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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

London Terror Attacks; Supreme Decision

Aired July 8, 2005 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And when President Bush does get back here to the states, of course the G-8 Summit is over, he now has a big domestic decision to make. Choosing a nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Our Joe Johns is outside the high court following that story for us.

Joe, good morning.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Daryn.

Naming a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor high on the list of Washington priorities right now.

The United States Senate, though it was not in session this week, behind the scenes, is still trying to prepare for a confirmation process without a nominee. What makes this more interesting of course, is the fact that there's not a lot of institutional memory in the United States Senate right now on an issue like this. Only about half, or less than half of the United States Senate membership, has ever gone through a confirmation battle. The last time this happened, of course, more than a decade ago, not a great amount of institutional memory.

However, within the Senate Judiciary Committee, where all the action is going to be going on, that is where there is some institutional memory. In fact, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, has gone through something like nine confirmation battles. There are others. The Republican, the senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, has gone through a number of these. On the Democratic side, Senator Edward Kennedy, of course, the ranking member over there, Patrick Leahy. They've all been through it before. So the timing, of course, up to the president.

Meanwhile, the overlay here is what's going to happen next, and whether the chief justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist himself will retire. Of course he is suffering from cancer. No word, absolutely no word on that, although there is a swirl of speculation that has continued for weeks -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Joe Johns at the U.S. Supreme Court, thank you for that.

We're going to head back over the Atlantic, back to London. The mayor of London and the police commissioner giving a news conference. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SIR IAN BLAIR, LONDON POLICE COMMISSIONER: The casualty bureau continues to work, and is now running with 23 forces involved in answering the calls. So that is a genuine U.K. policing PLC event.

Of the changes that have occurred since I spoke to you last, all bodies have now been recovered from the site at Tavistock Square, which is the bus. We can confirm now that there were 13 people killed on the bus.

I think the other thing that, of course, has happened, is this is Friday, Friday, the day of prayer for Islam, and there's been no events, no disturbances, no difficulties at any of the London mosques. And that, again, is a great step forward.

What I particularly want to do today, this afternoon, is to re- emphasize in this this need for information, the need for us all to understand that together we can defeat this, that communities defeat terrorism, not the police, and to appeal for anybody who knows anything about the information, whether they were traveling, whether they have had people using a lockup garage, whether people haven't come back who have been their lodgers.

All of that information needs to be passed to the anti-terrorist hotline on the number that you see in front of me here, which 0-800- 789-321.

The critical situation is that both for the city of London and for London as a whole, this is business as usual on Monday. We go on. The trains are running, the tubes will be running as greatly as they possibly can, and the buses, of course, will be running normally. We will move on in the way that we now need to do.

The investigation will go on. We remain, as I said earlier on, full of implacable resolve to track down the people responsible for this atrocity.

And if I can just finish with just a couple of stories, really, because they are worth hearing, of some of the heroism that has occurred among the emergency services, some of the quick thinking.

We still don't know who it is, which police officer it is that commandeered a bus to take all the number of victims to hospital, which was obviously a pretty striking issue.

But I have two officers from London who were in Tavistock Square when that bomb went off. And they and another lone sergeant handled that situation for a period of time. They were joined by another officer who himself had been injured in the blast. And they and the surgeons worked from 8 o'clock in the morning until past midnight, dealing with the people in that event, even taking part in operations inside the BMA.

BLAIR: I mean, these are people who are just going out of their way, absolutely heroes for us all. There will be many, many stories about that from all the emergency services, the police and so on, but also from the many people of London.

And I will obviously take some questions in a moment.

Mayor?

KEN LIVINGSTONE, MAYOR OF LONDON: Thank you, Commissioner.

These seven days in London has been a seven days no one will ever forget.

Winston Churchill in his history of the Second World War titled the final volume, "Triumph and Tragedy," and I think that typifies these seven days in a way no other sentence could.

We saw the incredible spectacle last Saturday of a quarter of a million people assembled peacefully to do their bit to try and ease the poverty and the burdens that afflict people on the other side of the planet.

We had the remarkable triumph of persuading the International Olympic Committee to award London their games. And one of the strongest cards that Seb Coe and myself were able to point out was that, in this city, 300 languages are spoken and the people who speak them live side by side in harmony.

