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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Blair Addresses British House of Commons; Bush Speaks at FBI Academy; Hurricane Dennis: The Aftermath; Afghanistan Fighting
Aired July 11, 2005 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Just about half past the hour this morning. Live pictures. Quantico, Virginia, is the dateline. This is, I'll let you guess, FBI Academy, and that is where the president of the United States will be in about 10 minutes -- and knowing the president, that will be like clockwork -- to discuss the war on terror. And we will bring it to you live of course.
In the meantime, we're continuing our focus on aftermath of Hurricane Dennis. It wasn't an Ivan, but the storm has given Gulf Coast residents plenty of things to deal with today.
Well, coming up this morning, we're going to take you to a fishing village. It was inundated by several feet of water. The water's now receded. The extent of the damage, though, just being realized this morning. We're going to talk to a store owner there.
We've also been mentioning, and something else we've been waiting on, is the prime minister, Tony Blair, making his remarks in the House of Commons. Let's listen in to what he's telling them today.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We are united in our determination that our country will not be defeated by such terror, but will defeat it and emerge from this horror with our values, our way of life, our tolerance and respect for others undiminished.
I would also like us to record our heartfelt thanks and admiration for our emergency services.
Police, those working on our underground buses and trains, paramedics, doctors and nurses, ambulance staff, firefighters and the disaster recovery teams: all of them can be truly proud of the part they played in coming to the aid of London last Thursday, and the part they continue to play. They are magnificent.
As for Londoners themselves, their stoicism, resilience and sheer undaunted spirit were an inspiration and an example. At the moment of terror striking, when the eyes of the world were upon them, they responded, and continue to respond, with the defiance and the strength that are universally admired.
Mr. Speaker, I will now try to give the House as much information as I can, some of it is, obviously, well-known. There were four explosions. Three on underground trains: one between Old Gate East and Liverpool Street, one between Russell Square and King's Cross, one in the train at Edgware Road station. All of these took place within 50 seconds of each other at 8:50 a.m.
The other explosion was on the Number 30 bus at Upper Woburn Place at 9:47 a.m.
The timing of the tube explosions was designed to be at the peak of the rush hour, and thus cause maximum death and injury.
It seems probable that the attack was carried out by Islamist extremist terrorists of the kind who over recent years have been responsible for many innocent deaths in Madrid, Bali, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kenya, Tanzania, Pakistan, Yemen, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, of course, New York on September the 11th, but in many other countries too.
I cannot give details, for obvious reasons, of the police investigation now under way. I can say, it is among the most vigorous and intense that this country has ever seen.
BLAIR: We will pursue those responsible, not just the perpetrators, but the planners of this outrage, wherever they are. And we will not rest until they are identified and, as far as is humanly possible, brought to justice.
I would also like to say this about our police and intelligence services.
I know of no intelligence specific enough to have allowed them to prevent last Thursday's attacks.
By their very nature, people callous enough to kill completely innocent civilians in this way are hard to stop.
But our services and police do a heroic job for this country day in, day out. And I can say that, over the past years, as this particular type of new and awful terrorist threat has grown, they have done their utmost to keep this country and its people safe.
As I saw again from the meeting of (inaudible) this morning, their determination to get those responsible is total.
Besides the obvious imperative of tracking down those who carried out these acts of terrorism, our principal concern is the bereaved, the families of the victims. It is the most extraordinarily distressing time for them, and all of us feel profoundly for them.
Let me explain what we are trying to do.
The majority -- though I stress not all -- of the victims' families now have a very clear idea that they have lost their loved ones. For many, patterns of life and behavior are well enough established that the numbers of potential victims can now be brought within reasonable range of the actual victims. Some 74 families now have police family liaison officers with them.
In addition, we have established with Westminster City Council, the police and others the family assistance center. This is presently at the Queen Mother Sports Centre. Tomorrow it will move to a more suitable site at the Royal Horticultural Halls in Westminster.
I would like to thank the many organizations involved, including the Salvation Army, the Women's Royal Voluntary Service, the Red Cross, Westminster City Council and all those counselors, who are helping to staff the center.
In this way, we are doing our level best to look after the families.
My right honorable friend, the culture secretary, has taken charge of this aspect, as she has done before.
BLAIR: More difficult is, then, the process of formal identification.
The police are proceeding here with some caution. In previous terrorist attacks of a similar kind in other countries, mistakes have been made which are incredibly distressing. The effect of a bomb is to make identification sometimes very, very hard and harrowing.
There is now a process in place involving a group chaired by the coroner which will in each case make a definitive pronouncement once the right procedures are gone through.
