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Target Terrorism

Aired October 2, 2001 - 22:00   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again, everyone.

Today a man named Manu Dhingra left a New York hospital and described that moment three weeks ago when he was hit by a fireball in the World Trade Center. His first thought, "God, make it quick." Manu made it out, but suffered burns across a third of his body. He was lucky. I guess our standards for "lucky" have been cruelly distorted by this tragedy.

We met Manu days after the disaster and it was almost hard to look at him then. You'll see how he's recovered tonight, how many thousands had that same thought, "make it quick," on the morning of September 11th. Today recovery workers continued picking through the rubble.

On a day just as eerily beautiful as it was that Tuesday morning three weeks ago, Mayor Giuliani today said family members will get soil from the site in a wooden urn. For many, if not most of the victims, that is all the families will get to remember those that they have lost.

We tell you this at the start tonight as a reminder. While our program deals mostly with policy choices and strategy, the human tragedy is never far away. We are reminded of it every day. Every day when we look down off that roof to that site, as we did that first day three weeks ago and wondered what was behind the smoke, the smoke that still rises tonight, three weeks later.

It was an extremely busy day of diplomatic developments in America's new war. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld leaving tonight on a mission to the Middle East. America's top diplomat, Secretary of State Powell, will stay home. Secretary Rumsfeld's visit will include stops in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt. He will also travel to Uzbekistan.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We have a lot of activity in the region of the Defense Department, and I have been able to be there yet this year. Normally, ministers of defense visit countries where there is that type of activity, and I unfortunately have not been able to thus far, and it just seemed that I should. And it is something that, as we all know, there are a lot of things others can do, but there are some things that the secretary of defense has to do. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And President Bush today went on the record with a story we told you about last night: that the United States would support the creation of a Palestinian state as part of the Middle East peace process.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The idea of a Palestinian state has always been in the -- a part of a vision, so long as the right to Israel to exist is respected.


BROWN: Both the Rumsfeld trip and the administration's statement on Palestinian state do require some context. We're joined by Joshua Ramo, he's senior editor for the world section at "TIME" magazine. And Nick Lemann, the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker."

Good evening to both of you. Nick, let me start with you. You've written about a kind of policy or strategy split in the administration between the hawks and the not-so-hawks. Does Rumsfeld's trip to the Mideast, rather than Powell's trip to the Mideast, tell you anything?

NICHOLAS LEMANN, "THE NEW YORKER": Well, first caveat: we're reading tea leaves here. Policy is being made by a small, very tight group and they're not calling me every day to tell me what they're up to, so I'm guessing. But here's my guess.

In the Clinton administration, the Pentagon wag the home of the doves and the State Department was the home of the hawks. Now it's reversed, in the Bush administration. The Pentagon is hawkish, the State Department is dovish. It looks like policy is moving in a dovish, diplomatic direction, at least for the moment. And it may be that Rumsfeld is trying to demonstrate, and the administration is trying to demonstrate, that the hawk, the head hawk is able to perform diplomacy by going do the Mideast.

It also leaves Powell in Washington, where the operation is being run. And you also can assume that Rumsfeld is talking about weapons and stuff like that with these governments.

BROWN: All right. Let's talk about what, perhaps, he's going to talk about then. Saudi Arabia -- what does he want from the Saudis?

JOSHUA COOPER RAMO, "TIME" MAGAZINE: What he wants from the Saudis, and I think what he wants out of this trip in general -- again, we're reading tea leaves here -- is endorsement of the administration's military plan. They've been working very hard on selling the diplomatic angle at the State Department. Powell has been aggressive in explaining to people why they believe Osama is the cause of this and why they believe striking the Taliban is OK.

Now Rumsfeld has to sell out and actually sell the target list, sell the military plan, because the caveat from the moderate Arab states has been: We will ride along on this, but we want to know who you're going to hit, because we don't want this to look like a war against Islam.

BROWN: Does he want, for example, something -- does he want a base to fly out of? Does he want...

RAMO: Absolutely. In Saudi Arabia, one of the things he wants -- what we have in Saudi Arabia, what the U.S. has, is the most sophisticated air base and combat management system we have outside the continental United States. That was built and paid for by the Saudis, so they, at the end of the day, decide whether or not we get to fly out of there.

