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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Terror Threat; Obama's Jobs Plan
Aired September 8, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Anderson, thanks very much.
Good evening. You're looking live at Washington and New York where two huge stories are breaking tonight.
We'll get to the president's speech on jobs in just a moment.
But, first, I want to go right to what's being called a specific, credible but unconfirmed terror threat against this country tied to the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The plot is believed to involve three individuals, at least one of whom is believed to be a U.S. citizen.
We're going to go to my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, for more of this breaking story.
Wolf, what do we know? There have been swirling rumors in the last hour. We know there are three people involved apparently, that seemed to be confirmed. But we don't know how they've got in if they have got in or whether the trucks that earlier were reported actually are involved in this.
What do we know, do you think?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We know that the U.S. has been on a heightened state of alert, Piers, for some time now, specifically -- specifically because on Sunday is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. When they went into bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, they found information suggesting that he was determined on this 10th anniversary of 9/11 to do something spectacular against America, against Americans.
It was unclear if they had any specific information. But that raised alarm bells, knowing that there is this notion in al Qaeda for revenge. The U.S. killed bin Laden, as everybody knows, and also this notion that around anniversary time, something should be done. So, they were a little bit on a heightened sense of alert automatically.
Now, in recent days, especially today, they have come across what they call increased chatter, conversations that they monitor e-mail, that they monitor Web sites, that they are monitoring blogs, if you will, and there is some specific information there. It's credible, it's unconfirmed in the sense that they don't know all the details -- but enough to raise enough eyebrows to raise this concern for them to go public and alert all of us to be a little bit more careful as we get ready for the tenth anniversary on Sunday. Also, specifically, the notion that if there's something that's going to happen, it could happen here in Washington, D.C., or New York. Those would be the two main targets if in fact were to happen. Now, they're hoping that nothing pans out, obviously, but just to be on the safe side, they're beginning to take some major precautions right now, so don't be surprised if you're traveling, if you're driving, if you're going to airports over the next 48, 72 hours, it's a little bit more difficult because of out of an abundance of caution, they're going to have to deal with this, Piers.
MORGAN: Wolf, stay with us. I want to bring in CNN's chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.
Jessica, how seriously do you think the White House are taking this threat? They obviously gone public with it, they must be viewing it as fairly credible.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They view it was quite credible and they are taking it quite seriously. They say the national security community became aware of it here two days ago and the president was briefed on it this morning. He's been briefed on it throughout the day, we're told, more than once, and has asked the intelligence community here in the U.S. and the administration broadly to step up their vigilance, to protect the homeland against any threats.
Brennan, his chief adviser on these matters, has been in touch with him throughout the day. We are told the president is no longer in the West Wing and is not being briefed by Brennan now or tonight, but has constant access if there's any need to be in touch with him and his schedule could be changed at any time.
As well, Piers, in anticipation of 9/11, there was earlier in the week a meeting of his national security team and his homeland security team in anticipation of any possible threats. I'm told that if there should -- if a need should arise, they could have another meeting of that nature tomorrow or in advance of 9/11, of the tenth anniversary.
MORGAN: Jessica, there's going to be a press conference, we believe, in about half an hour involving New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and also, I think, Ray Kelly and others. What can you tell me about this?
YELLIN: I do know that that is taking place, obviously, in New York, not here, not involving the White House. But they are very well aware of it. They say this is part of a very methodical process that happens when a threat rises to a certain level. And it is exactly what they -- our system is designed to do.
When it's serious enough, they like these things to go public so that the public is aware of what's going on so that we all become alert. They hold these press conferences so that we can all participate in helping our security officials to notice anything that could help them track down any suspicious activities basically, Piers.
MORGAN: Jessica, thanks very much. Terror expert Steve Emerson is on the phone now, executive director of the investigative project on terrorism.
Mr. Emerson, what do you know about this, and how seriously should we all be taking this?
STEVE EMERSON, TERROR EXPERT (via telephone): As an intelligence official just said to me, this has major teeth to it. So they're taking it quite seriously. And they're using triage here. They're using materials they collected in the bin Laden raid, they're using signal intelligence that is intercepts and they have some other sources.
And bottom line is, it results -- it resulted in taking this very seriously 48 hours ago. I knew about it yesterday. The issue is where and when and what type. The belief is that it would be some type of truck bomb or car bomb.
It would be in a major city like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and it would involve probably mass communication -- mass transportation system, railways, aviation, buses or subways.
There is a secondary threat to government icons like military bases or federal buildings. As far as the probability here, obviously no one can tell. The heightened awareness is definitely very good for the U.S. government, because it makes carrying out such a thing a little bit more difficult since people would notice anything conspicuously.
But I can tell you that in the last month or so, there have been a series of alerts issued by DHS, classified alerts issued by DHS and the FBI talking about the results of what have they found in the bin Laden hideout, and also the fact that five days after bin Laden's death, al Qaeda stated specifically that soldiers of Islam, quote, "will plot and plan until they succeed in carrying out an attack in the U.S."
