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America's New War: President Bush to State His Position to Congress and the American People

Aired September 20, 2001 - 17:06   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Taking on terrorism in America's new war. Tonight, Congress and the American people hear the president's position. And at the U.S. Capitol, word of extraordinary precautions in these extraordinary times.

Good evening once again from New York City. It's just past five o'clock here. Stocks plunged again today. More coming up on Wall Street in a moment. In the meantime, I'm Bill Hemmer. We begin with Joie Chen at the CNN center in Atlanta. Joie has the latest developments. Good evening to you.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Bill, first of all, we want to bring our viewers up to date on what Mr. Giuliani was just saying, the mayor of New York in giving the latest casualty figures from the World Trade Center site. And Mr. Giuliani just saying that there are now a reported 6333 people missing and presumed dead. He says that this new increased number is due to the number of foreign four nationals -- that is -- people from other countries who had been assigned to work in the United States -- and that has been adding to the total. He did say, though, that this number 6333 may still change.

241 bodies have been recovered from the site. And 68,000 tons of debris has been removed. But still a great deal of work to do. Meantime, United States ground troops are preparing for the possibility of combat. More than 2,000 Marines shipped out today from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, possibly to be used against terrorists.

Also today, the Pentagon said the Army is gearing up for what it called sustained ground combat operations. The first five thousand reservists were activated as well, from units of the Air Force reserve and the Air National Guard.

The Bush administration today rejected the plan of Afghanistan's Muslim clerics to ask Osama Bin Laden to leave that country voluntarily. Ending a two-day meeting, Afghanistan's Grand Islamic Council expressed grief over the attacks on New York City and Washington, but the council warned that Afghanistan should wage a holy war if it is attacked from outside.

In New York, meantime, British Prime Minister Tony Blair promised his country will stand, in his words, "side by side with America." He said the United States was the one country that stood with Britain during the Blitzkrieg. Blair is to meet at the White House this hour with President Bush. More than 200 Britons died in the World Trade Center attack.

Also touring New York today, 38 members of the U.S. Senate. The senators traveled by train. A Senate spokeswoman said the decision was made for logistical reasons.

The Bush administration asked Congress today to back a four-point plan to stabilize the airline industry. The centerpiece is $5 Billion in emergency cash assistance. Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta is warning that a major airline will "go under" -- his words there -- if Washington's Reagan National Airport is not reopened within 10 days.

One other quick note this hour: the market slide continued today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 382 points, and the Nasdaq fell below 1500 today. You'll see it live here on CNN just a little less than four hours from now. 9:00 eastern.

The president will address Congress and indeed, all of us, on the crisis confronting the nation. From the White House, CNN's John King tells us what the president plans to say.

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, the president will frame it this way, quote "freedom and fear are at war." That one of the excerpts we have obtained from the White House in advance of the president's speech tonight. The White House also released a snapshot of the president having some speech preparations with his senior advisers earlier today at the White House.

We are told the speech runs 3,000 words, includes a very direct message to Afghanistan's ruling Taliban to turn over Osama Bin Laden or face the wrath of the United States. Mr. Bush in that direct appeal to American people tonight in a joint meeting to Congress, also promises the American people quote, "We will direct every resource at our command, every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, and every necessary weapon of war to the disruption and defeat of the global terror network." And as

Mr. Bush tries to build an international coalition for this fight -- he calls it a war -- the president in quite blunt terms says quote, "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."

We are also told in that speech the president urges the U.S. military to, quote, "Be ready," and the American people to be "calm and resolute." And he asks for help of police forces, intelligence forces and banking systems around the world as part of his effort to disrupt the financial network and the movements around the world of those suspected of terrorism.

Mr. Bush preparing to direct the appeal to the American people tonight as well to be tolerant and not to tolerate any backlash against Arab-Americans. This a defining moment for the president, of course, Joie. Just before that speech, as you noted, he will have discussions with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain on the military strategy and a show of international solidarity. Mr. Blair will be among the president's guests up at the Congress. So will the New York Governor Pataki, and the New York City Mayor Giuliani.