I wish it could be quicker, but I think the only wise course is to follow precisely the advice of coroner and police, and that is what we will do.
At some time, and in consultation with the families, we will be ready to join in arrangements for a memorial service for the victims. Her Majesty, the queen, has kindly said she will attend.
BLAIR: Two minute's silence will be held at noon on Thursday, and this will be an opportunity for the nation to unite in remembrance.
There is then the issue of further anti-terrorist legislation. During the passage of the Prevention of Terrorism Act earlier this year, we pledged to introduce a further counterterrorism bill later in this session. That remains our intention.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to the British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He is updating folks at the House of Commons. He is filling them in on the investigation and what he knows, although he clearly says there is information he cannot share.
And you're looking at now President Bush as he addresses the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. We also expect him to make remarks about the London terror attacks. Let's listen in. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: Thanks for the warm welcome. It's my pleasure to be back here at Quantico, the FBI Academy. I'm honored to be with so many courageous men and women who have stepped forward to protect our nation.
Today we are fighting a global war on terror. And here at Quantico you're training and retraining for a critical mission, and that's to defend our homeland.
You're fighting the terrorists who wish to harm us, you're breaking up their cells, you're disrupting their financing, you are stopping them before they can strike our country and kill our citizens.
Your work is difficult. It is dangerous. I want you to know how much your country appreciates you, and so do I.
I thank the FBI folks who have welcomed me here. I also want to thank the DEA agents who are with us here today.
By working to keep drug money from financing terror, you're playing an important part in this war.
I want to thank the U.S. and international police officers who are training here.
BUSH: I want to thank the local first responders who have joined us.
You protect us in times of emergency. I want to thank you for being on the front lines of fighting these terrorists.
Quantico is also known as the crossroads of the Corps.
In the war on terror, the Marines are serving with valor and distinction.
You helped liberate 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, you stand between the American people and the worst dangers in the world.
In this war, the Marine will fight, in the words of the Rifleman's Creed, "until victory is America's and there is no enemy."
America's grateful to have the United States Marine Corps defending our freedom.
I want to thank you for your courage and your sacrifice.
(APPLAUSE) I appreciate our attorney general, Al Gonzales, who has joined us today.
General, thank you for being here.
I want to thank Ambassador John Negroponte, the director of the national intelligence.
Thanks for coming, Mr. Director.
I appreciate Director Bob Mueller of the FBI.
You're doing a fantastic job. Thank you, Bob, for coming.
Director Porter Goss of the CIA.
Administrator Karen Tandy of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Thank you, Karen.
I appreciate the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John Warner of Virginia, joining us today.
Senator, thank you for coming.
Senator George Allen from Virginia is with us as well.
And I appreciate the vice chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Curt Weldon, for being with us today.
Thank you all for being here.
Finally, I appreciate Colonel Mike Lowe, the base commander of Quantico.
Colonel, thank you very much. I appreciate your hospitality today and I appreciate your hospitality when I bring my mountain bike out here to ride.
In London last Thursday, terrorists killed dozens of commuters and wounded hundreds more.
Americans know what it's like to be attacked on our own soil.
Our hearts go out to the many innocent people in London who suffered terrible injuries. And we pray for the families mourning the loss of loved ones.
In this difficult hour, the people of Great Britain can know the American people stand with you.
I was with the prime minister, Prime Minister Tony Blair, at the G-8 summit in Scotland when the terrorists struck his homeland.
The contrast could not have been more vivid. We were there to discuss ways to make the world a better and more compassionate place; and in London, the terrorists were killing innocent men and women in cold blood.
BUSH: These attacks were barbaric and they provide a clear window into the evil we face.
We don't know who committed the attacks in London. But we do know that terrorists celebrate the suffering of the innocent. We do know that terrorists murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent.
Their aim, the aim of the terrorists, is to remake the Middle East in their own grim image of tyranny and oppression by toppling governments, by exporting terror, by forcing free nations to retreat and withdraw.
BUSH: To achieve these aims, they attacked our country on September the 11th, 2001. They continued to kill in Bali, Casablanca, Riyadh, Jakarta, Istanbul, Madrid and elsewhere.
These kind of people who blow up subways and buses are not people you can negotiate with or reason with or appease.
In the face of such adversaries, there is only one course of action: We will continue to take the fight to the enemy, and we will fight until this enemy is defeated.
BUSH: The terrorists want to attack our country and harm our citizens. They believe that the world's democracies are weak and that by killing innocent civilians they can break our will.
They're mistaken. America will not retreat in the face of terrorists and murderers...
... and neither will the free world.
