CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Aired October 3, 2001 - 17:00 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.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First there was the plane crash and now it's the bus.
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BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Murder on a bus bound for Atlanta. But was it terrorism?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The officials have assured me that they believe this tragic accident was the result of an isolated act.
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HEMMER: Finding Osama bin Laden: what does the defense secretary know about his whereabouts?
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America...
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HEMMER: And a presidential pledge in the classroom, and another in the boardroom.
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BUSH: I believe we've got a fantastic opportunity to invigorate this economy.
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HEMMER: It is 5:00 here in New York City. Hello again, I'm Bill Hemmer on day 22. Our day began this morning with another indication of just how much our thinking has changed. For a while earlier today the specter of terrorism hung over a deadly bus crash in Tennessee.
A passenger slit the throat of the driver, and several passengers were killed in the ensuing accident. Greyhound then suspended nationwide bus service as a precaution to what was determined to be an isolated matter. Officials insist there is no connection to terrorist activity in Tennessee. More on that story shortly here.
But first, a story still breaking at this hour out of India. A plane has been hijacked there. Our New Delhi bureau chief, Satinder Bindra now on the phone with more from New Delhi. Satinder, what are they saying this hour?
SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, what we know is India's crisis management group is meeting at the moment in New Delhi to deal with the hijacking of this Boeing 737. We've been told, Bill, that the plane was en route from Mumbai to New Delhi when it was hijacked.
The plane is now at Delhi Airport. It has been taken to a secure area. The plane has been surrounded by commandos. We have been told that there are two hijackers. Their identity still remains unknown. We're also given to understand that these two hijackers, who speak poor English, perhaps may not have access to the cockpit.
Now, the pilot of this plane has asked for two engineers to come onboard the plane. It's still too early to say if these engineers are trying to establish if there is enough fuel to fly out of Delhi. We've been told by people on the ground here that perhaps the plane has enough fuel to fly for another 1 1/2 hours.
Now, Bill, the first hint that this plane had been hijacked came when officials received an anonymous call. They weren't quite sure what to make of that call. Then shortly thereafter, the pilot of the plane himself radioed and confirmed the plane itself had been hijacked. There are 54 passengers onboard this plane. We are being told they are all safe.
And, Bill, since the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United States, Indian airports have been on full alert, especially after intelligence reports seemed to suggest that militant groups fighting on the Indian side of Kashmir would perhaps try to target Indian airports -- Bill?
HEMMER: Satinder, a number of questions, here. No. 1, any demands made thus far by the hijackers?
BINDRA: No demands so far. We understand that negotiations are just beginning between authorities and these hijackers. They are trying to establish, form a control with them. We are being told here that there are two hijackers and they speak poor English. Their identity remains unknown. Affiliations with groups, militant or otherwise, also at this moment in time, Bill, remains unknown.
HEMMER: Also, Satinder, is there any word -- I know things are quite tight-lipped at this point -- any word on how they hijacked this airplane?
BINDRA: We do not have much information on how they hijacked the plane or what kind of weaponry they carried. All we have is this was a routine flight, perhaps the last flight out of India's commercial capital, Mumbai, on towards Delhi. The plane was hijacked a few minutes flying time out of Mumbai, then the plane did eventually land in Delhi. It was taken to a secure and separate enclosure.
Right at the moment we are seeing television pictures on local news channels showing a large group of armed policemen, now beginning to gather at the airport. We understand the plane also has been surrounded by elite commandos -- Bill.
HEMMER: OK, Satinder Bindra, our New Delhi bureau chief on the telephone there from India, where the story, again, as you can tell, is still developing at this time. We'll check in a bit later this hour.
Also time to check in on the very latest developments we have on this Wednesday, to Joie Chen, standing by in Atlanta on this -- Joie.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Bill, good afternoon. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is holding meetings in Saudi Arabia with officials from the Saudi government. Before his arrival, Rumsfeld said he would reaffirm U.S. resolve to waging a long-term fight against terrorism. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States is happy with the support it's receiving from the Saudis.
There's new word today from the Pentagon on possible troop deployments. Units of the Army's 10th Mountain Division at the base at Fort Drum, New York, are on a heightened state of alert. "The Washington Post" reports that 1,000 troops from the 10th will be sent to Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, both of which border Afghanistan.
Also today in Washington, a House committee is considering President Bush's request for expanded law enforcement powers. The so- called Patriot Act is meant to bolster the fight against terrorism here at home.
And in Afghanistan today, the top Muslim cleric has issued an order to prepare for holy war. As part of the order, Mullah Mohammed Omar appealed to Muslims everywhere to aid in defending Afghanistan.
On a trip to New York, President Bush called today for a stimulus package to spur the slowing economy. The president wants up to $70 billion to aid struggling businesses and Americans out of work.
And moments ago, New York City's Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he would not seek a third consecutive term as mayor. The law limits him to two consecutive terms, but there had, of course, been a movement and some speculation about trying to change the law and allow Giuliani back into the job.
Bill is also in New York at this hour -- Bill.
