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America Under Attack: Officials Hold Press Conference on Airport Safety, Suspects

Aired September 12, 2001 - 11:39   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: ... believed by the Massachusetts Port Authority, which has already announced that big security changes will be made at Logan Airport, where two of the planes were hijacked, including no more curbside luggage check-ins.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... including full compliance with the new security requirements being imposed on all U.S. airports. We received specific guidance on these measures from the FAA a short time ago, and I'm proud to say many of these measures have been in place at Logan for many years.

In addition, I spoke with Governor Swift this morning, and she has instructed us to go beyond these FAA requirements, by placing state police at all security checkpoints at Logan Airport. With the new FAA requirements, and the additional security at Logan, we are confident that when the airport is reopened, the safety of the traveling public will be insured.

I'm going to turn this over to our other speakers, let me just say that due to the ongoing investigation, and for the sake of public safety, the law enforcement officials who are here with us today are limited in the questions that they can answer, and the facts that they can confirm. Let me first ask Tom Kinton, the director of aviation for Logan Airport, to speak.

MICHAEL BARR, AVIATION SAFETY PROGRAM: Good morning.

As Jeanine (ph) mentioned, we are focused on a reopening of this airport, and I cannot tell you what time that will occur. I'm going to go through a number of issues, summarizing the guidance that we have been given by FAA, both the airlines and the airport operator, that has to be done and has to be in place before this airport can open. A lot of it, as you will see, will take a lot of time, and we are going to take our time. And if we have to delay the reopening of this airport, as others open around the country, we will delay the reopening to get it done and get it right.

First of all, let me reemphasize that this is - the guidance is for all U.S. airports. It will begin with immediately evacuation of all terminals and a sweeping of K-9 team, explosive K-9 teams, increased presence of uniformed personnel, fully plainclothes security personnel and others in all areas of the airport, and as you heard mentioned, we will be staffing the security checkpoints with uniformed state police which goes beyond the guidance given to us by FAA. We will be increasing the frequency of random ID checks in the secure areas of Logan Airport. We will secure - we already have them in place, bomb-detection teams for quick response here at Logan Airport. We will be reducing the number of operational access points into the airport. We will also discontinue curbside check-in, and remove unauthorized vehicles that are within 300 feet of any terminal building.

And that point there is probably one of the most time consuming things we have to accomplish, because presently there are over 9,000 vehicles parked at Logan Airport. One of the garages, Terminal B, has almost 2500 vehicles and it needs to be emptied. We are in the process of doing that and relocating those cars to Suffolk Downs. And we will not reopen that terminal, certainly, and perhaps not the airport until that task is completed. There is a - FAA is prohibiting the sale or use of knives regardless of any size in any sterile areas of the airport. That includes concession operators, food and beverage as well as any retail operators that may sell such items. That means anything metal or plastic.

Airport operators will develop an awareness plan to keep all airport employees informed about security. And airport operators and the FAA shall review and reevaluate these contingency plans for ongoing airport security threats that may develop. Airlines will not be accepting cargo or mail. And prior to passenger boarding of any airplanes, those aircraft must undergo a comprehensive search. That's each and every flight before they are boarded by passengers.

As I said at the beginning, we do not have an estimate on when this airport will reopen. Possibly it could be for some relocation of flights that are on the ground, ferrying empty airplanes back into position, later today. And again, no estimate on reopening the airport for commercial flights until we have a better handle on both the airline responsibility here, and the airport operator responsibilities being fulfilled. We've already had an air carrier meeting, we held it this morning. This work is under way and we'll be meeting with the air carriers later this afternoon to update and keep the traveling public updated relative to the reopening of Logan Airport.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next speaker is Colonel John DeLfava, Massachusetts State Police.

COL. JOHN DELFAVA, MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE: Thank you, director.

Good morning. The Massachusetts State Police is prepared to provide all necessary resources to assist the Mass Port Authority in reaching and surpassing those new security measures as mandated by the FAA. These resources will include additional personnel, special and tactical units such as explosive ordinance disposal personnel and K-9s that are capable of sniffing out explosives. These measures will stay in place indefinitely to ensure the safety of the public at the airport. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

Our next speaker is Charlie Proudy, FBI special agent in charge, Boston.

CHARLES PROUDY, FBI DIRECTOR, BOSTON: Thank you, director.

I want to reassure all New England citizens that your law enforcement is aggressively investigating this horrific event. First of all, my heart goes out to the victims and the families in this tragedy. Because this appears to be a terrorist attack, the FBI will be taking lead investigative status in this. We've set up a command post in the FBI office in Boston yesterday, as soon as we received notice of the hijacking. This is a joint command post with State Department, ATF, customs, the Massachusetts State Police, OSI, Boston Police Department, Department of Transportation, U.S. Secret Service, and the U.S. Marshalls represented. We're also involved in MassPort's command post at Logan Airport.

We'll continue to man these command posts and continue our joint investigations around the clock until all investigations have been completed. We are coordinating our investigation with FBI headquarters and with other federal agencies. A Web site and a toll- free tipline has been established...

ZAHN: In Logan Airport, the airport where hijackers successfully hijacked two commercial airliners yesterday. They're talking about the number of regulations they will follow by the FAA, in addition to that, further strength they will put in place to make the public safe. Among other things, they're now going to have uniformed state police offers joining the security officers on duty. Logan Airport has taken a deep hit by public perception today. There is a feeling, according to Bill Delaney, that security there has been loose in the past, and I think the fact that the MassPort announced today that they will do no more curbside check-in, that they will remove any vehicles that are standing within 300 feet of the curb from the area, pointedly shows how seriously they're taking the scrutiny of the nation.

Before I go on, I just want to share one little fact with you that is being reported in "The Boston Herald," "The Boston Globe" has some of this information, but not all of it. It is now suspected that the hijackers were able to carry off what they did by not bringing guns onboard the two planes in Boston, but by using shaving kits and other carry-on luggage to smuggle knife-like weapons made up of plastic handles embedded with razor blades. Now these are sources familiar with the investigation talking to "The Boston Herald" that is consistent with what's apparently a flight attendant cell phone calls indicated as well.

Now, I want to show you one of the latest pictures of what is going on here in New York City. You have the USS George Washington now moving into New York Harbor. It will patrol the waters off of New York City. In addition to that, a number of other naval vessels are on the move right now, some headed towards New York City, some coming to the Washington, D.C.., area to even help with some of the medical challenges that both cities are confronting at the moment.

It is interesting to note that President Bush announced earlier today that he had asked for a spending resolution that would enable the United States to spend, quote, "whatever it takes to deal with the magnitude of this horrendous tragedy that is confronting our nation." And I will have some more details for you in a moment or two.

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