CHEN: Which brings us to this other point. A quick note I need from you on this. Somebody who will not be present on Capitol Hill this evening when Mr. Bush speaks is the vice president.

KING: That is right. The vice president, by duty of the constitution, is the president of the Senate. Usually we the president gives a speech to Congress, usually you will see the speaker of the house and the vice president of the United States over the president's shoulders. Tonight they will be -- again, because of the extraordinary security precautions still in place in the wake of these terrorist attacks -- the administration deciding the vice president should not attend the speech, should not be in same location with the president at this very critical moment. Joie.

CHEN: CNN Senior White House Correspondent John King for us on the White House lawn for us this afternoon. Again, Bill, we are talking about what is expected at 9:00 this evening eastern. That is the president's address to talk about the possibility of what lies ahead for the nation.

HEMMER: Joie, yes, and the military response, we are learning a bit more today. At the Pentagon now, CNN's Jamie McIntyre with more on that. Jamie, hello to you.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. Well, as deployment orders have gone out to just under a hundred aircraft, according to Pentagon sources, to begin moving to the Middle East and Central Asia, the Pentagon is continuing to keep its veil of secrecy over its operations. Army Secretary Tom White today also indicated that Army troops are getting deployment orders as well, but nobody is saying where the troops are or planes are going. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said today, United States is going to start -- is going to have to start thinking about this new war in a whole new way.


DONALD RUMSELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We really almost are going to have to fashion a new vocabulary and different constructs for thinking about what it is we are doing. It is very different than embarking on a campaign against a specific country, within a specific time frame, for a specific purpose.


MCINTYRE: Meanwhile, the Pentagon has released its first official list of National Guard and reserve units to be called up, many of these for the so-called homeland defense mission or flying combat missions over United States. And the Pentagon is rethinking its name Infinite Justice for this operation. That was a working title. But it is apparent that that is a name that is offensive to some Muslims -- Bill.

HEMMER: Jamie, thank you. Among the forces already on move, about 2200 marines and sailors of the 26th marine expeditionary unit from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The marine expeditionary units are trained to be first on the move when and if trouble breaks out. We have two reports from the field now. CNN's Ed Lavandera at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. But first to CNN's Brian Nelson at Camp Lejeune.

Brian, hello.

BRIAN NELSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Bill. Yes this is the beach at Camp Lejeune. It's a pretty nice day here but a rather serious moment. Up behind me, over my right shoulder way off in distance there, you can see one of three amphibious vehicles on board some of the 2200 members of the U.S. 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Air-cushioned landing craft and some helicopters you can hear in background are now ferrying last minute equipment, supplies and personnel to those ships offshore.

Those two ships will be joined later this afternoon or early this evening by the USS Shreveport, and then the entire 2200-man force, with tanks, carrier jets, choppers and weapons will set sail for a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean. Officially this is just a routine mission, but if you ask any of generals, if you ask any of the corporals, from the top right to the bottom, all of them are aware that President Bush's declared war on terrorism could alter their mission any time.

This expeditionary force is what is called special ops capable. That means they know things -- know how to do things other forces can't, so they could be part of any anti-terrorism measure that the president announces. This whole force will set sail for the Mediterranean sometime early this evening and be on station in about a week. Back to you, Bill.

HEMMER: All right, Brian. From Brian on the beach to CNN's Ed Lavandera at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Hello to you.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. This is one of two bases -- Air Force bases in the U.S. where B-52s can be deployed from. And in the background -- we are at the edge of the airstrip -- that is where 60 B-52 bombers sit that are stationed here. We understand that nine of those B-52 bombers have been deployed. We have seen several B-52s take off throughout the day, but military officials here at the base are not saying where those B-52 bombers are headed, and what they might be doing.

We have also learned today that 373 air force reservists from this base -- Barksdale Air Force Base -- have also been called into action. Here is a little snapshot of what the B-52 is capable of. It's a five person crew. It can carry 70,000 pounds of weaponry, including air launch missiles and precision bombs, which can be dropped from 50,000 feet in the air. Bill, back to you.

