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America's New War: President Bush Visits Site of World Trade Center Attack; Bush Administration Pressuring Pakistan for Cooperation

Aired September 14, 2001 - 19:08   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Joie Chen in CNN Center in Atlanta.

We want to continue now with our coverage and bring you up-to- date with the latest information we have about the tragedies of Tuesday.

President Bush was very much in the public eye today as he helped the country, in his own words, "express our nation's sorrow." Mr. Bush traveled to New York himself to see the devastation at the World Trade Center site. He met with the rescue workers who were -- greeted him with chants, U.S.A., U.S.A.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Bush, as well as much of the nation's leadership, gathered at the Washington National Cathedral at a service to honor the victims of Tuesday's terror attacks. Four former U.S. presidents, diplomats from 170 countries were all also there to share the nation's grief.

Commercial airline service has resumed at most U.S. airports, although on a limited basis still, and with the new security measures, officials are warning passengers that they must show up 2 1/2 hours before domestic flights so that all the security can be done -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Joie, our senior White House correspondent, John King, has doing some digging, some reporting, which of course is what he does best. John, tell us what you just learned about Pakistan and its willingness to cooperate with the United States in this expected war against Osama bin Laden.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, senior administration officials telling us a short time ago this could be, emphasis on "could be," a significant development. We know the president's weekend deliberations with his national security team will focus on potential military responses and we know the administration has been trying to pressure the government of Pakistan to cooperate.

Pakistan neighbors Afghanistan, which, of course, is where Osama bin Laden has safe harbor. We are told in a series of diplomatic conversations over the past few days Pakistan responded today by promising the U.S. government it would, quote, "cooperate fully" with any U.S. efforts here.

Now, a little bit of background. Right after the attacks, the Pakistani government condemned them and promised to cooperate. So yesterday Secretary of State Colin Powell decided to put that to the test. He spoke to Pakistan's president and he said the United States wanted Pakistan to close its border with Afghanistan, to stop supplying fuel to the Taliban movement, and to guarantee that if asked Pakistan would provide access to Pakistani airspace to any U.S. warplanes.

The U.S. government also asked for any information that the Pakistani government might have about the movements or the organization of Mr. bin Laden. Now, we were told today there was another diplomatic conversation in which Pakistan promised to fully cooperate.

I want to emphasize U.S. officials still a bit skeptical. This has been a hot-and-cold relationship. They say the major test will be whether Pakistan moves immediately to close its border with Afghanistan. U.S. officials watching that closely.

Now, this all part of the much broader effort by the Bush administration to build an international coalition, a long-term coalition to fight the war against terrorism. And we know a bit more about that tonight as well.

We are told by senior officials that in all those conversations Mr. Bush has had with international leaders in recent days he has specifically appealed to the leaders of nations like Canada, France and Germany to crack down on terrorist cells known to be operating in their countries. He has also asked Saudi Arabia to crack down on any financial support to Mr. bin Laden and to the Taliban.

Secretary of State Colin Powell at the State Department today outlined in a broad sense what the administration was looking for.


COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The enemy is in many places, the enemy is not looking to be found. The enemy is hidden. The enemy is very often right here within our own country.

And so you have to design a campaign plan that goes after that kind of enemy. And it isn't always blunt force military, although that is certainly a option. It may well be that diplomatic efforts, political efforts, legal, financial, other efforts may be just as effective against that kind of an enemy as with military force.


KING: So again the administration encouraged tonight. It says it has received a promise from Pakistan to fully cooperate with any U.S. efforts here. One footnote, though. U.S. officials saying they want to put that promise to the test. They are watching to see if Pakistan shuts down the border with Afghanistan -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And John, just to nail this point, because it's significant, General Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, are you saying he did give the United States authority, permission to use Pakistani airspace, to fly over Pakistan if it were going to attack positions of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan?

KING: What I am told -- and we need to be careful here -- but what I am told by senior administration officials is that subsequent to the conversation with Secretary Powell, the Pakistani government has promised to, quote, "fully cooperate." And we do know that one of the requests was that the United States could ask for and would immediately receive a promise that it could fly through Pakistani airspace.

So it certainly is implied in saying you would fully cooperate, that you would grant that access. Again, U.S. officials saying they want to test this out, they want to have follow-up conversation. And first and foremost, they want to see Pakistan do what it could do quickest: shut the border with Afghanistan.

John King at the White House, thank you very much -- Joie.