And the most interesting thing here is that we now know that al Qaeda does use anniversaries -- U.S. secular anniversaries as a symbolic way of carrying out attacks. Nobody knew before why September 11th or whether it was an Islamic holiday or something. But, now based on the new intelligence, they definitely believe that the anniversary of 9/11 and other prominent days in the U.S. calendar where something significant has happened is being used as a vehicle for timing such things.
MORGAN: I mean, clearly, we remember when bin Laden was killed and the raid on the Abbottabad, a place where she was staying was carried out, they found documentation suggesting that he had been masterminding some kind of attack on the U.S. rail network to coincide with the tenth anniversary of 9/11. This is a slightly different form of attack.
Is there any doubt that the warning that's been put out involves al Qaeda or is that just an assumption that everyone is assuming is correct? EMERSON: It's not 100 percent. You know, there's no 100 percent guarantee in this business, but it is believed to be an al Qaeda threat or an al Qaeda-inspired threat. Based on the fact that al Qaeda statements made after his killing was that they were going to strike against the U.S. -- this was picked up. They were going to strike on the anniversary of 9/11 and they were going to try to kill as many Americans as possible.
Basically, you know, in large concentrations. And, particularly, they had mentioned transportation systems. They talked about certain cities --
MORGAN: Steven Emerson, I'm going to have to leave you there. Thank you very much indeed.
We're going to go back to Wolf Blitzer.
Wolf, bring me up to date on where things are. We have this press conference in about 20 minutes involving Michael Bloomberg. It would seem that this warning is now gathering some momentum -- clearly potentially a very serious threat.
BLITZER: You know it's very serious when they start briefing, not only Mayor Bloomberg, Ray Kelly, the police commissioner, in New York, but they're also in the past several hours now, they have briefed key members of the House and Senate, including the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins, the ranking Republican. She was in fact late walking into the president's address before a joint session of Congress because she's been briefed. Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
They are briefing key members right now on what they know. They're not going into all the specifics, a lot of classified information there. But they're giving the rough outlines of why they're taking this so-called chatter and intelligence that they have gathered a lot more seriously than they have in the past and why they made a very conscientious decision to let all of us know. They're not keeping it secret.
They want the American public to know that there's a heightened risk right now. They're hoping it doesn't pan out. But better to be safe than sorry, and they want everybody to be -- if they see something, to report it right away to law enforcement. If they suspect, something report it.
Anything unusual that could be a tip, they want to know and they want to follow up. They don't want to cause undue panic by any means. But they want everybody to be a little bit more alert and prepared around this tenth anniversary of 9/11, which occurs, as we all know, Sunday.
MORGAN: Yes, I remember your interview with the president a short while ago, Wolf, in which you put this directly to him, that there was this very serious concern generally, there would be some form of attack and particularly since the killing of Osama bin Laden, the discovery of documents warning that he'd been making this plot to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with some atrocity.
You know, I would imagine that the prospect of that was massively increased by the e death of bin Laden because you would have all these people out there sympathetic to him who may want to perhaps honor his memory in some grotesque manner like this. In your experience of these kind of threats, again I say to you, I suppose it's the wrong question, obviously, it's a serious threat. But have you seen anything quite like this in terms of the warning they have given, the strength of the warning, the number of official bodies coming out now making statements, briefings and so on?
BLITZER: I haven't seen anything exactly like this. You know, I remember years ago, in the past ten years there were times when they raised that orange threat level to a higher level. It would go all the way up to red, if you will. They never did that.
But in this particular case let me just share with you, Piers, you know, about a month or two ago I began hearing from my sources here in Washington that there was heightened concern around the tenth anniversary of 9/11. That's why when I interviewed the president a few weeks ago in Iowa, I asked him how concerned are you and he said he was very concerned. And he then said he was especially concerned about what he described as a lone wolf kind of sympathizer to al Qaeda, a terrorist who wanted to get revenge on behalf of al Qaeda, the killing of bin Laden. He referred to that lone wolf who was operating in Norway, killed almost 100 people as all of our viewers know by now.
That had nothing to do with al Qaeda in Norway, but that is a source of concern. That it wouldn't necessarily be a spectacular plot along the lines of 9/11, but it would be something more modest that could result, though, in a lot of dead Americans. So, they're very worried about it, they have been. Now there has been, as we've been putting out, this added ingredient the past couple of days that has further raised their concerns.
The president has been fully briefed, as you heard Jessica Yellin report. Members of congress have now been briefed. And key officials in New York, and as you point out we're going to hear from the mayor, Mayor Bloomberg, the police commissioner, Ray Kelly, shortly. We'll hear what they have to say.
But I suspect they're going to -- to a certain degree they're going to say be alert, watch what's going on. They don't want to cause any undue panic by any means, but they're going to tell everybody in New York just be careful.
MORGAN: Wolf, stay with us, please.
I want to bring in now Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions who's got more on the terror threat and on the president's speech tonight.