This city typifies what I believe is the future of the human race, a future in which we grow together and we share and we learn from each other.

And then we had the tragedy of this attack -- as I said in Singapore, an attack that sought not the powerful and the famous, but just indiscriminately slaughtered Londoners, irrespective of race, culture, religion or age.

There can be no way anyone can say there is an ideology or faith that underpins this act. It is simply a criminal attempt at mass murder.

I want to congratulate the emergency services and the transport staff for the incredible efforts they have made over these last few hours. There's been so many acts of heroism and courage and selfless dedication that they would fill many volumes of a book. And they have shown people at their absolute best.

Everything that we had planned for this day that we knew would come worked like clockwork.

I have spent, as has the commissioner, so many hours at so many meetings since September the 11th looking at every eventuality, planning for it.

As I mentioned in Singapore, we actually even one day ran an exercise based on multiple explosions on the public transport system for a Friday evening rush hour.

LIVINGSTONE: And the lessons we learned from that underpinned the operation yesterday, which was flawless. We cannot think of a single thing that failed to work as we had planned.

And that is, undoubtedly, would have been responsible for saving many lives, indeed, by the speed with which the emergency service were able to get to those who needed our assistance.

I'd also like to congratulate Londoners. No panic. An incredible response of stoicism and discipline and order that also contributed to minimizing casualties.

We will, on Monday at City Hall, open a book of condolence. And next week, in coordination with the Red Cross, we will open the London Bombings Relief Fund to raise the funds to assist those who have suffered dreadful loss and injury in these terrible attacks.

I, myself, will use the Underground to go to work on Monday, as normal. And that is the advice I give to every Londoner, that we carry on in this city, working and enjoying our city, as we do every other day of the year.

We have largely got the Tube back to a substantial service. There may be some delays in some areas which are still crime scenes, but the whole transport system will rapidly return to normal. And we urge and encourage people to use it.

I echo the commissioner in his call for anyone who has any information to let the police know.

It might be something that is a memory from weeks ago, something that was odd, that was out of place, something that registered, then was forgotten.

Don't feel sly. Come forward. Let us have that information now. It may be decisive in catching the people who did these terrible crimes.

I want, finally, to thank Londoners for their solidarity. There are some places in the world where such an instant would have unleashed internal strife and physical violence.

And Londoners stood together. And we haven't had any problems of the sort that you might see in other parts of the world.

And that I think it says everything about what is right about this city. It's everything about what led the IOC, I think, to select us because, as I say, I believe this is the future.

If you go back a couple hundred years, to when the European cities really started to grow and peasants left the land to seek their future in the cities, there was a saying: City air makes you free.

And the people who have come to London, all races and creeds and colors, have come for that. This is a city in which you can be yourself as long as you don't harm anyone else. You can live your life as you choose to do, rather than as somebody else tells you to do. It's a city in which you can achieve your potential. And that, I think, is our strength. And that is what the bombers seek to destroy. They fear that freedom. They fear a world in which the individual makes their own life choices, and their own moral value judgments.

And that's what they seek to snuff out. But they will fail. This year, for the first time in human history, the majority of people live in cities.

London continues to grow. And I say to those who planned this dreadful attack, whether they're still here in hiding, or somewhere abroad: Watch next week as we bury our dead and mourn them. But see, also, in those same days, new people coming to this city to make it their home, to call themselves Londoners, and doing it because of that freedom to be themselves.

LIVINGSTONE: Thank you.

QUESTION: To the mayor, can you say whether you had advice and briefings in recent times telling you that the risk, the nature of the threat had changed, had become lower, was perhaps lower than it had been at any time since September the 11th?

And can I ask you also to try and explain why you think this has happened and why it has happened now and whether you think it is related to international conflict, the war in Iraq, which of course you have opposed in the past?

LIVINGSTONE: I am briefed, as the vice chair of the London Resilience Panel that has planned coordinating of the response to this, and we start each meeting with an update on the security situation.

The security situation has always been dangerous. Vigilance remains the same at every stage.

