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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America's New War: Controversy Over Order By Bush Regarding Airlines

Aired September 28, 2001 - 06:00   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 one of the more controversial facets of protecting airline passengers as well as the American public involves a shoot down order against any domestic flight that appears to be jeopardizing public safety.

CNN's Bob Franken is at the Pentagon live this morning with more on this.

Bob, a frightening prospect but we've seen what can happen.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A horrifying prospect and there is quite a bit of concern now being expressed after the news, which was reported on CNN yesterday, the news that President Bush has now allowed under -- quote -- "extraordinary circumstances," when for reasons that would be extremely farfetched, the president could not be reached to allow for the shooting down by military jets of a commercial jet that was in fact considered to be an eminent danger in those extraordinary circumstances, a region general could be allowed, after going through a chain of command that wouldn't work, could be allowed to give the order without the president's approval or higher up's approval, to shoot down the jet. Regional generals, ones who are specified, covering the continental United States, NORAD, Alaska and Hawaii. Very, very specific circumstances.

Still, there have been concerns that in the heightened state of tension if there was a hijack effort aboard a plane, for instance, and passengers, to use a hypothetical, were trying to subdue the hijackers, they still might be shot down under this circumstance and that caused military officials after those concerns were raised to give some assurances.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. HUGH SHELTON, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We have got a great Air Force, Navy, Marine Corp., Army, but specifically, the pilots that fly, they're bright, they're dedicated and they're very, very good. They're the best in the world. 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FRANKEN: Well if anything else, this illustrates that in the United States this new war on terrorism with its military aspect, its battle in the financial arena and the computer arena, this is also clearly in the United States, Carol, a war against fear.

LIN: You bet. And just hearing on the radio this morning, CNN's also reporting about this Air Canada flight. Did you hear about that? Took off from LAX and a man onboard was making threatening remarks or anti-American statements, and so this Air Canada jet was escorted by a couple of F-16 fighter planes back to the airport and this man was arrested. It pretty much shows that the military is taking this seriously.

FRANKEN: They are taking it seriously. Of course what the fundamental issue was had to do with smoking on the aircraft, and as you said, it's a little bit more expanded now. In the past, of course, he might have been taken into custody after they arrived but not this time. Escorted back, as you pointed out, by fighter jets.

LIN: All right. Thank you very much. Bob Franken reporting live from the Pentagon.

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