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The First 100 Days: President Bush Begins Drive to Boost Military Morale

Aired February 12, 2001 - 1:30 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: President Bush, as I mentioned, addressed the submarine accident during a speech this morning at an Army base in Georgia. Here's the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Please join me in a moment of silence for those missing, their families and our friends, the people of Japan.

(MOMENT OF SILENCE)

Amen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATERS: Mr. Bush was visiting Fort Stewart near Savannah, to begin a push for higher military spending. He also will visit two other military bases this week as part of the drive to spotlight national security issues.

CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre joins us from the Pentagon with more about all of this -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, let's begin with a little bit about what's going on with the investigation into the submarine accident, which is occupying the Navy right now. The skipper of that submarine, Cmdr. Scott Waddle, could face possible criminal charges, a criminal court marshal, if it's determined that, in fact, proper procedures were not followed, as Alec Fraser suggested might be the case.

But investigators are looking into exactly what the procedures were and whether or not they were followed. And as Alec said, the submarine is required, when practicing this emergency, speedy ascent, to come to the surface, make an acoustical check to see if there are any vessels in the area, come up to periscope depth, make a careful survey of the area to make sure that there are no vessels in the area before then submerging and practicing this emergency ascent where the submarine essentially fills its ballast tanks with compressed air and pops out of the water, almost like a cork.

Now, there are a number of things that could have gone wrong. It could be, for instance, that when the submarine came up and it's periscope went around, it simply didn't see the Japanese fishing vessel. Or it could be that somebody miscalculated how far away it was, what its speed was and whether it would be in the area.

Or it's possible that when the submarine submerged to practice this maneuver, which is supposed to take between five and seven minutes. if it stayed down too long, that might have given time for the vessel to move into the area. So, for instance, if they stayed down an extra 10 minutes before they came up.

That's what the investigation is going to determine, and whether what they find will determine whether the skipper gets simply a administrative reprimand or possibly a board of inquiry is convened and faces possible criminal charges. The Navy investigation is supposed to be -- the initial part of it is supposed to be completed in 30 days. We may have a better idea by then.

Meanwhile, the National Transportation safety board is conducting a broader review of some of the safety issues involved there, including whether or not U.S. submarine should use active sonar to try to locate vessels on the surface before practicing this kind of procedure -- Lou.

WATERS: Now, Jamie, if you would, quickly touch on the fact that President Bush apparently has made this military pay increase week. At the same time, the Bush administration is telling the Pentagon, no increase in military spending. Can you put that all together for us?

MCINTYRE: Well, the president is saying that he's making good on his campaign pledge to give extra funds for the military, but he says he's going to do it in a very prudent and rational way. First they'll have a complete, top-to-bottom review, and then they'll look at where they're going to add spending. But he did say whatever that review shows, they are going to add money for pay raises for the military, for increased housing and better health care; $5.7 billion proposed in President Bush's next budget.

But this comes as the Pentagon is saying that it needs some money right away to pay for things like rising fuel costs and a spare parts shortage, money that they were expecting to get in a supplemental budget. And the Pentagon is still hopeful that in the months ahead before the current budget year is out, they'll be able to make the case to the White House that they need to ask Congress for some extra funds now, as well as for that extra pay raise next year.

WATERS: All right, Jamie McIntyre, military affairs correspondent. We, of course, will be hearing more about all this throughout the week as President Bush makes his stops at various military bases.

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