We have all known that at some point this was likely to happen. I have done many interviews, perhaps even you interviewed me on this, but I recall many where I've said our real fear is just the bomb on the Tube; easy to do, particularly if you're prepared to give your own life, though it appears this was not the case in this case. And therefore we have always maintained that vigilance.

I think perhaps one of the reasons that drove me so desperately, rapidly to increase the numbers of police in this city is that five years ago, when we were down to 25,000 police, this would have stretched us perhaps beyond our ability to fulfill our roles. It didn't. We had the staff in place across the emergency services to cope.

And so I'm afraid -- I wish I could have told you that I felt there was a time when this wasn't going to happen. I remember when Sir John Stevens and I did a press conference following Madrid; there were some who said we were being alarmist. But we always knew this was likely to happen. And I think the work we've done has minimized it, and the response and courage of our staff has saved lives. And we will continue to have to be vigilant, most probably for the rest of our lives.

QUESTION: Commissioner, could I just pick up on something the mayor just said? Are you now beginning to conclude that there is no suicide bomber element in this crime? Is it possible that the whole thing was conducted by one person? And do you suspect, if it is more than one person or one person, that they are still at large?

BLAIR: Let's just take those three questions. One I've already answered. There is nothing to suggest that there was a suicide bomber involved in this process. On the other hand, nothing can be ruled out.

We are clear, from the timings of these events that, no, it could not have been done by one person.

But the question is: Are they still at large? They're either at large in the U.K., at large somewhere else, or they're dead. And I don't know which ones of those they are.

QUESTION: You mentioned that this person may be at large. How do you begin to reassure people, who you want to get back to normal on Monday, when they've seen what happened yesterday?

BLAIR: Well, that's the job of all of the emergency services of government, of the mayor. But also, I think, it's the will of the city. This is a straightforward issue. These are terrible, terrible events. But this is a gigantic city with huge resources.

If we look at the city of London, for instance, that extraordinary financial institution, the FTSE 100 Index, hardly blipped.

We have dealt with this before. In my memory, it stretches back to bombs going off all over London in the days of the IRA campaign. London can take this. And I'm sure, from what we're seeing today, that Londoners and people who live outside London are continuing to arrive here on trains and everything else.

We will go on. That's the answer.

QUESTION: To the mayor, following your earlier comments about the sad inevitability of this attack: Are you not, therefore, in the slightest concerned the level of security was lowered shortly before yesterday's outrages?

LIVINGSTONE: The security there reflects the intelligence gathered.

LIVINGSTONE: It does not affect our vigilance and irrespective of the level of alert, even if it was at the lowest level, we would still have the numbers of police we have out on the streets, the intelligence services collecting the data.

I ask people to actually think -- terrorism seems to be something new over the last 30 or 40 years. But in actual fact, in the last -- in the 19th century and earlier it was a huge problem across all societies.

I think perhaps the long, historic conflict between Communism and the West meant that that was to a degree replaced and displaced. And I think since we've gone back to broadly one world not divided on those rigid ideological lines, the space for the terrorist has reappeared.

But if you read the Victorian histories and earlier, I mean, terrorism was a common feature of life in many countries.

QUESTION: May I congratulate you even this moment for the Olympic games.

And I wanted to ask you about the Tube. There was an important plan to modernize the Tube in the next 30 years. I think it's 17 billion pounds.

And may I ask you, after what happened yesterday, are you going to change a little bit the focus of the plans to modernize the Tube, putting more emphasis on security, less on other issues?

LIVINGSTONE: Can I say, there is modernization here on the ground that has already happened? I opened the first two stations that have been rebuilt earlier this year.

The striking features, the amount of money put into security there, vast numbers of closed circuit TV cameras so that as each station is remodeled, we actually get to the point where virtually we cover every nook and cranny of the station with closed circuit TV, clear sight lines and so on.

Security has actually been fed into the planning of the entire reconstruction of the underground.

There's nothing more to add to that. It was there because we knew the world was unlikely to change and that these problems are likely to be there for some decades to come. QUESTION: Commissioner, have you had any news of any Japanese nationals affected by this?

And a follow-up question is, we heard something about a warning to the Israeli embassy this morning. Could you confirm whether that's true or not?