BUSH: As Prime Minister Blair said after the attacks in London, "Our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people."
The attack in London was an attack on the civilized world. And the civilized world is united in its resolve. We will not yield. We will defend our freedom.
Our nation has no greater mission than stopping the terrorists from launching new and more deadly attack. And whether you're fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan or Iraq or rooting out terrorists here at home, America is counting on you to stop them.
To accomplish this vital mission, we have a comprehensive strategy in place. We're working to protect the homeland. We're working to improve our intelligence so we can uncover terrorists plots before they unfold. And we're staying on the offensive. We're fighting the enemy in Iraq, in Afghanistan and across the world so we do not have to face them here at home. And we are spreading the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East.
By offering an alternative to the terrorists' dark vision of hatred and fear, we are laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren.
BUSH: To protect the American people we continue to take extraordinary measures to defend the homeland.
We created a new Department of Homeland Security. We're posting Homeland Security personnel at foreign ports and strengthening airport and seaport security.
We're instituting better visa screening for those entering the United States. We're working to prevent potential terrorists from coming across our borders and violating our immigration laws.
We're protecting our nation's critical infrastructure: our bridges and tunnels, our transportation systems, our nuclear power plants and water treatment facilities, and the cyber networks that keep our government and our economy running.
We've provided more than $14 billion over the last four years to train and equip local first responders.
BUSH: In all, we've more than tripled funding for homeland security since 2001.
We're working tirelessly to protect the American people and to prevent new terrorist attacks.
In an age of new dangers, we're doing everything in our power to do our jobs. And I want to thank you for your hard work.
To defend our homeland, we need the best possible intelligence.
We face a new kind of enemy. This enemy hides in caves and plots in shadows, and then emerges to strike and kill in cold blood in our cities and communities.
Staying a step ahead of this enemy and disrupting their plans is an unprecedented challenge for our intelligence community.
We're reforming our intelligence agencies to meet the new threats. We have established a new National Counterterrorism Center where we are bringing together all the available intelligence on terrorist threats.
BUSH: We're sharing intelligence across all levels of government: the federal level, the state level and the local level.
We're working with our allies to share information and to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.
Thanks to the hard work of hundreds in our intelligence community, we have stopped a number of grave threats to the American people.
Together with our allies, we uncovered and dismantled Libya's nuclear program. We worked with Pakistan and other nations to shut down the world's most dangerous nuclear trading network.
And since September the 11th, our coalition has disrupted a number of Al Qaeda terrorist plots, arrested Al Qaeda operatives here to case specific U.S. targets, and caught others trying to sneak into our country.
BUSH: Our enemy is constantly studying our defenses and adapting its own tactics, so we must constantly strengthen our capabilities.
And that's why I appointed a bipartisan commission, led by Judge Laurence Silberman and former Senator Chuck Robb. I asked them to give me an unvarnished look at our intelligence capabilities and our intelligence successes, as well as analyzing our intelligence failures.
Two weeks ago, after careful review, I approved 70 of the commission's recommendations for implementation.
One of the new steps we're taking is the creation of the National Security Service within the FBI to more completely integrate the bureau's work with the intelligence community.
BUSH: The purpose of this change is to strengthen the FBI so it not only investigates terrorist crimes after they happen, but the FBI can be more capable to stop the terrorist acts before they happen.
The FBI is in the fight. The FBI has deployed its personnel across the world in Iraq and Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror.
FBI agents are questioning captured terrorists and uncovering information that will help prevent new attacks on our homeland.
Here in America, the FBI has helped break up terrorist cells and financing networks in California and Oregon, Illinois, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida and other states.
BUSH: And one of the important tools federal agents have used to protect America is the Patriot Act.
I call on Congress to reauthorize the 16 critical provisions of this act that are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. The terrorist threats against us will not expire at the end of this year, and neither should the protections of the Patriot Act.
The FBI efforts are central to our success in the war on terror. The agents and analysts in this hall and your colleagues around the country work around the clock to prevent new attacks, and I thank you for that.
With every cell you uncover and every terrorist you arrest, you are making this country safer. Thanks for a job well done.
BUSH: We know that there's no such thing as perfect security and that in a free and open society it is impossible to protect against every threat.
As we saw in London last week, the terrorists need to be right only once. Free nations need to be right 100 percent of the time.
The best way to defend America is to stay on the offense. When terrorists spend their days and nights struggling to avoid death or capture, they are less capable of arming and training and plotting new attacks.
So, together with our allies, we're on the offense and we will stay on the offense.
BUSH: We have damaged the Al Qaeda network across the world.
