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America Under Attack: Washington Rescue Continues, And Preparations Begin

Aired September 14, 2001 - 01:05   ET


COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. The weather obviously a concern, but a steady stream of evacuations, bomb threats and arrests is also keeping the nation on edge.

Vice President Dick Cheney has been separated from the president as a precaution and the White House apparently has some renewed security concerns. President Bush, meanwhile, is preparing for his first trip to New York since the attacks.

With more on all of this, we go to Major Garrett. Major, what are those security concerns?

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Colleen, before I summarize the security concerns, let's cover some breaking news. CNN has confirmed that the White House and congress have reached a deal for $40 billion of emergency aid for New York and for Virginia and for the prosecution of what Mr. Bush has called the first war of the 21st century, a war against global terrorism.

That deal was reached moments ago between White House negotiators, senior members of the Democratic and Republican leadership from the House and the Senate. Sources tell CNN that $40 billion emergency supplemental spending bill will be on the floor of the House of Representatives sometime later on today, Friday afternoon, maybe into the Friday evening. The Senate is expected to then pass it soon thereafter. This legislation should be prepared for the president's signature no later than Saturday.

Also on Saturday there should be considerable debate on Capitol Hill and passage of a use of force resolution, authorizing the president to prosecute that war against global terrorism. But to repeat, CNN has confirmed a deal between White House and senior congressional negotiators over a supplemental emergency spending bill of $40 billion, $20 billion of that set aside for immediate clean up, rescue, recovery efforts in Virginia at the Pentagon and in downtown New York at the site of the World Trade Center catastrophe, and then $20 billion for beefed up counter-terrorism activities and also potentially to carry out any activities or any raids, military or otherwise, against those thought responsible for the terrorist attacks here in the United States.

As for the president's day on Thursday, it was very busy indeed on several fronts, not only working with congress on this supplemental bill and a use of force resolution, but also dealing with the symbolism of healing. The president and the First Lady Laura Bush went to the George Washington Hospital Center to visit and commiserate with those recovering from their injuries of the plane crashing into the Pentagon on Tuesday. Also talking to some of the rescue workers, responding as the president and the First Lady often must do in situations like this, setting a note of sympathy and extended their heartfelt congratulations to some of those who helped rescue those and sympathy to those who were recovering from their injuries.

Also, the president, by phone, spoke to those who have been on the front line in New York - Governor George Pataki, the Republican governor of New York, and the Republican mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani. From the Oval Office, President Bush talked to both of them thanking them for all of their efforts in New York, to rally firefighters police officers, volunteers, rescue efforts and all the work - the massive work that's going on in New York City to deal with the tragedy of the catastrophe there.

After concluding his telephone conversation with those two leaders in New York, the president took a few questions. And as the reporters asked him about the gravity of this situation, he said the country must be prepared to fight the first war of the 21st century.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Through the tears of sadness, I see an opportunity. Now, make no mistake about it, this nation is sad, but we're also tough and resolute. And now is an opportunity to do generations a favor by coming together and whipping terrorism, hunting it down, finding it and holding them accountable. The nation must understand this is now the focus of my administration.


GARRETT: Senior administration officials tell CNN it was a very important note the president wanted to strike in that response, feeling that there was a pervasive sense in the country that this nation will never ever be the same. And what the president wanted to do in those remarks is say, Well, that very well may be true, but it doesn't mean we will not be the same and all the changes will be negative. Perhaps, just perhaps this country can in fact wage a war that the world will join in it waging that will change the world for the better, stressing the opportunity perhaps to do generations of Americans yet unborn a good service by dealing with terrorism, combating it and hopefully rooting it out. That was definitely a note the president wanted to strike.

We had many other notes struck by the administration today, one by the First Lady Laura Bush, speaking for many Americans and trying to in some ways describe the scope of the tragedy.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: I was not frightened for myself. I was, like every American, concerned about everyone who was in the World Trade Center and also so unbelievably saddened that something like this would happen in our country and that the disregard for life of the people who did this was so profound that they would harm people who were going about their daily lives. It's a terrible, tragedy.


GARRETT: Of course, White House staff is trying to also go about its daily lives, but that's much more difficult now than it was on Monday. The security perimeter around the White House was extended this afternoon by the Secret Service, extended by several blocks. And throughout the afternoon and this evening there have been innumerable false alarms, even as I speak to you now, Colleen, in the early morning darkness here in Washington D.C. A search helicopter hovers over the White House, its searchlight piercing the early morning darkness. It is a sight and a sound I've never felt or seen before in the nation's capital.