They have been very hesitant to let U.S. troops fly offensive missions out of that base against an Islamic state in Afghanistan. And so part of his sales job is going to be convincing them that's something that needs to happen.

BROWN: Nick, jump in when you're comfortable here, OK?

What does he want -- what will the Saudis want in return?

RAMO: They want a couple of things, as we understand it, from talking to Saudi diplomats. First of all, they went assurances that the U.S. is serious about trying to wipe out the Osama bin Laden network. It was a Saudi-based network, originally. They see it as a threat to their government.

The second thing is, they want some assurances that the U.S. is going to launch a limited campaign here, that it's not going to look like war against Islam, but just a war against Afghanistan, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

LEMANN: The thing, if you remember here, is that even a monarchy like Saudi Arabia has to worry about public opinion. Obviously, the Saudi royal family is terrified about opinion of sort of the man on the street. The popular thing to do, in terms of public opinion in Saudi Arabia, is not let us use the base. So Rumsfeld has to overcome an obstacle of fear on the part of the royal family about what will happen to them if we use the base.

BROWN: Uzbekistan.

RAMO: The most fascinating stop on this trip, without a doubt. Uzbekistan sits right on the border with Afghanistan. It has been, in the last 18 months, sort of the place you go once you finish terror training camp in Afghanistan. And you're going somewhere for your post-doctorate work, where do you go? You go to Uzbekistan. And in Uzbekistan there is something called the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, that is largely run and staffed by soldiers who have been trained in the Osama bin Laden camps.

And there is a lot of speculation that part of whatever American action happens in Afghanistan will be cooperation with the Uzbekistan government, which has been fighting these Islamic radicals, in rolling up the Islamic movement of Uzbekistan.

So a Rumsfeld trip there is highly significant. It could mean that the war moves outside Afghanistan into this very dangerous corner of the world between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

LEMANN: Just imagine yourself as Rumsfeld. It's a very delicate game he has to play, because in a way, all of the rulers of these countries would love nothing more than to suppress their Islamic revolutionary element. But what they're afraid is, can they get away with that, or do they have a strong enough hand to do that, or will they be the victims of an uprising. And in Uzbekistan there was an assassination attempt, what, two years ago. So these people have reason to be afraid.

BROWN: Gentleman, both, thanks for coming in and talking about this for a few minutes. Josh, Nick, nice to see you both. I know it was harrowing. Thank you, the both of you.

The toughest words today spoken not by the president of the United States, but by the British Prime Minister. "Surrender the terrorists," Tony Blair said to the Taliban, "or surrender your power." The White House said, "thanks," but refused to adopt Blair's tough talk, despite a fair amount of goading by the White House press corps this afternoon.

Our senior White House correspondent, John King, joins us now with more on that. John, good evening.

JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Aaron. A reminder again today that there is no closer alliance than the one between the United States and Great Britain, but White House officials trying to explain the different choice of words today, making note that while both leaders are trying to prepare their nations for likely military action, they do have slightly different roles. Mr. Blair has just that mission, in the view of the White House.

Mr. Bush has to also keep together that fragile international coalition you were just speaking about. That is why White House officials say, ask each leader the question of the day, "has the Taliban run out of time?" and you get a slightly different answer.


KING (voice-over): Early morning in the Oval Office, the question before the president is this: Is the Taliban out of the time?

BUSH: The Taliban must turn over Al Qaeda organization living within Afghanistan and must destroy the terrorist camps. And they -- they must do so, otherwise there will be a consequence.

KING: The other side of the Atlantic, a little more than an hour later -- same issue, more specific answer.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I say to the Taliban: Surrender the terrorists or surrender power. That is your choice.

KING: That put the prime minister out ahead of Washington. The White House has repeatedly stopped short of a public declaration that a regime change in Afghanistan would be an explicit goal of military strikes. But there were no complaints from the White House.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think anybody should expect two leaders to give speeches that are carbon copies in every iota and every sentence and every word. But the two have said virtually the exact same message: We are united, we stand strong together.

KING: Sitting down to dinner with Washington's mayor at the end of the day, the president said he and Mr. Blair are on the same page.

BUSH: The prime minister was echoing exactly what I said in my speech to the Congress.

KING: In that speech, nearly two weeks ago now, the president warned the Taliban to turn over lead suspect Osama bin Laden, or share his fate if the United States had to respond with military power.