HEMMER: All right, Ed. Thank you. As we have mentioned earlier, today, the White House is rejecting Afghanistan's bid to avert military action. So then what next for the ruling Taliban, and what's next for Osama Bin Laden? That when America's new war continues in a moment.


CHEN: "Not good enough." That is the response from the United States today to today's decision about Osama Bin Laden by Afghanistan's Grand Islamic Council. The clerics recommended that Taliban rulers ask Bin Laden to leave Afghanistan voluntarily.

The White House is rejecting that recommendation, as you might imagine, and demanding that Bin Laden, the prime suspect in last week's terror attacks, be turned over to responsible authorities. CNN's Nic Robertson is keeping a very close watch on this story. Roberston had been reporting from Kandahar, where the Taliban is based, but he was asked by Taliban leaders to leave Afghanistan. He's now just across the border in Quetta, Pakistan.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the clock certainly appears to be ticking for Osama Bin Laden, now, for his time in Afghanistan. This is unprecedented. In the terms of Afghan culture being asked to leave a recommendation from a gathering of the senior clerics in the country, being asked to leave in Afghan culture is tantamount to just being told your time is up here. You are no longer welcome. Certainly the Taliban leadership, that will now have to decide whether or not to ratify -- whether or not to ratify what the clerics have called for here, it will be a very, very tough decision.

They have in the past always said that he was a welcome guest of the country, that the country owed him a favor because he helped out in fighting the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. So it will be a very, very tough decision for them. Where he would go from here, what would happen to him? That is unclear. Certainly in the past, the indications have been from the Taliban that he would have to go to a third country, an Islamic country, under Muslim culture, under Islamic scriptures. They are not allowed to hand over a Muslim to a non- Muslim country, so it would have to be an Islamic country that Osama Bin Laden would go to next. Nic Robertson, CNN, Quetta, Pakistan.

CHEN: As Nic noted, the decision by the Islamic council in Afghanistan raises some questions. Among them: does it indicate that the council would really like to see Osama Bin Laden and his organization leave that country? We turn to an expert now for his perspective. Rob Sobhani is a professor at Georgetown University in Washington. He is an expert on Islamic fundamentalism and containing terrorism as well. We appreciate your being with us. Can you talk to the particular issue that Nic Robertson just brought up, about how much being asked to leave might mean when the clerics -- the grand organization of clerics has asked Osama Bin Laden to leave?

ROB SOBHANI, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, I think, Joie, irrespective of what the Taliban leadership decide to do with Osama Bin Laden, there is a far more fundamental point here at stake which is the following: the war against terrorism is also, in addition to a military aspect, it is a war of psychology. The United States needs to immediately launch a psychological campaign against Osama Bin Laden, against the Taliban. It is absolutely essential before the first bullet is fired that these two groups, Osama Bin Laden, and the Taliban be dehumanized. And with regard to this, there are two specific things that need to be done. I think in addition to sending the military message, the president of United States must send a message of hope to the people of Afghanistan that after the Taliban, there is hope for the people of Afghanistan. Maybe even a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan funded by the world bank and some of our Arab allies in the Persian Gulf. Number one. Number two, it is absolutely essential that the Muslim Americans in this community start a tour called free Islam, starting in Egypt, going through the Persian Gulf, ending in Pakistan, demanding that the fanatics leave their religion alone, because the religion has been held hostage by the fanatics.

CHEN: Professor, I want to talk about that specifically. We've gotten some questions from e-mail,from some of our viewers, and one of them raises a very interesting point. R.C. Barua from India raises this question, and it goes to what you are talking about, about what Muslims can do. Many Muslim scholars and leaders have said that terrorism is un-Islamic. Has any Muslim religious leader so far issued a fatwa that those who become terrorists are nor longer Muslims, and therefore have become infidels? If not, then why? Do you know of any such thing?

SOBHANI: To be specific, one of the major tenets of Islam is that you are supposed to take care of orphans. Why? Because the Prophet Mohammed himself was fatherless. What has happened as a result of the World Trade bombing is that Osama Bin Laden has created thousands of orphans. Hence, he has sinned in eyes of Islam. That is why, Joie, it is absolutely imperative that in addition to expressing their condolence and heartfelt sympathies, that Muslims in this country take the call of the president of the United States and start attacking Osama bin Laden directly, dehumanize him.

