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U.S. Intel Considering Possibility Zarqawi Involved in London Attacks; U.S. Security

Aired July 8, 2005 - 11:59   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The people of London carry on with sorrow, caution and determination to bring their attackers to justice. Our coverage of London terror continues right now.
London police say they have a lot of leads in the terror attacks. And one possible lead may be unfolding right here in the United States.

CNN has learned U.S. officials are looking into a possible link between the bombings and the network of the reputed leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. We'll have details on that in just a moment.

In London, police say all the bodies now have been recovered from one of the most mangled targets of terror, the double-decker bus ripped apart at Tavistock Place. Authorities say 13 people were killed in that attack. About 50 are dead in all.

Police say the bombs that tore through the bus and three subway trains yesterday were less than 10 pounds, light enough to carry in a tote bag or a backpack. But there's no evidence that suggests suicide attackers set them off.

Commuters are back in the city with parts of the transit system in service again. One commuter says people were subdued but determined to ged back to work and get on with their lives.

Queen Elizabeth is trying to raise spirits. She went to a hospital today to visit some of the 700 people injured on London's bloodiest day since World War II.

We have much more now in the investigation right here in the United States into a possible al Qaeda connection to the attacks in London.

Let's get some details from our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

What are you hearing, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, point number one to make, of course, is all U.S. officials are saying exactly what the British are saying, it is certainly too soon to pin responsibility on any one, any group, any network for this attack. Certainly all scenarios are open. Intelligence communities from Washington to London looking at everything. But here in Washington, intelligence officials are looking at a very specific threat. What they are saying to CNN is that there was, in the words of one official, some indication in the not too distant past that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had "direct or indirect input" into some future activity in Europe.

What does all of that mean? Well, officials say that some time in the last few months, they received information that Zarqawi, or his associates, or people loyal to him, no one can say for sure, were looking at trying to launch some type of terrorist activity in Europe.

Now, the thing that officials find so interesting, in that intelligence they say the word "Europe" was specifically mention. But there was no time, place or target.

Now, all of this information has certainly been shared with British intelligent services. And one can only assume with all western intelligent services. But no one can tell us just yet whether it was shared before the attack, whether it was specific enough to actually be shared.

A U.S. intelligence official does say that the information came from more than one source, that it was deemed credible and reliable, and that it was something that they were looking at very seriously. But as he points out, they had no name.

They believe that people loyal to Zarqawi, who may have even, they say, may have even been in Iraq, returned to Europe at some point. But they didn't have a name to put against that potential threat. The official says, "If we had a name, we would have gone after that person."

All of this unfolding, but they emphasize very strongly they can not yet tie any of this specifically to the London transport attacks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Barbara, do we know if Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has personally been responsible for other terror attacks outside of Iraq? I remember the assassination, the killing of an American diplomat in Amman, Jordan, that he's been linked to. He's originally from Jordan himself. But have there been other terror attacks directly associated with his network?

STARR: Well, I suppose intelligence services would probably be the best ones to answer that question, Wolf. There certainly is a great deal of concern about it.

Now, let's also recall that Zarqawi, as well as Osama bin Laden, have put out public messages in recent months about trying to expand their attacks, trying to expand them into Europe. Possibly, of course, one assumes even into the United States.

That had all been publicly very well known. But what officials are saying, this particular threat they are looking at is something other than those public statements. There is intelligence out there, they say, that indicates possibly Zarqawi associates had been in Europe. So it's quite a serious matter they are looking into. They come to no conclusions yet -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Barbara Starr reporting for us at the Pentagon. Thanks for that information.

In addition to the London terror operations, we are also following another major story here this day, Hurricane Dennis. And we'll updates for you. That's coming up.

In the meantime, you keep an eye on the lower corner of your screen to track the storm. You can see it right there at the bottom right hand part of the screen.

But let's get back to our coverage now of the terror attacks in London.

Authorities say it's likely the bombs were placed on the floor or seat of the bus and three trains that were blown apart at four different sites across the city. For the latest on the investigation, we go to King's Cross Station. CNN's Matthew Chance is standing by there -- Matthew.


And this is King's Cross Station, as you say, in central London, one of the areas that was most severely effected, perhaps, by those bomb blasts that struck London yesterday. At least 21 people were killed in an underground train station here beneath our feet somewhere in this area.