Senator, obviously the president's speech was -- there's a serious, specific credible but unconfirmed threat. What is your reaction to this warning? SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I think it's another reminder that we are in a situation -- I'm having a feedback here. So, I'll do the best I can.
MORGAN: I can hear.
SESSIONS: That this group is dangerous, that they are committed to further attacks on the United States. They have clearly been weakened. It's also a reminder just how effective our intel operatives are, that they can identify in advance these kind of threats. And that's been one of our goals, Piers, for quite a number of years, to try to identify in advance, not investigate after an attack occurs, but stop it in advance.
So, I'm hopeful that we'll be successful in following up on these leads.
MORGAN: Senator, the other big story today, the president's speech on jobs. He sort of made a series of repeated plaintive cries, really, to the Republicans to say, come on, I need your help here. Most of the things that I'm proposing were in broad agreements over. And the early signs are that the Republicans are being quite receptive to the president's jobs plan.
What is your reaction and do you think he'll get this through?
SESSIONS: Well, we certainly need to deal with the sinking economy, the growth that we're seeing now is 1 percent or less, far below what was projected just a few months ago. Jobs are not coming on at all like we'd want them to be. So, it's a very dangerous time.
The problem I have is I am convinced and the experts we've heard is that the debt itself is threatening our economy. So when you spend $300 billion more and promise, or $400 billion or $500 billion, how much it is we don't know yet, on a promise in the decade to come, we will pay for it by reduction some other way, you've really added to the debt. It's a dangerous trend, and we haven't gotten the bang for our buck. We've tried the payroll holidays, we've tried extending unemployment, we've tried other kind of expenditures and they just have not done the job.
I think in the long run, the president failed tonight to look the American people in the eye and tell them that we are in a dangerous problem and the greatest danger is the debt, and the debt itself is costing us jobs now, and adding to the debt is a dangerous thing.
MORGAN: Senator, thank you very much for your views on those two breaking stories tonight. I appreciate it.
SESSIONS: Thank you.
MORGAN: Valerie Jarrett is a senior adviser to President Obama, I want to ask her about both of tonight's big stories, the terror threat and the president's speech.
Valerie, let me start with this breaking news tonight of this terror threat to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. What do you know about this?
VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, I know that the president was briefed first thing this morning. He's been receiving regular updates throughout the course of the day. What we understand that it is credible but unsubstantiated. Obviously, I'll defer to the experts at the department of homeland security to comment further.
But please be assured the president is on top of the situation. He's ordered our efforts to be doubled as we prepare for this weekend, knowing that all along we've been very vigilant, knowing that an anniversary such as this would be one where we could be subject to attack. So, he is all on top of this and preparing for this weekend.
MORGAN: How concerned is the White House, because it's unusual to put out such a briefing now. Obviously, there have been lots of rumors and lots of reports of endless threats coming in. What makes you taking this one so seriously?
JARRETT: The president takes all threats to our country very seriously, and that's why he's asked his team to redouble our efforts. So, every possible threat is one that we take seriously.
MORGAN: Let's turn to the big jobs speech. Many people would describe it as a defining moment for the president. It was fairly dramatic stuff and the atmosphere was dramatic as well in the House as he made the speech.
What do you think his reaction is now that he's made it to the early reaction you've been receiving to the speech?
JARRETT: Well, I think that he's received a lot of very positive reaction to the speech. I think that he was delivering a message directly to the American people, but it was also a wake-up call to Congress, reminding them that they were elected to do a job. And that the expectation is that they come to Washington prepared to work on behalf of the American people.
And what he calls for in the American Jobs Act is very tangible, concrete programs that have received bipartisan support in the past, both Democrats and Republicans have gotten behind these initiatives and they will create real jobs right now. It's a program that's fully paid for and there's no reason why Congress shouldn't move on it immediately.
The president will be sending legislation up to Congress to make their job easier and he's calling on them to act on it, pass the bill, sign it into law, create jobs for the American people, put people back to work, provide incentives for small businesses to grow and to hire and expand, provide jobs for veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, for teachers, for construction workers, for people who have been out of a job for six months, create an incentive for employers to hire them.
MORGAN: Let me ask, Valerie, let me ask you a question.
JARRETT: So there's a lot in this program that's good for America.
MORGAN: Let me ask you, I suppose, what is the obvious question. It's a very ambitious plan. No one can dispute that. You can dispute that it should have been done before, but it's there now.
If it doesn't work, if we get to next summer and unemployment has continued to rise, would you as the administration accept that the American public would have a right to vote the president out of office?
JARRETT: Look, this isn't a matter of the president in or out of office. This is what's important for the country right now. The president said tonight our election is 14 months away.
The American people can't wait until next summer. They can't wait one more minute for Congress to do what it was elected to do, and that is deliver on behalf of the American people.
There are things that government can do. There are things that the private sector can do. There are things that Americans can do. We all have to work together, and that was the president's message tonight.