HEMMER: All right, Joie, thanks again. As we mentioned before, Greyhound buses rolling again, but just like the airlines, they are under tighter security. This morning in Tennessee, a Greyhound passenger attacked a driver, and according to witnesses, tried to steer the bus into on-coming traffic. The bus flipped over, killing six, including the assailant who -- said to be man carrying a Croatian passport. Thirty-two others injured, and several taken to hospitals.
Greyhound then suspended operations for about eight hours time. Its president says the bus line is beefing up its own security.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to implement both visible and invisible improvements to our safety and security programs, to prove to the customers, day after day, month after month, that we are the safest mode of transportation
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HEMMER: Also, Greyhound says it's been assured by federal law enforcement officials that the attack today was the work of a single, deranged individual, and not an act related to terrorism. With more on that angle, CNN's correspondent Eileen O'Connor with us in Washington.
Eileen, we mentioned it before, it changes our thinking entirely when we heard this story break earlier today.
EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Bill. I mean, 22 days ago you would have had people assuming automatically that it was perhaps the work of a deranged man, a single, lone act. But now immediately the assumption was made that this was a terrorist attack, or possible copycat attack, just like the September 11th hijackings.
And this is what -- one of the reasons that, you know, people are -- basically, officials here are saying everything is being looked at through a new set of eyeglasses after those September 11th attacks. Now, we know by law enforcement, it had nothing to do with those attacks.
But, again, this is also why law enforcement officials, federal officials were up on Capitol Hill today, rolling back the rhetoric on anything about future planned attacks.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the weekend, the attorney general advised the public that another terrorist attack against the United States was likely. The FBI has no specific threat information. However, threat levels remain high and we are vigilant in our efforts to determine whether there is a specific target. There is an enormous amount of intelligence being gathered, but again, we have no specific threat information of another attack.
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O'CONNOR: Officials, investigative sources say, look, what we're seeing here are leads that perhaps there were supporters of the hijackers out there, that they have been able to look at leads that trace it back to the network, Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
And what they're saying is, look, we have to have an abundance of caution. We have to be prepared and try to get the American people to live a little bit differently, be a little bit more vigilant about the possibility of future attacks -- Bill.
HEMMER: Eileen O'Connor in Washington. Eileen, thanks to you.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began talks today in Saudi Arabia at the start of a tour that will include Egypt, Oman and Uzbekistan. All four countries figure one way or another in the U.S. plans to fight terrorism in response to the attacks on New York and Washington.
On the flight to Saudi Arabia, Rumsfeld dropped an intriguing hint. He said he has a general idea of where to find Osama bin Laden. To the Pentagon tonight and CNN's Bob Franken watching this story more.
Bob, let's frame this visit, first of all. The secretary saying before he left he's there to solidify relations and gather intelligence, not to negotiate. Will there be negotiating in Saudi Arabia?
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on what the word "negotiate" means. Of course he is going to be talking, to the highest levels of the government in that area. They'll be discussing some of the qualms that they have about locating U.S. forces or cooperating in all of this.
What he is going to be doing, first of all, is getting some face time. He is, after all, the defense secretary of the United States, the man who is the civilian head of the armed forces over there, not including, of course, President Bush himself. But he is going to be, he is going to be talking about some hugely significant matters, such as, in the country of Saudi Arabia, there are real sensitivities in that country, with its fundamentalist Muslim population.
And he's got to make sure that, in fact, the Saudis know this is what the United States needs, and here are the ways that you can diplomatically hide some of the things that they're going to be doing in name of cooperation.
HEMMER: Let's move along the trip, Uzbekistan, the most populous country in the Central Asia region. The U.S. has never had much relations with this country before, former Soviet republic. What's the grand mission there on this trip?
FRANKEN: Well, probably the most significant part of it is to have a discussion, probably an acquaintance kind of discussion, with the government there. And of course, the United States has some questions about the way that the government there rules. It is a former republic of the Soviet Union.
There is genuine desire, on the part of the United States, to locate some of its military forces there, for the obvious reason: it borders on Afghanistan. And although it's only about 80 miles worth of border, obviously, that's a significant location. So this is a really important one. As a matter of fact, some troops have been put on high alert, some of the mountain division of the U.S. Army, at Fort Drum, New York. They have been put on heightened alert with the possibility that they would be deployed to Uzbekistan. But first you have to make your deals with that government.
HEMMER: Yes, and Rumsfeld saying again, Bob, back to the original point, here, about whether or not they know where Osama bin Laden is, indicating and hinting, anyway, that he has a general idea. Did he go much further than that?
FRANKEN: Well, he did not, as a matter of fact, except to say that while he didn't have the exact coordinates, he did have, as you said, that general idea. I think that was really a message to Osama bin Laden which, to be put in colloquial English is, "you can run but you can't hide."
HEMMER: Got it. Bob Franken at the Pentagon. Bob, thanks to you.
A bit later this hour also, the key nations that Rumsfeld will not be visiting. An expert on the region will explain the sensitivities that lie there in that part of the world.
In the meantime, back here in New York, and President Bush returned to the Big Apple today for the second time since the attacks of 9-11. And if the first visit was centered on healing emotional wounds, today's visit was more about soothing financial jitters. Accompanied once again by the mayor and the governor, Mr. Bush paid a call on business leaders on Wall Street.
After the meeting he was asked, "Is the economy in a recession?"
