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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America's New War: Safe Skies

Aired September 28, 2001 - 05:03   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: President Bush has made it clear the military can shoot down any domestic airline if it is determined it is a risk to public safety. That and other facets of Bush's airline safety plan.

Well, those facets are causing huge debate in Congress now. Some members say it goes too far. Others say it does not go far enough. Democratic congressman James Oberstar says he wants to see federal employees, for example, in charge of screening airline passengers for weapons. The president's proposal would use private firms under federal supervision.

CNN White House correspondent John King has more on this plan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Flag- waving airline workers welcomed the president's plea for Americans to take to the skies.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And one of the great goals of this nation's war is to restore public confidence in the airline industry. It's to tell the traveling public, get on board, do your business around the country, fly and enjoy America's great destination spots.

KING: Mr. Bush urged governors to deploy the National Guard immediately to beef up airport security.

And he promised armed sky marshals, improved cockpit security and federal oversight of airport checkpoints.

BUSH: We will not surrender our freedom to travel.

KING: But with the new security measures came other steps that could give passengers jitters. Airspace over the White House and the Capitol has long been off limits, but new government rules will restrict more airspace over things like dams, power plants and other -- quote -- "key industrial assets in areas that are important to protect national security."

Before September 11, pilots risked fines and losing their licenses if they wandered into a restricted airspace. Now, planes will be subject to military intercept. In an administration memo describing the new rules says failure to follow instructions then -- quote -- "could result in the use of deadly force."

MICHAEL TOMLINSON, PRIVATE PILOT: Prohibited airspace has been prohibited airspace for a long time, and folks are supposed to know how to deal with it. Suddenly becoming fatal airspace is not something I really want to have to contemplate.

KING: The Pentagon and the new regulations make clear use of lethal force is a last resort.

GEN. HUGH SHELTON, COMMANDER JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: The last thing in the world that one of them wants to do is engage a commercial aircraft, and so don't get the impression that anyone is flying around out there that has a loose trigger finger. That's not the case.

KING: If he cannot be reached, the president has authorized senior Air Force officers to make the call about shooting down commercial jetliners.

(on camera): And that arrangement has some in Congress nervous. So even as the House and Senate promised to quickly take up the president's airport security plan, several key lawmakers say they will pressure the administration to move the authority to shoot down commercial jetliners higher up the military command.

John King, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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