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Pentagon Stops Just Short of Saying U.S.S. Cole Incident was Terrorist AttackAired October 12, 2000 - 3:48 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre has been covering the U.S.S. Cole disaster all day today.
He was at the Pentagon briefing just now and Jamie, what stood out for you in this briefing this afternoon as the military tried to explain what happened?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, two things: one of them was that the chief of naval operations and the defense secretary stopped short of saying what everyone firmly believes here: that this was, in fact, a premeditated terrorist attack that was aimed at taking U.S. lives, even if meant the loss of the lives of the terrorists who were behind the attack. So they're still withholding judgment, although, as they said, all of that evidence pointings to that. None of it points to any sort of accident.
The other thing was the way that this attack was carried out -- in a way that, really the Pentagon felt and the Navy felt there was no way for them to have anticipated, to have prevented or taken any action, even if they had realized that this small tender boat that was supposed to be helping the ship dock was, in fact, loaded with explosives.
So the investigation will go on. The notification of families will continue. As they said, they now have five confirmed dead. They have another dozen sailors missing and presumed dead -- that's because they're lost somewhere in the wreckage of the aftermath of this bombing -- and another 36 injured. And some of those injuries, apparently, are fairly severe.
Help is on the way to the ship in the form of another couple of U.S. ships and other medical personnel being flown in. But the Pentagon, echoing President Clinton earlier today, said that if they determine it's a terrorist attack and they can figure out who is behind it, that the U.S. will take appropriate, forceful action -- and the Pentagon didn't specify, but certainly didn't rule out, some sort of military response.
ALLEN: And Jamie, did he say whether there will be any kind of immediate evacuation once U.S. support ships arrive in the area?
MCINTYRE: Well, right they said the crew of the -- and there's about 250 people left on the ship of the original, more than 300 crewmembers, they are fighting for the ship. They are fighting to keep that ship viable: pumping the water out, sealing off the areas that are flooded, trying to make sure that this ship doesn't -- they've got it under control, but they don't want the ship to take on more water and sink in the harbor there.
You may have noticed the ship is not actually pier-side, it's actually out in the middle of the harbor. The way they do it is they have moorings there in the middle of the harbor where the ships come in totie up to when they're getting refueled. And that's exactly when this incident took place: when the ship was being moored and being helped by one of the small boats that's assigned to help take the mooring lines.
It turnoud out that boat was, in fact, apparently laden with explosives and part of a plot to attack U.S. interests.
ALLEN: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.
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