CHEN: Wolf, here in the CNN newsroom, we have General Wesley Clark, of course adviser to CNN about all these matters military. Certainly your experience with NATO will help us to understand a little bit more about what John King has been talking about, about the significance of Pakistan's cooperation, however much that turns out to be.

Could you outline for us some of the keys in this and why Pakistan is so crucial?

RET. GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FORMER SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, Pakistan is the bridge into Afghanistan along this border. We would normally like to use the seaways to get access to the region. If we were going to go in with ground troops, of course, we would want to make an egress through Pakistan. If we were going to use air power, perhaps we'd go over Pakistan. All that is entirely speculative right now.

But we do know that the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, in particular, are getting support out of Pakistan.

So the first order of business is cut off that support along that border.

CHEN: That border.

CLARK: The second order of business is we want the Taliban to isolate Osama bin Laden, detain him, bring him in for us...

CHEN: Is that the rough area, the area you just circled? Is that...

CLARK: He's got many different camps in many different areas. And we don't have, to the best of my knowledge, hour-by-hour, day-by- day tracking on Osama bin Laden. That's one of the problems.

CHEN: Yeah, I understand that at one point the Clinton administration had looked into the possibility of trying to send some sort of force against bin Laden, but because he has so many areas that he operates in within Afghanistan that they couldn't be sure that the latest intelligence would actually find the person they wanted.

CLARK: This is the most difficult -- this is the most difficult matter of going after an individual. You either have to know he's got an appointment somewhere, like a meeting -- and we did strike at one point when we heard there was going to be a meeting -- or you have to have real-time tracking that's with some kind of pattern so you can actually predict where he's going to be, and time the arrival, of the force, of the munitions, or whatever. It's a tough problem.

CHEN: General, Wolf has a question for you as well about this relationship -- Wolf.

BLITZER: General Clark, if the U.S., as our national security correspondent, David Ensor, has been reporting, is considering the need for ground forces at some point to go into Afghanistan against Osama bin Laden's forces over there, presumably the U.S. would need some staging point from which to move against these positions in Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban. Are some of the nations in that part of the world, like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or others -- presumably, maybe even Pakistan -- prepared to allow the United States those kinds of staging points?

CLARK: Well, I think that will be a matter of intense diplomatic discussion. But ultimately, if they're on our side and feel those sympathies that they expressed to us, then they're going to allow us those staging capabilities.

We've also got alternatives. We may be able to use a sea-based staging platform. But we've got to look at the time-distance factors, the size of the force, what the mission is before we really know what the requirements are for logistics.

BLITZER: And the U.S. obviously has some aircraft carriers in the region as well potentially.

CLARK: Right. That's exactly right.


CHEN: General Clark, thanks very much for that additional information about the scene we see in that part of the world.

Now back to the part of the world where the search is still under way. Lower Manhattan where the work goes on at the World Trade Center site. Gary Tuchman is standing by there now -- Gary. GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, it's now been 3 1/2 days since terrorists commandeered an American Airlines plane and a United Airlines plane and crashed them into the World Trade Centers, which was five blocks behind me. And even after all this time, after 82 hours, it still doesn't feel real.

As a former New Yorker, I used to walk down this street that I'm on right now, Greenwich Street. I used to Rollerblade down this street. No matter what the weather was or the situation, there was one constant: You saw these two gleaming 110-story buildings right down the street. And now what we see is smoldering ruins. And when you get close to the scene, it really looks like hell, because you just see the burning, the fires continuing, you see the smoke. And it's almost like a geyser. The smoke hasn't stopped since this happened on Tuesday.

It's been a very, very eventful day, but the most important thing hasn't happened today, and that is the discovery of survivors. For the last two full days, not one survivor has been found, and that's very bad news considering the fact that about 4,700 people are still missing. The potential is that 4,700 people are buried just a few blocks behind me.

What did happen today was a visit by the president of the United States. George W. Bush arrived here in New York City about 4 o'clock Eastern Time, about 3 hours and 20 minutes ago. He is still here as we speak right now. But when he came here, he went to the site and he met with the hundreds of rescue workers who are there right now. And they all started shouting U.S.A., U.S.A. They were very enthusiastic, very happy to see the president of the United States, who toured the site with the governor of New York, George Pataki, the mayor, Rudy Giuliani. And it certainly was people from all parties, all together, because there were the two Democratic senators from the state also with him, Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The president of the United States then went on top of the rubble surrounded by workers and talked to them.




GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want you all to know -- we can't go any louder.

I want you all to know that America today, America today is on bended knee in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, for the workers who work here, for the families who mourn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go get them, George.

