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America's New War: President Bush to Announce Proposals for Airline Security

Aired September 27, 2001 - 06:01   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: And in Washington, Leon, the talk has been on ways to keep airline passengers safe.

CNN White House correspondent Kelly Wallace joins us from the White House this morning with some of the president's plan that's going to be announced today.

And, Kelly, it sounds like the president is looking to arm some very specially trained passengers -- good morning.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Carol, good morning, that is definitely one of his proposals. You know he said yesterday that the September 11 attacks have caused people to want to stay at home and not get on airplanes. And he's hoping his visit today to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport will change that and give a boost to the struggling airline industry.

As you mentioned, he's going to unveil a series of proposals. Topping that list what is being described as a drastic expansion of the federal sky marshal program, which started back in the 1970s after a spate of U.S. hijackings. Already some of these marshals -- sky marshals are being trained. The goal, we understand, is to have armed federal marshals on most U.S. flights around the country. Now until marshals and fully trained and up and running, we understand the federal government would borrow agents from other federal agencies, including the INS or the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Now the president announcing other goals as well and proposals today, including a great federal role in airline security. CNN has learned the president to announce that he is going to propose a new federal agency that would oversee and have oversight over airline security procedures. We understand that would be federal standards and training and testing and background checks for all those workers who staff security checkpoints and handle baggage and luggage.

Other proposals, we mentioned the air marshals, also the president to propose stronger and more secure cockpit doors.

Now most of these proposals not very controversial, likely to have support of Democrats and Republicans. One of the most controversial proposals out there, allowing pilots to carry weapons in the cockpits. Well, we understand the president is not supportive of such a move. And, Carol, while the president will fly aboard Air Force One to Chicago, his Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta will fly commercially. Again, a symbolic move to try to boost confidence in the airlines -- Carol.

LIN: All right. Is there any hope that the president is planning to give all these airline workers who are losing their jobs?

WALLACE: Well, he's not expected to have any concrete proposal today. He definitely will be talking to airline employees, expressing his concern about the tens of thousands of workers who are now out of their jobs. As Leon noted at the top, John Sweeney, the head of the nation's largest labor union, the AFL-CIO, will be traveling with the president. The message is that the White House is working with labor unions and Congress to come up with a package. Democrats pushing some $3 billion in unemployment benefits and job training, Republicans looking at a more modest proposal. No deal yet, though, Carol.

LIN: All right, we'll see what happens after that plane ride. I'm sure the president's going to get an earful.

Kelly Wallace, live at the White House this morning.

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