CHEN: Does that mean a fatwa? Does that mean a death sentence?

SOBHANI: Not necessarily, Joie, a death sentence. Not necessarily a fatwa, because once again, it would be only playing into the hands of Osama bin Laden. That is what he wants us to do. What he doesn't want us to do is to address him directly, using the Koran against him. For example, it is absolutely clear in the Koran that believers are protected. Those who kill believers will be sent to hell.

Now, in this interpretation, believers are described as Jews and Muslims in addition to Christians. So to the extent that once again Osama bin Laden has gone against his religion, it gives ammunition to the Muslims to challenge Osama Bin Laden. But not just challenge Osama Bin Laden, Joie. I think we should take this campaign beyond the borders of Afghanistan.

CHEN: You must...

SOBHANI: We must include the Islamic republic of Iran, and Iraq. These two countries have nurtured the roots of terrorism, and if we want to win this war we must include the two governments in these two countries. CHEN: I'm sorry to have to interrupt you. It is a very interesting line of thinking. Rob Sobhani is a professor at Georgetown University. We appreciate your insight and being with us today.

SOBHANI: Thank you.

CHEN: The United States, as Professor Sobhani points out, has an interesting offer now from an unlikely source of aid. the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, said he would be willing to help, if Americans asked. The official Iraqi news agency quotes Mr. Hussein as saying his country would help for humanitarian reasons, and not for the American government. Iraq is one of the few countries that has not offered official condolences to Washington after last week's attacks.

Congress now coming to the aid of the nation's airlines. Will it be enough to keep the planes flying?


HEMMER: That was the closing bell from Wall Street 90 minutes ago. And another day of tight nerves among investors. The Dow and Nasdaq plummeted now to three-year lows. Concerns over the airline industry and profit warnings from major companies compound the situation. The Dow dropping 13 percent in total now over the last week. And the fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, talked about the U.S. economy and the stock market today before a Senate committee on Capitol Hill.


HEMMER: Our apologies for that. Alan Greenspan was talking today. Apparently we have a bit of difficulties on our own. He said the short-term picture is not bright. But the long term, he says, still is positive. Let's talk more about that with CNN's Peter Viles. Peter, good evening to you. It was another brutal day today. Markets never like uncertainty, but there was nothing but uncertainty out there to chew on.

PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not just economic uncertainty, Bill, but uncertainty on the military side of things. Market participants want to know when is this response coming, and what is the response going to be. So a great deal uncertainty, as you said. And what certainty there is, is bad economic news in the very short term.

HEMMER: Did Alan Greenspan say something today that might provide a glimmer of hope or optimism for investors?

VILES: He sure did. He went on to say he is confident that we will recover -- I'm quoting here -- we will recover and prosper as we have in the past. So he is saying the economy is not wounded in a lasting way. Investors chose not to take that message to heart today, but it was there.

HEMMER: Overall, Peter, when we see the market decline the way we have, the Dow down 13 percent just in four trading days -- when so much market cap is taken out of the U.S. economy, overall what's the impact?

VILES: Well, this is an economic event in and of itself, the loss of this much market cap. They call it a reverse wealth effect. So many Americans -- at least half of the American public own stocks -- and this in the past has been a damper on consumer spending. We would expect that it would be a damper on consumer spending this time that the market has fallen this far, this fast.

HEMMER: It is tough medicine for now.

VILES: It sure is. But as I said, the Federal Reserve chairman said he was confident the economy will bounce back as it has in the past.

HEMMER: Another day tomorrow to close out the week. Peter Viles, thanks for stopping by tonight. Much appreciated.

Also, getting word in from Washington at this time, a developing story now on the airline bailout deal, apparently there has been a deal. We talked about it last hour, Judy Woodruff and Joie Chen, a deal between the White House and Congress, a $15 billion dollar package broken down into $5 billion in direct aid, an additional $10 billion loan guarantees, also getting indication much of the insurance and liability protection the airlines were looking for, as a result of last Tuesday's tragedy, apparently a lot of that has been worked into the deal as well.