In the Persian Gulf, Al Qaeda's chief of operations has been captured. In Southeast Asia, a top strategist for Al Qaeda's associate group was captured.
In Pakistan, top Al Qaeda leaders have been captured, including one of bin Laden's senior terrorist facilitators.
We captured the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks, captured a terrorist involved in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and a key planner in the attack on the USS Cole.
Our ally Pakistan has killed or captured more than 600 terrorists, including bin Laden's chief of operations, a man named al- Libbi.
Saudi Arabia has killed or captured more than two dozen of its most wanted terrorists.
BUSH: The terrorists remain dangerous. But from the mountains of Afghanistan to the border regions of Pakistan to the Horn of Africa, and to the islands of the Philippines, our coalition is bringing our enemies to justice and bringing justice to our enemies.
(APPLAUSE) We will keep the terrorists on the run until they have no place left to hide.
In the war on terror, Iraq is now a central front. The terrorists fight in Iraq because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake.
BUSH: They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well.
And when the Middle East grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors. They'll lose their recruits. They will lose their hopes for turning that region into a base of attacks against America and our allies.
The stakes in Iraq are high, and no one knows the stakes better than our troops.
An American battalion commander in Iraq put it this way in an e- mail: "I know that most of you are probably asking if our presence here and loss of human life are worth it. We're here for a purpose, and if not now, when will we stand up to the terrorists that are sick enough to do these things in God's name?"
We are standing up, and the sacrifice is worth it.
BUSH: By helping the Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror, we're advancing the cause of freedom and the cause of peace.
To help Iraqis build a free nation, we have a clear plan with both a military track and a political track.
Our military is pursuing the terrorists and helping to train Iraqi security forces so they can defend their people and fight the enemy on their own. Our plan can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.
BUSH: Our troops see the progress the Iraqi security forces have made.
Captain Glenn Colby of the Rhode Island National Guard says that when he arrived in Iraq over a year ago, the Iraqi police were afraid to go outside their building.
Recently, he says the soldiers were on patrol when the Iraqi police charged past them in hot pursuit of insurgents. He says of the Iraqi police, quote, "Now you see them everywhere. You see them at checkpoints on the streets, you see them on patrol, you see them stand and fight."
The Iraqi people are seeing progress. They're stepping forward to the fight. BUSH: One Iraqi who stepped forward is a traffic cop named Jamal. Recently, Jamal was training in the city of Irbil with about 200 other recruits when a red car came hurtling toward him and it exploded. He survived, but many of his comrades did not.
Here's what he says: "I saw friends killed and wounded and crying out, and blood everywhere. It is not the first time they tried to kill us. We're not afraid. I'll stay a policeman and serve my country."
Americans are proud to serve alongside such brave allies, people willing...
... to take risks for democracy and freedom, people willing to sacrifice.
BUSH: The leaders of the new Iraqi military see the progress. The Iraqi general in charge of this country's elite special forces puts it this way: Before, "the Americans were taking the lead and we were following." Now, he said proudly that his forces were taking the lead.
We're working for the day when the entire Iraqi army can say the same thing. Our coalition will help Iraqis so they can fight the enemy on their own and then American forces can come home to a proud and grateful nation.
We know that the terrorists will not be defeated by force of arms alone. Iraqis need a strong military to engage the enemy.
BUSH: But just as important is a strong and secure democracy that will provide an alternative to the terrorists' ideology of hate. So Iraqis are hard at work building the institutions of a free society.
In January, more than 8 million Iraqis defied the terrorists and cast their ballots in the country's first free elections in decades.
Now the transitional national assembly is working to write a new constitution for a free Iraq, and Iraq's new leaders are reaching out to Sunni Arabs who did not participate in the January elections.
BUSH: Last week, 15 Sunni Arab delegates joined the committee that is drafting a new Iraqi constitution. More and more Sunni Arabs say they intend to vote in the constitutional referendum later this year.
Support for the democratic process is growing throughout Iraq, including in the Sunni Arab communities. As Iraqis take these steps toward political and military reform, they are building a free nation that will be a beacon -- a beacon of liberty in the Middle East.
The success of democracy in Iraq is sending forth the news, from Damascus to Tehran, that freedom can be the future of every nation.
BUSH: The Palestinian people have gone to the polls and have chosen a leader committed to negotiation instead of violence.
In Lebanon, people took to the streets to demand the restoration of their sovereignty, and they have now gone to the polls and voted in free elections.
And as freedom spreads in these countries, it's inspiring democratic reformers in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Our troops on the front lines see this transformation up close.
Marine Lance Corporal Marty Schwader recently returned from Iraq. He says: "We really kicked something off in the Middle East.
