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America Under Attack: Job Ahead of Bush

Aired September 14, 2001 - 03:10   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.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush has not yet said how he intends to respond to Tuesday's attacks. For now, he is considering a request from Rumsfeld to call several thousand members of the reserves to active duty in the next few days. The last call up was in January of 1991 for the Gulf War.

John King reports the president is not taking any of the decisions before him likely.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESP. (voice-over): The president choked up as he discussed the enormity of the challenge ahead.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA : I think about the families, the children. I'm a -- I'm a loving guy, and I'm also someone, however, who's got a job to do and I intend to do it.

KING: Two days after the attacks, discussions with top security advisors include talk of retaliatory strikes followed by a sustained international diplomatic and financial crackdown against suspected terrorists and their supporters.

BUSH: Now is the 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 focused of my administration.

KING: Sources say military planners are discussing options for retaliating against the lead suspect, Saudi terrorist, Osama bin Laden.

But one senior official said the administration was waiting to act because -- quote -- "There might be not one but multiple organizations involved in this." Another served notice that when the administration does act, it will not be a one-time affair.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: 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 a full resources of the U.S. Government. It will be a campaign, not a single action.

KING: The president and first lady took time to visit some of those injured in the attack on the Pentagon. And Mr. Bush called Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudy Giuliani to announce he will travel to New York on Friday to get a first-hand look at the worst of the devastation.

But this interfered with the White House effort to project a reassuring image. The security perimeter around the White House suddenly expanded because of new concerns of a terrorist attack. Vice President Cheney left the White House and was rushed to the Camp David Presidential Retreat so that he and the president would not be at the same location.

(on camera): These new and ever-changing security precautions at the White House are the downside of what one of the president's closest advisor's called, "an event that has transformed the country." And what Mr. Bush himself labels, "the first war of the 21st century."

John King, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNATHAN: For more on the president's reaction, we go now to White House Correspondent, Major Garrett. Major.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, we have some news to bring you about the deal struck between the White House and congressional negotiators early this morning over a $40 billion supplemental spending bill to assist the efforts in New York and Virginia to recover and clean up after the terrorist attacks in both places.

Forty billion dollars is twice what the White House had requested from Congress, a clear sign of bipartisan support. Ten billion of that will be able to be released by the president immediately to aid those recovery and cleanup efforts. Another 10 billion can be released with 15 days notice given to Congress. And 20 billion is being set aside in what congressional negotiators call a reserve fund that the Congress will obligate after being told to do so or asked to do so by the president.

So $40 billion, a deal reached early this morning between the White House and members of Congress.

Late Thursday on "LARRY KING LIVE," House Speaker Dennis Hastert said that the Congress, Republican and Democrat, would unite behind the president, provide him resources not only to deal with recovery and cleanup but also to draft and approve a resolution authorizing the use of force against any terrorist cells or organizations thought to have been responsible for the attacks on Tuesday.

President Bush himself spent time on this day -- Thursday, rather, dealing with the after effects of the Tuesday attacks visiting those who were recovering at the George Washington Hospital Center and providing whatever comfort and aid he could to those recovering there at the hospital. Also he spoke by telephone, as John King pointed out, with the Governor of New York, Republican Governor George Pataki and the Mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani. The president will fly to New York City later on today, Friday, to survey the damage from the air and also to go to the ground and see it up close. Before he does that, he will attend what is being described as a national prayer service and a national day of remembrance, the National Cathedral in Washington. Both efforts designed to bring the President to New York to thank and to shake the hands and give his support to those thousands of New York police and firefighters working in the recovery effort tireless and also to lead the nation in the day of remembrance and a day of prayer.

Jonathan.

MANN: Major, sir -- the president will be travelling again, let me ask you about his travels on Tuesday. You were with the press core that was accompanying the president, what was it like that day?

GARRETT: It was an amazing day, Jonathan, an amazing day that began in the most ordinary of ways.

The president woke up early. He went for a jog -- even brought some reporters along. The president likes to jog, he runs at a pretty quick pace, about seven minutes, 15 seconds per mile. He ran three miles. Came back very rested, very fit, feeling very good. He even joked with reporters about how good it was to start the morning with a brisk and refreshing jog.

Then we were all taken to Emma T. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota where the president was going to begin reading a book to some of the students arrayed around him. Then he was going to make some remarks about education reform, top domestic agenda item.

But all of that was shattered by the first attack on the World Trade Tower Center, tower number one. The president was notified of that just before he went into read that book to the school of children and then as he was reading, his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, came in whispered in his ear the dreadful news about the second jet airliner crashing into tower number two. The president's face darkened.

Reporters asked him if he had known about any of this news, cautioned them to be quiet, "We'll talk about it later," he said, clearly trying to protect the children from the devastating news they and the rest of America were beginning to see unfold before their very eyes.

The president then quickly put together a statement, telling the nation of an apparent terrorist attack. Then he was whisked away from Sarasota. We were told he was heading back to Washington, D.C., but as we know now, he himself and Air Force One was indeed a target, which forced him to fly first to Barksdale Air Force Base outside of Streetford (ph), Louisiana, then to Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha before returning to Washington.

Johnathan.

MANN: Major Garrett, thanks very much.

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