It's also one of the places where the recovery and the forensic efforts are continuing their pace to try to get as much information from they can from what are being treated as crime scenes at this point. It's interesting here, though, because deep beneath the earth here where the bomb went off, under that -- in that underground train, police say they are finding it very difficult to get their emergency teams there because the carriages are so -- the tunnels are so badly damaged, it still poses a danger to the emergency workers.

So they are working on that. But they're asking the public to be patient, because this is a crucial element of the intelligence- gathering process, scouring the crime scenes, trying to get as much evidence as possible to try and bring those responsible for these bombings to justice.


CHANCE (voice-over): London is a city packed with security cameras. Now every face is a suspect.

Each train platform, every street corner, it seems, is routinely videotaped here. Finding the bombers will be a painstaking search, say police, but thousands of hours of these images are now being closely examined to find and prosecute those responsible.

ASST. COMM. ANDY HAYMAN, LONDON POLICE: We have the most experienced anti-terrorist offices on this case. And we have the best community here in London to help work with us to achieve our aim.

Our partners working with us, working together. We've got tried and tested procedures that I think have been admirably demonstrated to be effective in the last 24 hours.

CHANCE: But with multiple bomb sites, three on underground trains and one on a London bus, this will be a complex investigation. Police deny closing down any phone networks after the blasts. Only a few fragments or fact have so far emerged.

Initial forensic evidence suggests each of the four bombs contained less than 10 pounds of explosives, enough to be carried in a small backpack, say police. They also believe each device was placed on the floor of the train carriages and of the bus. But there's no evidence so far, they say, of a suicide bomber or of who carried out the well-planned and coordinated attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is likely to still be a cell. Whether these people are still in the United Kingdom is a question, and we will remain vigilant. We must remain vigilant.

This is a national issue. It's not just for London and the Metropolitan Police Service.

CHANCE: Police say forensic teams still working at the bomb sites will probably learn more. But at least one of the underground train tunnels remains inaccessible, they say, because of damage to the tunnel's structure and the presence of vermin. Terrorism analysts say the search for clues will be focusing on how the bombs were made and what that says about who made them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they're looking for is the evidence to actually put it on individuals, whether it's one person or two or three people. So they will be going through all the devices trying to find out the fingerprint of the actual bomb makers. And once they've got that, then hopefully there will be sufficient evidence to try and trace them, and then to prosecute them.

CHANCE: But, in the end, the best intelligence, say police, will come from the general public, information on suspicious activity, tip- offs on anything people feel may help bring the London bombers to justice.


CHANCE: Well, as this investigation gets into full swing, the police are also warning the public to remain vigilant because there's a possibility of more attacks. The police say they are in contact with security forces from around the world, but the London bombers, they say, so deadly here in the British capital, are still very much at large -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Matthew Chance in London for us. Thank you, Matthew, very much.

Some of those who survived the attacks on London picked themselves up and returned to the subway tunnels earlier today. But as Lucy Manning reports, many other commuters insisted on staying above ground, if they were willing to venture out at all.


LUCY MANNING, REPORTER, ITN (voice-over): Londoners heading back to work any way they could. The tube may have been bombed, but London Bridge thronging with those who refuse to be scared off my the bombers. Buses, cars and on foot, many keen to stay above ground.

Not many people on the tube early this morning. Those who needed to or were brave enough to sat pensively in the carriages. After yesterday, no one quite sure what to expect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Business as usual, really. I'm pretty impressed that the trains were working 100 percent fine. So, you know, just get on with it basically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to go to work anyway. Life goes on.

MANNING: Outside King's Cross station passengers waited for buses, reading about commuters who fled in panic from here yesterday.

Just yards from Aldgate tube station, Londoners crammed onto the buses, some because they had to with the service disrupted, others because they were too scared to return to the underground. Before yesterday, taking a bus was risk-free. But after yesterday, no one was quite sure how safe this morning's bus journey would be. The buses wound their way through central London, busier, quieter, some people a bit more apprehensive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not safe. And I don't like underground now anymore. I don't want to go by underground. And the bus is better, I think.

MANNING (on camera): So you're not happy being on the bus today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, really I'm not. I'm scared as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a bit scarier, though, you know, because you never know what's going to happen. But still -- still, the police and the government have to make sure that they're making everything right.

