CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Sniper on Loose: Pentagon to Lend Military Expertise, Resources
Aired October 16, 2002 - 12:04 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Investigators are getting a helping hand from the U.S. military.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, broke that story right here on this program yesterday. She is joining me now with more specifics.
Barbara -- first of all, tell us how the military involvement in searching for this sniper or snipers is going to work.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's going to be very specific, because, of course, the military is heavily constrained by the law. In this country, the U.S. military does not get involved in domestic law enforcement activities.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has approved a plan for Army reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft to be used in this search for the sniper, but the military is only going to operate the equipment, fly the aircraft. CNN has been told that an FBI agent will always be on board the airplanes, right next to the military operators.
The military will only collect the reconnaissance and surveillance data. It will be up to domestic law enforcement to decide if they have a target that they want to go after, chase down and hopefully arrest.
So, the military will be heavily, heavily constrained. The investigation, the entire operation remains one led by domestic civilian law enforcement. These military aircraft will fly over Washington only to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara, can you tell us what kind of aircraft? I've seen all sorts of suggestions from the Predator drones, the unmanned aircraft that were so successfully used in Afghanistan, to these surveillance kinds of smaller AWAC kinds of planes. I don't know how much detail you can provide us, but what can you tell us about that?
STARR: Well, the Pentagon has agreed that they do not mind if we say they are Army aircraft. They are small, fixed-wing aircraft. One is called the RC-7; one is called the U-21. These are basically small airframes packed with sensors, all types of technology, to gather that surveillance and reconnaissance data.
The Pentagon explains that they know people will see these aircraft in the air, other pilots flying in the Washington area, small airplanes flying around. So, they know the airplanes will be noticed, so they are willing to acknowledge the airframes.
They would not like us to disclose the actual capabilities of these airframes, what the sensors do. Suffice it to say, they operate in all weather, they can operate at night, they can collect a lot of very high-tech surveillance data. The Pentagon would prefer we not put it all out there in public.
But these aircraft will be noticed when they do begin flying.
BLITZER: When you say "all weather," I assume that means even in the driving rain storm that's affecting this entire Washington area today.
START: Well, Wolf, one thing the Pentagon did ask us this morning is not to specify any details of when we believe the airplanes will be flying. Suffice it to say, they are capable of flying at all times. Whether they will be or not is something that they prefer the sniper not really know.
BLITZER: All right, we don't want to do anything that is going to undermine this investigation.
Barbara Starr, thanks for joining us. We'll be getting back to you, of course, as this story continues to break.
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