So a $15 billion bailout deal reached today between the White House and Congress. Much more on this and the impact on the airlines and the U.S. economy, with Lou Dobbs coming up about 30 minutes now, from now rather.

In the meantime though, that search continues, at the wreckage of World Trade Center. We will be there live in just a moment, when "America's New War" continues here on CNN.


CHEN: Now to bring CNN viewers up to date with some of the latest developments in America's new war.

The British prime minister Tony Blair is meeting with President Bush this evening in Washington, before Mr. Bush's address to Congress. Mr. Blair's first stop in the United States was New York City. He will be at the capitol this evening when the President makes his address. The British leader says his country will stand shoulder- to-shoulder with the United States in the battle against terrorism.

One of the largest groups of U.S. senators ever to travel together outside Washington visited New York today. The 38-member delegation traveled by train to Manhattan. There, they got a first- hand look at the wreckage of the World Trade Center. They also consoled families of some of the victims. And the United States is rejecting a decision by clerics who make up the grand Islamic council in Afghanistan. The clerics decided today to recommend that Taliban rulers ask Osama Bin Laden to leave the country. But the United States says that's not good enough. The United States wants the prime suspect in the terror attacks handed over to responsible authorities -- Bill.

HEMMER: Joie, now to the investigation into last week's attack. The FBI is saying that agents have arrested a man with links to an associate of Osama Bin Laden.

Our justice correspondent Kelli Arena tonight with the latest on this front.


KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man believed by investigators to have ties to two of the alleged hijackers and to Osama Bin Laden is under arrest. Identified in court documents as Nabil Al-Marabh, he was captured by local police and the FBI just outside Chicago. Wanted by the FBI, he was also wanted for failing to show up in court in Boston.

KATHLEEN MCCHESNEY, FBI: An individual by the name of Nabil Al- Marabh is also listed on the FBI watch list, compiled last week, following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. This investigation is continuing, in an attempt to verify Al-Marabh's identity and nationality.

ARENA: Investigative sources say Al-Marabh has ties to this man, Raed Hijazi, currently on trial in Jordan for allegedly planning a terrorist attack during millennium celebrations. Jordanian authorities has said Hijazi is linked to Bin Laden.

One clue the FBI is trying to follow up on is this photograph. It was found while searching Al-Mirabh's Detroit apartment. The bureau wants to know who he is.

With the latest arrest, there are now than 125 people in custody, most for immigration violations. Sources tell CNN, information culled so far indicates all the alleged hijackers were funded through the same source.

But following the money trail will be difficult, especially because the FBI now is not sure all the names on its original hijacker list are correct. Identities may have been stolen. In fact, a list of hijacking suspects sent to banking officials by the FBI suggests one of those identified on an original list, Khalid Al-Midhar, may still be alive.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: We have several hijackers whose identities were those of the names on the manifest. We have several others that are still in question. So the investigation is ongoing. And I am not certain as to several of the others.

ARENA: FBI Director Robert Mueller, who toured the Pennsylvania crash site, says investigators are still analyzing the flight data and cockpit voice recorders from that site. There has been information passengers on the plane tried to overtake the hijackers.

Without providing details, Mueller did offer this assessment.

MUELLER: Both the Attorney General and I and the Attorney General of Pennsylvania have indicated we believe those passengers on this jet were absolute heroes. And their actions during this flight were heroic.


ARENA: One of the most pressing goals of the investigation is to concretely determine whether there are other terrorist attacks planned. Now officials Wednesday said that there was "no credible evidence of any specific threat." But now they appear to be reluctant to discuss the matter and slightly less certain -- Bill.

HEMMER: Kelli, what information we're getting, they're talking about 190 people across country who may be sought at this time. What types of people, or what do we know about the possible search for them?

ARENA: What we know is there's a manhunt obviously across the country. All authorities have been notified, but these are people who the FBI says, may have information. These are not people that the FBI has, you know, thinks are directly linked to last Tuesday's attack. Some of them could be, but these are people that they have identified as people who could possibly serve as material witnesses, or more, once they find them. But it is a hard challenge that they're facing to find all of those people, Bill.

