Skip to main content
CNN.com /transcript

CNN TV
EDITIONS
SERVICES
CNN TV
EDITIONS

CNN BREAKING NEWS

Security Sweep for Suspicious Pink Package

Aired April 12, 2001 - 13:12   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We have an incident at the White House, concern over -- you can see it outside the White House fence there, a pink package which appears to be backpack of some sort. But whether or not it is, we don't know. Major Garrett was supposed to be out front. You're on the phone now, Major. And why is that? What's going on?

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Lou. Yes, I'm on the phone in the White House booth here because all personnel attached to various news organizations, we typically stand on the North Lawn. CNN viewers know what the White House looks like when it's over our shoulder.

Well, we've all been asked to move away the North Lawn position. All of us have been asked to come back to press room. They have evacuated that part of the White House grounds to deal with that particular pink package you see leaning right up against the White House fence.

That's on the north part of the White House. Those familiar with looking at the White House from that side, the big fountain in front of the White House. And that's the north gate to the immediate left on that picture as you are seeing it now. You see the white brick there. That's right near one of the main Secret Service checkpoints where people with authorization enter the White House grounds.

But all personnel, journalists and everyone else not attached to the Secret Service, have been evacuated from that area while they deal with this particular device. There are several District of Columbia Police vehicles on Pennsylvania Avenue. That is the avenue just on the other side of the gate there, of course, which of course has been shut down.

And there is also out of camera range a vehicle that contains a military robotic device that is often deployed to deal with explosives. That's what we know so far. We do not have any official confirmation this that this is or is not an explosive. All we can tell you is that we have visual site of a small tractor pulling a little flat bed trailer that has this robotic device on it.

It has not been moved particularly close to this pink package. But it is nevertheless in the general area.

The Secret Service and the District of Columbia Police have placed yellow police tape about several yards in either direction of this to keep the crowds that are normally around the White House this time of day away. They have secured the area.

And that's as much as we know about the situation right now. But it was only moments ago that all of us were ushered off that North Lawn position where we typically stand to do our live broadcasts and asked to come back to press room and evacuate the area.

WATERS: Major, I don't want to read anything the picture. But there are police officers walking by relatively close to this. It doesn't seem from what I'm witnessing here there's any extreme concern about this.

GARRETT: Well, it's important to point out, Lou, that there are procedures that the White House goes through whenever there is anything -- and I cannot say that word with too much emphasis -- anything that appears unusual. Now, things that appear unusual do not necessarily mean they are threatening.

There are standard procedures to isolate packages like this. That's what we are going through now. Oftentimes, as you might well imagine, someone coming to the White House for the very first time, they have knapsack, they have a bag, they have something that maybe contains something they've purchased at a store.

They're excited about seeing the White House. They go run off to take a picture. They go talk to some friends, and they leave something behind. Well, as innocent as that might be, to the Secret Service that poses a potential threat to the White House grounds. So oftentimes things are isolated. But this is I would say moving us back puts this at a higher order of magnitude because this is the first time this has ever happened to me.

WATERS: What about the president, Major? Is he is in the White House?

GARRETT: The president is in the White House. He was having lunch with Vice President Cheney watching on television the return of 24 servicemen and women to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. White House officials told us upon the touchdown of that plane, the president said, "This is good news," and he offered a two-word greeting to the crew, "Welcome home."

There is no sense at all that anyone -- the president, vice president, or anyone in the larger White House family -- is in any way particularly jeopardized by this situation. But the Secret Service did want to move those of us who are closest in proximity to this package away just as they have moved the tourists who would typically be walking on Pennsylvania Avenue back away from this package until they discover what it really is.

WATERS: Well, you've been busy with the package business. We know, Major, perhaps you did not hear earlier the local folks out there in -- what is it, Oak?

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Oak Harbor.

WATERS: Oak Harbor, Washington wondering whether or not the president was going to attending this welcoming celebration for the folks who are returning from Hainan Island.

GARRETT: Lou, there is no official indication that the president's schedule is going to change. The president's schedule is for him to leave the White House this afternoon and fly, obviously, aboard Air Force One to the family ranch in Crawford, Texas to spend a slightly elongated Easter weekend. And the White House says the president has no intention at this moment of changing the schedule.

And he is going to have one addition to today's schedule. At 3:15, he is scheduled to come to Rose Garden to offer his comments officially welcoming the crew home to U.S. soil. But then from there, he is supposed to take a plane to Crawford and enjoy long and we are told quiet Easter weekend.

WATERS: OK, Major Garrett at the White House. Keep your eye on that package. Major, we'll get back to you.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

 Search   


Back to the top