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Target: Terrorism - Bush Speaks At Reagan National Airport

Aired October 2, 2001 - 10:49   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: The president has arrived at Reagan National. Again, we anticipate the announcement of new security measures, possibly the tightest in the country as this airport sets the reopen, at least at this time, on a limited basis.

Here's James Gilmore, governor of Virginia.


GOV. JAMES GILMORE (R), VIRGINIA: for the entire Metropolitan area and for all of the United States of America. Ladies and gentlemen, this is just a very key announcement. It is intended for working men and women in this community, in this airport, and frankly, it's a beacon and a symbol for working men and women all across this country.

Security concerns have been a major issue. We all know that. This president has been very concerned to make sure that the community is safe and that the nation is safe, and he's taken those kinds of measures to ensure that consistent with the best interests and economic interests of people everywhere.

This airport is a beacon and a symbol of freedom, not just for this community but for this entire nation. The president knows this, and I am delighted that he is here today.

Ladies and gentlemen, for a major announcement, the president of the United States.



Governor, thank you very much. I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport.


The ticket counters will be open for business. We will start a schedule of airplane flights that will reflect the new and tight security concerns that all Americans share. Ronald Reagan Airport is very important for our local economy, but it's also a national symbol, as the governor mentioned. So Thursday, flights will resume. And I want to thank all of the captains and flight attendants and maintenance folks, ticket counter personnel -- the people who make this good airport run -- for your patience and understanding. We're doing the right thing. We've taken our time. We can assure the American public as best as we can that we're taking the necessary safety precautions; now it's time to start flying again.


I want to thank the governor of Virginia for his hard work and concern about the working people in this part of the state.

I want to thank Secretary Norm Mineta, the transportation secretary, for working hard to bring people together to sensible policy to airports all across America. He's been working overtime. That's what we expect from the secretary of transportation during this period of time, and I'm proud of the work he's done.

I want to thank the mayor of Washington, D.C., for being here. The mayor is a good solid mayor.


I want to thank Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton from Washington, D.C., for being here as well.


Two United States senators from the state of Virginia, John Warner and George Allen, have been deeply concerned about this airport.


Members of the congressional delegation, Tom Davis, Jim Moran and Frank Wolf, as well have been working hard with us to come up with reasonable, sound policies to get the Reagan Airport started. I'm glad you all are here, as well as Connie Morella from the neighboring state of Maryland.


But there really is no greater symbol that America's back in business than the reopening of this airport.


After all, this is the airport that brings our nation's leaders to Washington to do the people's business. It's the airport that welcomes millions of tourists to our nation's capital. And, of course, the mayor would want me to say: We want the tourists coming back to see our great monuments.

(APPLAUSE) But one of the things that those of us who live in the area understand, this airport's really important for the local economy as well.

There's a lot of people, a lot of small-business people, a lot of people who service the airport. Obviously, a lot of people who work here, depend upon this airport being open, and I understand that. And I appreciate, once again, your patience and understanding as our nation, obviously, is dealing with a tragedy, the likes of which we never envisioned.

I also know full well that the nation is asking this question: Are we taking the necessary safety precautions as we open, not only Ronald Reagan Airport, but other airports? The answer is, you bet. We sure are.

We spent a lot of time consulting with local officials to make sure that the security that all of us expect is in place. Not only have we worked with members of the Congress to develop what we hope is a security plan that will enhance confidence from the traveling public, but we worked with local officials as well to make sure this airport has got the toughest security measures possible.

We also, as you well know, are increasing the number of air marshals, armed marshals on airplanes. They'll be undercover. Let me rephrase that: They'll be wearing civilian clothes.


They will blend in. But we'll have many more air marshals on flights. It should send two signals: one, to American public that there'll be protection; and to somebody that thinks they can disrupt America, we're watching for you. We're paying attention to you.