HEMMER: And a long process, too. Kelly, thanks. Kelli Arena in Washington. Back here in New York, getting word from the lease holder, the former World Trade Center towers, Larry Silverstein, telling CNN he's envisioning now rebuilding down there at the World Trade Center.

In his plan at the moment is four or five, 50 to 60 story buildings, standing on the site that you're looking at right now. The original two structures were about 110 stories each. He also says a memorial will be built on that site, but it could take months and possibly longer before everything, the debris and rubble is cleared out of there.

Down to ground zero and CNN's Gary Tuchman positioned there, since about six hours ago. Gary, hello to you.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, hello to you. And some sobering, disturbing news. We just received about 45 minutes ago. More than 900 additional people have been added to the list of missing and presumed dead. The mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani saying the total is now 6333 people who are missing. Yesterday, it was 5422.

You might be wondering, how it could increase so much? A combination of reasons. Slightly chaotic, as you might imagine, counting up all these people, but also many governments around the world are now reporting their citizens missing, who were in the vicinity of the World Trade Center when this happened.

Keep in mind this number is fluid. It could go up further. It could also go down, but either way, it's very disturbing to know that 900 more people have been added in a period of 24 hours.

In addition to that, also disturbing news, only 241 bodies have been recovered. Yesterday, the number was 233. So over a 24-hour period, they've only been able to recover 8 bodies when 60 countries have lost citizens. The United Kingdom itself has lost 250 people.

Bill, back to you.

HEMMER: All right, Gary, thank you. Also down there, the rescue workers of World Trade Center had a special visitor today. Former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali and his wife, Lonnie, met with firemen and other rescue crews at the site. Ali said he stood behind the U.S. government in its current actions.


MUHAMMAD ALI, FORMER BOXER: ... the countries, decide to do to bring justice to the people involved, I think to make decision and whatever decision they decide, I'm behind 100 percent.


HEMMER: Muhammad Ali, from today here in New York City. Ali is a Muslim, you may know that. He said he was saddened that some are blaming Islam for the terrorist attacks.

Ahead here, the extraordinary security precautions being taken for President Bush's address to Congress. We'll talk with CNN'S Jeff Greenfield. With that and more, when we come back here.


HEMMER: From Washington, final preparations underway at this time. A live picture of the U.S. Capitol. Tonight, President Bush will address Congress and the American people. It's said to begin at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.

And clearly, CNN will be there with live coverage.

One sign of the security concerns that persist though more than a week after the terror attacks, the Vice President Dick Cheney will not be at the capitol for the address. Instead, he'll be at an undisclosed location.

With more thoughts on that, CNN's senior analyst Jeff Greenfield joins me live here in New York City.

Good evening to you, Jeff.

How significant is it? JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: It is.

HEMMER: In these extraordinary times, clearly you're seeing the President and Vice President, two locations.

GREENFIELD: It is a very significant event. As far as we can tell, it has never happened before. I mean the day after Pearl Harbor, Vice President Wallace was right behind FDR when he gave the state speech. Obviously, one of the reasons is that they didn't have security fears.

Traditionally, when the President goes down to Congress, and it's always been kind of light-hearted, one member of the cabinet, by lot I believe, is chosen to stay behind. You know, Secretary of Agriculture, whoever it is. Never -- I don't think Secretary of State, second tier players.

And it's always because of this fantasy that well if something happened, if the capitol collapsed, you need a member of government to stay behind, because the order of succession goes vice president, speaker, president of the senate, and then through the cabinet.

And it's always treated, as I said, or has been treated light- heartedly. The only time -- the only person who ever thought about it in melodramatic terms was author Tom Clancy, who at the end of "Dead of Honor" ends the book with a hijacked 747 plowing into the Capitol during a joint session of Congress and decimating the United States government. It was fantasy until a week ago Tuesday, when we realized probably what United flight 93 was going to do.

HEMMER: We are going to see a joint response after this national address tonight. Trent Lott, Tom Daschle, the leaders in the Senate will deliver it together as a show of unity. By my recollection based on what I know, it's never been done before.