KING: It was in that same speech, of course, that the president vowed there would be no negotiations, "no discussions," in his words, with the Taliban. The White House repeating that line again tonight after the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan demanded that the United States prove that Osama bin Laden is responsible for these attacks.

And, Aaron, as I throw back, we should note Secretary Rumsfeld's plane took off from Andrew's Air Force Base just a short time ago on that mission you were just speaking about to the Middle East.

BROWN: So he is on his way over there. Any buzz at the White House about why Rumsfeld and not the secretary of state?

KING: I asked that very question of a senior State Department official a few hours ago, who said we were wondering for a while if we should be upset, but then we remembered a little history. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and then General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took a very similar trip just before the beginning of the air war, before the Persian Gulf War more than a decade ago.

They stopped in Egypt, they stopped in Saudi Arabia and other key stops, I was told by a senior official. This is the nuts and bolts of using military installations for the campaign that lies ahead. It was best that the defense secretary do the talking.

BROWN: John, thanks. Our senior White House correspondent, John King tonight.

Well, his secretary of defense is on his way to the Middle East. The president working to get a coalition together. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are trying to put together an anti-terrorism bill. It is controversial in a number of ways, and when we come back we'll talk with Congressman Henry Hyde about it, when this "Special Report" continues.


BROWN: It was an annoyed attorney general who chided Congress today for failing to rapidly pass the administration's anti-terrorism package. Congress has taken a step back on this package of laws while it tries to fashion a bill that balances these new security concerns with civil liberties.

Here's CNN's Congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl.


JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Almost immediately after the September 11th attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft began asking Congress for new law enforcement powers to track down terrorists. Now Ashcroft is accusing Senate Democrats of foot- dragging.

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I met with Senator Leahy this morning again, and expressed to him my deep concern over the pace at which we are making progress. I think it is time for us to be productive, on behalf of the American people, so that our protection of the American people can in fact be effective.

KARL: In the first significant break in bipartisanship since the attacks, Ashcroft made his comments flanked by Senate Republican leaders, who suggested further delay may threaten national security.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: If some other attack occurs, people are going to wonder, where have you been, in giving the additional tools that are needed.

KARL: Minutes later, the Democratic Senate judiciary chairman, who has raised concerns that the new powers may infringe on civil liberties, came to the cameras to say the administration is to blame for backing away from previously negotiated agreements.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: This morning the attorney general told me that apparently last night the White House changed its mind, and they were not willing to continue with their agreement.

KARL: On the House side of the Capitol, a much different scene. Republican Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner and ranking Democrat, John Conyers -- two men who don't agree on much -- have struck a deal on a bill to give Ashcroft many of the powers he wants, including: expanding electronic surveillance powers, the ability to detain noncitizens for up to seven days without charge.

The House bill also makes harboring terrorists a crime, and allows prosecutors to share secret grand jury information with intelligence and national security officials. The House bill includes a "Sunset" provision, that makes most of the law expire in two years. It may take a personal appeal from the president to get the Senate to move as quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll get the law done. I think what the president might have to do is knock a few heads together and say, OK guys, make your agreements, stick to your agreements, it will all get done.

KARL (on camera): And late Tuesday indications that it may be Senate leader Tom Daschle who will have to bang a few heads together to get the anti-terrorism bill passed. A senior Democratic source says that Daschle has told fellow Democrats he wants the bill passed by Thursday.

Jonathan Karl, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BROWN: We're joined now by U.S. Representative Henry Hyde of Illinois. The Congressman is familiar to many of you as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, the committee with responsibility over these matters.

Good evening, sir, it's nice to talk to you.


BROWN: What's the hangup in the Senate, do you know?

HYDE: Democrats and Republicans, I think the wonderful euphoria of bipartisanship was sure to run into some rocks and shoals, because when you get on the subject of civil liberties, it's pretty sensitive. I think if Pat Leahy is to be believed -- and I always believe Pat Leahy -- he said that they had an agreement on grand jury testimony that the White House backed out of. That is disputed by the Republicans.

But I think they will reach agreement, because the House has reached an agreement. We're going to mark the bill up tomorrow and pass it out of our committee and get it on the floor. And the Senate doesn't like the House to look like the more efficient functional body.


BROWN: I'll walk away from that one, sir.


