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America Under Attack: Discussion with Sen. Joseph Biden

Aired September 14, 2001 - 08:51   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: These pictures say it all, and Michael Okwu is among the hundred of New Yorkers who have gone to many places throughout the city to volunteer.

Michael, please fill us in on what everybody is doing now?

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am really touched by these people, Paula, and many of them have been standing here since 3:30 this morning. They are construction workers, they are electricians, they are steelworkers, and they come from all walks of life, and from all over the United States. I have talked to people from Missouri. I have talked to people from Pennsylvania, and from Delaware.

And in fact, I am greeted here by two gentlemen who came here, construction workers, Chris and Drew?


OKWU: What happened when you went inside? What is it that you wanted to offer as a service?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any bit of help I can do, pick up a rock, move something, give us on water, anything they need, anything they need. That's where I am here, just to help out.

OKWU: How did you know to come here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw it on the news. I said that's it, we're coming. So we came. We just drove around New York.

OKWU: What about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sitting there and watching it on the news, and I said let's go.

OKWU: You said that you came from Delaware. How did you get here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We drove my car yesterday. We got up here pretty lost in New York, and kept getting wrong directions, and finally found this place and waited in line a couple of hours, and said that they needed us this morning, and slept in our car, and got us here this morning and doesn't need us until tomorrow, and so it looks like we are sleeping in our car. OKWU: And they don't need you right now because they are looking for steelworkers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not enough iron workers to cut the iron. That's the biggest problem they have is cutting the iron, so they can get everyone in here to help clear the debris.

OKWU: You drove all the way from Delaware, you slept there your car. When they told that you they didn't need your service today, how did you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little letdown, but if they need us here tomorrow, then we will be here tomorrow.

OKWU: What will you do today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sleep in the car. We'll probably walk around New York, first time in Manhattan, see the sites, walk around, get into the car, and sleep, and then here we are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check in tomorrow morning, wait another three or for hours. Hopefully tomorrow, it won't be raining.

OKWU: You exemplify the spirit I think that are making many Americans proud.


OKWU: Paula, I think that pretty much says it all. Back to you.

ZAHN: Thank you, Michael. I will tell you, my heart goes out to all of my fellow New Yorkers who are going out and the doing what they can to help out.

We heard another poignant scene about something that happened last night from one of our producers, from FNC, Warren. He described a scene of trying to get on a train last night at Grand Central. He heard people cheering. He didn't know what it was. He looked over around, and he looked over his shoulder to see a New York firefighter walking through the terminal. At that point, everyone erupted and applauded, the fireman then taking off his helmet and saluting them.

And I think that Senator John Warren, Miles, might have been correct the other day when he said Tuesday is one of the -- I am paraphrasing what he said, but one of the saddest days of American history, but in the end, may turn out to be one of our finest hours.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. Thank you very much, Paula.

Let's move now to Washington D.C. Kate Snow is on Capitol Hill, as she has been throughout all of this. Yesterday there reporting on that $40 billion emergency appropriation to help New York and Virginia area rebuild after these attacks.

Kate, what's new. KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's going to be taken up here in the Congress this morning, Miles.

Joining me right now, a very powerful, a very well-known senator, Senator Joseph Biden from Delaware. I want to talk to you about a few things. You are the chairperson of the Foreign Relations Committee. So you have a lot of information about what's been going on.

First, let's start with what happened in New York. There have been a lot of reports overnight last night about some detained people in New York at the airport. Tell us what you know.

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: What I know is to be factual, and last night I couldn't say this on air. Those people have no connection whatsoever to what happened at the World Trade Towers, or the Pentagon or this organizational network. Two things happened, Kate. One guy, an actual pilot, got on the plane, coincidentally had his brother's identification as well. His brother happened to live in the apartment complex that was one in Boston where some of these people help actually been, totally, totally coincidental.

Ten other people were going to a Boeing conference. They had stickers on their bags. They work for Boeing or invited by Boeing. I am not sure of the detail. The folks at the airport thought, hey, wait a minute, are they impersonating crew? And they weren't. One guy was arrested and detained, and it was a screwball who was acting out, you know, acting out and saying and demanding I am not sure exactly what he was doing.

SNOW: Making problems for the authorities.

BIDEN: Making problem, and they arrested him. All of the rest of the people have been released. There is no connection whatsoever. Now what happened was because we are all on such high alert there, they closed down all of those airports until they knew that was the case.

SNOW: But you are confident.

BIDEN: I am confident. I am confident that I have spoken to the director of the FBI, the number two guy. I've spoken to the CIA and George Tenet. This was 6:00 this morning, as late as 6:30 this morning, which is what, an hour and a half ago, or whatever?

SNOW: What about other leads? We have been reporting many other places where investigations are under way, like in Florida.

BIDEN: There are. Kate, there are, and other people will be arrested. These guys didn't operate alone. Last night when I was responding in another program, when I was aware of what was going on, I thought that they were talking about investigations of baggage handlers and people at airports and et cetera. That is thoroughly -- we have 7,000 FBI agents out there combing the countryside, and you will see other arrests, and one thing that people should understand, there is no evidence of that there were people trying to get on the plane to duplicate what happened at the Pentagon, or in Pennsylvania or in the state of New York.

SNOW: Is there evidence that there could be more to come? Do you have a sense for that?

BIDEN: I am not at liberty to speak to that, except to say people should not be -- I understand their fear, but people should not be fearful that there is an imminent prospect of a similar event occurring. There is -- we are going to get all kinds of threats, Kate. We walked out of this building yesterday, Kate. I was embarrassed quite frankly to walk out.

SNOW: This is when you were evacuated last evening.

BIDEN: Now we did something that we have never done before. We evacuated on the threat a bomb scare. We've never done that until you see something, you look and see a the box, and you see...

SNOW: Right.

BIDEN: But everyone is on tenderhooks now, and we are -- and I am not second-guessing it, but we are reacting in a way in the aftermath of this that will take a little bit of time to sort of climb off of.

SNOW: I want to go back to the investigation for a minute, since you know so much. What can you tell us about whether these were cells of people who knew each other, who didn't know each other. Do you have any sense for how big an organization that we are talking about?

BIDEN: Let me be careful here. We have evidence that there were a number of cells, all knowing one another, all in part of the game plan that were able to pull off this God-awful event. I think in the next days, Kate, you will see some very concrete evidence of that presented to the American people.

SNOW: Will we see a declaration from this Congress tomorrow to declare for the use of force.

BIDEN: What you may see it as earliest as today.

SNOW: As early as today.

BIDEN: I am going in to present it now.

SNOW: Thank you very much, sir, Joseph Biden, on his way to meeting of the Democratic leaders here in Senate where they'll try to sort some of this out.

Back to you, Miles.

O'BRIEN: CNN's Kate Snow with Senator Biden.



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