GREENFIELD: No, not since the tradition of the out party responding to any presidential address, it has never happened before. It didn't happen as far as I can remember even after the Gulf War. I don't think there was any response.

It is another measure of how solemn tonight is. I think you go back to Pearl Harbor. You can go back to Lyndon Johnson's speech after John Kennedy was killed. This is more some solemn, more serious, more dangerous, than both of those put together.

HEMMER: And the other thing we see, state of the union speeches, when a president marches up to Capitol Hill, you clearly have partisan sides in this. But this is not the case. This is not a speech, as we were talking earlier, where it has to knock it out of the park or a hit home run. I mean clearly, the sides have already been drawn.

GREENFIELD: Yes, I think that kind of witless conversation that political -- some political folks indulge in every time the president speaks, what does he have to do? He has to -- yes, he has to hit the home run, knock it out, all those ridiculous sports analogies. There are two reasons, I don't -- it's not that words aren't important. I mean, Roosevelt taught us that. Churchill taught us. The way a leader carries himself or herself is significant, but I think this is so much more a matter of what happens in the months ahead, than these words.

We want to hear words of strength and reassurance. He has to -- remember, he's speaking not just to the people of America, he's speaking to the world, adversaries, allies, people caught in middle. But what happens in this case overwhelms what's said.

HEMMER: See you tonight, 9:00 Eastern, Jeff Greenfield. And we'll see you tomorrow again, too. Now to Joie again in Atlanta -- Joie.

CHEN: Bill, in the aftermath of course of what happened last week, a lot of us are thinking about improving airline security, making us all a little bit safer when we fly.

But as CNN's John Vause reports, the solutions are not easy.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the slow and difficult search continues through the rubble, authorities too are searching for answers, how to make our planes safe, how to stop them from being hijacked and turned to the weapons of mass destruction.


VAUSE: Four years ago, Brian Jenkins worked on a White House committee on airline safety.

JENKINS: If we're going to fly them, if we're going to put passengers in them, luggage, freight, parcels, then we're going to make hundreds of compromises with security. It's only a question of how many compromises.

VAUSE: In a rush to improve security and reduce the number of compromises, authorities are looking at weak points, especially at bag searches and metal detectors. One option, new high-tech x-ray machines like the this one, the secure 1000. Already used in federal prisons, it can find what the metal detectors cannot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here you can see we've got a plastic knife, which is showing up, which is obviously taped under the person's clothing.

VAUSE: Also on the list, stronger cockpit doors and armed air marshals. Beyond such improvements, authorities now say the rules of hijacking have changed.

Before, passengers and crew were told to be compliant, get the plane on the ground, try to negotiate. But not now, with planes being used as guided missiles, the stakes are so much higher. In a marked turnaround, Captain Steve Luckey from the Pilots Association says passengers must take on the terrorists, like those on flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. The fact of the matter is that the current United States aviation security system just does not adequately address the suicide threat.

VAUSE: But authorities warned they simply can't plan for every possibility, because terrorism they say is only limited by the imagination of the terrorist.

John Vause, CNN, New York.


CHEN: Let's talk more about airport and airline security. Joining us Charlie Leblanc, managing director of Air Security International, an expert on these sort of things. You know, Charlie, I have to tell you, I've heard this repeatedly from people. Why can't the U.S. air carriers be more like the national carrier for Israel, El Al? They have a very extensive security procedure. Why can't our carriers be that way?

CHARLIE LEBLANC, AIR SECURITY INTERNATIONAL: Well, they do have kind of the top level of aviation security. And I think it's a level we're going to have to get close to. But we probably don't need to get quite to the level of El Al, just because our threats aren't as high as they are, even with events that occurred on September 11, but we definitely need to get our security concept and our security measures up to the level of countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and some of our Nato partners.

CHEN: Well, just basically, what is it that makes their security different than ours? Is it more questioning of passengers, more security on the plane? What?

LEBLANC: It's a little bit of all of those. It's more profiling of passengers prior to boarding. It's centralizing the security checkpoints under one agency to ensure that proper wages and benefits and that we're getting top level people in a very important position, our front line of defense position.