BROWN: Some of the issues on some of these provisions are pretty clear. The grand jury question, sharing grand jury information may not be as clear to some of our viewers. What -- whether you share it or not, what is the civil liberties concern there?

HYDE: Well there always has been a special protection for grand jury testimony, designed to facilitate witnesses testifying. If a witness knows they can testify, and their testimony is protected and not to be released publicly, they will be more forthcoming. At least, that's the rationale behind protecting grand jury testimony. Now...


BROWN: I'm sorry. Who would this get shared with?

HYDE: Well, it might be shared with the CIA. It might be shared with military intelligence -- whoever is conducting an investigation to determine responsibility for certain conduct. If they know somebody who has knowledge about the matter has testified before a grand jury, they would like to get that grand jury testimony. And it has been pretty sacred, until now.

BROWN: One of the more obvious, I think, risky areas was this question of detention, and at least in the original proposal, essentially unlimited detention. That didn't seem to have much of a chance, did it?

HYDE: No, it didn't. The compromise makes sense, seven days without a charge. If you have somebody and you're not ready to charge them, but you suspect them of being a terrorist, an alien, you can hold them for up to seven days. But I think -- and then you have to charge them with an offense, either an immigration offense or a criminal offense. And if you don't, you have to release them. That makes sense, and that's just.

BROWN: And this applies only to non-citizens, correct? How long can you hold a citizen in detention without bringing him before a judge and charging him in federal court?

HYDE: My recollection is, about 48 hours. You have to -- you can't just hold someone indefinitely, unless there's a foreign intelligence aspect or a suspected terrorism aspect.

BROWN: And as the law stands now, how long can you hold a non- citizen? Same 48 hours?

HYDE: Yes.

BROWN: So, citizen or non-citizen, the law today treats everyone the same?

HYDE: That's right, and this is recognizing the fact that terror is a weapon that's being used now by certain groups, and trying to give the law enforcement a handle on it.

BROWN: You know, sir, I know you know the old expression, "bad cases make bad laws." I wonder if, in this process, you have any concern that this most awful case has the potential, at least, to make bad law?

HYDE: Yes, it does. You have a conflict between civil liberties, as traditionally enjoyed by Americans and enforced by our courts, and you have bloodthirsty terrorists who kill women and children by the thousands. And those contradictory forces have to be dealt with by law enforcement.

So, we Americans, I believe, are going to have to get used to some curtailment, some, certainly inconvenience, at airports. But more than that, some abridgement of our civil liberties, until we get the scourge eliminated. Now, you will note they have a "sunset" provision -- two years, and we'll have to revisit these and either pass them again, or they expire.

BROWN: Congressman, it's nice to talk to you. Congressman Henry Hyde from Illinois in our Washington bureau tonight. We appreciate your time.

HYDE: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you, sir.

And we have much more ahead. We'll take a break. This "Special Report" will continue in just a moment.


BROWN: Some numbers have become all too familiar: more than 300 bodies recovered, more than 5,000 people still missing. Forgotten, often, are the more than 6,000 people who were hurt, hospitalized on September 11th. And many remain hospitalized tonight, and some continue to fight for their lives.

Until this morning, Manu Dhingra was one of them. He was trapped on the 83rd floor. His body, ravaged by fire. He prayed for a quick, painless death. He got something else. He got life. Mr. Dhingra told his story today as he was released from a New York burn center. Here is that story, not easy to tell, or to listen to.


MANU DHINGRA, WTC ATTACK SURVIVOR: I turned the corner from the elevator and suddenly, I just heard an explosion and I was just covered in a ball of fire. I can only imagine that it came from the elevator shafts, or something. But at that time I just -- I mean, I still remember that it -- in that ball, I was just thinking to myself, "please, just, God, make it quick."

You know, make it painless. Actually, it was very painful, but just make it quick. I thought it was over. But luckily it didn't last long and I was still standing. I had some adrenaline, so I just ran into the office that was a couple of doors down. By that time everybody had heard what happened, and I was -- I thought it was a bomb to begin with.