BUSH: "And all the countries over there are starting to really think about the way they want run their countries."
The heart of our strategy is this: Free societies are peaceful societies.
So in the long run, the only way to defeat the ideologies of hatred and fear, the only way to make sure our country is secure in the long run, is to advance the cause of freedom.
We have seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before. In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism and freedom prevailed, and today Germany and Japan are allies in securing the peace.
BUSH: In the Cold War, freedom defeated the ideology of communism and led to a Europe whole, free and at peace.
Today in the Middle East, freedom is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair. And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated by the unstoppable power of freedom and democracy.
The prime minister recently said, "There is no hope in terrorism, nor any future in it worth living.
BUSH: "And it is the hope that is the alternative to this hatred."
So we'll spread the hope of freedom and leave a more peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren. This week, there's great suffering in the city of London, but Londoners are resilient; they have faced brutal enemies before. The city that survived the Nazi blitz will not yield in the face of thugs and assassins.
And just as America and Great Britain stood together to defeat the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century, we now stand together against the murderous ideologies of the 21st century.
BUSH: History teaches us that we can be confident in the future, because the darkness of tyranny is no match for the shining power of freedom.
There'll be tough fighting ahead. There'll be difficult moments along the path to victory.
The terrorists know they can't defeat us on the battlefield. The only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve.
This isn't going to happen on my watch.
BUSH: America and its allies will continue to act decisively and the cause of freedom will prevail.
Thank you for your service.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush enthusiastically wrapping up a speech. A warm welcome by the members of the FBI Academy and others who have come to listen to this speech in Quantico, Virginia.
The president outlining really a two-tiered approach to the war on terror, he said in that speech. First, short term, focusing on the war, fighting militants abroad. Secondly, longer-term strategy, taking a look at bringing freedom and prosperity into the region, in his words, that produce militants.
No surprise, really, that the president was talking about the war on terror in the wake of the London bombings. And you're looking at right now on the right-hand side of your screen the prime minister Tony Blair. He's been addressing the House of Commons. He also not only has been updating them on the investigation thus far into those bombings this past Thursday, but also taking some questions and making remarks as well.
So a little bit of what's happening outside of our top story today, which, of course, Miles, is the cleanup after the major hurricane yesterday.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And let's talk about that. Gulf Coast residents are cleaning up and adding up the damage from Dennis. We're getting some early estimates from the insurance industry about the storm's impact.
Dennis left much of the Gulf Coast in the dark. Some areas under water. But it was far less destructive than Hurricane Ivan, 10 months ago.
Dennis has been downgraded to a tropical depression now, still capable of triggering floods, spawning tornadoes. So pay attention to Dennis as it heads your way.
More than 360,000 people still without power in the Florida Panhandle. It will take a while to get them hooked back up. Initial estimates put the insured losses from Dennis at $1 billion to $2.5 billion. That's according to figures from a firm that services -- serves the insurance industry.
President Bush has declared parts of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi federal disaster areas. That makes residents there eligible for federal assistance. Of course, it can include grants for temporary housing, home repairs, also low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses. And there are other programs to help people recover from the disaster.
Rob Marciano is recovering today after a long day yesterday keeping track of Dennis for us. Still watching the remnants of Dennis, which is still a full-time job.
S. O'BRIEN: Well, folks along the Gulf Coast getting out, assessing the damage today. So were the CNN reporters who were there when Dennis came on shore. Chad Myers is in the Florida fishing village of St. Marks.
Chad, how are things looking as the morning progresses into the afternoon?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: A lot of help here now. I think -- you know, I think the coverage, the TV coverage, has really helped.
The Red Cross is here. The power line companies are here -- more than one. You can't even tell where these guys are from. And I'll tell you what, if you -- I know you probably can't see it if you're out of power, but if you see a lineman, go out there and tell him "Thank you." We were driving in from Panama City about 1:30, 2:00 last night, and these linemen were -- they were sitting on the rest areas just trying to take a nap, driving in from all over the country to put these power lines back up.
What we did find, though, when the water came up -- we're in St. Marks, over by Apalachicola, between Apalachicola and Tampa, on the northern part there of the peninsula -- when the water came up, boats started to float. We found the pictures you see here over at a marina.
The boats were in what's called rack storage. Rack storage, basically two rails that a -- oh, a forklift will go pick up the boat out of the water and put them in those two little rails. It's called a rack. If you have a boat you know what I'm talking about.
Well, the rack didn't float, but the boats did. And they ended up in people's yards. They ended up crashing into people's cars, and they ended up actually taking some of the -- some of the boats taking each other out.