And also, you mentioned earlier that there's no intelligence that's being missed. In which case, are we dealing with a group that has been perhaps planning this for a year off the radar of our intelligence services? And does that suggest that there's any failure on their part?

BLAIR: I don't have any knowledge of any Japanese citizens, but that doesn't mean that there will be none.

BLAIR: I mean, that's -- not at this stage.

This issue about the Israeli embassy came up before. I have no knowledge of it. I answered that question yesterday. There's nothing that we understand in that.

And in terms of intelligence, we could argue around in circles about what the success or otherwise is. No intelligence service, however clever, is perfect or can obtain intelligence about everything. We are talking about a city with 8 million inhabitants. A very few people can do this. We have always known that a very few people can do this.

But communities fight back. I went up to Edgware Road the other day, one of the sites, and found that Marks & Spencer had closed their store, and they'd given all the food to the emergency workers. St. Mark's Church, Edgware, had opened its doors so that the emergency workers could rest in there for a few minutes.

I mean, this is the community responding. But you cannot -- it isn't an issue about whether the intelligence services should have found this out of not. This is an imperfect world and an imperfect science.

And I've said before, intelligence services and the police services in the United Kingdom work more closely together than anywhere else in the world, and that is just a fact.

QUESTION: Can I ask the mayor -- obviously, publicity is something that terrorists thrive on -- first of all, do you think winning the Olympics is in any way connected to this attack? And taking it on from there, will having won the Olympics mean that, with the world watching, London is at even more threat of future attacks?

LIVINGSTONE: Well, can I just remind people about Bali. There was a target no one would have anticipated. Try and construct the justification for letting off a bomb there killing many Indonesians who'd been simply working in the tourist trade.

There will never be a logic to all of this. There will never be any country that is safe. And clearly the world just has to get on, work as much together as we can to pool our intelligence and our successes in this field.

And, as you know, the metropolitan police have a long record of advice and support in providing security around the Olympics.

LIVINGSTONE: They were major players in advising for the Athens games and for Sydney. They will be at Beijing, and the metropolitan police are liaising with the authorities for the Beijing games.

And, I have to say, security is one of the strongest cards we had in winning that vote. The IOC knows there's no such -- with members in Munich -- that there's no where that can ever be 100-percent safe, but there's no where in the world that's going to be safer than London.

BLAIR: And if I could just add, I think it's stretching credulity to think that the detonators, the explosives and everything else could be put together in 18 hours to deliver this form of attack just because we won the Olympics. I don't accept that argument. LIVINGSTONE: And most of you didn't think we were going to, anyhow.

KAGAN: We've been listening into a news conference with London's mayor, Ken Livingstone. Also, the police commissioner of London, giving us some new details on what they think is progressing with the investigation here. First, the police commissioner saying he does not believe this was the work of a suicide bomber and he doesn't believe it could have been the work of the single person.

The mayor, Ken Livingstone, had been in Singapore for the announcement that was such jubilation in London, just a couple days ago, to find out that they will host the 2012 Olympics. He says, the mayor, as much as he is distressed about what happened, he says he encouraged because he believes a lot worked about a terrorist attack that he says was inevitable to happen in a city like London in this day and age. And he says he intends to use the subway on Monday morning to go to work.

Let's go to our John Vause. He is standing outside St. Mary's Hospital in London, where many of the wounded are being treated -- John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Daryn.

Well, in fact, many of the wounded are now being released from the hospitals around London. We know that over more than 700 people who were hurt, about half are actually treated at the scene. The rest were brought to hospital. They were treated in hospital for a few hours, although about 100 people remained in hospital overnight. One person did, in fact, die overnight. The death toll now standing at more than 50.

Overall, about 22 people remain in critical condition here at St. Mary's Hospital. However, earlier today, Prince Charles arrived to visit with the wounded. He also wanted to pay his respects to the emergency workers, the doctors and the nurses who treated the wounded all day yesterday during the height of the emergency. As he left the hospital, he did say how pleased he was, how heartened he was, by the response of people in London and also all those emergency crews which took part.

He also visited a police headquarters after St. Mary's Hospital. And also, the queen is visiting a hospital today, as well. The royals doing what the royals do best in these kind of emergencies, Daryn.