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BUSH: We'll leave all that talk up to the statisticians. You're asking me about statistics, and we've got people who count numbers there in Washington, D.C., and that's fine. Here is my attitude: one person laid off is one person too many. And, therefore, we've got to do what it takes to make sure that that person who got laid off is able to find work.
I'm not going to dwell on the past, I'm looking forward. And I believe we've got a fantastic opportunity to invigorate this economy and to assure the business leaders around America that the government is playing a very active role, and that we will take the steps necessary to provide growth and stimulus. And that's why I believe we need additional stimulus, beyond some of the spending that we've already put in place, to the tune of about 60- to $75 billion. We'll let the accountants come up -- they call it what they want. There is no question that the economy has been affected by September the 11th.
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HEMMER: President Bush, from earlier today in New York. He's returned to the White House since then. That's where we find CNN's John King this afternoon with us.
And refusing to go into that area that begins with the letter R, recession, huh, John?
JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Bill. One of the president's top economic advisers, Glenn Hubbard, did tell the Congress yesterday he believes the United States is in a recession, or about to enter into the technical definition of a recession. But the president, the obvious political implications, plus the consumer confidence implications, he himself just simply does not want to speak that word.
But the president making clear today that he does believe the government needs to do a lot, and do it quickly, in his view, to try to give the economy yet another boost. Pay attention to the president's price tag. He said today stimulus in the area of 60- to $75 billion.
Let's look at what he means. Hasn't been specific, but he says some mix of accelerated tax cuts, or rebates for individuals. That, most likely, will take the form of a payroll tax cut. Tax cuts in investment credits for businesses. The president talking there about perhaps a depreciation help for businesses that buy new equipment.
Also, support for those directly affected, and by that, the president means help for workers dislocated because of the events of September 11th -- extended unemployment benefits. Government help continuing the health insurance coverage of those who have lost it, either because they lost their job or because a family member was killed in the terrorist strikes.
Still a great debate about the details on Capitol Hill. The president's fight not with Democrats on this one, really, much more with Republicans, who think there should be less government spending in a stimulus plan and much bigger and deeper and more permanent help for businesses. So this, the first time partisan lines have been drawn, if you will, since the terrorist strikes. But the president's fight much more with members of his own party.
The Democrats say the stimulus plan should be about $50 billion more. The president saying 60- to 75 billion. Both the Democrats and the president believe that is in the right price range to get the blessing of a very important man, the Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. He has said yes, there is need for a stimulus package, but it better not be too big, as to drive up inflationary pressures in the economy. This, a debate that will unfold in Washington over the next week or two.
The president, as you can see in his remarks right there, focusing his attention on those thrown out of work because of this. But many Republicans criticizing this president today. They think he's too cozy with the Democrats right now -- too focused on helping the workers, not enough focused on helping the business which, Republicans believe, is the true economic stimulus that in the end would help those workers -- Bill. HEMMER: So then, John, whether it's 50, 60, or $70 billion, there is a critical point here, given the current situation of the U.S. economy, that regards time. How fast could it be injected and what would be the net effect, if indeed, it was put on some sort of fast track system?
KING: Well, the Senate majority leader Tom Daschle said today he thinks this debate will take at least two weeks. If they agreed on a payroll tax cut, that could be immediate. But most likely, at least in the Democrats view, it should go to those at the lower income of the scale. That money would be in consumers' pockets immediately once there was another tax cut. That could drive it.
The business tax credits would be to encourage businesses to buy new investment. Again, that would take over time. Most of all, this is psychology as much as it is straight economics. The president, trying to convince the markets Washington will do something to help. Reaction on Wall Street today was favorable. We shall see how this debate goes in the days and weeks ahead.
HEMMER: Quickly, John, I notice a pep in the step of the president today in New York. Seemed energetic, seemed very enthusiastic, at times somewhat playful. Have you noticed that, relative to his personality?
KING: Well, note the point you were just making with Eileen O'Connor, Bill. This president wants to get the sense that America should get back to work. Yes, be on alert, but get back to work. Be optimistic, be upbeat, especially when it comes to anything he says about the economy or the rebound in New York City. The president wants to be upbeat. Plus, he likes the company of the mayor and the governor. You can see that.
HEMMER: John King at the White House. John, thanks to you.
Either way, thought, there seems to be a consensus. Something urgent needs to be done at some point very soon to jolt this economy. Let's talk more about it now. Two different opinions: Diane Swonk is director of economics and chief economist at Bank One Corporation in Chicago. And from Atlanta, Rajeev Dhawhan, head of the economic forecasting center at Georgia State University.
Good afternoon to both of you. Good to have you with us.
DIANE SWONK, BANK ONE CORPORATION: Good to be here.
HEMMER: In interest of ladies first, Diane, what about this stimulus package, first of all? Let's take it from the very top. What is the best net effect on the U.S. economy, if indeed it goes into effect sometime very soon?
SWONK: Well, what you want is something that's very quick, that can hit the economy fast, but not be lingering out there.
I'm getting a little feedback here, so I'm sorry about that.
HEMMER: I'll tell you what, Diane, we'll put you on pause.
SWONK: Thank you.