The stakes are too high. Our country has the right to expect from its elected officials that they're going to pursue diligent, important legislation right now and not wait for next summer. We need to get this done now.
MORGAN: Valerie, briefly, if you don't mind, what kind of reaction are you getting from Republicans early here? Are you encouraged by their reaction or do you think you may be facing a pretty uphill battle here?
JARRETT: Well, no, we're encouraged. Some of the initial statements that were released had positive signals in them. But we want to make sure that it gets done. And it's important that everyone kind of put behind the differences of the past and the differences we may have in the future.
But in terms of putting America back to work, in terms of passing a bill that will deliver real benefits to businesses where they can hire, real benefits, money in the pocket of American citizens who are working so hard, we can't wait. We really can't wait one more minute and there's no reason to wait. And the president worked very hard to craft a bill that he knew would be bipartisan in nature, so there should be no real objections to it.
And I think that's part of the reason why we've seen a positive response so far. But as I said, the legislation will go up next week and he will take this message around the country. He's looking forward to going to Virginia tomorrow. He'll be in Ohio early next week. He said he's going to go across the country and really explain directly to the American people why this bill is so important and why it's going to deliver on their behalf because, after all, those are the people who elected their leaders.
MORGAN: Valerie, thank you very much indeed.
JARRETT: You're welcome, Piers. Have a great evening.
MORGAN: We are waiting for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's news conference in New York on the terror threat.
When we come back, one congressman who's opposed to the president's jobs plan, Ron Paul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple, to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: While we wait for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's news conference on the terror threat, I want to bring in some of the best minds on business and the economy to weigh in on the president's jobs plan.
William H. Gross is CEO of PIMCO, which handles more than a trillion dollars of investments for its clients. Christina Romer, President Obama's first chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, this country's top outplacement consulting firm.
Let me start with you, Bill Gross. You're one of the top bosses in the country. What do you make of his jobs plan? Is it going to work?
WILLIAM GROSS, PIMCO: Well, I think it's significant, Piers. I mean, it's $450 billion in terms of a proposal that is 3 percent of GDP if it's passed. You know, it could lead to hundreds of thousands of jobs. I think the two critical questions would be, one, how much of it is going to be passed. And I would be suspicious that much of it beyond payroll taxes would be passed.
And, secondly, is it directed in the proper areas? We think really, Piers, that globalization and the availability of cheap labor is really the problem, in addition to technology, that is permanently laid off millions of workers. So, there's a structural problem here that I'm not sure that payroll taxes and the absence of them can help over a longer term basis.
MORGAN: Christina Romer, this might sound like a stupid question when you're talking about figures like $300 billion, $400 billion, $500 billion. But is it enough? I mean, is this going to actually make a big enough difference?
CHRISTINA ROMER, FMR. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIST: I think it will make a big difference. I certainly -- the argument could be made to go bigger, but I think the White House has done the right balancing act between what you need to create jobs now and sort of what the fiscal system can bear, so I think it is an appropriate size.
And I think it absolutely will have a very noticeable effect on job creation, because I think the big problem we have now is a lack of demand and what the president was talking about is some measures that would really increase demand.
MORGAN: John Challenger, you know a lot about jobs. Is this going to stimulate the jobs market in the way the president hopes? Are we going to start seeing these unemployment figures tumbling? And if so, in what kind of time scale?
JOHN CHALLENGER, CEO, CHALLENGER, GRAY & CHRISTMAS, INC.: It feels to me like this is more kind of spurring demand in the short term. It means we get demand going for a while, but it doesn't create longer term job growth because -- we've been trying these policies. So, he's not going at what small business, medium-size business needs in this country. There are a few things there.
But he's not saying to small business that you're the key area that I'm trying to address. How do we make the environment better for you to go out and grow your businesses, to create jobs and to do that in the longer term? It just feels like, again, more kind of how do we try to get ourselves through the next six months.
MORGAN: Bill Gross, one of the interesting parts of the president's speech for me certainly is when he touched on China and he touched on the fact it would be quite nice if Korean cars and American cars being sold in Korea in vast numbers and so on. What did you make of his ambitious plans of America to stop being the world's biggest consumer and perhaps go back to what they used to be really good at, which is become one of the world's great producers and manufacturers again?
GROSS: Well, I think that's what we need to do. I mean, manufacturing is a percentage of total employment. After World War II, Piers, it was 45 percent and now it's 9 percent. And so, clearly we've been out-produced, you know, by foreign competitors.
I was impressed by what he said in terms of what we need to do. He said we need to out-build, we need to out-educate, we need to out- innovate other countries if we expect to prosper. And I think part of that has to do with renovating and reinvigorating a manufacturing sector. But that's a long way and a long time in doing, and I think it's certainly not a near term fix over the next six to 12 months.
MORGAN: I want to bring in now Republican Congressman Ron Paul. He's a big foe of big government and of the president's jobs plan. He joins me now exclusively.
Ron Paul, what do you make of it, not very impressed then?
