President Obama, Defense Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen stood at the entrance of the Pentagon memorial. It is marked by a stone embedded in the ground with the September 11th date and time, 9:37a.m., reminding people of the exact moment when hijacked American Airlines flight 77 was flown into the building killing 184 people.
The three stood silently listening to a military band play the National Anthem, each than spoke about the day.
President Obama was observing his first September 11th as the commander in chief.
"Eight Septembers have come and gone. Nearly 3,000 days have passed; almost one for each of those taken from us," the president said, now standing uncovered in the rain. "But no turning of the season can diminish the pain and the loss of that day, no passage of time and no dark skies can ever dull the meaning of this moment."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/09/11/us.sept.11/art.ny.wtc.911.gi.jpg caption="Remembering the victims of 9/11"]
We have much more from Afghanistan tonight, as we wrap up our week of reporting from the war zone.
Today Americans marked the eighth anniversary of the September 11th attacks with memorials that have grown familiar, but no less heartbreaking. U.S. troops in Afghanistan also took time out today to remember the attacks. Meantime, the Pentagon announced that Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants to send as many as 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
In the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, support for the Afghanistan invasion was high but support is now waning. On Capitol Hill today, Democrats expressed doubts about deploying more troops, with Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin saying it’s time for a surge of Afghan troops. Tonight, we’ll dig deeper on the pushback.
We’ll also show you how U.S. military doctors are mentoring Afghani doctors on the job. 360 MD Sanjay Gupta spent time at a medical center in Kandahar, where he watched American physicians teaching lifesaving lessons to local doctors. In a country with too few physicians and enormous medical needs, it’s a crucial mission. Sanjay will take us up close.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/29/flight.dispute/art.flight93land.cnn.jpg caption="This plot of land is scheduled to house the permanent Flight 93 memorial."]
David Mattingly | BIO
To me, the most powerful image of 9/11 will always be the large, blackened pit outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
I was vacationing in Altoona, Pa. at my mother-in-law's house when the attacks happened. When the reports first came in of a plane crash in Shanksville, I remember the immediate confusion I felt and the questions that came to mind: Was the crash a coincidence? How could it be part of the attack? Why Shanksville?
Details came in slowly that day but it soon became clear that the passengers of Flight 93 fought back against their hijackers. Their bravery prevented the jet from reaching it's apparent destination to a target in Washington, DC.
Knowing this, it was almost overwhelming to see the crash site for the first time. All I could see were some small pieces of debris scattered around the impact crater. The destruction was so complete there was nothing I could identify as a piece of an aircraft.
Like many frequent flyers, the Flight 93 passengers' actions touched me deeply. The thought of how easily that could have happened to me still resonates. I've never stopped wondering if I have what it takes to rise up in the face of death they way they did. I still think about them every time I board a plane.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture – and you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
US Senator Al Franken, D-MN, jokes with US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the floor of the House Chamber before US President Barack Obama's speech about health care reform.
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
UPDATE BEAT 360º WINNERS
"Yes you ARE smart enough! And people DO like you!"
“I’m Erica Hill’s number one fan – not you.”
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/09/10/connecticut.missing.yale.student/art.annie.le.yale.jpg caption="Annie Le, 24, has not been seen by family, friends or co-workers since Tuesday, police say."]
Kristen Hamill And Eliott C. McLaughlin
Police are searching for a Yale University graduate student and bride-to-be who disappeared and was last seen outside a school of medicine building.
Co-worker Debbie Apuzzo told CNN affiliate WTNH-TV that Annie Le, 24, is scheduled to be married Sunday, and "her fiance hasn't heard from her."
"Annie Le's purse containing her cell phone, credit cards and money were left in her office," a Yale University Police Department news release said, adding that friends, family members and co-workers had not heard from her since Tuesday.
CNN has calls in to the Yale Office of Public Affairs, which is handling all Yale Police Department requests.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/11/art.vert.cuba.gallery.jpg width=292 height=320]
New Yorkers woke up this morning to harsh winds and rain, only adding to the feeling of gloom that comes with every 9/11 anniversary. The pain of that day comes back and hits deeper when you see the pictures of the victims and heroes on TV and hear their names read aloud by family and volunteers at the World Trade Center memorial services.
I was comforted this morning by recalling the feeling of unity that New Yorkers felt in the days after the attacks and how much of the world joined with us. I remembered how some of that international unity came from countries that some Americans might not have expected, like from Fidel Castro in Communist Cuba.
Today in New York, Cuban artists present an exhibit called “Date with the Angels.” It features 41 Cuban artists who express their reactions to the 9/11 disaster at the World Trade Center. They derived inspiration from two photographs taken in the aftermath of the attack. The exhibition was originally presented in Cuba in 2004 where Ricardo Alarcon, President of the National Assembly in Cuba, again expressed the government’s unity with New York.
Tom Foreman | Bio
After weeks of angry folks with pitchforks storming town hall meetings on health care, it is not surprising to see a hint of anarchy burst like a firecracker in the middle of President Obama’s big speech. There he was talking about how he won’t cover illegal immigrants when suddenly South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson, to borrow from Paddy Chayefsky, was saying “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
Actually, he said, “You lie!”
Let’s put aside for a minute that the actual bills suggest he was mistaken, and the president was right. Let’s step around the obvious breach of decorum; this is, after all, not the Taiwanese Parliament where a simple motion for recess can mean taping on the gloves and pulling on your Everlast trunks. Let’s even ignore the fact that the Congressman apologized almost immediately.
We still have a question: Why does this President evoke such fierce feelings?