HEMMER: We'll go ahead and fix that. Not a problem. I understand it can be really tricky to talk and think at the same time, especially when you're hearing yourself in your ear.
Rajeev, what about that thought? What's the best opportunity at this point to inject the cash into the U.S. economy, and get a true effect out of it?
RAJEEV DHAWHAN, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: See, the biggest problem right now is that the companies are not fully employed, you know, they are sitting at some idle capacity. So we need some way to generate demand for them, and that can be done, hopefully, with a fiscal stimulus that pumps money into the economy directly. You know, direct spending by the government, that's a faster route than just having some tax credits and all that. These are good for long term, six months or more down the road. But right now, we need to employ the people, and the best we can do to have demand for their products.
HEMMER: Could one make a pretty fair argument that a mixture, a combination would be best? Tax cuts and government spending?
DHAWHAN: Mixture is fine, but at this point, if you're looking for a stimulus in the next three months, then it has to come from spending, some actual spending, some numbers. And if you're looking for long-term growth, which I mean six months or more beyond, and for the future productive potential, then you have to do those tax cuts, which the businesses will probably make use of, you know.
HEMMER: Got it. Back to Chicago and Diane Swonk. Have we got the problem worked out here? Tell us about the fine line that you were discussing, about trying to increase spending, give a stimulus to the U.S. economy, and also walk that fine line, that you don't go too far.
SWONK: Well, I think the problem right now is -- you sort of go back to the Keynes issue, in the long run we're all dead -- and right now everyone is trying to save us. And I think that's important. And the focus in Washington has been to shelve all talk of lockbox or all talk of fiscal discipline down the road.
One of the concerns that Chairman Greenspan and Former Treasury Secretary Rubin echoed when they went to try to talk to the Senate about this issue, was that, listen, we need something right now. We do need something immediate, we do need something that will have a direct impact in the economy, but let's not lock us into something that we're going to be haunted by down the road.
We're talking about moving into an economy that, once it does recover -- I do believe we're in a recession -- and certainly, the uncertainty about events that just happened today underscore the cloud that we're in right now, in terms of uncertainty. But I do think we can also bounce out of that if we do not have another event of the magnitude of what I went through on September 11th. On the other side of it, though, you're talking about an economy with more government spending, more, larger government budget deficits down the road, and an economy that's more dependent on security, more invested in security -- an economy that will rebuild but also fortify. That's not necessarily bad, but it is an economy that's, over the long term, less efficient, and what that means is, less productive.
In economist terms we think of productivity in terms of how it can raise our living standards. We're making some real choices here in terms of how inflationary we are going to make this economy three to five years down the road, and how much we're going to raise our living standards. Now, I think there is a fine line there, too.
We don't talk about whether we're hedging against living or dying, and we are very much making a decision about our future on that as well, in terms of investing in security. It's just that we need to be very cautious how we make, and thoughtful, how we make those investments today.
HEMMER: Yes, back to Rajeev, if you could take us there. You make a point that the uncertainty out there at this time -- depends on this war, whatever shape that takes. But you also try and make a fine line between what type of war ensues here. Can you define for us better what you're talking about there?
DHAWHAN: I like to put it better in terms of the president No. 41. At my time I knew what the mission was and why my enemy was. At this point it's really unclear what kind of a war it would play out. Is it going to be a short quick one? Or is it going to be long, prolonged one, with a lot of CNN coverage or something like that? Either way, it will depend upon what kind of fiscal expenditures there would be for this war.
So that is one uncertainty, and the businesses don't like that. They are in a holding pattern. They are going to wait for this thing to resolve, and once this gets resolved they can make the decisions. So that's why I'm saying at this point we need a direct stimulus on the spending -- somehow get the people spending, or the government spending, so we make use of that idle capacity. And once that uncertainty is resolved at the kind of war, then we can talk about the business tax credits and other stuff, which will stimulate production.
HEMMER: It is amazing how quickly things have changed in this country and around the world, for that matter, too. Want to get back to the stimulus plan, though. Going to put up a graphic on the screen right here, and, Diane, as we look over this -- again, this is the White House proposal. We heard from Tom Daschle and the Democratic side saying he'd be more comfortable with $50 billion.
As we look at some of the specifics on the screen right here, how do you interpret this and read this, in terms of true net effect in the U.S. economy?
SWONK: Well, what we're talking about -- I mean, when you're talking about payroll and tax cuts, that goes right into the pocket the U.S. consumer. That is a direct demand stimulus, and we are having some demand effects out there. I do think there needs to be a mix of demand and supply effects, which is, the accelerated investment kind of credits for people who invest today, because investment has been a very weak sector in the U.S. economy.
We're seeing a lot of compulsory spending right now in security, people shoring up their investment in security. Also, duplicative investment, things on telecom. The World Trade Center crisis really illustrated how much people need to diversify their telecom providers. But anything to stimulate that kind of investment is very important.
I think the uncertainty issue is one that won't easily be resolved. I think this is a key issue out there, but it may abate. We have seen economies that have expanded in the face of terrorist uncertainty. We have many examples of that around the world. The issue is how we're going to adjust to it here in the U.S.