MANNING: What are your thoughts about traveling this morning after what happened yesterday?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's quite scary to be honest. But if you let yesterday defeat London, there's no point. Like, the actions of yesterday were horrendous. And by not traveling or not going on with your routine, you're just kind of giving in to what they want. MANNING (voice-over): Londoners carrying on, but no one on a bus today will forget the image of the number 30 blown apart in Tavistock Square.


BLITZER: That was Lucy Manning reporting for us.

The British prime minister, Tony Blair, can now devote his full attention to the terror investigation and the recovery efforts now that he and other world leaders have wrapped up this G8 summit in Scotland.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We speak today in the shadow of terrorism, but it will not obscure what we came here to achieve. The purpose of terrorism is not only to kill and maim the innocent. It is to put despair and anger and hatred in people's hearts.


BLITZER: The leaders of the top industrial nations renewed their commitment to the war on terror. They pledged to more than double aid to Africa over the next five years. They also promised urgent measures to combat global warming.

Here in the United States, many big city commuters faced their fears and extra security on this day after the terror attacks in London. More on our "Security Watch." That's coming up.

And later, after pummeling Haiti, Hurricane Dennis bears down on Cuba and the Florida Keys. We'll have an update on the storm's power and the path.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

London's bloodiest day since World War II put London's emergency responders to the test. Joining us now live is Val Shawcross. She's the chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.

Val, thank you very much for spending a few moments with us.


BLITZER: How did the -- how did the first responders respond? How did they do?

SHAWCROSS: Well, as you know, we've been planning for this for an awful long time. And we knew this day would come. And we'd be planning on this scenario, as well as others. And, you know, I think we take some satisfaction in the fact that the plan worked incredibly well. We had our first fire engine on the scene from the call within about three minutes. We had a good response. We had a quick response. And the offices who managed each of the incidents told me, in fact, that everybody performed magnificently.

The right things were done. And I think that probably saved lives. So all the preparation we've done did pay off in the event.

BLITZER: Are you already thinking -- and you are the political head of this entire operation.


BLITZER: Are you already thinking of making changes based on lessons learned from yesterday's terror attacks?

SHAWCROSS: Well, yes, of course. I'm appointed by the mayor, Ken Livingstone, who really has oversight of London. And, of course, we will be doing a proper review, both within the fire brigade, across all the organizations that were working on this incident, and obviously at the national level.

So there will be in-depth reviews. We're capturing information now, interviewing people, looking at our computers and our data, and seeing how well we did and what worked and what didn't work. But, you know, our general feeling at this stage is that the system worked remarkably well.

I think one of the things we're most pleased that we got right in London is that we have very good collaborative working between all of the, what we call the blue light agencies, the police, the ambulance service and the fire brigade. And that kind of team London really did work extremely well.

BLITZER: Can we expect in the days, weeks, months to come, a much greater visible police presence at these subway stations, on these trains, on the bus, if you will?

SHAWCROSS: Well, yes, we've had high alert in London for some time now, as you know, since 9/11, and there is visible policing all over London. In fact, there is cameras all over London, as you are probably aware. And we've got a very good CCTV (ph) network. And we have plain-clothes police presence as well.

And one of the things we also want to do in offering assurance to the community is make sure that we are attentive to the Muslim communities in London, that we are protecting them as well. And, you know, the interests of broader community don't go away.

One of the things that was notable yesterday for the fire brigade was that, although we had 200 firefighters at these scenes, and 40 fire engines and other equipment, actually the rest of London carried on, and we had over 300 ordinary calls that we had to cope with. So, you know, we have to juggle them both.

But I think, you know, we are very proud, actually, of the commitment of the police service and of all of our emergency workers. They've done an extremely good job.

BLITZER: Val Shawcross in London. Good luck to you. Good luck to all the people of London. Thanks very much for joining us.

SHAWCROSS: Thank you.

BLITZER: U.S. security officials took quick action to ensure commuter safety in this country. Within hours, Homeland Security raised the threat level for mass transit systems to orange, the second highest level.

CNN's Kathleen Koch is live outside Washington's Union Station, where stepped-up security is clearly visible on the city's metro or subway system.

What is the latest, Kathleen?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, right now, there really hasn't been much in the way of fear for residents in Washington, D.C. to overcome when it comes to taking the metro. The riders we've spoken to here this morning say actually ridership was up today. But still, Mayor Anthony Williams, mayor of Washington, D.C., took to the subway this morning himself, got on the rails, spoke with some of the passengers onboard, trying to obviously make a very public effort of reassuring passengers that the subway system is safe.