And suddenly everybody started evacuating the building, and they're like, "Manu, you have to try to help yourself," and, "you have to like -- you know, they'll help you, but there's nobody going to come up to the 83rd floor to get you down." So I don't know who was with me at that time, but I got some kind of energy from somewhere. And I just got up and I started walking down the stairs. And that's how I made it down. It was actually pretty calm, because at that time, I mean, there was no -- the behavior in the stairwell was very calm. Nobody at that time knew what was going to happen to the building. The stairwell was obviously full of a lot of people, but nobody had any idea what was going to happen. Everybody was helping each other. There were a lot of wounded people who were coming down.

And I mean, I was just very dehydrated so I was just shouting if anybody had water to give me, and luckily they did. I owe a lot to my friends, even though they couldn't grab me because I was burnt all over and it really hurt to touch. But you know, they cleared the way. One person was in front of me, one behind me. And they got me water and they lied to me a couple times. When I wanted to sit down and rest for a while, they're like, no, there's only 10 more floors to go -- when there was like 60 more.

You know, so I owe them a lot for lying to me -- thank you. And I finally made it down, and got in the ambulance, and that's when I felt safe. And I still didn't notice the building had collapsed until I had gotten to the hospital.

Life will never be normal for me, and a lot of other people who have been affected by this. And now I want to try to do something -- like, I want to give back. I heard the unity in New York, what's going on, and I want to be a part of it. And I've been in bed for about three weeks and I feel very good right now, and I want to get out there and do my part.

I have such mixed emotions, because everybody over here has been so upbeat and they're all happy about me leaving, and I have been very happy about -- I'm very happy about me leaving also. But at the same time, I just -- I have such deep sorrow that, you know, that this is happening. And I really -- I don't know why I don't feel that I deserve this. I don't know why I deserved a second chance. But I have it, so I have to make the best of it, and I will.


BROWN: CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta spent some time in a hospital with Manu Dhingra. Sanjay joins us from Atlanta tonight. Good evening.


BROWN: I just want to touch on one thing quickly here. He's got a lot of medicine yet to be done to him, right?

GUPTA: That's right. He did have a very significant injury, Aaron. I think that's important to point out. Doctors say that close to 40 percent of his body was burned, third-degree burns. He was describing those fireballs, fireballs of over a thousand degrees cascading through hallways.

A 40 percent burn, what the doctor's usually say is that you add the percentage of burn plus their age -- he's 27 -- that's the likelihood someone may not survive those burns, 67 percent. And you can see just three weeks later he has actually made a remarkable recovery, despite those odds that were stacked up against him.

He does still have some roads to cross. Infection is still a risk for him, the biggest risk, probably, as his skin is still into fully healed and there is a possibility of bacteria actually getting in through that skin and infecting him. But as we can see there, Aaron, it's a good story. He is doing very well, and it's good to see.

BROWN: His body is healing. His mind sounded a little shaky to me, in the sense that he's talking about he isn't sure he feels worthy why he survived, which raises a question we talked about this afternoon, which is survivor's guilt.

GUPTA: That's right. Survivor's guilt is something that we've actually known about through many situations historically, certainly through wars in the past, tragedies that have happened in this country previously. I think that we will see a lot of survivor's guilt, not only in the the survivors that were actually in the building, like Mr. Dingler (ph), but also everybody else, really, in the country in some way or another may experience to a degree some of this.

Certainly he mentioned some things that maybe he didn't feel worthy of actually surviving that. Some people go on further to say they wish they would have been the ones who died so they wouldn't have to live with the depression, some of the nightmares and all the memories of what had happened to them.

And certainly, you know, survivor's guilt can manifest itself in good ways. Sometimes compassion. We saw an outpouring of volunteerism. We saw an outpouring of blood donors, things like that. Hopefully if the guilt can actually be channeled into some compassion, it can be good things. I should also point out we've learned more about survivors built, about post-traumatic stress disorder and things like that, a lot more than we knew in the past. And there is good help out there, good professional help. And if those symptoms do exist, then certainly that help should be sought.

BROWN: Dr. Gupta, thanks. We learned a lot in Oklahoma City. Hopefully that will be applied here. Thanks for joining us. Good to talk to you again. Dr. Sanjay Gupta in Atlanta for us this evening.

There can never be any question that those injured and those killed are the ultimate victims of the attack. But as we know, the terror and the fear have spread across the country, though the economy, airlines hit so hard that they needed a $15 billion bailout.

It's not just big businesses which saw their fortunes change in a moment. Small businesses are suffering as well, and there are no Congressional bailouts for them. A look at struggling entrepreneurs in new England from our CNN Bureau Chief in Boston, Bill Delaney.


