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America Under Attack: New Security Precautions at the White House

Aired September 13, 2001 - 19:08   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.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to move quickly now to the White House. John King has some late information there -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, this is a fast- developing story, and we have seen over the past several hours the many facets of this the president has to deal with. First and foremost, let's give you some breaking information about new security concerns here at the White House.

Earlier this afternoon, the Secret Service, unannounced, suddenly went back out across the street, cleared Lafayette Park and the area around Pennsylvania Avenue. All vehicle traffic now moved back from the White House. And as these new security precautions were put in place, the Secret Service saying this is a part of an ongoing security operation.

Other sources, however, though, say they were concerned about another possible threat on the White House grounds.

As all that took place outside of the White House, the administration made a decision to take Vice President Dick Cheney off the White House grounds and move him to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland. The president stayed here and kept working. The decision was made, though, that they did not want the president and vice president in such close proximity at a time when they were concerned about another possible threat on the White House grounds.

Now, again, the president stayed inside as all this played out. We know he has spoken to several world leaders today, also met with his national security team, and sources telling us the administration moving ahead in those discussions on two fronts: one discussions with military planners about possible retaliatory strikes. But also this administration talking about, what one senior official told us a short time ago, is fundamentally different from anything the United States has ever done before, responding to terrorism.

All those phone calls to world leaders part of an effort by the president and the administration to build an international coalition. They are talking about years-long effort now, to choke off, in the words of one official, the safe harbor provided to terrorists, and the financial support provided to terrorists.

As part of all this, the secretary of state Colin Powell, called the president of the Pakistan today, Pakistan neighbors Afghanistan, the home of Osama bin Laden. Mr. Powell told president of Pakistan, if he wanted to follow through on a promise of cooperation that he should close the borders with Afghanistan. That he should stop supplying fuel to the Taliban government in Afghanistan and that he should grant permission for U.S. military warplanes, if necessary, to use Pakistani airspace.

All this planning taking place as another senior official tells us, one reason the administration has not retaliated yet is that there "might have been not one, but multiple organizations involved in this."

So, the investigation continuing and earlier this morning in the Oval Office, the president choked up as he spoke to reporters and considered the enormity of the challenge ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think about the families, the children. I am a loving guy. And I'm also someone, however, who has a job to do. And I intend to do it. I -- this is a terrible moment. But, this country will not relent until we have saved ourselves and others from the terrible tragedy that came upon America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now despite the obvious renewed security concerns at the White House, Mr. Bush still planning to leave the grounds tomorrow and travel to New York to assess the devastation and to get a firsthand update on the relief and recovery effort -- Bill, Joie.

CHEN: John king from the White House.

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