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America Under Attack: Members of Congress Speak Out

Aired September 11, 2001 - 12:40   ET



WOODRUFF: ... Senator McCain?

MCCAIN: These attacks clearly constitute an act of war. Unwarranted, unprovoked attacks against innocent American citizens is clearly an act of war and one that requires that kind of national response and international response.

WOODRUFF: Senator Orrin Hatch, I believe, is also still with us.

And Senator Hatch, you mention the bin Laden organization. Former NATO head General Wesley Clark also said to us about an hour ago in an interview that he believes that it's only the bin Laden organization that is capable of carrying out attacks this coordinated and on this massive scale. What are you basing your information on?

HATCH: Well, keep in mind, there are nations that also could carry out these attacks, but they I don't think would dare do that, knowing that their signature's is going to be figured, we're going to find out who did this and we're going after the bastards, it is that simple.

And I just have to say that both the FBI and our intelligence community believe that this is a bin Laden signature. And I believe it is. I was the first to point out bin Laden to Clinton administration and said they're going to kill Americans and we've got to get on top of that. And I think we're going to have to get on top of it because this is a cowardly bunch that will stop at nothing to, like you say, have a jihad or a war against the United States, and to do it in the most cowardly fashion.

WOODRUFF: But Senator McCain, I mean, there will those who are saying the United States was taking all reasonable precautions, we have security at airports, metal detectioners, and so forth and so on. How much more is going to have to be done to prevent something like these things from happening again?

MCCAIN: Judy, I don't think our lifestyles will be the same for a long time since it was before these attacks as far as use of transportation, particularly airports, are concerned. You know, there have been warnings about whether our security was good enough and whether the proper measures were taken. I'm sure that will all be reviewed. By the way, I have no information as who caused this and I hesitate to speculate, but I am confident that the president of the United States will lead us and we will find out who has carried out these acts. And I think it's a little premature to make that determination until we have the hard facts, but I'm sure that we'll get them.

The other aspect of this is that it may highlight over time the need for more human intelligence. We have very good technical intelligence capability, satellite, et cetera, but we -- for many years we haven't had the kind of human intelligence which determines motivation before actions are taken.

WOODRUFF: I'm going to interrupt you Senator McCain.

These are the first pictures we have in, this is from Somerset, County, Pennsylvania. This is where the United Airline flight, I believe it is 176, went down. I'm sorry, I'm correcting, United Airlines 93; this was a Boeing 757 bound from Newark, New Jersey to San Francisco. It crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, near the town of Shanksville, south of Pittsburgh, we are told about 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania. It is not known how many passengers or crew were onboard, although initial reports indicated no survivors.

Again, these the first pictures we have coming in from WTAJ there in the Pittsburgh area. United Airlines telling us earlier they had lost this flight and they knew it had crashed near Pittsburgh. There is a second United Airlines flight, the Boeing 767, flight 175, bound from Boston to Los Angeles has crashed. The airlines still telling us at this point that they do not know where -- we don't have information on the number of people aboard. It is possible -- it is possible, but not confirmed, that this would have been the second plane to hit the World Trade Center.

Now, again, two United Airlines flights, and in addition to American Airlines flights, the flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, this was a Boeing 767 with 81 passengers onboard, nine crew members, two pilots, this is believed to be one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. All four of these planes that we're describing to you now, these flights, all headed to California.

The second American Airlines flight 77, this is a Boeing 757, left Dulles Airport near Washington on its way to Los Angeles, it had 58 passengers onboard, four crew, two pilots; this plane unaccounted for. However, a commercial jet was seen crashing into the Pentagon few hours ago and it is believed that this could have been the one, but again, not confirmed.

So two commercial airliners, American airliners -- American Airlines, two United Airlines, and I would just add at this point, because to be reassuring to some extent those who are watching, we've been reporting all flights within the United States have been canceled. There's been a complete holddown on all commercial travel. However, there were planes that were already in the air when these terrible incidences took place this morning. And as of a few moments ago, the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA, was reported that there were still 50 aircraft in the skies. Now some of those may have landed in the last few minutes, but that was the information as of a few minutes ago. All of them were said to be within 50 or so miles of their destination.

Now, I'm getting new information in my ear.

Now, reporting our congressional correspondent, Kate Snow.

You're looking at a picture of the Pentagon live, this still smoke billowing out of our military command center in the United States. As we look at these pictures, I'm going to turn it over right now to our congressional correspondent Kate Snow, who has with her two members of Congress -- Kate.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, it's been a bit difficult to get in touch with members of Congress. As we've been reporting the Capitol has been shut down. you can see it behind me here, you can see that everything is fine there, but it is in a state of lockdown. They've evacuated the Capitol.