JEFF ALLEN, ENTREPRENEUR: These red candles...

BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With nothing less than everything at stake, Jeff and Lorraine Allen opened the Boston Pewter Company the first week in September. Optimistic then, now on the brink of bankruptcy. Barely any sales at all since September 11.

J. ALLEN: If things continue the way they are, then we're in a life crisis. Yeah. The absolute worst is we as a family do not have anything left.

DELANEY: Still unreeling across the U.S. economy, aftershocks of September 11th. Many just still not in the mood to buy simply for pleasure. Others avoiding big cities, meaning trouble for the Allens' big gamble: their second Boston shop selling pewter.

LORRAINE ALLEN, BOSTON PEWTER SHOP: When my husband and I sat down and before we put that pen mark on that lease, you know, we said, "We're risking everything if something happens in the country." But we never imagined that something like this would happen.

ALLEN: It's always been a dream to have multiple stores, be able to put my kids through college. That was the real reason we started this store.

DELANEY: The Allens say they figure they've got three months, through Christmas, to recoup -- or they'll lose both of their stores. Not just the Allens' pewter shop felt the seismic shift of September 11. We spent the good part of a morning among these shops. Normally bustling we're told, we saw barely a customer.

Jeff Allen's family traces way back in New England, where what he sells, pewter, has adorned homes since colonial times. Roots seem to help right now.

J. ALLEN: One of my ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, Joseph Hughes. We're strong, we've gotten through other crises, and we'll get through this one.

L. ALLEN: That's what America's all about. If every little person who's got that American blood is going to stay here and keep fighting, my husband and I are not going to let go of that. We are here to stay. If we have to sell the carpet, we're here.

DELANEY: So far, at the Boston Pewter Company, the carpet is still tacked down.

Bill Delaney, CNN, Boston.


BROWN: Changed in a moment. It's the last airport in the country to remain closed. But it won't be closed much longer.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: That story and the struggle to secure U.S. airports and airplanes in a moment.


BROWN: First Lady Laura bush spoke tonight with CNN's Larry King. The first lady recalled where she was when the attack happened and her thoughts on how the president is coping with the crisis. Clearly she's been listening closely to what her husband has been telling the country.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: An act of terrorism meant to undermine a country, make us feel vulnerable, make us be afraid -- and what happened instead, I think, is it made us realize how strong we are and how unified we are as country.


BROWN: Mrs. Bush also told Larry that reopening Reagan National Airport was a good sign that things are getting back to normal. The president this morning gave the word that the airport will open again on Thursday, with much tougher security.


L. BUSH: We are spending 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 that this airport has got the toughest security measures possible.


BROWN: Reagan National has been closed for three weeks for the same reason so many people want it up and running again. It is conveniently located. Some say dangerously located. Reagan National, you can be sure, will be swarming with security when it reopens on Thursday.

The rest of the country's airports continue to struggle with new security measures. Billie Vincent is the former director of the FAA Office of Civilian Aviation Security joins us from our Washington bureau.

Mr. Vincent, good evening.


BROWN: Is the FAA the right agency, by the way, to be dealing with these security questions, or might that better done by a law enforcement agency? VINCENT: I think the FAA has demonstrated over the years that they have made a miserable failure doing the right thing on aviation security, and September 11th was an ample demonstration of that. And it's time to take it away from the FAA, put it into the Justice Department, preferably the FBI.

BROWN: That was your job for a while, wasn't it?

VINCENT: Yes, it was. I was in that position for a little over four years, and I can empathize with the current holder of that and the previous holders. The airlines have an enormous amount of influence over the FAA, and that's principle reason it ought to be taken away from the FAA.

BROWN: Did you think at the time, when you were in the job, that you weren't able to do it the way you thought it ought to be done because of pressure from the industry?

VINCENT: In the latter part of my tenure -- the last year -- I was issuing an enormous number of emergency orders that made the airlines very unhappy. But that was because of the exponential increase of terrorist acts and threats in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. I got away with that for six or eight months until my supervisor told me I couldn't issue any more emergency orders without consensus from the airlines, which was impossible to get.

BROWN: It was impossible to get because the airlines have a somewhat different agenda than the security officer at the FAA?