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, not too much. I'm certainly for the tax cuts, you know, the tax credits and the payroll cuts. I think that's fine. But this is more tinkering on the edges. I don't think it will do a thing for the jobs. I think that capital resources have to be decided by individuals, not politicians and bureaucrats, because that's why we get into the trouble, there was too much of that for so long. And it doesn't address the subject of debt. As a matter of fact, I'm sure it will increase the debt because next week, we'll find out how he's going to pay for it.
But there's a huge debt burden. An individual can't get out from under debt unless he does something. He has to work harder, he has to liquidate debt, work off the debt or he has to declare bankruptcy.
I think our biggest problem is this country doesn't want to admit we're bankrupt and we have to have a changed way of living. I mean, we can't maintain our empire and the entitlement system as we are, and that's what our problem is.
So, this kind of stuff, another $400 billion, $500 billion is just more of the same, and I cannot understand how people think, oh, by next summer we're going to have a lot of jobs. I just don't buy that.
MORGAN: But doesn't a president have to do something dramatic? I mean, he couldn't just sit by with the jobless figures as they are touching 10 percent and do nothing that was even remotely significant.
PAUL: Well, if --
MORGAN: I mean, he has to do something to tackle this problem. The country may not have much money, but he's got to do something, doesn't he?
PAUL: Well, you know, I think you state the problem that we have. I think that most everybody would agree, you're absolutely right. We have to do something.
But in 1921, the depression that came after the inflation for World War I, we did nothing and it was over in a year. But in the Depression, well, we had to do something. The attitude was changed and we accepted Keynesian economics. Everybody had to do something.
But if we would have done a lot less in '08, instead of bailing out everybody, bailing out all the mistakes and propping up the debt, dumping all the debt into the Federal Reserve, which meant it was dumped on the people -- and the people lost their jobs and then lost their houses.
So I would say, yes, you should have done a lot less a lot sooner. But politically, it's a tough sale because people have been conditioned to say it's the government's responsibility to take care of me. Even if the government is the people and the government is broke, the jobs are gone. So we have to change our whole philosophy of running the economy.
The people should run the economy and not buy into this idea that the entitlement system can be preserved, and we don't have to cut anywhere. As long as we believe that, I just don't think we're going to do much better. So I'm looking for, in the long term, we're going to keep slipping and sliding. I don't see an improvement at the rate we're going for a long time to come.
MORGAN: Well, I hope that's not the case. But Ron Paul, thank you. Bill Gross, Christina Romer and John Challenger, thank you all very much.
Coming up, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's news conference on this terror threat and more on the president's jobs plan.
MORGAN: While we wait for the New York news conference on the terror threat, I want to go back to the other huge story tonight, the president's jobs speech. Joining me now, Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history and a fellow at the James Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and Mark Penn, Democratic strategist and worldwide CEO of Bersen Marsteller.
Mr. Brinkley, your reaction to the jobs speech tonight, please?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, HISTORIAN: Well, I think it was -- the president was trying to give a jolt to the economy. He had to give the speech. Democrats are going to love it. It's more of a surplus than they thought, you know, 440 billion, over that amount. Republicans aren't going to like it.
But if the president didn't give this speech and he was out there an entire fall fund-raising for re-election campaign, he would never be able to say I put my plan up there to the joint session of Congress, and they rejected it.
So it's a good, strong Obama speech for Democrats. And I think Republicans are going to shrug it off as more of the same. So it's not really historic, except that it's another -- maybe the opening salvo of President Obama's re-election campaign.
MORGAN: And Mark Penn, you know, it was a big jolt. You can't dispute the numbers. But rather like the stimulus plan that we saw before, it may seem huge at the time, but history may judge it's nowhere near big enough. Should it have been a much grander plan? Should he have really gone for it, put a trillion dollars behind this?
MARK PENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I don't think a trillion dollars would have been credible. I think this was a good night for the president. He took the major issue on in the country, jobs. He took it head on. He was feisty. He went to Congress. He's on the offensive.
What starts out as his plan may not end up the final plan that's passed. But he has laid down some markers. He's for creating jobs. He's got a plan. He has seized the initiative. After six months of the Republican seizing the initiative, he's back on the right kind of turf and territory.
MORGAN: Douglas Brinkley, did we see the reborn president today, do you think, with this speech? Did he have his gander up?
MORGAN: Sorry, I want to turn to Douglas Brinkley to answer that first. I'll come to you in a moment, Mark.
BRINKLEY: Yeah, I think there was a fighting tone in his voice. Certainly unions and construction workers and teachers and first responders and veterans -- I mean he touched all of those notes. Yet the first lady was sitting by, you know, CEOs of companies, showing that he's interested in the business climate of the country.
Remember, Congress is not popular. The president is having a very, very hard summer. But the congress he's talking to is about a 13 percent approval rating. And by giving the speech, President Obama is going to be able to -- you know, he's not going to be running against Perry or Romney per se. President Obama is running against the economy. And he had to create this jobs bill.
