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National Security Council to Convene

Aired September 11, 2001 - 20:52   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to report what a senior administration official is telling CNN that the president's National Security Council will be convening once again shortly to review what has happened and presumably to discuss some various options about what is happening. President Bush of course will be participating together with his National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Secretary Of Sate Colin Powell, the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and the vice president Dick Cheney.

When we get some information on that of course we will report that as well. I want to bring in CNN's Greta Van Susteren. You were at National Airport early this morning when that American Airlines flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon. What did you see?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST, "THE POINT WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN": First of all, I was on a flight on a runway to go to New York. It was canceled because they said two planes had run into the building in New York, so they canceled our flight. I got off the plane, I headed back to my car to come back to work.

I was in the rooftop of National Airport's parking lot which is about two blocks from the Pentagon. And I heard something funny -- no, first, my husband said to me, we better get out of here. And I thought is was a little bit strange, my husband was acting a little bit like an alarmist, I turned back to look at him, I heard something funny, I looked over his shoulder, I saw something, I saw something, I am not sure quite what it was, but low level.

Then all of a sudden there was silence, then there was a Kaboom, and then smoke came billowing out and I knew that it was the Pentagon. The Pentagon is about two blocks, of course, form National Airport hidden behind some building. And there was just smoke and debris flying all over coming up in the air -- obviously a very terrible site.

BLITZER: And we are taking a look at some live pictures right now. You can see the fires still continuing at the Pentagon, some 12 hours later. What was your first thought when you heard the Kaboom? Did you have any sense what was really going on?

VAN SUSTEREN: At that point I knew there was a big problem. I knew it was the Pentagon and I knew that something horrible had happened and I could see the magnitude of it. And it was really one of terror because we had no idea was there more coming? Was National Airport next? It was only two blocks away. Cell phones went down. I tried two cell phones and was having difficulty and I finally did get through to CNN.

The traffic was tied up. I heard plenty of sirens and almost no information until I got in the car and did find out what happened. And always, in addition to having to witness this, several hours later I learned that someone I know quite well, Barbara Olson, who has appeared on this network a number of times and whose husband is the solicitor general the of the United States was one of the fatalities on the airplane.

And many other people of course are suffering tonight. But that, of course, is even more dismaying.

BLITZER: And all of us, of course who've worked at CNN knew Barbara Olson, very, very well and our hearts and condolences go out to her and her family, and Ted Olson, the solicitor general. A very, very sad day for the Olsons and the entire country.

Greta, put on your legal hat now. What is going to happen legally right now? Walk us through what we can expect.

VAN SUSTEREN: First, I can't tell you what the president of the United States is going to do but there seems to be at least something the country can do. The president has indicated that the country is going to do something.

But assuming that that action is done, something is done, there is also the possibility of some sort of legal remedies. It is not much of a remedy. It has happened in the past is that we have gone over and nabbed terrorists, brought them back to this country and tried them for terrorist acts here on American soil or for acts they have committed against American buildings overseas.

And of course they can get the death penalty if proven guilty. What is interesting about this and what people should know, is that often times it is done in a conspiracy charge and if you have any involvement in a conspiracy, for instance, you just stick your toe in the water of a conspiracy, you are in for the whole thing.

So a lot of people can be brought into a conspiracy for almost just a minor act aiding the conspiracy. Not just the ones who are responsible for planning and causing the deaths. But if you in any way assisted a little bit, you are in for the conspiracy and could face the death penalty.

BLITZER: Greta Van Susteren, thank you very much.

I want to go back to New York. Aaron, Paul, and Jeff, are standing by. Guys, take it over.

AARON BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, thank you. It is another day in Asia already. The Nikkei is open, the Japanese stock market is already down 5 and a half percent to a 17-year low. This is not unexpected. It is the kind of thing that happenings when there is instability in the world and there's instability in the world today -- certainly in our world today.

Jeff, it seems like days ago that we began this. Tell me where you are right now.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I was thinking about waking up this morning in a city that was going to have a primary election for mayor and other city offices in a country that was worried about an economy that might or might not be flattening. Kids back at school for the first month at a time when the big issues, when big events, when horrible events seemed behind us. That was the political climate we've all thought we had been in.

We are going to wake up tomorrow in just a completely different city and a completely different country, emotionally.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We wake up to a city tomorrow where the majority of the businesses below 14th street down towards the World Trade Center are shut. Public schools closed, parochial schools closed, all private schools closed. No flights coming in or out of this country. Stock market closed. It's a new reality. And as Jeff expressed earlier on I think you said it pretty pointedly, our luck ran out.

BROWN: When I walked off here for a short break, around 6:30 or so, I thought about my daughter who is 12 1/2 and I wondered if she ,in her school, was taken into the gymnasium as I was in November of 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. I remember everything about that moment and I wondered if she will remember every bit of that moment as well.

GREENFIELD: December 7, 1941, September 11, 2001, I think this date may well live in infamy.

BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up in just a moment. Before we go to Larry, we want to take you back to one of the those moments today. It happened at Capitol. Democrats, Republican, senators, representatives gathered on the steps of the Capitol to show that the government was running, that they were there and the country was strong.




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