It's also doing lot of stuff behind the scenes, to ensure that the airport structure cannot be breached. And searching more vehicles, and doing lot of different things, that we just currently have not done here in America, and things we're going to have to get used to doing.

CHEN: Charlie, I want to ask you quickly a question we're getting from one of our members of the audience by e-mail, Dan Connally of Santa Rosa, California asking what improvements in airport security could be implemented short and long term to prevent future hijacks similar to the recent events?

The short term particularly, but the long term could be a long way off. LEBLANC: It could be. And we can't just flip a switch or take a pill and fix our problem that we've had. This is a problem that's existed over the last 15 to 20 years, as the threat against terrorism has increased against Americans.

And we need to look at that and understand it. We can't fix that quickly. On a short-term basis, the measures that are in place right now are an excellent first step. I do emphasize the word "first step" along those lines. And we are going to continue to see some additional changes and some additional intelligence work being done.

And it's going to be a long term inconvenience, but it's one we're going to have to deal with and live with for a long time. We're not going to be able to go backwards in this process.

CHEN: Charlie Leblanc, Air Security International, thanks very much.

LEBLANC: Thank you.

CHEN: Also, we're going to talk more about the airlines. After the break, a deal has been reached, with the White House to try to protect the financial security of the nation's air carriers, but now what about the lawsuits?


CHEN: We've been telling you this hour about the deal reached to try to protect the nations air carriers, particularly on the issue of financial security.

Joining us now, CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack. Roger, one of the very important points the air carriers, is some sort of protection from lawsuits. Explain to us what the issue was for them.

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the issue is that there's incredible amount of liability from the survivors of those who died, both in the plane and of course in the building. And the question is, if you allow those lawsuits under the traditional methods of way we go ahead and prosecute lawsuits, well it's going to end up like the asbestos industry many years ago. The asbestos industry went broke and nobody got anything.

CHEN: And the air carriers are already feeling pretty fragile.

COSSACK: Well, that's right. So what do we have to do? They had to protect reactively. That is, a limitation on the amount of claims, the amount of damages, and the amount of traditional lawsuits that could be filed, as well as the amount of money that can be reached.

You know there's a -- you know, theoretically, Joie, people who saw this on television, could conceivably be filing a lawsuit because of the incredible emotional stress that they felt, saying you know if the airlines wouldn't have acted negligently, you know, we wouldn't be put through this. You know, the lawmakers have to go through. And you know, if they don't do something, this will be end of the airlines.

CHEN: Yes, more reasonably though, people who were in the World Trade Center, but survived it, people were able to quickly escape, maybe people who were on the street who might have been hurt by debris, others as well, firefighters, so forth.

COSSACK: Right, right. It's the survivors that are really the ones that have to be looked out for. And I don't think that there's anything that is being suggested that those people will not be looked out for.

CHEN: CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack joining us. A little inside information on that.

A new New York skyline leaves one building as the tallest and now some fear, the most vulnerable. That, when we come back.


HEMMER: In New York City, the skyscrapers certainly has been a major and significant part of the New York City landscape. But today, there are some who are concerned about working in these particular buildings, including the Empire State Building.

Today some Americans shared their concerns and their fears.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know it's a landmark. We know it's a symbolic building. We know it's a quintessentially New York building. Yes, we're nervous about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are security measures before anyone could get in the building. Now we have to show our building ID or driver's license and we go through metal detectors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an inconvenience, but it's one that we'll live with because the alternative is, you know, not something we want to experience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's scary, yes, but what can you do? I mean, you can, in some ways you think well, you're safer in your home but you're not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every single person that gets on the elevator's afraid. Everybody talks about it. You know, it's drawing a lot of attention. And Monday at lunch, we said we felt like sitting ducks.

We are safer knowing there's more security here and there's officers here at all times. My fear is when it does settles down, what happens? You know, where do we go from there?


CHEN: And that is the view from New York as it looks at its sky line today. Thank you for joining us for this hour's coverage on CNN of America's new war. We look ahead to the economic picture.



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