He had a good name for it. He talked about a fair shake for the American people. And so I think it's a winner for President Obama tonight. But I don't think it's anything historic. It's just some more stimulus that most of it is going to be rejected. He might get a few pieces that get embraced in October and November.
MORGAN: Gentlemen, thank you both very much. We have to leave it there because we're going back to the breaking news story of a possible 9/11 anniversary terror threat. John Miller, who was until recently a part of briefing the president daily on threats against this country, and CNN contributor Fran Townsend both join me now.
John miller, I spoke to you the other day and we were talking about this impending anniversary and the threats that swirl around such an event. Given the phraseology being used here, given the briefings that we're seeing coming out from almost every authoritative source, what is your feeling about this? How credible does it sound to you?
JOHN MILLER, ASST. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, the phraseology you talk about is specific, credible and unconfirmed. In the language of the intelligence community, that means specific, it came with the details of the plot. Credible, it means it came from a source. Whether that's a human source or a piece of signals intelligence or something else, it came from a source that they believe is reliable or has been reliable in the past.
But unconfirmed, that means it isn't in and of itself enough to go to the bank on that this threat is real. That means it needs to be corroborated. I can tell you right now, these are these times -- Fran and I have been through a number of these -- where the intelligence community pulls together globally and really pulls out all the stops.
Whatever time it is, wherever this piece of information emanated, right now between the CIA, the NSA, the ODNI, the DIA, all of the intelligence agencies, the FBI state-side, are pulling out all the stops to get that corroboration and either punch this threat up so they can act against it, or to knock it down so they can get back to regular business.
MORGAN: Fran Townsend, we're told that the threat was against New York and Washington, D.C. It involves potentially three individuals, one of whom may be a U.S. citizen. We don't know if they're in the country or not yet. What do you make of the detail we're hearing? Do you hear any more? What are you expecting from this press conference that we're going to get to in a moment?
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: What I've heard of the threat -- I actually heard it was New York or Washington. It wasn't necessarily both. They didn't rule that out. And I do think that they have been especially heightened in terms of their sensitivity to this since the raid in Abbottabad. So this is -- what they're doing right now is they'll also look, to John Miller's point, at historical information.
They will go back not only and perturbate (ph) their networks, try to see if they can get corroboration of new information, but they will look back to see if there's anything in the historical databases in any of the agencies of the federal government, to see if there's anything to corroborate this. And that's the first order of business right now.
In terms of the press conference at the NYPD, Secretary Napolitano asked a group of us -- I was a co-chair -- to look at how the Department of Homeland Security talks to the American people about threats. And what you're seeing tonight is very much in keeping with the advice we gave to her.
Go to the local law enforcement authorities, share your information with them. Let them talk to the American people about what they're going to do about this threat, because that's what the American people want to hear most. And they want to know what they can do to assist law enforcement to thwart the threat.
And so I think this is a very good sign. And I think what you'll hear from the NYPD and the mayor is, A, what they're doing and, B, what they need from the American people.
MORGAN: John Miller, obviously, again, we had a long chat about this the other night. And you were very revealing about the sheer -- in fact, John, I'm not coming back to you. We now have Mayor Bloomberg in New York with a press conference live.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK CITY: I'm joined by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Jane Fedarcyk, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York Office. Jane, welcome to One Police Plaza and thank you for everything that you do for this country.
We're also joined by Ryan Park (ph), special agent in charge at the Department of Homeland Security. And tonight federal authorities, as you know, have announced that they have received credible information that terrorists may be plotting an attack in the coming days.
Now, as we approach the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD, FBI and the entire intelligence community have been on heightened alert because we know that terrorists view the anniversary as an opportunity to strike again. Now, the threat at this moment has not been corroborated. I want to stress that.
It is credible, but it has not been corroborated. But we do live in a world where we must take these threats seriously. And we certainly will. The NYPD is deploying additional resources around the city and taking other steps to keep our city safe, some of which you may notice and some of which you will not notice.
But there is no reason for any of the rest of us to change anything in our daily routines. We have the best police department in the world. Over the past decade, they have helped thwart more than a dozen potential attacks.
Here's what you've got to do. If you see something, say something. And that has always been true. Over the next few days, we should all keep our eyes wide open.
But the best thing that we can do to fight terror is to refuse to be intimidated by it. For ten years, we have not allowed terrorists to intimidate us. We have lived our lives without fear, and we will continue to do so.
So go about your business as you normally would, but just be vigilant. If you see something potentially suspicious, call 311. If you see something that you think is potentially dangerous, call 911.
Earlier this evening, I had an extensive conversation with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the threat and what is being done in response. I also had a conversation with Jay Walder (ph), the executive director of the MTA. And they are heightening security at MTA bridges, tunnels and other transit infrastructure.
Just for the record, I plan to take the subway tomorrow morning and feel just as safe as I did when I took it this morning. Now I'd like to ask Jane Fedarcyk to tell us a little more about the nature of the threat. Jane?
