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White House Taking Steps in Subsequent Days Against Terrorism

Aired September 12, 2001 - 01:16   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.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: Following his address, Mr. Bush attended a national security meeting.

CNN senior White House correspondent John King is perched on a building near the White House this evening. John, what happened at that meeting, and what's happened since?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESP.: Quite an extraordinary meeting, Jeanne. The president not only meeting with his national security, military and defense team, but also bringing into that meeting the Transportation Secretary, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Federal Emergency Management Director. All of that because so much of this now preceding on parallel tracks.

On the one hand, the federal government taking extraordinary steps to make medical personnel, portable morgues, and others available, both in New York and at that scene over at the Pentagon. The investigation is also underway. We are told that that meeting, by senior sources, that it was discussed that the administration is building evidence that it believes points to people and groups associated with Osama Bin Laden.

The administration declining to say so publicly, but we are told by sources that was discussed at that meeting with the president; and also has been discussed in private briefings senior administration officials have given members of Congress.

Now, priority one for the president is to send reassuring signals to the American people that their government is at work during this investigation and during the recovery operations underway in New York and at the Pentagon. To that end, we are told that the president will bring the bipartisan leadership of Congress to the White House tomorrow for a public event.

The rest of the president schedule tomorrow and for the rest of the week on hold, as the president, obviously, will be on hand at the White House to meet again with his national security team and assess anything he needs to do, both to respond to what has happened here in the United States, and we know there are troop deployments and other security precautions being taken overseas as well. Jeanne?

MESERVE: John, any word about the prospect of retaliatory strikes? KING: We -- you obviously heard the president in his remarks saying if and when there are retaliatory strikes, they would not just be limited to the suspected terrorist, but also to anyone who harbors them. That taken, of course, as a signal to some that even the president was leaning a bit forward with the Bin Laden connection.

But, I spoke to a senior official immediately after that session tonight who said don't expect anything on an imminent basis. This official said, we're going to get this right. We're going to take a little time, he said, to sort this out. Jeanne?

MESERVE: John, will life be different tomorrow for the president, and also for average Americans, in terms of security precautions?

KING: Life will be different for the president and the entire country. We have seen around the grounds of the White House behind me. It is dark in the complex now, but extraordinary security circumstances throughout the day.

Indeed, as the president flew back to Washington today, if you looked out the window of Air Force One, you could see military fighter jets in very close proximity to Air Force One. The president was brought back hours later than they had hoped. At one point they wanted to bring the president directly back from Florida, then he made a stop in Louisiana for a military base.

They decided not to bring him back immediately, because at that time we are told not all of the aircraft in the skies over the United States had been accounted for. The White House was not willing to bring the president back into Washington until all of those aircraft had been accounted for, and until other security steps were taken.

Now, as for average Americans, we are told the plan is to reopen the nation's air traffic control system, and therefore the nation's domestic air travel at noon tomorrow, barring any new troubling information overnight. Any American, though, going to an airport or a major train station in the days ahead, we are told, will see extraordinary, new, stringent security measures. Jeanne?

MESERVE: Senior White House correspondent John King. Thank you.

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