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America's New War: Terrorists May be Planning More Attacks

Aired September 18, 2001 - 06:05   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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And as hard as that is to look at, Attorney General John Ashcroft says there is a very real concern that there may be more terrorist attacks planned against the U.S. And the FBI has launched a manhunt for nearly 200 people now.

CNN's Bob Franken joins us now live from the Pentagon with the latest.

Good morning, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Leon.

In about three and a half hours, it will be one week -- one week since that nightmare played out here at the Pentagon, played out, of course, throughout the city of Washington and around the world. One week, they've still discovered less than 100 of the 188 bodies that they believe will be inside the Pentagon.

It was about 9:40 in the morning Eastern time when that plane crashed into the building here on the other side and caused the scenes that you saw just a moment ago. These scenes that were shot almost immediately afterwards by members of the Pentagon. Everybody else in the media was trying to figure out what to do. They were locating wherever they could, and, of course, they were not given proximity anywhere near this.

The rest of the city of Washington was awash in rumors, rumors that there was -- there was a car bomb at the State Department, a rumor that was untrue. Rumors that there were going to be problems at the Capitol, but of course this was the target this time. And a week later the search goes on through the rubble. They still try and reconstruct and put up the support beams to make it safe to begin a rebuilding process that's going to take at least a couple of years and several hundred million dollars to correct.

As far as planning for the retaliation is concerned, we're hearing an awful lot about that. Members of the administration, the Defense Secretary and the president at all saying that this is going to be unprecedented. It's going to operate under remarkable rules of secrecy. There is going to be unprecedented secrecy because the explanation is is that it is required in an -- in an atmosphere where terrorist organizations get their information from the press in many cases. There are going to be significant press restrictions, restrictions that were already quite severe as implemented in the Persian Gulf War. There is going to be very little opportunity to travel with military units to be anywhere near the action. And media organizations can probably raise some questions about whether or not that means that the United States would be fighting a secret war that goes against the grain of the open disclosure that is part of the United States tradition.

There will be very highly compartmentalized planning, meaning that one part of government that has no reason to know will not know what the other one is doing. Again, all in an effort to try and keep secret from organizations, terrorist groups that operate in secrecy so they're going to explain that they're going to fight secrecy with secrecy -- Leon.

HARRIS: Well, Bob, with all of that, how do you get a sense at all of how exactly we'll find out when there has been any progress made in this?

FRANKEN: Well, it sounds like -- it sounds like the plan would be for the United States to rely on the government to say this is what happened and this is what we will show you happened. At the moment as the plans seem to be, there would be no access by news media who are not very severely controlled. The news organizations, of course, will argue that this goes against the tradition of openness in the United States. You can expect this to be quite significantly debated. Administration officials explain, however, that this is a new world. The world of terrorism requires this kind of restrictive coverage.

HARRIS: Yes, that's the kind of thing that normally is criticized in this country when it happens in another country, but in this case, it's -- we're being told it is necessary here.

FRANKEN: But we have to allow this debate, Leon, to go on. They, of course, do make the argument that this is a different environment then we've ever faced before.

HARRIS: Yes, no doubt. Bob Franken at the Pentagon, thank you.

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