JANE FEDARCYK, FBI NEW YORK FIELD OFFICE: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Good evening.
As we know from the intelligence gathered following the Osama bin Laden raid, al Qaeda has shown an interest in important dates and anniversaries, such as 9/11. In this instance, the instance that we are all here tonight to speak about, it's accurate that there is specific, credible, but unconfirmed threat information.
As we always do before important dates, like the anniversary of 9/11, we will undoubtedly get more reporting in the coming days. Sometimes this reporting is credible and warrants intense focus. Other times, it lacks credibility and is highly unlikely to be reflective of real plots which are underway.
Regardless, we take all threat reporting seriously and we have taken and will continue to take all steps necessary to mitigate any threats that arise. We continue to ask the public to remain vigilant as we head into the weekend and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.
BLOOMBERG: Jane, thank you. Now I'd like to ask the police commissioner, Ray Kelly, to talk a little bit more about what they're doing in response to this threat. Ray?
RAY KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICY COMMISSIONER: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. The police department had already taken a number of measures to protect the city in advance of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. However, in light of this new threat information, we are taking additional precautions.
We will be holding personnel, holding our tours for an additional four hours tomorrow, and continuing at least through Monday, effectively increasing by a third the size of our patrol, transit and counterterrorism highway and traffic bureaus.
We're also increasing the number of critical response vehicle surges. That's where dozens of police cars respond to predetermined locations for counterterrorism coverage.
The public is likely to see and may be somewhat inconvenienced by vehicle checkpoints at various locations throughout the city.
We are also increasing the number of bag inspections on the subway system and the number of police vehicles on patrol equipped with license plate readers. There will be more bomb dogs on patrol and increased deployment of radiation monitoring equipment at vehicle checkpoints in particular.
There will be increased focus on tunnels and bridges and infrastructure in general, as well as landmark locations, houses of worship and government buildings. Borough task forces throughout the city will be used to help in these increased patrols.
There will be increased towing of illegally parked cars, and increased bomb sweeps of parking garages and other locations. We are also increasing police coverage of the city's ferries.
Tomorrow morning, approximately 30 police agencies in the New York metropolitan area who are part of our Operation Sentry Program will conduct a video teleconference to discuss ways they can assist us in responding to this latest threat.
Detectives from the NYPD Intelligence Division will be responding to what we anticipate will be an increased number of calls to the See Something, Say Something Terrorist Hotline, which is reached through 311.
Likewise, we anticipate and have prepared for an increased number of calls of suspicious packages. We deploy -- will deploy quick reaction teams comprised of heavily armed emergency service officers and a reserve of detectives trained in heavy weapons, positioned outside of Lower Manhattan to respond to threats citywide.
Tomorrow, a previously planned multi-agency exercise involving the NYPD, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Port Authority and National Guard will be staged at Grand Central, Penn Station and Times Square. All of these precautions are on top of an already robust counterterrorism overlay in place for the tenth anniversary commemoration at the World Trade Center Site.
As always, we are working closely with the FBI through the Joint Terrorist Task Force to gain any additional intelligence to better protect the city in the days ahead. Mr. Mayor?
BLOOMBERG: Commissioner, thank you. We'll take some questions. Sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Specific, credible but unconfirmed is a bit confusing for me. Can you be more specific as to what that means? Can you tell us what forced your hand to make this now?
MORGAN: That's Michael Bloomberg there in a press conference about the terror threat tonight, which is believed to be involving the tenth anniversary of 9/11. And we're going to go back to John Miller now, the former assistant deputy director of national intelligence.
John, you heard what the mayor said there and Ray Kelly. What was your view when you heard the comments they made?
MILLER: I think that they are using measured language, which is meant to inspire people to pay attention and to report what they see because of a heightened threat picture, but also very measured language not to cause overdue concern or panic.
I think they've been very -- they've done a lot of good planning here, Piers. I was with Ray Kelly yesterday at an event in New York on terrorism, and kind of went over the tactical plans with one of his people. And what they put in place was actually based on the presumption, before this information emerged, that there was an al Qaeda plot, based on the information found in a Abbottabad.
So the quick reaction forces -- and this is not just heavily armed officers, but it's heavily armed officers in teams that include hostage negotiators and bomb squad technicians, escorted by highway patrol units. These teams are staged throughout the city.
New York approached this, even before the emergence of this information, on the assumption that there was a plot. The exercise for the mass transit and the Northeast Corridor was planned well ahead of this to coincide with that. And remember, they've got their hands full. They're going to have two presidents in a frozen zone for the 9/11 anniversary downtown.
So that's going to be a very hard target. But, at the same time, they also have Secretary of State Clinton at the opening of the Stock Exchange tomorrow. They've got the U.S. Open going in Queens.
Then they've got all the soft targets that make up a big city. So they have really invested in making sure they were ready for anything absent of this information. It just makes them all that more prepared.
MORGAN: John Miller, Fran Townsend, thank you both very much. We'll have much more on tonight's breaking news, a possible terror threat tied to the 9/11 anniversary, when we come back, and the other big story of the night, the president's speech on jobs.