Every person who gets on an airplane, who goes to work, who takes their family to visit relatives, is taking a stand against terrorism. You see, the terrorists, they want to intimidate America. The terrorists, by conducting their evil deeds, want our nation to stop, but they underestimated our spirit, didn't they? Yes, they made a mistake. And the spirit is strong in America. Our confidence is strong.


We put together a coalition of nations that says terrorism won't stand. We've got our military on alert for a reason, terrorism won't stand. We're cutting off their money because we're saying, terrorism won't stand. And we're saying that at home as well. People who travel say terrorism is not going to intimidate us.

Tonight, I've asked the mayor to go out to dinner with me here in the District. He said he's going so long as I pay.

(LAUGHTER) You've got a deal.

When people go to ball games they are sending a signal. I mean, we got struck hard on September 11, all of us know that. But you can't strike the American spirit, it's strong, it's vibrant, it's united.

And by opening this airport, we're making yet another statement to the terrorists: You can't win.


Thank you all for being here. God bless you. Thank you all very much.



HEMMER: President Bush delivering the news that so many people there in Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington wanted to hear: Reagan National Airport, the only airport in the country serving passengers to be closed since the September 11th attacks here in New York and Washington, shall reopen on Thursday of this week.

The president indicating in his words that we want the tourist to come back to Washington. The security precautions, the necessary security precautions have been taken. Now it's time to start flying, again.

As we watch the president, we want to go to Reagan National and CNN's Kathleen Koch is there. Any more details given, Kathleen, about the possibility of further restrictions for flying, at least in the near term starting Thursday, and moving forward in the days after that?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Bill, you've heard President Bush mention the issue of the Federal Air Marshalls. We are hearing that there will be a requirement that one of those -- one armed Air Marshall be on every single flight that comes into this airport and departs.

Of course the thought is that the first flights coming and leaving from this airport will be the shuttle flights, Delta and US Airways flights to New York City and to Boston.

Another change: Passengers boarding those flights would have to go through a double security screening to be certain they are not carrying weapons of any kind.

The flights coming into this airport would have routes varied. Instead of coming right down the Potomac river and relatively close to buildings like the CIA, the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon, instead they would approach from other routes, perhaps over Virginia, perhaps coming in from the east over Maryland. And then finally, something a little bit more long term, that they would certainly strengthen those cockpit doors, to be clear that pilots would be safe in the cockpits, and the potential terrorist could not get to them. Bill?

HEMMER: All right, Kathleen. Kathleen Koch at Reagan National.

Also, Major Garrett over at the White House. Major, one of the things that many people, especially lawmakers of Virginia, have tried to push the White House to do, is to reopen this airport because they were saying it was costing them jobs, it was hurting their economy. And apparently the president has gotten that message.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well you know, bill, senior administration officials had told CNN all along it was never a question of if National would reopen, it was when and under what security conditions. After all, the namesake of the airport, Ronald Reagan, someone near and dear to the president's heart, and the heart of all Republicans.

Of course, National Airport is not like any other airport in America. Not only is it a symbol, but tourist know so well, who come to Washington to see the monuments, to see everything in the city, but it is also the lawmaker's airport.

Almost every member of Congress who flies back to Washington for work comes through Washington National Airport, closing it forever would be, in the view of the White House and so many members of the Virginia Congressional delegation, a horrible sign that in fact the terrorist had won, if not complete victory, a partial victory in trying to intimidate America and close down some of its vital transport arteries. The White House never wanted that to happen, never wanted to look as if the terrorist had obtained any type of victories, certainly not one of that magnitude.

So, it was all about the speed and the pace at which to reopen Washington National Airport, Reagan National Airport, and the security procedures that would be in place there. Kathleen has just summarized them, the president reassuring all Americans that now with this final airport that has been closed, reopened, they can confidently get back on the airplanes and fly across America. Bill?

HEMMER: All right, Major. Major Garrett at the White House, Kathleen Koch at Reagan National. Thanks to both of you.




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