HEMMER: OK, Diane Swonk in Chicago, Rajeev Dhawhan in Atlanta. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today. It is very interesting, as we go forward, indeed. Thank you very much for coming in today.
Coming up here, more on the Rumsfeld trip overseas. Why it's important to take note of which countries he is not visiting on this trip. Back with more after this.
HEMMER: Again, President Bush visiting New York today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on a four-nation tour that started today, and Secretary of State Colin Powell meeting with various foreign ministers. All are high-profile events that draw a lot of attention to what the Bush administration is doing to target terrorism. But there are many events going on behind the scenes, just as important, and are low-profile for a reason.
At the State Department, Andrea Koppel, tracking a lot of movement in this area. Andrea, hello to you.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. You could say that there are a number of pieces in motion right now, some of them very obvious, as you just mentioned, Secretary Powell meeting with various foreign leaders, President Bush doing the same.
Others not so public. You've got today, the head of policy planning, here at the State Department, who is on his way. In fact, he should be in Rome right now, where he is expected to hold a meeting with the former Afghan king, the deposed king, who is 86 years old, hasn't been in the country for 30 years. But U.S. officials see him as a possible lightning rod to really bring all of the various Afghan Diaspora together -- these people who have been living overseas. In fact, some who are still in Afghanistan.
Now, the U.S. has been very careful, Bill, not to say that it is trying to form a new Afghan government. In point of fact, what Richard Haass is expected to discuss with the king are U.S. ideas for what would happen in a post-Taliban Afghanistan. For instance, all the U.S. aid that could be brought in for reconstruction, humanitarian aid, as well as peacekeepers. What they're looking at right now is trying to put together a force of Muslim peacekeepers so that the Afghan people feel comfortable, Bill.
HEMMER: All right. And certainly, the king is meeting and has been meeting with members of the Northern Alliance as well. On a different topic, Andrea, we were just talking with Bob Franken at the Pentagon about Rumsfeld's trip: Oman, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia.
In a general sense, can you frame for us why these four nations have been chosen at this time?
KOPPEL: What I've been told, Bill, is that this is really seen as a gardening mission, if you will. Secretary Rumsfeld is going around, making these countries feel important, making them recognize that the U.S does see them as key players in this multifaceted campaign that is now under way.
In Saudi Arabia, for instance, one official told me that the U.S., under the Bush administration, has been somewhat neglectful. There haven't been many high-level visits there, and so part of what Secretary Rumsfeld will do is make a big show of things, let them know that Saudi Arabia's support is important -- and it is. Prince Sultan air base, where the U.S. flies missions through the southern no-fly zone in Iraq, is where a lot of U.S. planes are based and could be put into play, down the line.
In Oman, for instance, that country is important as a spillover site for various planes and whatnot, if this moves into military operation. And Uzbekistan as well, Bill, important for special operations forces and things of that nature -- Bill.
HEMMER: OK, Andrea. Andrea Koppel from the State Department. Many thanks to you.
We have mentioned, now, where the defense secretary will go. But what is significant, also, is where he will not go. To Atlanta and Joie with more on this -- Joie.
CHEN: Right, Bill.
We have been saying that Mr. Rumsfeld is making stops, as we have said, in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt and Uzbekistan. But as you can see, if we take a look at the map, there are holes in the map, other nations in the Middle East and Central Asia that the United States may be looking for for some more help.
Back with us today is Rob Sobhani. He is a professor at Georgetown University and a specialist on Islamic fundamentalism and on terrorism.
Rob, help us focus in. The audience has learned a lot and heard about Pakistan. It has a very long border, as we can see on the map, with Afghanistan. But it's not just a geographic issue. Tell us why Pakistan is so important.
ROB SOBHANI, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Pakistan is important, Joie, because it is the key to understanding the Taliban. But more importantly, it is also the country that could possibly help us militarily.
And the reason why Secretary Rumsfeld did not go to Pakistan is because, in this time of crisis, it is very important for Pakistan to portray an image of independence within the Muslim world. It could not be seen as being dictated by the U.S. And Secretary Rumsfeld's presence might have given that impression.
CHEN: Keep a safe distance there, all right.
Less well known to many of us in the United States, some of the Central Asian nations, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. If we can take a look at the map that shows us the region, That is Tajikistan. It shares a northern -- or the southern part of Tajikistan shares a border, you see there, with the top of Afghanistan. And the Hindu Kush range goes through Tajikistan and then Turkmenistan as well.
Why are these Central Asian nations important?
SOBHANI: Joie, the importance of Turkmenistan actually is greater than Tajikistan in the post-Taliban scenario, because Turkmenistan has the world's fourth largest reserves of natural gas.
If Afghanistan is peaceful, then there is the possibility of a pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan. And that could be the basis for an economic recovery of Afghanistan. That is why Turkmenistan plays a very key role in all of this.
CHEN: Yes, and it does sit on the Caspian in sort of a key location. This is Afghanistan here. You can't see it on the map. It is not printed out. But that is Afghanistan over here.
SOBHANI: I'm sorry, Joie.
Yes, also one other point: To the extent that all the countries of the former republics, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, want to portray their image as independent and away from the sphere of Moscow, the visit by Secretary Rumsfeld is significant to Uzbekistan. It portrays an image of independence from the sphere of Moscow.
