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New Jersey Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco Addresses Ongoing Anthrax Investigation

Aired October 16, 2001 - 15:34   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.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers. We want to take you right away to West Trenton, New Jersey. There you see at the microphone the acting governor of New Jersey, Donald DiFrancesco. He's giving reporters an update from state police headquarters on the anthrax investigation in the state of New Jersey. Let's listen.

DONALD DIFRANCESCO, ACTING GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: We are taking this situation very seriously, and working closely with federal officials. Everyday we deal with new incidents. Every day state government is responding to these incidents.

I'm here to deliver a message to the people that what they are doing is nothing short of treason. This is a time of war, as has been stated many, many times. These incidents, whether acts of terror or mischief, are taking time and energy away from the work of state government. We won't tolerate it.

On the other hand, we will not shortchange this investigation. We will use every resource at our disposal to get to the bottom of this and to prosecute these responsible to the fullest extent.

The first thing I want to say to the people of New Jersey is to remain vigilant and calm; be vigilant, but be calm. We encourage everyone to take extra care when opening mail, whether at home or on the job. Take time to familiarize yourself with the guidelines issued by the attorney general of the United States, by the FBI and by the U.S. Postal Service.

We all have to be vigilant in all we do, but we can't let fear dictate every step we take. We still have to go to work, go to school, go shopping, whatever the case may be. Just pay more attention to your surroundings and report anything suspicious to the local police. If in doubt, make the call to 911.

Caution is wise, but fear can be counterproductive. Fear is exactly what people want us to feel. So while be vigilant, remain calm.

Today you will hear from Kevin Donovan and Bob Conforte (ph) from the FBI and State Police Superintendent Carson Dunbar about our investigation into letters mailed from Trenton as well as other related incidents. Tony Esposito from the U.S. Post Office is also here. Attorney General Farmer will talk about our criminal justice response to both acts of terrorism and to pranks.

Dr. George DiFerdinando, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services, will talk about CDC guidelines for handling suspicious mail and give some general information about anthrax and its treatment. Joining him are Jim Bloomingstock and Eddie Bresnan.

Before I turn it over to these officials, I want to announce that as of Thursday we will be deploying another 250 National Guard members to relieve New York National Guard members at the World Trade Center site. With this deployment, we will be deploying a total of 1700 Guard members. This is clearly another sign of our commitment to protect freedom and security here and across America.

I also want to note that as of Friday, the Office of Recovery and Victim Assistance that I established under Lillian Borrone will be open 30 days. That office has been making a real difference for the families of victims. Lillian is doing an outstanding job. This center was set up at Liberty State Park and has already served more than 3000 people, representing 1,000 families.

Yesterday alone, 61 families came to the center. We've been escorting families by ferry to the World Trade Center site. Nearly 400 people have already made that trip. We continue to provide a wide array of services with death certificates, to assistance with insurance and employment issues. I'm truly proud of everyone in state government who is serving at this center, I'm proud of how everyone has acted responsibly, especially in light of this latest series of threats.

Finally, I want the people who work in state offices to know that we are doing everything we can to protect our employees, investigate the incidents, and prosecute these responsible.

Now, as I indicated Kevin Donovan is here. Earl Dunbar is here, and Postal Inspector Tony Esposito is here. I would like them to speak to the latest round of incidents and bring you up to date as best they can within confines of the investigation. Earl?

CHEN: You've been listening to the acting governor of New Jersey talking about his state's efforts and encouraging people to report anything they have seen that might seem suspicious on anthrax. He says that he is going to be presenting in the course of the next few minutes many other state officials talking about where the anthrax investigation stands.

You know of course there is some concern about some letters mailed from the Trenton, New Jersey postal facility to media outlets that may have contained anthrax. He is going to be talking about that as well as other officials from New Jersey. CNN is going to continue to keep an eye on that story. We'll bring you any updates to you as they become available to us.

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