Now, a lot of damage here. These are going to be able to be picked up and put back on their racks. But, one more thing.
Guess what? The forklifts were also in the water. They're not running either. So they can't even start to clean up until they get all those other things working.
But the great news is there is help here. The Red Cross is here giving MREs, water, pretzels. Everything that the people are coming for, it's getting passed out. And now we finally know that this place is on the rebound.
It's going to be a hot day. It already feels like about 85. My truck here says 87.
The winds are off the Gulf a little bit. That's helping. But I'll tell you what, it's going to be a hot day for the cleanup. Obviously no air conditioning, now power, no water -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Tough for them today. All right, Chad. Thanks for the update.
Many Alabama residents do feel that they dodged a bullet, though, with Dennis. But the storm has left its mark on the coastal areas, left more than 200,000 people without electricity, too.
Jim Walker, the director of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, joins us from the Emergency Operation Center in Clanton, Alabama.
Nice to see you. Give me a sense of the extent of the damage there.
JIM WALKER, DIRECTOR, ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, good morning, Soledad.
Well, you're absolutely right. I think we were a bit fortunate in Alabama, particularly along our coastal counties. But in the west side of the Florida Panhandle, the two Alabama counties north, Escambia and Conecuh County, have been hammered pretty hard.
They still haven't recovered fully from Ivan the terrible. And now Dennis the menace has sort of devastated those two counties.
We're in the process of assessing the damage right now. And it's been sort of fascinating to watch the lifecycle of a storm like this. I mean, there's the preparation and all of the actions that the state, local and federal government has taken to prepare the state.
Governor Riley made some very wise decisions to evacuate the counties. We're fortunate, we don't have any reported losses of life.
We had reverse laning on I-65, then we've endured the storm. And we had a lot of supplies and people pre-positioned down to the south. And as soon as the storm passed, they came up, started clearing roads and removing debris, so the emergency personnel could get down there last night, early in the morning hours, and at first light today.
And as you know, the recovery stage, which we're in now, can be among the most dangerous parts of a storm. We're still anticipating 40-mile-an-hour winds throughout the state. So as we have worker crews trying to restore power to the over 250,000 citizens that still don't have power, we've got flooding.
We're trying to put back traffic lights, clear debris off roads. And it can be very dangerous. And you just reported a minute ago the heat and humidity, and folks have got to stay hydrated. It's still a very, very dangerous situation out there.
S. O'BRIEN: Forty-five counties in Alabama, in fact, have been declared federal disaster areas. So is it that 250,000 people who are without power, that's the biggest problem right now? Or is it -- is it sort of the wreck left by the flooding? Or which is it?
WALKER: Well, I think it's a combination of all. I mean, I think we've hit a surge on the power loss.
In those counties I mentioned a minute ago, Escambia and Conecuh counties, clearly 90 percent of the inhabitants down there do not have power. We still have 40-some-odd thousand residents in Jefferson County, Birmingham, our largest city that do not have power. And then along the western -- western edge of Alabama, a lot of citizens without power.
There is some flooding. There's a lot of debris, felled trees. You know, there are some instances of damage and danger.
It could have been a lot worse for Alabama. We're fortunate that it's not. We think that we were proactive. The governor made the right decisions, and now we get to the very tough and onerous part of cleaning up, where there are a lot of -- a lot of unsung heroes.
I mean, just a few feet from me in the Emergency Operations Center are dozens of Alabama citizens, volunteers, emergency management workers, transportation, the National Guard, public safety officials who have worked through the night for the last few days. They've left their families, and we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude for their bravery and their hard work for the citizens of the state of Alabama.
S. O'BRIEN: Well, good for them. Thanks for joining us. Jim Walker is the director of Alabama Department of Homeland Security. Appreciate it.
Time to get a look at the other stories making headlines today with Kelly Wallace in New York. She's back over at the Time Warner Center in New York. Hey, Kelly. Good morning again.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again, Soledad. And good morning to all of you. Here are some other stories "Now in the News."
President Bush discussed the war on terror during a speech last hour at the FBI Academy in Virginia. If you were watching CNN, of course you saw it live. The president pointed to last week's London bombings, urging Americans to stay the course to defeat the terrorists.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These kind of people who blow up subways and buses are not people you can negotiate with or reason with or appease. In the face of such adversaries, there's only one course of action. We will continue to take the fight to the enemy. And we will fight until this enemy is defeated.
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WALLACE: Meantime, the president's top ally in the war on terror, Britain's Tony Blair, also spoke out last hour, and he vowed to track down the London bombers. In an update to parliament today, Mr. Blair says there was no specific intelligence that would have prevented the blasts. He calls the attacks "murderous carnage," and said they were probably carried out by Islamic extremists.