CHEN: So why -- you did tell us why the secretary wouldn't go to Pakistan -- but why not to these Central Asian nations beyond Uzbekistan?
SOBHANI: I think, at this point, it might have been premature to go to Turkmenistan. Tajikistan is different because there is the potential of a homegrown backlash. The secretary maybe would be best advised not to go to Tajikistan.
Tajikistan's governments has had a long-running civil war between the more secular elements of Tajik society and the more fundamentalist types. And maybe it was best for the secretary not to go there, and therefore to Uzbekistan, which is the anchor right now of support for the U.S. in the Central Asian states.
CHEN: Good perspective from Rob Sobhani of Georgetown University -- thanks for being with us again this afternoon, Rob.
SOBHANI: Thank you, Joie.
CHEN: All right, it's just past half past the hour, and time for a check of the latest developments here.
A hijacked jetliner with 54 passengers on board remains on the ground in New Delhi, India. A Boeing 737 belonging to a feeder airline of Indian Airlines was hijacked on a flight from the Indian city of Mumbai -- it was previously known as Bombay -- to New Delhi. The passengers are said to be safe. But they remain on the plane. There is no word on just who carried out the hijacking.
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is in Saudi Arabia, as we have been telling you. This is the first step of the trip aimed at drumming up support among Gulf Arab nations and Central Asian nations for a possible attack against terrorists. Rumsfeld will also visit Oman, Egypt and the Central Asian country of Uzbekistan.
Some units of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division may be headed for action in the war on terrorism. Some units have been placed on a heightened state of alert. But, so far, none of the units has been deployed.
And in New York City, Mayor Rudy Giuliani today said that he would not seek a third consecutive term.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: The reality is that you don't get most of your commission selected until December or later in December. You don't get some of them selected until January or February. And they really can't figure out what do until March. And that is just the reality of any transition if you have ever gone through it. I have gone through three, two presidential and one mayoral.
And the offer is to make that a much smoother transition. And I think that would also satisfy the large group of people in the city who have to also be considered, who are begging me to stay and to run for another term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: And President Bush was in New York City today, his second visit since last month's attacks. Among other things, he stopped by a first grade class and signed a poster where the students listed what they love about America.
Bill is back in New York now -- Bill.
HEMMER: Joie, thanks.
The Olympics and new concerns over security in Salt Lake: what changes the organizers there want for the Games that are just months away -- we'll have an update there. Also, the fight against bioterrorism: what new action Congress is now considering.
HEMMER: Since the attacks back on 9/11, there's been a lot more discussion than usual about the threat of biological weapons. And the biggest question, though: Is the U.S. prepared? Today in Washington, some senators put the question to a Bush Cabinet official.
CNN's Rea Blakey was there to watch it.
REA BLAKEY, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This simulation of a bioterrorism attack serves as a warning, leaving the General Accounting Office to declare the U.S. unprepared for a real attack.
Appearing before a Senate subcommittee on labor, health and human services, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson responds this way.
TOMMY THOMPSON, HHS SECRETARY: We do lack lavatory and I think we do lack the hospital space. I talked to Secretary Don Rumsfeld. And I asked, if in fact we needed some mobile hospitals from the Department of Defense, could we be able to use them? And he said absolutely.
BLAKEY: According to Thompson, Americans should not be scared into believing that they need gas masks. Nor should they start hording antibiotics and food.
What can be done? According to the proposed Public Health Threats and Emergencies Act, better intelligence is needed to avert an attack using weapons of mass destruction; improved food safety; research on anti-viral therapies and accelerated production of smallpox vaccine. The bill would pay for shoring up state and local health departments with fax machines, Internet access. All U.S. doctors and nurses would be trained to help detect a biological attack as soon as possible. The nation's health alert network would be expanded.
Secretary Thompson recommends each state have at least one CDC- trained epidemic intelligence expert. There are only 42 in the entire nation. Upon learning his home state did not have such an expert, Senator Byrd responded:
SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: How much money do you need?
BLAKEY: Now, the secretary's staff insists the Thompson has been saying all along that the U.S. needs to do more to be prepared for the threat. Well, today he emphatically quoted: "America can respond" -- Bill.
HEMMER: Rea, we heard little bit of it. How much did the senators challenge Secretary Thompson on this?
BLAKEY: It was periodic throughout the hour-long testimony. In fact, at one point, Senator Byrd not only challenged the secretary regarding a recent media interview -- Secretary Thompson reportedly said that the U.S. government is -- quote -- "prepared to take care of any contingency, any consequence" that develops from any kind of bioterrorism attack.
Now, the senators's response to that was: "Would you still love me if I say I don't believe that?" -- Bill.
HEMMER: Rea Blakey, live in Washington, thanks.
Protecting against a biological attack comes under the heading of homeland defense, a subject getting a lot of attention so far. Joie is in Atlanta with more on this topic.
But right now, we will take a quick break here -- and back with more after this.
HEMMER: The Coast Guard out with new regulations for ships coming into U.S. ports.
And CNN's Jeanne Meserve in Washington has been tracking this -- Jeanne, what are they saying now?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, merchant ships coming into U.S. ports until now have had to give the Coast Guard 24-hours notice. But the Coast Guard is now asking for four times that. They are asking ships to let them know 96 hours ahead of time that they're coming into port.