Now, also, obviously the system is still on orange alert. There were still to be very stepped-up patrols of police. Some carrying heavy weaponry, as they did yesterday, wearing bullet-proof vests.

There were also supposed to be these routine sweeps of special S.W.A.T. teams through some of the stations, complete with bomb- sniffing dogs checking out doors, checking out trash cans, even boarding some of the trains. They're looking for unattended bags and suspicious passengers. Though, people we talked to this morning said that, while people were discussing on the train what had happened in London, they certainly weren't changing their normal routines.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you are hearing a lot is everyone was just kind of reading the newspaper and shaking their heads. And a lot of people were talking this morning on the metro about, you know, just how sad it is. And innocent people, as usual, you know, that are at the crux of all this political stuff.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seemed pretty much like a normal morning. It was actually really crowded. I know that yesterday evening there weren't many people on it, but this morning it was pretty crowded.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KOCH: And Wolf, just a few seconds ago, they had blocked off all the traffic here on Massachusetts Avenue in front of Union Station because of an unattended bag. But it's been removed and apparently was nothing.

Back to you.

BLITZER: I suspect there'll be a lot more of that in the days, weeks to come. Thanks very much. Kathleen Koch for us at Union Station here in the nation's capital.

More London terror coverage in just a moment. And a quick check on some other stories making news.

Hurricane Dennis taking aim right now at the U.S. Gulf Coast. We'll have a complete update on where the storm could be heading.

And here in Washington, there's already one vacancy at the U.S. Supreme Court. Could there be another? We'll have the latest on talk of another potential retirement.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We'll continue our coverage of the London terror attacks in just a moment.

First, though, right here in Washington there's been lots of speculation in recent days that there soon could be another vacancy at the U.S. Supreme Court. President Bush returns from the G8 summit in Scotland to consider a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Let's turn to our Joe Johns, standing by outside the Supreme Court with more.

Lots of rumor, so far, Joe, but no activity.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's certainly true, Wolf. The naming of a successor for Sandra Day O'Connor high on the list of priorities among much of official Washington this week.

Of course, Justice O'Connor has indicated she does plan to stick around until her successor is both named and confirmed. That, of course, giving the White House and the Congress a bit of wiggle room.

Nonetheless, as you mentioned, a great deal of speculation right now, speculation about who will be the nominee, when that nominee will be named. And perhaps, the most speculation of all, and the biggest question is, will there be any other retirement or retirements, plural, on the court in the next several weeks and months?

Of course, that centers on Chief Justice William Rehnquist. There has been a lot of speculation that, at some time, he might step down from the court. But, to be clear, absolutely no word today, now seven days out from the retirement of Justice O'Connor, that there is any indication from the chief justice that he does intend to retire, at least any official word here at all, Wolf.

Of course, the White House has been able to put together a team from the coming battle. That, of course, includes the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ed Gillespie, and former senator from Tennessee, Fred Thompson. They, of course, will lead the fight whenever it happens and when the nominee is named.

Back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Joe Johns standing by at the U.S. Supreme Court. If -- and this is a huge if -- if there is another retirement, we'll immediately get back to Joe.

Thank you, Joe, very much.

In London, commuters trying to keep their fears in check as they ride mass transit after back-to-back bombings. We'll have the latest developments on the terror in London.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: President Bush is headed home from the G-8 summit in Scotland. That tops some of the other news we're watching right now. Once back in the United States, he's expected to visit the British embassy to sign a condolence book for victims of yesterday's terror bombings.

Other news we're following. In Nebraska, a federal appeals court has upheld an earlier ruling that found the federal ban against so- called partial-birth abortions to be unconstitutional. President Bush signed the ban in 2003, but it's not been enforced, because of legal challenges.

In Florida, NASA officials say next Wednesday's scheduled launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery is still on schedule despite the looming threat of Hurricane Dennis. The storm is expected to pass west of the space center. For more on Hurricane Dennis, we'll check in with our meteorologist Rob Marciano. He's standing by in just a few moments.

From London to here in Washington, investigators are trying to piece together clues to determine who was behind the terror attacks in the British capital. CNN has learned U.S. intelligence officials are investigating a possible connection between the bombings and the network of the reputed leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. A U.S. intelligence official says there's some indication that in the not-too-distant past, Zarqawi had either direct or indirect input into some future activity in Europe.