London commuters returning to the subway system and buses today for a new work week. The four blasts killed more than 50 people. Prime Minister Blair suggested today the final death toll could be 74.
A painfully somber day in the Balkans. Fifty thousand people gathered in Srebrenica 10 years after the massacre that shocked the world. Six hundred ten coffins containing skeletal remains were buried today. An estimated 8,000 Muslims were killed by Serbs in 1995.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour will host a CNN special, "Srebrenica Remembered" today. That's beginning at 12:30 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Canadian investigators are due on the scene today to open an inquiry into a horrific collision. Two pilots died instantly when their biplanes collided at air show in southern Saskatchewan. The flyers were reenacting a World War I dogfight. They were members of a U.S.-based aerial acrobatics team.
And it safely dodged Dennis. Now the countdown is on for Shuttle Discovery's launch, set for Wednesday in Florida.
It will be the first liftoff since the Columbia disaster two-and- a-half years ago. And you'll see it live on CNN. Discovery underwent 50 modifications after that Columbia accident. And even though Dennis is out of the way, Florida's forecast looks thundery for the week. And that sets the stage for a possible launch delay.
And Miles, how far can they go before they have to sort of call for a delay?
M. O'BRIEN: Well, you know, what they can do is -- of course, one thing you want to -- when you fuel up the tank, you want to make sure there's no lightning in the area. But assuming they can get everything -- they can get the crew all kind of strapped this in, and then they have only a five-minute window in which to launch, which begins at 3:51 p.m. So if during that five-minute period there's anything wrong with the weather, they have to wait 24 hours, or actually 23 hours and 40 minutes, because it gets earlier every day.
Because in order to make it to the space station, you have to launch at a very precise time. So, the -- you know, I've been to launches where it's been a beautiful day, it comes time for the actual window, that five-minute window, one little cloud comes over, no launch that day.
WALLACE: And then it scraps all that day.
M. O'BRIEN: So, you know, it truly is rocket science, Kelly.
WALLACE: You'll be watching.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes, we will.
M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Kelly.
More U.S. troops are headed to Afghanistan. And we're learning new details about the rescue and recovery operation for a team of Navy SEALs involved in a shootout there that we've been telling you so much about.
Our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr is tracking those developments for us.
Barbara, good morning to you.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you Miles.
The military announcing over the weekend they did recover the body of the fourth man on that four-man Navy SEAL reconnaissance team. Now the fate of the entire team in the mountains near Asadabad, in eastern Afghanistan, is resolved.
Three Navy SEALs killed, one survivor. And we indeed now are getting some very sketchy details of what apparently was quite a heroic tale for the man who did survive. What we are told now is on June 28, when the firefight took place that trapped this reconnaissance team, the surviving Navy SEAL had wounds to his legs, and then began walking through the mountains, trying to evade insurgents. Apparently wounded, he walked some three or four kilometers through those 10,000-foot mountains.
He was then rescued by an Afghan villager who came across him. That Afghan man taking him to his village and hiding him, according to the accounts we are hearing. And still hiding this U.S. Navy SEAL even when Taliban came to the village demanding that that SEAL be turned over to them.
The villagers apparently said no. They would continue to shelter that U.S. military person.
What we are also learning is apparently the Navy SEAL wrote a note verifying his identity and his location. That note was then hand-carried by Afghans to U.S. troops at another location. So when they staged their rescue mission in the village, they were certain that the Navy SEAL was there, and that they were not walking into any type of ambush.
But there is still more news, even with all of that today, Miles. The U.S. military announcing 700 more troops are on their way to Afghanistan. This is a unit of the 82nd Airborne Division.
They had been on standby. Now they are called up. Those 700 troops will go in the next two weeks. They will be in addition to the 18,000 troops already there, providing more security, more offensive operations against the insurgents -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Barbara, had this decision been sort of made awhile ago, or is this in direct response to what's going on lately in Afghanistan?
STARR: Well, Miles, this had been on the table, if you will, for the last couple of weeks. U.S. military commanders privately had been saying that they expected to ask for more troops. There is no question they're seeing a rise in violence, especially in eastern Afghanistan.
Elections are coming up. They are very concerned about the rise in insurgent activity. They want to get things cooled down a built. So about 700 additional troops now going to Afghanistan, at least for the next few months -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Thank you very much.
Still to come in the program, when Hurricane Dennis roared through the Gulf, how did it impact oil production? We'll take a closer look, and we'll tell you what that might mean for your pocketbook. That is just ahead.