VINCENT: Well, the airlines look at their bottom line. I'm a businessman also. You either make a profit, or you break even, or you are not in business. I can understand that. But the airlines, pure and simple, have not been good corporate citizens over the years when it comes to aviation security, which is a subset of safety.

The September 11th tragedy is a self-inflicted wound on the airlines.

BROWN: They should have done specifically what that they didn't do.

VINCENT: They being both the airlines and the FAA.


VINCENT: In the increase in the terrorism threat in the U.S., in the '90s all of this should have been reassessed from the standpoint of much more stringent measures. That assessment was done by the security director, Irish Flynn in July and August of 1996. But it was subverted, marginalized and some meaningful security procedures, such as full baggage match, was fought down by the airlines. And that -- what was called a baseline working group on security, really came out with nothing from a stringent standpoint.

BROWN: Just to make sure I understand this, full baggage match is making sure that if I put a bag on an airplane I also get on the airplane, right?

VINCENT: That's right. And from let's say the middle of 1985 to the end of 1989, world aviation lost over 1,100 lives by terrorists using that particular method of putting bombs on airplanes. We too quickly forget that. That may well be the next method of attack against U.S. aviation. But there other weaknesses also. I don't believe the strict new security procedure the president is talking about at National as well. If it is strict at National, why aren't we doing it elsewhere as well?

BROWN: Just by with way, why did you leave the FAA?

VINCENT: I left the FAA in a dispute after my boss told me I could not do my job by issuing those emergency orders because the airlines objected. And in April the 2nd of 1986, as I was trying to get consensus with the airlines on more security procedures an Europe, TWA Flight 840 was bombed from Rome to Athens. The next day I in effect told my boss to stick the job.

BROWN: That would do it, I guess. I've got just a half a minute or so or left. This is a baseline question here. I have a feeling I know the answer, but let me ask it anyway. Would you get on airplane tomorrow and fly?

VINCENT: Yes, but I would not be comfortable because I know that the security procedures are not sufficient to prevent another September 11th tragedy.

BROWN: Mr. Vincent, thanks for joining us tonight. Billie Vincent, the former director of civilian aviation security at FAA. Thank you, sir.

VINCENT: Thank you.

BROWN: Still ahead tonight, facts about Internet fiction. Rumors that spread following the attack when our special report continues for Tuesday night.


BROWN: Every big story has them, and this tragedy is the biggest story of our lifetime. It's never really clear how they start, but within hours of a major event, rumors begin circulating. They get bigger and bigger. And when you add the Internet, those rumors become worldwide and accepted as fact. You no doubt have heard some of them and wondered. So did CNN's Beth Nissen.


BETH NISSEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Did you hear? Nostradamus predicted in 1654 that "two metal birds" would hit "two brothers," "and the world will end soon after." Not true. No such writings are attributed to the French astrologer.

Did you see? The photo of a tourist on a World Trade Center observation deck, moments before one of the hijacked planes hit. The photo is a fake.

Did you know? As one of the Twin Towers collapsed, a man on the 82nd floor rode the rubble down, and survived with only a broken leg. The story is apocryphal, one of hundreds of false rumors and instant urban legends that have circled the globe in urgent e-mails since September 11.

BARBARA MIKKELSON, SNOPES.COM: It's part of how we deal with calamity and try to make sense of the senseless. We are doing that by exchanging information and misinformation at a fantastic rate, in hopes that some of it will be real, and some of it will somehow manage to help us once again make sense.

NISSEN: Barbara and David Mikkelson run, a Web site that lists and verifies rumors, conspiracy theories and urban legends. Since September 11, they've been overwhelmed.

DAVID MIKKELSON, SNOPES.COM: It is really difficult to track a lot of those things down when all you have is a purported e-mail from somebody called Janet, and no other identifying information.

NISSEN: and other rumor monitors have managed to verify or debunk many of the most persistent rumors. The one about the United Airlines pilot who, on a flight four days after the attack, instructed his passengers on how to foil a hijacking. That is true.

The one about rescue worker finding a pair of severed hands bound together with plastic handcuffs on the roof of one of the buildings near ground zero? Police say that grisly story is true.

MIKKELSON: So many of the most fantastic stories have turned out to be the ones that were true.

NISSEN: Or stories people wished were true, like the false story about the man who rode the rubble to safety.