Back in London, investigators say they believe more than one person was responsible for the blasts that tore through a double- decker bus and three subway trains. At least 49 people were killed yesterday, including 13 aboard that bus. With London commuters tentatively returning to the city, local authorities promise to remain vigilant, knowing that terrorists can strike, and might strike, at any time.


MYR. KEN LINVINGSTONE, LONDON: 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.


BLITZER: The attacks on London have touched a wide range of people, workers just trying to make it to the office, prominent officials who know hardships and complexities of the war on terror.

Just a little while ago, I spoke with former British defense secretary, former NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson. He was in London, and I began by asking him where he was yesterday when the bombs went off.


LORD ROBERTSON, FMR. NATO SECY.: Well, I was in my office. I work for a telecom company now, and I passed one of the stations, I think, probably three to four minutes before one of the explosions in the tube stations itself. I was buried in my newspaper. I didn't even notice it, as I do most mornings. So I was really only a very short distance away from where one of the main series of casualties were, and overlooking the accident and emergency department of St. Mary's Hospital, where a lot of the casualties were taken. So it was like being, once again, in the middle of a battlefield.

BLITZER: Was it your sense immediately this was an act of terror?

ROBERTSON: I think once we knew that it was an explosions, and not power surges as they originally thought, then my mind automatically went to terrorism. After all, I lived through at NATO, the 9/11 and many of the other atrocities that followed after that. And when one hears that there have been explosions on the London tube, then you pretty quickly jump to the conclusion that this is something pretty bad. And when it's on the day when the eight leaders of the G- 8 are meeting in Scotland, I think I came to the conclusion much more quickly than other people who were hoping for better.

BLITZER: What can be done about this? Because these are relatively simple targets. They're soft targets, a bus, a rail line. It doesn't take a whole lot of sophistication for someone to take 10 pounds of explosives, leave it underneath a seat, or walk in as a suicide bomber. What do you do about these kinds of acts of terror?

ROBERTSON: Well, I think you've got to raise the level of awareness, and the level of tolerance as well. I think that we've become much too complacent. Our security services have been remarkably successful in foiling a number of previous outrages like this. And, in a way, people have thought, well, it simply isn't going to happen to us. And therefore, there isn't the same sense of vigilance, the same sense of awareness, of abberant behavior, of parcels left where they shouldn't be left.

And I think somehow, on a worldwide scale, we've really got to go back on the alert. I don't think we should close down our open societies, which of course make us vulnerable, because that's what the terrorists would like us to do, but we certainly have to be much more vigilant in our daily lives about simple things that might well foil this thing happening.

You know, if people notice that a neighbor, or some new neighbors are doing something very peculiar, if they report that to the police, then sometimes, as has happened in the last couple of years, you can nip operations in the bud. So we can't stop the suicide bomber, or the guy who goes on a bus, but you can make it increasingly difficult for them to do that. So raising the awareness level and making it clear we won't tolerate it is one of the clear things we have to do.

BLITZER: Are you a confident this was the work of Al Qaeda, or an Al Qaeda-associates spinoff?

ROBERTSON: Well, I think the experience that we all have of Al Qaeda, or their type, is that they don't fit into a normal pattern of behavior. There's a sort of assumption that there is some great executive committee headed by Osama Bin Laden, which sends out instructions about these operations. I think we've got to get that sort of idea out of our mind completely. This is a franchise operation, whereby large numbers of individuals go their own way as part of that general jihad.

So it's part of a breed of wanton terrorism, criminal killers who seem out to cause damage, not to achieve a specific purpose, but as part of a general worldwide cause. And that's why I think what is very important out of the G-8 meeting that finished today, is that we reinstate that sense of international solidarity that we had after 9/11.

BLITZER: Well, on that point, Lord Robertson -- excuse me for interrupting -- but do you believe the Muslim leadership? That Muslim leaders around the world, whether political leaders or religious leaders, are doing enough to stop these kinds of terror attacks?

ROBERTSON: Well, it's not just an issue for Muslims, because Islamic terrorism and Islamic extremism is one breed of terrorism. You know, we've seen terrorism before committed by Christians, or by people who had come from the Christian background. But I think that there is an obligation upon all of us world leaders, religious leaders, ethnic community leaders, whether in a minority or majority to make it clear that these are unacceptable acts of violence in our world today.