Colleen, Jim?

MCEDWARDS: Major Garrett, thanks very much.

JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: Well let's go across the Potomac River to the Pentagon where of just a little while ago flames briefly flared again from the wreckage there. Mark Potter joins us now live.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Jim. You're right to characterize it as briefly. There was a little bit of fire for a while but it was quickly put out. Now the big news here at the Pentagon tonight is that sources say a decision has not been made yet but that President Bush is considering activating as many as 50,000 military reservists to help with the disaster recovery efforts and to relieve National Guard pilots who have been standing by or flying combat air patrols around the country.

Meanwhile here at the building tonight, as you can see here, workers continue to work in the rubble under very bright spotlights looking for bodies and for the so called black boxes from the American Airlines 757 that crashed here Tuesday.

Now earlier today the county fire Chief said officials thought they heard pinging, a pinging sound from one of the boxes, either the voice recorder or the data recorder but says that officials looked around in the area and they so far have been unable to find anything.

At a news briefing, the Deputy Secretary of Defense said that whenever the U.S. decides to respond to the recent terrorist attacks it will be long term and wide spread.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think one thing is clear is that you don't do it with just a single military strike no matter how dramatic. You don't do it with just military forces alone. You do it with the full resources of the U.S. government. It will be a campaign, not a single action and we're going to keep after these people and the people who support them until this stops. (END VIDEO CLIP)

POTTER: Now meanwhile back here at the Pentagon officials now estimate that around 190 people died in the attack here on the building. That includes the 64 who were aboard the plane. One of the survivors of the attack, a Navy lieutenant, talked with us today and said right after the plane crashed into the building everyone rallied to help the injured.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, LIEUTENANT, U.S. NAVY: It was actually very calm. Everybody was looking out for everybody else, different services, Army, Navy, Air Force. Everybody was working together to, you know, make sure if you need you help and a lot civilians were - it seemed like a lot more of the civilian were injured than the military and everybody was rushing to everybody's aid to help out.


POTTER: Now as of late this afternoon officials say about -- said about 70 bodies had been recovered from the building. They are being taken to the Dover Air Force base mortuary in Delaware and for those people who have been looking up into the skies seeing combat aircraft flying overhead.

The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said that combat air patrols are still being flown in the Washington, D.C., New York City corridor and that fighter pilots are on a 15 minute standby at 26 military bases around the country and as we leave you, here is another view of the building tonight.

Things seems quiet here but workers are working in the rubble 24 hours a day sifting through the debris, looking for bodies, looking for the black boxes, shoring up the buildings so that they can get farther into the rubble to look for the other -- the rest of the victims. They do not expect to find any more survivors here.

Jim and Colleen, back to you.

CLANCY: All right. Mark Potter, thank you for that report.

Well as the victims' families try to come to terms with devastating pain, many are telling chilling tales of their loved ones final moments. We spoke to Debra Burlingame. Her brother was the pilot of the hijacked aircraft that slammed into the Pentagon.


DEBRA BURLINGAME, SISTER OF FLIGHT 77 PILOT: I used to be a flight attendant many, many years ago. So in addition to my brother we really feel a connection with airline people and have a lot of airline friends apart from my brother.

And so we are -- we're devastated to see these scenes like this and this is just an extraordinary scene. So I didn't know what he was saying. He was screaming and then I caught him -- I caught the word: Chick (ph). It's Chick.

And there's no words to describe -- you know, you hear crime victims families being told: This is a murder scene. This is -- this is a mass murder.


JIM: Captain Charles Burlingame was one of the 64 passengers and crew on board that Los Angeles bound flight.

MCEDWARDS: Well, President Bush and his senior aides have left the world in no doubt that they consider Tuesday's terrorist attack on New York and Washington acts of war. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says careful consideration is being given to an appropriate response.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: So you have to consider you're dealing with a very, very skilled, knowledgeable thinking enemy and we just have to think better than them, think faster than them and be cleverer than them in order to respond in a sensible way with all of the weapons at our disposal and one of those weapons is military force used in an appropriate way. It's not so much the size of whatever military response you might have but does it do the job? Does it get to heart of the problem?


MCEDWARDS: All right. And you heard earlier that President Bush calling these terrorist strikes the first war of the 21st Century. So as Washington studies a range of military options to take against those responsible for the attack, U.S. troop strength already is on the rise at an overseas air base that could play a strategic role.