Joining me here on the roof of a church, I might add, we've managed to get up on the roof here to get a vantage point, is Congressman Curt Weldon, a Republican from Pennsylvania, around the Philadelphia area, not exactly where that video that we just saw, the other end of the state.

And also Congressman Ed Schrock from Virginia Beach -- from the Virginia -- state of Virginia, also a Republican.

You both served on the Arm Services Committee. In fact, you were in the middle of a briefing. You were about to talk to reporters about the need for more money for our military.

Let me start with you, Congressman Weldon. You've been talking to me up here, you've been expressing outrage at all of this. You've been saying this is a failure of the U.S. Intelligence system.

REP. CURT WELDON, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: It's a failure of our intelligence system. I asked the sergeant of arms of the Capitol just 45 minutes ago in a meeting with 70 senators and house members, how much advantage notice did you have. He said, none. There was no intelligence.

Our FBI and our CIA are there to intercept raw data. This is a massive operation, and it's a failure that was caused by a lack of resources and by a compliancy that set in America over the past 10 years, a compliancy that convinced all of us that with the demise of the Soviet Union there were no more threats. It's a tragedy that it took the loss of thousands of lives to wake this country up and realize that our number one responsibility is not education -- and I'm a teacher -- and it's not health care -- I'm married to a nurse -- it is in fact the security and the safety of the American people. And today our government failed the American people.

SNOW: Congressman Schrock, how much information have you as a member of Congress been able to get? I know that members have been milling around trying to get information. Have you been able to get information?

REP. ED SCHROCK, (R) VIRGINIA: Not a whole lot. The most information we got was when we went to the U.S. Capitol police headquarters, and they were piecing together what had happened and trying to feed us as they got that, but nothing substantive. It seems like there's no gameplan in operations.

SNOW: Do the two of you know why you were evacuated from the U.S. Capitol?

WELDON: Absolutely. I talked to Bill Livengood (ph), the sergeant of arms in the Capitol, and he said, Curt, we've been told that a plane has taken off from Reagan and we think it may be heading toward the Capitol. i mean, they've hit our economic center, the World Trade Center. They hit our Pentagon. They hit our State Department. So the obvious next item you would like to hit is the U.S. Capitol and perhaps the Supreme Court.

SNOW: And obviously, those are unconfirmed reports that any plane -- but there were rumors here for a good two hours that there were potentially planes headed this direction.

WELDON: Right. Now we're in total lockdown, as you said, and members are basically scattered around the city, but we're going to get back to work because we're going to convince these cowards that America doesn't back down, that our government will continue to operation in spite of these terrorist activities.

SNOW: You think we're -- you said we're at war.

WELDON: We're at war. We're absolutely at war. This is 21st century war. These are the kinds of activities that we expect from cowards and terrorists group.

SNOW: I need to go back to Judy Woodruff now in Washington.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kate, thank you.

And I want to tell our viewers that we do know now that President Bush has landed near Shreveport, Louisiana, at Barksdale Air Force Base. We're told that he is talking to reporters. There may be a statement from the president, from the White House there on the ground.

And one other item here from Washington before I turn it back over to Aaron Brown in New York, 34 Pentagon victims at least being treated at three Washington hospitals. No word on fatalities -- Aaron.

AARON BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, in the area, I guess, of practical information, and we talked to mayor about this a little bit ago, there's now in New York and in northern New Jersey a critical shortage of blood, a desperate need for blood. We would remind people that giving blood is perfectly safe, and on a dale like today absolutely necessary. And so if that is something you can do to help out in the midst of this extraordinary tragedy, you might consider doing that.

On the phone with us, James Sanders, who's with Bellevue Hospital, one of the major hospitals here in New York.

Mr. Sanders, what can you tell us about the situation there?


It is Hillary Lane (ph) reporting. Mr. Sanders was called back into the command center. But I can fill you in on the briefing that he just gave us.

This is the largest emergency and trauma unit in New York City and second largest emergency unit in the country. They say they are under-utilized right now while the hospitals downtown, closer to the Trade Center, are absolutely overwhelmed. So they have put out a call to EMS saying, bring people in here, it is an emergency call.

What I have seen at this point are some patients staggering and being helped in, nobody in apparently critical condition. The hospital tell us that they've had 65 minor injuries, those are broken bones, internal injuries, smoke inhalation cases.




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