BUSH: This nation stands with the good people of New York City and New Jersey and Connecticut as we mourn the loss of thousands of our citizens. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George, I can't hear you!

BUSH: I can hear you!



I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people...


And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!


CROWD: U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

BUSH: The nation -- the nation sends its love and compassion to everybody who is here. Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for making the nation proud, and may god bless America.



TUCHMAN: It was quite an extraordinary sight, the president of the United States standing on the wreckage of the World Trade Center and saying, quote, "The people who knocked down these buildings are going to hear from all of us." Those are words that people will remember for a very long time.

And we want to talk about the rescue workers who are on this scene. There are between 1,000 and 2,000 of them at any given time. And you may tend to forget how dangerous that work is considering that the rubble continues to shift.

One thing you have to keep in mind -- you may remember this, you may not -- but we want to talk about Oklahoma City. During the Oklahoma City disaster, one of the volunteers who went in there was a nurse. She was hit on the head by fallen rubble and she died. Her name was Rebecca Anderson (ph). She was one of the 168 people who perished in the building and there is a chair at the Oklahoma City Memorial in her honor.

Wolf and Joie, back to you.

BLITZER: Thanks much, Gary.

I want to go now to Elizabeth Cohen. She's been at the Armory in New York, telling some incredible stories of people searching for their loved-ones. Elizabeth, tell us what's happening now.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what's happened is at this corner where families come and they register information about their loved-ones so that the authorities can help find them has sort of evolved into a natural gathering place where ordinary citizens come to give comfort to those who are missing their loved-ones. As you can see here, people have gathered to light candles. And if we move across the street over here, we can see all those posters that are up there. Those are posters of people who are missing.

When you walk around this city, it is like gardens of these have shown up all over. And they're not just there. People actually stop and they look at them.

I met someone yesterday who was down here, and I said, "Sir, are you missing a loved-one?" And he said, "No, I just wanted to see if I knew anyone in these posters and maybe I possibly might know something about them."

You can see up above, people in their apartment are lighting candles. It's just to get -- everything here has happened so spontaneously. When families have come to register information with the police about their missing loved-ones, they might find another family who's missing someone from the same company, and they then share information.

And we have seen people just support one another in truly incredible ways.

There's a young woman down here who I'd like to speak with. Her name is Sara (ph). Sara, tell me why you came here today.

SARA: I came here to just comfort the families who lost their loved-ones. I'm just very sad about this tragedy.

COHEN: Thank you.

And that is simply and eloquently put the reason why everyone is here. I have someone who handed me a candle here and it says: "Join in an outdoor vigil. Light a candle wherever you are, and show the world that we are strong, we are united and we will not tolerate terrorism."


BLITZER: Elizabeth, I want to go to a live picture from Boston right now, where I believe some of these candlelight ceremonies are continuing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... fanned out across the country to help with this emotional trauma.

BLITZER: This is in Birmingham, Alabama, where the -- where the candlelight ceremony, one of many, many around the United States is continuing. If Elizabeth Cohen is still there...

I want to talk to Elizabeth as we look at this candlelight vigil in Boston. Elizabeth, there are about 5,000 people who are officially listed as missing in New York City. Does that mean that is eventually perhaps, tragically -- we hope not -- going to be the death toll? Are there others that perhaps are not officially listed? Is that the issue there?

All right. Unfortunately, Elizabeth Cohen is having some problems hearing.

Let's listen and watch this candlelight vigil that's continuing in Boston right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... a family under one sky. We're all a family under one sky, a family under one sky.

Let's sing that together. Here we go.

One, two, you know what to do.

PERFORMERS AND AUDIENCE (singing): We're all a family under one sky, a family under one sky. We're all a family under one sky, a family under one sky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was beautiful. Now I'd like you to sing that chorus again. But this time I want to see you swaying back and forth...

BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, I hope you can hear me now. I wanted to try to pinpoint the numbers that we're getting, the tragic numbers of those missing. There are almost 5,000 who are officially listed as missing. But that number could go up, couldn't it?

COHEN: ... I don't really know what the -- I don't really know what the actual, official numbers are. What I know is that the families who've gathered here, the families who are missing loved one. They don't really care about the numbers. All of them, almost without exception, say, I know that my brother, mother, father, sister, girlfriend, boyfriend -- I know he or she is alive, I can feel it in my heart. I know that he or she is out there. Perhaps they're one of the John or Jane Does in the hospital. Perhaps they're in coma, but I know they're waiting for me.