KAGAN: John Vause outside St. Mary's Hospital, thank you.

Joining us now to get some more on the effort to find those behind the London attacks is Clark Kent Ervin. He is the former inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, also a CNN security analyst.

Clark, hello, thanks for being with us.

CLARK KENT ERVIN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Pleasure, Daryn. KAGAN: How the U.S. help in this investigation?

ERVIN: Well, we've learned a lot, needless to say, since 9/11 about how attacks like this can be perpetrated, who are enemies are, what kind of protective measures can be put in place to prevent such attacks in the future. So I'm sure that these kinds of discussions are going on, and, of course, we have no better partners in the war on terror than the British.

KAGAN: London is one of the most "cameraed" cities, if that's a word. I think over 1,800 cameras spread throughout. How will they be able to use that as a tool in trying to find clues about what happened?

ERVIN: Well, I'm certain right now as we speak the law enforcement, intelligence officials in Britain, are going over those surveillance tapes to see if they can spot the people who perpetrated this. It appears that they weren't suicide bombers, that they probably did escape. And so those cameras will be very, very helpful in helping to track down these murderers.

KAGAN: And what do you think the U.S. can learn from these attacks?

ERVIN: Well, I think one of the things that we should learn is that we ourselves are very vulnerable, this country, to the same kind of attack. And, in fact, this is the second wake-up call that we've had to the vulnerability of our own mass transit systems. Just last week, in fact, I was testifying before the 9/11 Commission about the progress we have made and the progress we haven't. And we haven't done nearly enough to secure our own mass transit systems. $250 million since 9/11 on mass transit security, as opposed to 18 billion with regard to aviation security.

KAGAN: What would you like to see happen?

ERVIN: Well, I applaud the secretary of Homeland Security for the measures he announced yesterday, increased arm police surveillance, bomb detecting dogs, increased surveillance of trash recepticibles, and that kind of thing. I'd point out that these very same measures were introduced after the Madrid bombings last year, but they were ratcheted down or eliminated altogether very shortly thereafter when the story faded from the headlines.

The challenge will be to institutionalize these kinds of measures. These should happen on an ongoing basis. When this story, too, fades from the headlines, that will require money to do it. And so we need to recalibrate the proportion of money that we spend on various transportation modes.

KAGAN: And then finally, Clark, it was interesting to hear what the police commissioner from London said, that the war on terror will not be won by police. Everybody has to get involved. Everyone has to have alert eyes?

ERVIN: That's exactly right. And the Secretary Chertoff yesterday underscored, as did the president, the importance of public awareness, the importance of every person looking for suspicious people, suspicious packages, baggage. Now, we shouldn't be paranoid, and people have the right to look unusual and to act unusually. And so there's a fine line, of course, between suspicion and unusual. But we need to exercise our discretion and our judgment. But we need to be vigilant, because at the end the day, the 300 million people in our country are our law enforcement and the intelligence community's eyes and ears.

KAGAN: Clark Kent Ervin, thank you for your insight on the situation and the ongoing investigation in London. Clark, thank you.

ERVIN: Thank you.

KAGAN: And we have a lot more news coming up in the next hour. We're going to get started right now by taking a look at what's happening "Now in the News."

London police say the bombs that ripped through the city's transit system contained about ten pounds or less of explosives. Investigators say so far, there's no evidence the attacks were the work of suicide bombers. The death toll has risen to at least 50. An update from London is just ahead.

President Bush is headed back to Washington after wrapping up the G-8 Summit in Scotland. Once he arrives back in the U.S., the president is expected to visit the British Embassy. He'll sign a condolence book on behalf of the American people.

Vice President Dick Cheney arrived at the hospital this morning for a physical exam. Doctors are also checking the condition of the pacemaker that was implanted back in 2001. A spokeswoman describes the test as routine and she says the Vice President plans to be at work later today.

Florida's governor says the state inquiry into the Terri Schiavo case is over. Governor Jeb Bush asked a state attorney to investigate after Schiavo's autopsy results were released last month. The investigation found no evidence of criminal activity in Schiavo's collapse 15 years ago.

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