BLITZER: My conversation earlier today with Lord Robertson. He's the former British defense minister.

Coming up, what war is now. A look at how terrorism is dramatically changing the nature of warfare and what military planners are doing to prepare for wars of the future.

And we'll examine how the London bombings are affecting American's views on the war on terror.

Much more coverage. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our coverage of the terror attacks in London. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Military analysts say the London bombings offer further proof the world is involved in a chilling new kind of war.

CNN's Tom Foreman has more on this new type of warfare.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Forget about battleships, fighter jets and tanks. The newest weapons of war are some of the oldest: Hit-and-run insurgents, hostages and attacks on innocent civilians.

TOM NICHOLS, U.S. NAVAL WAR COLLEGE: To me, this is very much a matter of war.

FOREMAN: And even at the Naval War College in Rhode Island, instructors like Tom Nichols say such attacks can certainly happen in America again.

NICHOLS: You can't prepare for everything. That's simply a given. That particularly in an open society like ours, like the United States or any other democracy, there are certain things that will leave us vulnerable.

FOREMAN: Much is being done to fight this new kind of war. Security patrols, cameras and checkpoints dot the landscape in ways unimaginable a few years ago. Military training and war games now frequently feature not clashing armies, but fast-moving terrorist cells.

Even predicting conflict has changed. Military planners once looked primarily for disagreements between nations. Now, many agree with military analyst Thomas Barnett, who says if you draw a line around the most socially or economically isolated cultures, you define where terrorists tend to thrive.

THOMAS BARNETT, AUTHOR, "THE PENTAGON'S NEW MAP": Show me places that are the least connected to the global economy, and I'll show you, basically, all the wars. Where globalization spreads, there also spreads peace and stability, and where it doesn't spread, there you're going to find the battle lines. FOREMAN (on camera): Are all of these theories making anyone safer or helping America track down its enemies? Hard to say. But military strategists point out, for all the horror and pain, attacks like those in London are quite rare.

(voice-over): And in World War II, 30 to 50 million civilians were killed. So as awful as each terrorist bombing is, there is perspective to be considered.

BARNETT: When I got into this business 15 years ago, I was planning quite literally for the end of humanity. Now, we're down to the point of chasing individual bad guys across bad neighborhoods.

NICHOLS: Are there going to be more dark days ahead for the Americans? Absolutely. But I think -- I think the terrorists and the particular ideology they represent are already losing, and I don't think they know it yet.

FOREMAN: Hard to imagine at a time like this. But that's war these days.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: A new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll shows Americans digging in their heels in the war on terror. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider has the results of our survey, taken after the London bomb blasts yesterday.

First of all, Bill, do the Americans see the attacks as a setback, as a setback for the war on terror?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, the American public has a sense of proportion about the attacks in London. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the attacks were a major setback in the war on terrorism. But do the attacks mean the terrorists are winning? No, say nearly 80 percent. It may be a setback, but they don't see it as a defeat.

BLITZER: In this poll, do Americans seem to think what happened in London could happen here in the United States?

SCHNEIDER: 62 percent say yes, it could happen. It could happen here. But more than 80 percent feel they in their own family are fairly safe from such attacks. Meaning, it probably won't happen to me.

BLITZER: Are Americans willing to put up with more inconveniences in order to deal with this war on terror?

SCHNEIDER: Actually, they are. At least they say they are. After all, metal detectors and searches at airports are now widely accepted as a necessary precaution. Now how about requiring Americans to go through metal detectors when they take public transportation, including trains and buses and subways? 69 percent say that's OK with them. People who live in cities and who are more likely to use public transportation are less enthusiastic, but even most city dwellers favor metal detectors to get on buses and subways. That's life in the big city.

BLITZER: What about the whole nature of the British support for the U.S. and the war in Iraq. Is it likely that what happened in London could have an impact on that kind of British support for what the U.S. is leading in Iraq?

SCHNEIDER: Well, we asked people whether they think the terrorists attacked London mostly because Britain supports the U.S. in Iraq, or was it for other reasons? 56 percent of Americans think it was mostly because of Iraq, and that view was shared by Democrats and Republicans alike. That could set off a political debate. The issue, whether the war in Iraq has made the world safer, or less safe from terrorism.

Now, do Americans feel a special bond with the British people? Actually, they're split. Most Americans, over 50, do say they feel a special bond with the British. Most younger Americans do not. World War II, when U.S. and Britain were comrades in arms, was a long time ago.