MORGAN: More now on tonight's breaking news, a 9/11 terror news. CNN's Susan Candiotti is on top of this breaking story. Susan, what is the latest information you have?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The latest information, Piers, is that three people might possibly be involved. And the authorities are trying to track down this information.
The latest have, according to a U.S. government source, is that the names of the people who might be involved are rather common, which might make it that much harder to try to track down the specificity of this information that they've been looking into, Piers.
MORGAN: Obviously there's a fine balance to be struck between not wanting to alarm people, but also wanting to be aware if it is a credible threat. It seems from all the way the people in official places are behaving, they are taking this pretty seriously.
CANDIOTTI: Oh, absolutely. And this information was available, let's say, as of early this morning. So certainly came in to the -- came to authorities within the last 24 hours, I am told. So that's why you heard authorities say, at this press briefing, that they are taking steps above and beyond, for example, here in New York and in Washington, what they've already been doing with additional personnel.
So now they're going do be adding even more police patrols, for example, here in New York City, adding even more searches and impromptu searches, for example, along the highway or bridges or certainly outside subways, and looking at more bags that maybe they would have done before.
So all of these things certainly are an indication, one more indication, about how seriously authorities are taking this possible threat.
MORGAN: Susan, thank you very much indeed. I want to go back now to the other big story of the night, the president's jobs plan.
Joining me is Tilman Fertita, who is the chairman and CEO of Landry's Restaurant, which owns and operates 300 restaurants and casinos around the country, and Dave Ramsey, host of "The Dave Ramsey Show," and author of "Volunteer Leadership, 20 Years of Practical Wisdom From the Trenches."
Let me start with you, Tilman. What is your view of what the president said tonight. You're a very wealthy man, apart from anything else. And he wants to hammer you with new taxes. Are you happy about that?
TILMAN FERTITA, CEO LANDRY'S RESTAURANT: Absolutely not. But nobody wants more taxes. The fact is, there was a lot of the same rhetoric, but at the same time the tax credit, the 4,000 dollars for every employer if they hire somebody who hasn't been there for six months, is extremely good. And that will help job growth to a degree.
But it's best not to raise taxes on anybody. That's American capitalism at its best. Let us take that money and let us create job with it.
MORGAN: Dave Ramsey, would you agree with that?
DAVE RAMSEY, "THE DAVE RAMSEY SHOW": Absolutely, I would agree with that. You've got to hand it to the president. He is one of the world's best orators. That speech was masterfully delivered. That's the upside.
And the upside was he did recognize that -- with his mouth anyway, that small business is where jobs are created. They're not created out of Washington. Those are the parts I loved.
The parts I didn't like were that it did sound a lot like a stump speech. It was really good on rhetoric, really short on detail. But that's the venue he was in. I understand that.
So I agree with your other guest that the cut on payroll taxes is a good thing. The fact that it's temporary doesn't really stimulate small business, because we know that five years later, we've still got to pay that employee.
MORGAN: And overall, Dave, you've been around this money game a long time and personal finance and everything else. Do you actually believe that what the president outlined today is going to stimulate the jobs market enough to make any substantial difference?
RAMSEY: Well, I don't, because what comes with this is the ticket that we go further into debt. Yes, I understand he said he was going to pay for it with cuts. But the cost is this year, the cuts are over ten years. So it adds to the debt yet again.
And that's based on what we call Keynesian economics. I read an interesting interview the other day with George Soros, one of the president's fans -- or used to be fans anyway. He was saying, as a very liberal person, that Keynesian economics is really struggling -- this idea that the government stimulates the economy is really struggling because of the extreme debt load, that the effectiveness of the Keynesian model has gone away because of the extreme debt load.
So even that side of the equation is starting to admit that this idea of government pouring money in, the Bush administration pouring in 800 billion, the Obama administration pouring in 700 billion, now another 500 billion, that this is where jobs come from, and so when we say that business creates jobs, and then we turn around and we say, but government has a jobs program that costs 500 billion dollars, it's a little bit disconcerting. MORGAN: Well, the proof will be in the pudding, as we say. Thank you both very much.
Back to CNN's Susan Candiotti now with the latest breaking news on the terror threat against New York and D.C. Susan, what have you got?
CANDIOTTI: Certainly these are two areas that already on edge with the anniversary of 9/11, the tenth anniversary rolling around. So authorities at this hour are looking into what they're calling a credible, specific threat, but it is yet unconfirmed, of a possible attack on New York and in Washington.
They're looking at the possibility that three people may be involved. The tip originated evidently out of the tribal area along Pakistan and Afghanistan's border. At it this time, certainly here in New York City, among Washington certainly as well, they are stepping security that was already at the highest levels in anticipation of the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
And so there will be a -- more information coming out about this as the evening goes on.
Piers, back to you.
MORGAN: Susan, thank you very much. There will be much more on this breaking news story right now with Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.