Jane Arraf reports now from the predominantly Muslim country, Turkey.


JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is one of the biggest U.S. air bases in the region. On Turkish territory, leased by the U.S., it is, Turkish military sources here say, gearing up for a possible military strike.

They say in the past two days the U.S. has sent in more personnel, adding to the 7,000 troops it already has in southeastern Turkey. Movements in the town surrounding the base have been restricted. U.S. military officials won't comment on the new measures.

Since the end of the Gulf War U.S. planes have taken off from Incirlick to patrol and sometimes bomb northern Iraq though the economy of southeastern Turkey relies on trade from Iraq. Also, neighbor to Iran and Syria, Muslim Turkey is making clear its loyalties lie with the U.S. BULAN ECEVIT, PRIME MINISTER, TURKEY: I don't specify any country in our struggle against terrorism and we will certainly support fully the Article Five of NATO.

ARRAF: That Article, invoked by NATO for the first time, treats the attack on the United States as an attack on all NATO members. Turkey's Prime Minister says that means Turkey would allow Incirlick to be used to strike whoever was behind the U.S. attack.

There was military and emotional support here as throughout Ankara Thursday, the Turkish star and crescent, the symbol of Islam, flew at half staff along side the stars and stripes in mourning for the dead.

(on camera): But in this country a NATO member and a Muslim ally of the United States the shockwaves are still being felt.

(voice-over): Turkey's economy also staggered under the tragedy. Already in crisis, the Turkish lyra fell further.

ECEVIT: We have realized that we will be faced with additional economy problems while trying to deal with economies crisis. We know that it's a mobile problem also.

ARRAF: Tourism was hit, as cruise ships stopping in Istanbul kept their passengers on board. Like Americans around the globe, those here were told by their embassy to keep a low profile.

Jane Arraf, CNN Ankara.


MCEDWARDS: Well searchers have found the flight data recorder from the plane that crashed in western Pennsylvania on Tuesday morning. The data recorder from United Airlines flight 93 was found on the crater caused by the plane when it -- when it crashed there.

The passenger jet was on route to San Francisco from Newark when it was taken over by hijackers and rerouted though passengers apparently tried to wrest control from the hijackers causing the plane to crash before it reached whatever target the hijackers were aiming for. The flight's cockpit voice recorder though has not been found. Still search is going on for that.

CLANCY: All right. Well last December a pilot instructor in Florida gave flying lessons to two men who claim to be student pilots from the Middle East.

MCEDWARDS: That's right. They're now suspects in Tuesday's attack and they may have flown two of the hijacked planes. John Sorrell investigates how they managed to pull this off.


HENRY GEORGE, FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR: Unfortunately, sadly enough.

JOHN SORRELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Henry George feels pain, extreme frustration and great regret.

GEORGE: I don't want to believe that what I did made them successful.

SORRELL: Last December 29th and 30th at his Opelaka (ph) flight training school, George gave two Middle Eastern men some basic lessons in a simulator on how to fly a jet aircraft. The two men were Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al Shehri.

The FBI is now combing through apartments in south Florida checking cars and mailboxes, all linked to Mohamed Atta. Law enforcement sources say Atta is a suspect in the attack, perhaps a pilot of one of the doomed jets. He was listed on the manifest of American Airlines flight 11 from Boston. Marwan Al Shehri, according to German authorities, was also aboard one of the hijacked planes.

The story Atta and Al Shehri gave their flight instructor was this.

GEORGE: They were on their way home and they wanted the exposure to jet flying or an introduction to jet flying, because they were hoping to get a job with their airline in their country.

SORELL: George says they mentioned Egypt a couple of times, but generally during the two days they didn't have much to say, no small talk.

GEORGE: They were low-key individuals, maybe even call them shy but there wasn't -- you know, they were not outspoken opinionated type people.

SORRELL: In all George says he spent eight hours with the two men. They reserved their lessons with a credit card but paid in cash, $1500. George says he wishes something about them had been suspicious.

GEORGE: He was using his own name. They provide you with credit card numbers. You know there was nothing that you would -- make you suspect that this individual was anything but (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SORRELL: George says they were just a couple of student pilots and there was nothing special about their abilities.

GEORGE: What I can recollect from my memory is that we mostly did turns. It -- and a couple of approaches. I don't think we did any more than that.

SORRELL: What they didn't do George says was practice how to land. John Sorrell, CNN, Miami.




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