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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America's New War: FBI Investigating All Possible Links to Terrorists

Aired September 27, 2001 - 06:18   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: In this war against terrorism, dozens of people have been arrested in a worldwide dragnet for any suspects or connections to the suspected hijackers in the September 11 attack. There are lots of questions about whether civil rights are being violated as well. So what is the threshold for this investigation?

We are going to turn to a former FBI investigator. His name is Bill Daley and he joins us very early this morning from New York.

Good morning.

BILL DALEY, FORMER FBI INVESTIGATOR: Good morning.

LIN: Good morning, Bill. Well, let's start there, what is the threshold and has it changed for FBI agents who are now looking into citizens and non-citizens for any evidence in this anti-terrorism campaign?

DALEY: Well certainly the constitution is still the backbone of what the FBI and other law enforcement agents will use in order to make arrests and conduct investigations. However, given the sensitivity and also the immediacy of some of the actions they need to take, is that -- they may be looking for more we'll call them creative ways in order to be able to identify or arrest people. This may...

LIN: What do you mean creative?

DALEY: Well by this I mean they may get people on unrelated charges, such as we've seen yesterday down in Virginia where a man whose phone number showed up in a vehicle recovered at Dulles was charged on a check fraud that he was wanted for. We may see people who are wanted for immigration violations. So there's a -- there's a variety of things at which they may be able to arrest and detain people in advance of perhaps getting more information that might implicate them further.

LIN: So how much does it take for an agent to be suspicious of someone? And if they are suspicious of someone, how little does it take for them to go question this person, bring them in and maybe even threaten them with arrest?

DALEY: Well, you know that's one of the -- one of the issues that's come up during this investigation where people feel as though the FBI has been knocking on the doors of people in the -- in the Arab communities and invoking some type of fear. There's always that balance between conducting a very direct investigation and one such as this where you need to get in and disrupt the mechanisms, disrupt the cells, disrupt the financial processes in order that you can stop any future acts. So at this point, what we're looking at is people who might have some direct connection with the terrorists, people who have had phone conversations, e-mails, cellular phone contact or other firsthand accounts of people aiding and abetting them.

LIN: Do you think the FBI should have special powers right now to be able to tap phones, to be able to read e-mails at will, et cetera?

DALEY: Well, you know that's certainly something that's come up in the past few days as being a point of controversy, and I'm one that always says let's look at it in a more sober moment, especially if it's going to be something that will be a change in law. If we need some immediate relief because we have an emergency, because we have the national security at stake, perhaps there is some areas where we need to have presidential order or something else that provides them some latitude for a very short period of time in order that we can then get ourselves, you know, back on the road to stability.

LIN: Do you think this situation qualifies for a temporary suspension then of civil rights similar to what happened during World War II which enabled agents to round up Japanese-American citizens and put them in concentration camps and question people at will about their patriotism?

DALEY: Oh absolutely not. I mean the thing that we're all fighting for is our freedom, our liberty, our ability to be able to move around the country and all to be treated, you know, equally under the law. So any change in that, any twisting or even temporary suspension of that, you know, is very serious and it goes against the things that we stand for as a country. And in fact, in the end of the day, these terrorists would have gotten just where they wanted us -- where they wanted us to be which would be to change our ways and we don't want to do that.

LIN: Good point.

Bill Daley, do you think, though, at the same time that these arrests, that these dozens of people being questioned have actually thwarted any future terrorist acts?

DALEY: Oh I'm convinced by the -- by the activity we've seen in the past two weeks, by the movement on individuals, by breaking up what we feel would be cell structures which would be, you know, smaller groups of these terrorists, that we have averted, you know, more attacks. It's not to say that at this point we have all these people. I believe that we're going to see that there will be literally hundreds of people linked to these terrorists that have provided some level of support and some of them may not have even known to the degree at which these acts were going to be carried out. They may have been given very simple tasks, but nonetheless, they may be implicated. But I do believe, getting back to answer your question, that we have disrupted the network, and we need to continue that to make sure that we -- that we're safe and that we've stopped any major events from happening in the near future.

LIN: All right, let's hope so. Thank you very much, Bill Daley, former investigator for the FBI.

DALEY: Thank you.

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