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USS Cole Investigation: Senate Questions Navy's Decision to Refuel in Yemeni PortAired October 19, 2000 - 2:01 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The remains of eight more sailors killed in the Cole attack due to arrive in the United States tomorrow at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. A recovery team pulled the bodies of the last four missing seamen from the wreckage of the destroyer today. At about the same time, Yemen's president told CNN that several suspects in the Cole attack are in custody.
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ALI ABDULLAH SALEH, YEMENI PRESIDENT (through translator): An investigation is under way. A number of elements were arrested. They are suspected and involving in this incident. They are elements from al-Jihad returning from Afghanistan. And also, an investigation is under way with a number of eyewitnesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATERS: The group al-Jihad mention there is thought to be run by an Egyptian who stands accused of the assassination of President Anwar Sadat back in 1981. He has lived in Afghanistan for several years and is said to be a right-hand man to Osama bin Laden.
All the while, the spiritual leader of al-Jihad, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, is imprisoned in the United States for plotting to blow up New York City landmarks.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The man who allowed U.S. warships to refuel in Yemen was on Capitol Hill today defending that decision.
With more about it, CNN's Carl Rochelle joins us from the Pentagon -- Carl.
CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, the Senate Armed Services Committee wanted to know why the Cole was refueling at Aden in Yemen and why U.S. ships use what ports in that particular area. There are only two or three that they can use. And one senator asked Gen. Anthony Zinni, the retired commander of the Central Command, why Aden?
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SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: This is the summary of the threat level here with the U.S. Central Command. If you look at orange, you see Yemen, and it is very high. And you look at Djibouti and it is green, it is very low. That threat assessment is about two inches thick with a lot of red flags in it for over a year ago.
GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI (RET.), FMR. U.S. GULF FORCES COMMANDER: There are four threat levels. Twenty-four out of 25 countries always had a threat level. That's a snapshot in time. Those threat levels go up and down. If something happens on the West Bank, they go up. If something happens in Iraq, they go up. If a specific report comes in, they go up.
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ROCHELLE: Efforts to determine who was responsible for the apparent bombing of the USS Cole going on now, FBI Director Louis Freeh in the area this morning. He was talking with the president of Yemen, said that he was satisfied with the way that the operations were going there.
Now, the Pentagon also wants know what was going on. Pentagon expected to announce today that retired Adm. Hal Gehman and retired Army Gen. William Crouch will lead an investigation into what happened there.
This is Adm. Gehman who retired in September has head of the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk. Gen. William Crouch retired as vice chief of staff of the Army in 1998. They will head that investigation for the Pentagon, wanting no know why the Cole went to Aden instead of another port, why the small both was allowed to get close enough to it for the explosion to happen, Natalie.
ALLEN: Carl Rochelle at the Pentagon.
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