BLITZER: So what you're saying, Elizabeth, is they still are holding out hope against hope that they're going to find their loved- ones?

COHEN: Exactly. I mean, it's hope against hope, but they don't really think of it that way. They really think of it as hope.

I thought today -- I've been talking to them now since Wednesday morning. And I thought today perhaps the hope might have dissipated, might have gone down. But it really hasn't. They really, truly believe that they're going to be the ones who are going to find someone alive.

BLITZER: And is there any sense how many of those Jane Does and John Does are currently listed in hospitals?

COHEN: Well, if they don't know who they are, then they're listed as just unknown. But when people come to the Armory, which is what you see here on the corner, they're given two lists. And one is a list of people who are in the hospital, and another one is a list of people who they've identified as being deceased.

Apparently, there are a small number of people who are in hospitals, but they don't know who they are. At least that's what -- that's what I've heard here. But again, it's a very -- it's a very small number, Wolf.

BLITZER: And are the crowds increasing as the hours tonight go on or are they beginning to go away?

COHEN: Well, the crowd right now is pretty big because of the candlelight vigil, but as far as families actually coming and registering information with the authorities and taking a look at these lists, that has gone way down. Yesterday the lines were around the corner. It could take an hour or even more than that to get through the line. Today there were far fewer people. I think yesterday was really the day where people wanted to come in and give information.

They were also asked to bring information back in later. They were asked to bring in hair samples. They were asked for immediate family to give blood samples so that DNA could be matched if a body was found.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen at the Armory in New York. Once again, thank you so much for sharing those stories with us.

Back to you, Joie.

CHEN: Wolf, New York also got much inspiration and hope from President Bush and his visit. You see that the work is still under way at the World Trade Center site, 24 hours a day, perhaps thousands of people involved still working away down there. That is a live picture you're seeing from the scene.

Also looking on to the scene today is CNN's Richard Roth, who's following up on the president's visit there. And Richard, if you could talk to us a little bit now about the impact that the weather might have had on the search efforts, I did see that the plumes of smoke seemed to be down somewhat. I'm wondering if the rain did at least have some effect on dampening down those big plumes of smoke coming up from the rubble.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're seeing work continuing right now in the rubble. Just about an hour and a half after President Bush departed here, tractors, excavation equipment, illuminated by flood lights, a very eerie scene. But yes, above that rubble, hanging all over the workers despite, you know, about 14 to 17 hours of driving, pounding rain and strong winds, the cloud is still there. It almost seems bigger.

It is just a mix of dust and ash, and of course, fears of some levels of asbestos concern a lot of people in this area. And the clouds are wafting a bit west at the moment over the -- some of these buildings that are of concern to rescue workers.

And you know, still rushing to the scene here, a little late, though, but like the cavalry, there's gigantic a line that stretches perhaps a mile -- it goes past some of the skyscrapers here; I can't even see it, the buildings -- are a mixture of ambulances, buses, trucks, cars, because that west side highway, the main access road to get supplies and help into the World Trade Center zone, that was closed because of President Bush's visit.

So now that he's gone they've opened the road. It's an amazing sight of vehicles. And nobody blowing a horn, which you could never get in Manhattan, everybody just sitting quietly, waiting for a police officer to wave them by, and a lot of people gathered around some of the supply trucks -- Joie.

CHEN: CNN's Richard Roth in Lower Manhattan at this hour.

BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Just want to report that when President Bush was visiting the site, the rubble, today in Lower Manhattan, he met with the wife of a firefighter who has been confirmed to have died in this terrible tragedy. The wife presented President Bush with that firefighter's badge.


BUSH: ... for the lives that were lost here, for the workers who work here. For the families and more...


BLITZER: Let's get an update right now on exactly what is happening at this moment. President Bush has toured ground zero in Lower Manhattan. Early this evening, Mr. Bush rallied the rescue workers who are doing the arduous work of the survivors. The president said the whole nation stands with the people of New York.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, tell CNN they have reason to believe that would-be terrorists still are in this country and may attempt to carry out further attacks. They say the terrorists they're speaking of may include more pilots. Today the Justice Department released the names of 19 hijackers who struck on Tuesday. 7 were pilots.

Around the United States today, Americans paused to remember the victims of Tuesday's attacks. And President Bush said the country will meet its responsibility to history. He has authorized the call- up of 50,000 reservists, and has declared a state of national emergency.

Bill Press and Tucker Carlson are standing by of our "CROSSFIRE" team. For more, Bill and Tucker.



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