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Pentagon to Recommend Tighter Security Procedures Following USS Cole BombingAired January 2, 2001 - 4:40 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: A Pentagon panel is getting ready to recommend ways to tighten security for U.S. military ships, planes and troops in parts of the world where the threat of terrorism is high. This panel was appointed after the deadly bombing of the USS Cole off Yemen.
CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre joins us from the Pentagon now with details -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, Pentagon sources tell us that the final report is being finished up and going to the printer this week, to be released early next week. The Cole Commission made up of -- headed by two senior retired military officers -- two four-stars -- found that there were security problems in protecting U.S. troops and ships and planes as they went from place to place in the Persian Gulf.
In the wake of the 1996 Khobar Towers attack in which 19 U.S. airmen were killed, the U.S. military tightened security at many of its facilities in the Persian Gulf region. But what the report has found is that it did not do a good a job protecting ships that were in transit, such as the USS Cole, which stopped October 12 in Yemen for refueling. And, of course, the suicide bombing that took place there claimed 17 U.S. soldiers -- sailors rather -- and injured 39 others.
The commission was not -- this commission was not attempting to assess blame or responsibility for what happened, but simply to look at ways in which security could be improved. They have made a number of recommendations, most of them concerning the way that the U.S. handles port security when U.S. ships are visiting ports in other countries, including trying to sort out some of the confusing regulations now in effect about who is responsible -- the State Department or the Pentagon -- for arranging for security, to making sure that that -- that the workers who work for security companies have been checked out, and to end any confusion about how intelligence is shared and how decisions are made about what threat conditions are in effect.
This report, again, will be released next week. And, at the same time, the Navy will likely release its report on the actions of the captain and the crew. CNN has reported last month that the captain and crew did not do everything they said they were going to do in their security plan. But it will be up to some senior admirals to determine whether or not that means the captain should be -- face any sort of discipline for that -- Joie.
CHEN: Jamie, so what we're talking about from the panel, these kind of recommendations, will they represent dramatic shifts in how security is handled, or are we talking about more tweaks in the way things happened that allowed what happened to the Cole to happen?
MCINTYRE: Well, we are told by people who are familiar with the work of the panel so far is that there are no big bombshells in here. There's no pointing fingers at anybody and saying that there was a severe lapse. But it does look at a lot of the procedures and say that these procedures could be tightened up; security can be better. And, of course, as the Pentagon has always said, you can never have perfect security. There's always room for improvement.
And any time something like this happens, that's what they go back and look at. This panel was looking at a broader issue, not just about the Cole, but of all troops transporting, whether it be by ship or plane or other means, moving from place to place, when they might vulnerable, to take a look at how the security can be improved, given the fact that they know that the threat of terrorism is high in the Persian Gulf region.
CHEN: CNN's Jamie McIntyre for us at the Pentagon
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