This will give the Coast Guard more time to do computer checks on the crew, the passengers and the cargo. This applies on all ships, no matter what flag they are carrying. About 10,000 ships come into U.S. ports each year. That's about 68,000 port visits, this another indication of the attention and concern over port security -- Bill.
HEMMER: Boy, it is ever.
We're also hearing from the organizers of the Winter Games in Salt Lake, coming up just a few months away. What are they saying about stepping up security for the Games, Jeanne?
MESERVE: Well, the already massive security plan for the Salt Lake City Olympics is being augmented in light of the September 11 attacks..
The price tag for the additional measures, according to congressional sources, could be high as $40 million. That's on top of the $200 million in federal money already allocated for security. Olympic and Utah State and local officials met today on Capitol Hill with congressional leadership, Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, the secretary of the Army, the head of the Secret Service and others. And they were assured they would get everything they needed.
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SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: And I hope that this meeting assures the public that we will have more than enough security personnel on the ground, in the air, and on the roads to protect the athletes and the fans and all the dignitaries visiting Utah from all over the world. We have had a firm commitment from all parties today at our meeting that they will put all essential resources behind our Utah Olympic plans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: Security for the Games was already extensive, given the fact that the Olympics, with their symbolism and their crowds, have been the target of terrorism before: in 1972 in Munich, when Israeli athletes were targeted; and in 1996 in Atlanta, when a bomb was detonated in the Olympic Park.
Though the current security review is still ongoing, here are some of the new measures expected to be included: beefed-up air security around the Games; more military troops and federal law enforcement officers; additional equipment, everything from magnetometers to perimeter fences. And spectators are likely to find restrictions on the amount of equipment and the size of the bags they can bring to venues.
Meanwhile, federal law enforcement sources say they are reexamining intelligence to make sure they have not overlooked any threats to Salt Lake. The message federal, Olympic and Utah officials hope the public will draw from all of this: Not only are the 2002 Winter Games going to go on as scheduled, they are going to be safe.
HEMMER: And, boy, their job has just gotten a lot tougher, too.
MESERVE: You bet.
HEMMER: Jeanne Meserve, thanks, in Washington.
Talking about the security at the Olympics, talking about homeland defense a short time ago, back to Joie in Atlanta with more on this topic -- Joie.
CHEN: Bill, it might be another sign of the times: defending the Sears Tower in Chicago. Overnight, new measures were put in place to try to prevent potential attacks there: concrete barriers installed around the tower, which measures 110 stories.
The notion of homeland defense also involves the military. Joining us to talk about that from Washington is CNN military analyst Donald Shepperd. He's a former major general in the Air Force. General, thanks for being with us. We have questions from our Web chat audience. CNN.com/community is where we're getting these questions from.
And this one is from Ohio, a viewer there asking: "How well are the nuclear plants in this country being guarded?"
RET. MAJOR GEN. DONALD SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Joie, first of all, the nuclear plants are well guarded.
They are also very tough plants. It doesn't mean that something couldn't happen. The real question are: What would happen if an airplane was crashed into one of these plants? We know that they are well protected with concrete. And we know that if you hit them at the right place at the right angle at the right airspeed, something could happen.
But for the most part, people can should feel that we are fairly secure in our nuclear plants, both from physical safety and the case of an impact. They have to be designed for aircraft impact and also for earthquake. But there is varying degrees. We're looking into all of that.
CHEN: Is that security monitored by the military or is that separate?
SHEPPERD: It's separate. It's monitored mainly by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The military right now is helping with physical security. And there is a lot of analysis also going on about "What if?" if various things took place.
We also have air defense out there right now that can be called upon to be scrambled and/or from airborne orbits to defend these should they come under attack by a known terrorist.
CHEN: General, another question from our Web chat audience here. This is from Memphis, Tennessee: "With all the focus on all the major airlines, what about the rental and small plane industries?"
SHEPPERD: Well, this is still a major problem.
On the other hand, we have put restrictions on the airspace throughout the United States. We expanded the Class B airspace, where visual flight rules, airplanes cannot fly. And we have restricted the airspace around many of our larger airports out there.
It's a problem. But quite frankly, the bigger and faster the airplane, such as we just saw in the New York tragedies, the worse problem you have. So the smaller airplane, the less problem it is. We do have a concern about chemical agents or biological agents spread from things such as crop-dusters. And that's a whole separate issue.
CHEN: Indeed, we have heard some about that.
General, another question from the Web chat audience here, from Texas: "How will we know if there is a biological attack?" SHEPPERD: Well, as we have seen on TV -- and Secretary Thompson has put out a lot of information on this -- the CDC has a lot of these viruses and the other agents under control, very tight control for the last few years. We can feel secure from that standpoint.
We also now have the medical community tied in very tightly through alert mechanisms, because now, finally, we're on alert for this. Three weeks ago, a month ago, I think we would have been slow to recognize. Now I think we'll be very quick, Joie.
CHEN: General, there's an issue that we don't think a lot about on the East Coast. Maybe it is more pressing on the minds of our friends in the West. And that would be dams, water supplies, particularly for California and much of the West Coast;. This might also be an issue of homeland security, would it not?
