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Border Security Heightened, Airports Shut Down Throughout Country

Aired September 11, 2001 - 12:17   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.
AARON BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We told you a bit ago that the border, the U.S.- Mexican border was at a high state of alert and that it has been essentially closed down, shut down. And we are now told that the U.S.-Canada border is also at a high state of alert. So essentially what officials are trying to do is seal off the country. So if anyone is trying to get in or get out, it's going to be a whole lot harder to do. But what is possible and what is imaginable, I guess, changes somehow on a day like this.

Jerry Howard is the former head of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency here in New York. And he joins us. As you look out, what do you see?

JERRY HOWARD, FORMER HEAD, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Well, this is absolutely devastating. An incident like this, will -- will tax every bit of resource in New York City, particularly since so many of the police officers and firefighters on the scene were injured.

BROWN: Let me stop you for a second. I want to talk to you specifically about what you expect is happening. But I want to go to L.A. Frank buckley is in Los Angeles with us. Frank, what can you tell us what is going on there?

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, we just saw what appeared to be the worst ssible situation. The last thing that we want to show you in fact, people arriving here at the airport appear -- apparently friends or family members of some of the victims of at least one of the flights.

Three flights were bound for Los Angeles, and they are now arriving here, obviously. Now, friends and family are beginning -- beginning to trickle in. We haven't seen any until this moment. Two people just arriving here at airport. We can tell you that just within the last 15 minutes, also, this terminal has -- they have begun a process of evacuating this terminal. And in fact all of Los Angeles airport is being evacuated.

Now, we are told by Airport Police, who we just spoke to -- just a -- just a few minutes ago. I would like to let you hear from Lieutenant Howard Whitehead of the Los Angeles Airport Police as to the status here at LAX.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD WHITEHEAD, LOS ANGELES AIRPORT POLICE: Because we are working with other agentcy who are conducting closures, outside of the airport, I can't give you the information right now.

BUCKLEY: Three flights were bound for Los Angeles that appeared to have been involved here today. What accommodations are being made for the friends and family of the passengers?

WHITEHEAD: That's being handled by the airlines. They're having a meeting now concerning that. So that information you have to get from the airlines.

QUESTION: So officially, what are you starting at this point?

WHITEHEAD: We are starting a total evacuation of the airport.

QUESTION: Will that include both workers and passengers?

WHITEHEAD: Only key employees will remain at the airport.

QUESTION: Is the the entire airport that will be evacuated?

WHITEHEAD: Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Why the evacuation?

WHITEHEAD: Because the evacuation has been ordered. I can't tell you why. But that's what -- how it stands now.

QUESTION: Is there a security threat to the airport?

WHITEHEAD: It's precautionary at this point.

QUESTION: Have you ever seen anything like this before in Los Angeles?

WHITEHEAD: Not to my knowledge, no.

QUESTION: And what is going to be your role, the police department's role in this? What are you doing?

WHITEHEAD: We are protecting the public. That's what our job is.

QUESTION: Will the roads in and out of the airport be closed as well? Will people be able to get into the airport?

WHITEHEAD: Right now this thing is fluid. We are working as we go. There are changes. So I couldn't give you a definite on anything right now.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) here at the airport on a regular day?

WHITEHEAD: Thanks very much. There are other agencies involved. I can't give you the exact figure. QUESTION: Right now there are other agencies involved?

working as we go. There are changes. I can't give you a definite on anything right now.

QUESTION: How many police officers are more or less...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... on a regular day?

WHITEHEAD: Other agencies are involved. I couldn't give you an exact figure.

QUESTION: Right now there are other agencies?

WHITEHEAD: Yes, ma'am.

That's all that I have for right now.

QUESTION: What is your name?

WHITEHEAD: My name is Lt. Whitehead.

QUESTION: So this is what you are saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUCKLEY: That was Lt. Howard Whitehead of the LAX Police, telling us that just within the last 15 or 20 minutes, a command decision has come down to evacuate the terminals at LAX. Up until this point, of course, flights were not being allowed in or out. Now they are evacuating all of the terminals, except for key personnel.

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