S. O'BRIEN: Also ahead this morning, no time to be afraid. You're going to hear from reporters and photographers who covered the hurricane on this special edition of AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
M. O'BRIEN: In Pensacola, residents are waking up this morning to the aftermath of Hurricane Dennis. Thousands of Panhandle residents weathered the storm over the weekend. Many of them went to Red Cross shelters.
Joining us live now is Red Cross spokesman Anita Foster. She was at a Red Cross shelter in Pensacola that served about 1,200 people on Sunday.
Anita, good to see you. How were things in the shelter, by the way? Did everything go OK?
ANITA FOSTER, RED CROSS SPOKESWOMAN: It went great. You know, when we first opened the Red Cross shelter, the residents came in. And as you can imagine, there were so many of those same residents that went through Hurricane Ivan in that exact same shelter last year. And so as the storm came over, it was a pretty quiet place to be.
People were very nervous. But when the storm passed and we opened up the doors, people just went out. And you could almost hear a sigh of relief in unison from every single person in that shelter.
It was a very different picture than they had seen when they had walked out from Ivan. So they were very grateful to the Red Cross for being there, providing them a safe place, but they were very ready to star moving back home.
M. O'BRIEN: Oh, I can only imagine. You know, I always -- when I see these pictures -- I've never had the misfortune to be evacuated like this -- and I see all the babies, and I can only imagine what it's like trying to keep the babies calm, and everything. And, you know, obviously it's difficult to sleep and so forth.
Did it ever get tense? Or did people have a pretty good attitude of camaraderie about the whole thing?
FOSTER: You know, shelters are very interesting. They really are a place where people that are going through the same experience can talk to each other. And we find that's really good in helping to keep some of the pressure alleviated.
We try to do everything we can at the Red Cross to make it a comfortable experience. And so we have toys for kids, coloring books, crayons, things like that, dominoes for the adults, just things to pass the time so it's not such a tense experience. When this storm was over, though, it was good.
It was a great place to be. Everybody was really happy. And it was good to be able to see that walking out of a Red Cross shelter, because I have to tell you, we're not typically accustomed to that either. So it was good. It was good all the way around.
M. O'BRIEN: You know what you should try? You should probably try doing a blood drive while they're in there. You've got a captive audience. Have you ever thought about that?
FOSTER: Well, we might just...
M. O'BRIEN: Kind of keep their mind off things.
FOSTER: We might give that a whirl.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes -- no, pass it up the chain. I'm curious if you like that idea. Tell me about how -- you've got shelters still open because a lot of folks are outside their homes now and can't get back, right?
FOSTER: That's right. That's exactly right.
The Red Cross shelters will stay open as long as they're needed. Right now we still have the major shelter open at the Pensacola Civic Center. And we're going to try today throughout the day to consolidate folks into a few locations just to make it easier to serve and to begin to identify which families are going to need extended help from the American Red Cross.
M. O'BRIEN: What is the most pressing need right now for people who have been adversely impacted here?
FOSTER: Well, because there is no power in the area, it's meals, it's being able to provide food. And we're actually starting that today.
We've got emergency response vehicles stationed all throughout the area that are up and down the streets right now in neighborhoods, talking with families, providing some water, coffee, snacks, and then meals as we progress through this operation. So just making sure that while there is no power in the area, that people have -- that they do have food to eat. And also just to make sure that everybody does have a safe place to stay if there is damage to their home. That's extremely critical.
M. O'BRIEN: All right. Anita, you've been through a tough night, you got an hour and a half sleep, and you've got a great attitude. How do you do that, just out of curiosity?
FOSTER: Well, it's not nearly as bad for us as the people affected. And that's what you keep in mind when you do these jobs with the Red Cross or with any responding agency, is we're here to do everything that we can so we can help these families. And we're -- it's actually a privilege. We're honored to do it.
M. O'BRIEN: Anita Foster, keep up the good work and the good attitude. Thanks for your time.
FOSTER: Oh, thank you very much.
M. O'BRIEN: All right.
S. O'BRIEN: Good for her. What a terrific attitude.
M. O'BRIEN: I think a blood drive in a shelter is a good idea.
S. O'BRIEN: Yes, absolutely.
M. O'BRIEN: I wonder if they're listening up there at headquarters.
S. O'BRIEN: I hope they are.
M. O'BRIEN: Yes. All right.
S. O'BRIEN: In just a moment, a look at today's stories, including dramatic videotape coming to us out of Canada. This I don't know if you've seen this. This is amateur videotape of a fatal in- flight collision. We've got more on that story straight ahead on this special extended edition of AMERICAN MORNING.
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