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America's New War: Airline Industry Asking for Government Bailout

Aired September 18, 2001 - 05:37   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: So let's get more out of the White House this morning - Kelly Wallace standing by there. Good morning, Kelly. Let me first start with the issue of what's going to happen with the U.S. airlines today and then perhaps we can move on to some security issues.

The airlines are asking that the United States government bail them out. They've estimated they've lost as much as $300 million a day in business in the last week. What's the president's position on this?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know, Carol, that airline executives will be meeting today with Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and then heading over to the White House to meet with the president's economic advisors.

We know the president is committed to a major multi-billion dollar package, which would include some direct payments to the airlines as well as some loan guarantees. The big question, Carol, just how much of a package should there be and just what should it look like? So those are the big questions.

Other items though today we'll be watching the president. We watched him sort of juggling a number of balls - focusing on the economy, the ailing airline industry, focusing on the military plans - he'll meet with his national security team, focusing on diplomacy - he will meet later today with French President Jacques Chirac.

And then, Carol, in his role as Motivator in Chief the president will have an event today where he will encourage Americans to give supplies, to give money to charities to help in the search, recovery and rebuilding efforts in New York and, of course, at the Pentagon. Carol?

LIN: And some pretty daring words for a politician yesterday. I mean, for the President of the United States to come out and say about someone, "Wanted: Dead or Alive" when he's talking about Osama bin Laden. There's been so much discussion about assassination and when it's appropriate and when it's not. What exactly is it that the president is trying to tell other nations around the world in terms of what the United States is willing to do to get at Osama bin Laden?

WALLACE: Well, you see very clearly in listening to John King's package - it's almost more interesting about what the administration is not saying really. You saw Air Fleischer saying that this directive which bars the United States from participating in assassinations overseas is in effect but he says that that order does not prevent the U.S. from acting in self-defense.

Ari Fleischer would not answer the question, "Going after bin Laden - is that acting in self defense?" He would not answer it.

What we seeing, though, Carol, is the president sort of stepping up the rhetoric. And for a couple of reasons. Aides say that the more the investigation proceeds the more certain the administration is about the fact the administration believing Osama bin laden is a prime suspect.

Mr. Bush's words also reflecting his anger and the anger on the part of the American people. It is a delicate balancing act though for the president because he has this tough talk, he has an anxious country for some quick retaliation, at the same time though he's telling the American people to be patient that this will be a very long - a months or take years for this campaign to really get underway.

LIN: Sure. And meanwhile in all of that tough talk, is anybody in the White House worried that that tough talk is going to scare NATO allies away who are already getting nervous about a hair trigger reaction by the United States?

WALLACE: It does appear to have some concern - not necessarily sort of within the White House - maybe outside the White House - maybe some Arab allies - maybe some concern even on the part of some Republican strategists because when you are sort of singling out Osama bin Laden there is some concern that the whole success and failure of this campaign against terrorism could really be measured on whether or not the administration is able to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.

As we know, Osama bin Laden has been illusive for years. The Clinton administration has not been able to go after him. So there's both a political concern about sort of putting so much attention on Osama bin Laden and then the concern you raise as well - could that sort of scare off or give some concerns to Arab allies as well as maybe some other countries about sort of where this campaign is going.

LIN: Sure. And certainly how far the United States is willing to take it. Thank you very much - Kelly Wallace, White House Correspondent.

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