BLITZER: All right, Bill Schneider with that analysis. Good work. Thanks very much.

The London bombings are attracting enormous attention inside the blogs. We'll check in now with our CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter. What are you seeing, what are you hearing show up there, Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: Hi, Wolf. The blogs and the Internet have played a major role over the past day, giving people snapshots of what it was like to live through a terrorist attack and now what's it like getting on with life afterwards.

Justin at was on the Edgware Road train that was hit yesterday and he blogged not long afterwards about his personal experience, saying things like, we were unable to see, hit the ground for the precious air remaining, all literally choking to death. He says his site has been flooded for people who are hungry for information of first-hand accounts.

ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: And the London blogs are teeming with these eyewitness accounts when you look around them today, accounts of yesterday and today, the morning after disruptions. There's a great tool,, that actually arranges these bloggers by geographic location, according to the tube stops. Some of them very, very close to some of the blast sites.

For example, Aldgate East, the site near to the first blast yesterday, 14 bloggers very close to that station, some of them with first-hand accounts. Like (ph), who tells us that today he got in as normal, the places getting back to normal. He was sitting at his desk by 8:30 a.m. eating a sausage sandwich, everything back. And his message is, you can't keep a good city down. Also, people sharing their photos on camera phones and digital photos. I like this one, entitled "Bouncing Back," showing a post outside a tube stop, showing that most of the lines running as normal today.

SCHECHNER: The Internet and sites like this one,, a photo community blog, became very important yesterday as mobile phone lines went down and people were unable to get the message across to friends and family that they were all right.

There is a message up from yesterday. Dave Goodman, a 23-year- old Scotsman living in London, posted these simple words, "I'm OK." But then he followed up today with the following message, Wolf: "We're still here." And that message of resilience is what we are now seeing in the aftermath online. We'll send it back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Jacki and Abbi. I suspect we'll be getting a lot more of that in the world of the blogs coming up. Thanks very much to both of you. We'll check back with you throughout the day.

Just ahead, a new update on Hurricane Dennis. The category IV storm is battering Cuba. We'll have a damage report and where it's heading. Are people along the U.S. Gulf Coast preparing for the worst? The latest on the evacuation orders and possible path of the storm. All that, coming up.


BLITZER: We're going to get back to the coverage of the hurricane, also the terror fallout in London in a moment, but first, though, there's this development in the case of Natalee Hollow way, that missing teen in Aruba. The other day, her mother, Beth Holloway Twitty complained that the release of these two Kalpoe brothers that you are seeing now some video from detention was a source of grave disservice to the investigation. She spoke out bitterly against that. In the aftermath of that, there were threats of some lawsuits against her. And now, only within the past few minute, Beth Holloway Twitty has spoken out and apologized.


BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY: I'd like to apologize to the Aruban people and the Aruban authorities. If I or my family offended you in any way, it was never my intention to do so. And as the Aruban people, they have been extremely kind and generous, and especially supportive of myself and my family during this tragedy. I realize that the Aruban legal system abides by the presumption of innocence, and I want to reassure everyone that I do respect the Aruban legal system.

The statements I made on July 5th were fueled by despair and frustration because of still not knowing where my daughter is. I think everyone, everyone can sympathize with that.


BLITZER: Natalee Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, speaking out only a few moments ago. We'll continue to watch this story for you.

BLITZER: Hurricane Dennis is battering Cuba today with category- four winds of 135 miles per hour. The eye of the storm is expected to pass over central Cuba later today after making indirect hits on Haiti and Jamaica. The U.S. military detention center, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, on the island's southeastern coast, reportedly suffered only minor damage in the storm.

The U.S. Gulf Coast, especially Florida, is next in line for a potential strike by Hurricane Dennis. Governor Jeb Bush has declared a state of emergency, and mandatory evacuations are already under way in Key West.

Some people in the Florida Panhandle are not waiting for evacuation orders. Many are already leaving for safer areas further inland. The panhandle region is still recovering from damage caused last year by Hurricane Ivan.


BLITZER: And to our viewers, stay right here for new developments in the investigation of the London terror attacks. We'll have another update right at the top of the hour.

And as part of our continuing coverage, we'll ask this question: Are you safe on the subway? We'll have a report from New York, where commuters are all too familiar with terror fears and realities.



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