SHEPPERD: It is an issue. Now, of course, when these things are designed, we also design them and we ask ourselves the question: What happens, if, for whatever reason, these things break from a natural disaster or from a terrorist attack, that type of thing?
It's important for the American public to realize that, whatever the disaster is in this country, we have a well-practiced, well- organized system, all the way from the first responders, the firemen and police, through state emergency response mechanisms. Our military, our National Guard is part of that. And then the full range of military assets of this nation are available to assist state and local authorities. And we have the Federal Emergency Management Agency that oversees all of this from a federal standpoint.
We are well practiced. We know what to do if one of these horrible things happens. It doesn't mean it can't happen. But if it happens, we know how to deal with it and deal with the consequences.
CHEN: Retired from the U.S. Air Force, Major General Donald Shepperd is now a CNN military analyst. And we appreciate your being with us today and taking questions from our Web chat audience.
Thanks very much, sir.
And now we go back to New York and to Bill there.
HEMMER: OK, Joie.
Coming up, inside the National Security Agency: how they go about gaining secret information about targets like Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network. We'll talk with a guest and an author when we come back here in a moment.
HEMMER: All right, a couple quick developments we're getting now. I want to take you back to earlier today into the state of Tennessee, getting an identity now on the man accused and believed to have slit the throat of that driver on that bus. The identity: 29- year-old Damir Igric. He's Croatian. He also died in that bus wreck today in Tennessee.
He entered the U.S. back in March of 1999 on a 30-day visa. One would assume that visa had expired since then. He got on the bus in Chicago -- again, that bus from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky in route to Nashville, Tennessee and eventually in Atlanta -- again, taking place right before the sun came up -- six dead as result of that incident in Tennessee.
Also, from overseas, in New Delhi -- if you were with us throughout the hour, we have been talking about the airline hijacking that has taken place. This is video just into us here at CNN talking and showing quite clearly the beefed-up security. We're told that plane hijacked in Mumbai, the city formerly known as Bombay, flown and landed in New Delhi -- our bureau chief there, Satinder Bindra, informing us that security agents, heavy in detail, have surrounded that plane on the tarmac, moved it to a safe and secure location.
But still 54 passengers sit on board that plane. We are told they are unharmed at this time. We will watch that story as it progresses throughout the evening here.
In the meantime: Do last month's terrorist attacks represent a total failure on the part of U.S. intelligence? Let's talk more about it with a writer, James Bamford -- his latest book: "Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultrasecret National Security Agency."
James Bamford here is in New York with us.
Jim, hello to you.
JAMES BAMFORD, AUTHOR, "BODY OF SECRETS": Hi, Bill.
HEMMER: We talk about a total failure. Is that going too far or is that accurate, given what we have seen and experienced 22 days ago?
BAMFORD: No, it's absolutely accurate.
The first job of intelligence is to prevent an attack on the United States. And the problem is, all the attention, in terms of preventing attack in the past, has been focused on preventing a ballistic missile attack on the United States and not the sort of low- tech sort of criminal activities, as opposed to nuclear activities.
HEMMER: At this time, how much ground is the intelligence network in the U.S. and around the world, working with their allies -- how much ground do they have to make up?
BAMFORD: Well, a tremendous amount, primarily in terms of linguistic capabilities. They can intercept a great deal of information. But if they only have a few people that speak the local languages, Pushtu and Dari and a few others, it is going to be a tremendous amount of information they have to go through.
HEMMER: Which is a fascinating change, because for years, the intelligence network worked and operated in a way where would you go to another country, work at the embassy there, infiltrate slowly into the organization. But this is something that would take years to do, to go to Afghanistan, to blend in, learn the language and eventually find your way to the people where you need to locate and talk to.
BAMFORD: That's right. You have to basically live in a cave for five years to establish your bona fides. And the CIA isn't really designed to do that. Mostly what they do is try to get people from foreign intelligence agencies like the Pakistani intelligence agency, to find a refugee to infiltrate.
That's basically -- the best thing they could do right now is just to find people who maybe have defected from bin Laden's organization or people who have been in contact with him before and have them reinfiltrate back into the country.
HEMMER: And quickly here, James, when we talk about working with other countries and other agencies, how would that work, the FBI, CIA, in contact with other organizations overseas?
BAMFORD: Well, they have to maintain a very close relationship. And one problem they're had in the past with Pakistan is that the Pakistani intelligence service has been very close to the Taliban. So you run into the problem of trying to share information with them and worry about that information being passed on to the Taliban. So it's a very delicate activity.
HEMMER: Delicate, indeed.
James Bamford, the author of "Body of Secrets," we could talk forever. Come back, OK? We will continue our discussion.
BAMFORD: Thanks, Bill.
HEMMER: Many thanks to you, Jim.
We're getting word, also, the NFL has just reached an agreement to move the date of the Super Bowl up a week, February 3 -- still playing in New Orleans. But again, it will be moved up a week, again, given the off-week for the NFL two weeks ago.
With that, we have got to go. For Joie Chen in Atlanta, I'm Bill Hemmer, once again live in New York.
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