MIKKELSON: The thought that there was one survivor and that somehow something there was something miraculous about his managing to make it through gives all of us hope.

NISSEN: So did the rumor that searchers found, in the smoking rubble of the Pentagon, an unscathed Bible.

MIKKELSON: This Bible, perfectly untouched, which is sort of an enduring symbol of how our faith, belief and the deeply held values will survive, no matter what the carnage around us.

MIKKELSON; We eventually found out that it was not a Bible, a dictionary, because we happen to know somebody who works in the Pentagon and actually went and saw it himself.

NISSEN: The most widely distributed rumors were mystical, metaphysical, supernatural. This authentic, undoctored Associated Press photograph was e-circulated worldwide, with the claim that the face of Satan could be seen in the smoke. E-mails told of various sources, Nostradamus, tarot cards, that foretold the attack. Psychologists say that in times of disaster, people can find an odd comfort in seeing calamity as fate, as preordained.

MIKKELSON: As frightening as that might be to accept, it is far less frightening than the other way of looking at it, which is that it is all random chance, that there is no sense to it, and that anything can happen to anyone at any time.

NISSEN: In the last few days, a new strain of rumors have appeared about an impending germ war, biological attacks. Thousands of people have received e-mails warning that sponges soaked with a deadly ebola-like virus have been put in blue envelopes, and mailed to randomly chosen Americans. That rumor is not only false, but harmful, even dangerous.

MIKKELSON: The problem with rumors is that they continue to feed an atmosphere of fear and mistrust. These stories say that we are afraid and frightened both by the events that have already unfolded, and by the events that we very deeply believe are to come.

NISSEN: Events rumor has it will come.

Beth Nissen, CNN, New York.


BROWN: In a moment, ground zero as seen from the ground and the sky. We'll be right back.


BROWN: The view of ground zero tonight from rooftop here. A view we have seen so many times last three weeks. It is remarkable to us that it smolders still on this night three week after the attack, a night remarkably like it was three weeks ago. A little bit cooler in the city, but otherwise clear as it was on the 11th.

Every day for the past three weeks we have gotten a somewhat different view the expanse of destruction around the Trade Center. Today an extreme close up as Rebecca Clough and David Platt, who were surveying the structural damage, demonstrated the robots they are using to probe the small recesses of ground zero.


DAVID PLATT, SURVEYOR: The DDC, the Department for Design and Construction for the City of New York needs to inspect the slurry wall here at the World Trade Center complex to ensure that its integrity is intact so that the sea does not come in and flood this. So we are sending down a small robot down the side of the slurry wall to inspect it.

REBECCA CLOUGH, SURVEYOR: We wouldn't be able to do this -- we wouldn't have any idea of the condition of this wall if it wasn't for the robot. This whole corner, basically, from the Vista Marriott, the entire Liberty Street (UNINTELLIGIBLE) unable to access with human teams, so the robot -- although it's not the best of situations -- gives us a lot better information than we would have without it. Which is in this condition critical.

PLATT: This one is called an uncton (ph). It is extremely small. It's the smallest one we have got. It has the capability to rotate its camera 180 out from each side. It's very, very small. It can fit -- it's about the size of a large book. Probably about six inches by 12 inches long.


BROWN: From deep in the rubble to these aerials, also taken by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These are the highest shots we have seen. This is a remarkable shot of the center of ground zero. We remembered on that first Sunday when we made a similar flight over how struck we were by this deep crater in the middle of it all, created, we gather, when the buildings collapsed and essentially punctured the landfill that the Trade Center was built on.

You can see the smoldering mass in the middle. Much less now, although from time to time it does pick up. You will see -- depending I guess on the wind and how much water they are pouring on it. Again, these were shot by FEMA as the helicopter came around the southern tip of Manhattan Island, going up the west side, looking down into that awful scene.

We have seen these kind of pictures a lot. We generally see something new in them each time, or something else hits us. What we haven't seen before today was the shot you are about to see. This comes from NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmosphere Administration. It's a radar image taken from an airplane at the site. This will help recovery teams find support structures, elevator shafts and basement, all of which could be important, particularly the elevator shafts and basements because rescue teams do suspect that elevator shafts may be a place they will find a number of bodies. And they would like to recover as many of the 5,000 missing as they possibly can. That from NOAA.

Our special coverage continues in just a moment here on CNN.




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