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America Under Attack: Military Readies Itself for War, Families Hunt for Loved-Ones

Aired September 13, 2001 - 19:51   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We left off with Jamie McIntyre at Pentagon. We're going to get back to Jamie quickly. Jamie, you were talking about the call-up to reserves coming up. I want you to clarify that again. But also, curious to know about the current numbers that you're getting right now for the missing there at the Pentagon following Tuesday morning's attack.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The current number is 190 missing and feared dead here at the Pentagon. That includes 126 military and civilian workers at the Pentagon, and the 64 passengers on that American Airlines flight that slammed into the side of the building. It is possible that the death toll could go a little higher. Some of the people who are injured are very badly burned and could succumb to their injuries.

The hope at the Pentagon is that 190 number will be the top level. They've pretty much given up hope of finding any survivors in the rubble. They gave up hope on that, really, yesterday. And they have now taken about a 70 bodies out of the wreckage, and about 40 of those have been transferred to the U.S. Air Force base in Dover, Delaware. Bill?

HEMMER: Jamie, also a pretty strong statement from a high- ranking official there at the Pentagon that gave us a bit of an indication as to what they are considering in terms of retaliation. He made it clear that this would not be what many have termed a pinprick, but a sustained operation. How much clarification were we afforded today there, Jamie?

MCINTYRE: Well, they're being at the same time vague but also very forceful. The statement that you referred to came from deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who said that any military action would be a sustained campaign, not a one-time thing. But the message from all of the members of the administration has been that it may not -- the response is not just limited to military action, although that seems to be in the future, but also political, diplomatic, economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure, a full-scale assault.

And some interesting comments from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in an interview that he gave to CNN's Larry King that will air later tonight on CNN, where he talked about this theme that has been struck by the administration of going after not just terrorists, but those who support them, whether they are a host nation or whether they're, quote, "nonstate entities." But if you can't get Osama Bin Laden, the theory is here at the Pentagon, then you can get the people who support him. And Secretary Rumsfeld said that if nations or others harbor terrorists or if they support terrorists, he said even tolerating terrorists in your country makes you as responsible as the terrorists themselves.

So a very strong hint going out that the United States is considering taking action, not just military, also economic, diplomatic, against those who support people like Osama Bin Laden and other suspected terrorists.

HEMMER: Jamie, quickly here. What indications have you been given about U.S. military preparations, in a manner of speaking. Have aircraft carriers been moved, have planes been on the ready? What are you hearing?

MCINTYRE: There hasn't been a lot. The U.S. has already deployed around the world. The U.S. aircraft carrier Enterprise, which was supposed to return home from a stint in the Persian Gulf, has been told to stay in the Persian Gulf region. So that is one move.

In the United States, fighter planes are on strip alert at 26 bases across the country. But that's basically for what they call homeland defense. That's while they still want to make sure that there is no threat of some sort of additional terrorist commandeering of passenger airliners and that sort of thing. That will last for a while. Overall, the United States military is being brought up to its highest state of readiness. And today, the Pentagon was told it would get the $20, perhaps $40 billion more, to help make sure that the U.S. military is at its highest state of combat readiness for the eventuality of being called on.

HEMMER: Some are suggesting that may just be the first initial payment. We shall see. Jamie McIntyre at that Pentagon. Thanks, Jamie. Here's Joie.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers, we've telling that you most of the nation's airports have been opened back up, at least for limited service in the course of this day. The exceptions being ground stops at New York airports because of some detentions of people at JFK International Airport this evening. Also, Reagan National flights have not gotten under way yet.

The FAA reports no additional reasons for security issues at the Minneapolis -- St. Paul airport. However, Northwest Airlines this evening was supposed to have resumed its flights -- some of its flights -- around 6:00 tonight. Has announced that they will not be doing that, that they will ground their planes at least for this evening because, spokesman telling CNN, that this was not a "prudent" night to fly. That is a quote from a Northwest spokesman. Again, Northwest Airlines decided that they will not do any flights yet tonight. Stay tuned and see if any other airlines follow suit.

On other things that are not quite open yet. The New York Stock Exchange will not reopen tomorrow, but on Monday instead. Trading to resume at the usual time, 9:30 on Monday morning. National Football League has made a decision, canceling two of the regular season games. Resume there on Sunday, September 23.

Also, Congress passed a resolution today urging the country to fly the Stars and Stripes, if you are not already. If you've been at all outside most people -- a lot of people, anyway -- are doing that already. Several major retailers say they have run out of U.S. flags at individual outlets. Another note, a sign in the sky. Combat aircraft patrolling above some major U.S. cities -- you may notice them -- including above Washington. In words and gestures, today, U.S. officials are speaking unmistakably of their thoughts today, Bill.

HEMMER: We're going to take our viewers back to New York. Videotape just into us here at CNN. A familiar face back in Manhattan. The former president, Bill Clinton, went near the scene there in Manhattan. After just returning from Australia -- the president was stranded there, given the number of airports that were shut down. We shall listen to the tape and the hugging at this time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to know where he is.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for their service. God bless you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

CLINTON: They're still finding people. Don't lose hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much. Can you please just -- you can please tell us give us a lead? Let us know where him and coworkers may be.


HEMMER: Former president Bill Clinton, back in New York today. Again, the videotape coming in just a short time ago. We have heard from several former presidents today. Former President George Bush, number 41, and also Jimmy Carter checked in yesterday and on Tuesday as well with comments.

Joie talked about the swelling of patriotism that we are starting to see ripple in a bit of a strong wave across the country. So much of our focus is on New York and Washington, D.C. for obvious reasons. But in the "New York Times" today, this particular ad caught our attention.

"New York City and Washington, D.C., Oklahoma cares. You stood with us in our darkest hour. Now we stand with you. The people of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma National Memorial." They, too, have indeed had one heck of a year, dating back to June. And for many people, closure with the execution of Timothy McVeigh. There is the ad that we see there in the "New York Times," and it's full page. And important to point out too, here -- I don't know if people can take the pulse about what's happening globally. But I've heard from so many friends in England and Germany and Italy just over the past couple of days, calling to make sure everyone is okay back here. And also, they want to make the express point they are behind what is happening here in the U.S., too. I think that is critical. Because we've seen European capitals, specifically Moscow today, and also all over Germany today, taking time out in a five-minute pause of silence. And we saw "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Buckingham Palace, which has never been done before for the changing of the guard there.

And I think it's important to point out as we see the wave ripple across the country, it's not just here but overseas as well. That's what we're sensing here outside of New York and outside of Washington, D.C.

CHEN: Indeed, Bill. The darkest hour indeed. The darkest hour for the city of New York, where so many people are still trying to find their loved ones. Still hoping against hope that there will be some sort of good news, that they will be able to get some sort of positive information about those they love. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has been outside the Armory, where so many people have gathered looking for additional information. Elizabeth rejoins us now there. Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Joie, I'm at the Armory. They have -- since the early morning hours have been talking to families who are looking for their lost loved ones. The line goes around the block. And then when they come in, they give information about their loved ones and the they take it all down, they take down phone number and they tell them that basically what they can do is wait. Right now, we have here with us Sonya Rodriguez (ph), who is going to tell us the story of a real hero. Let's talk about Fred Marone (ph). He is your brother-in-law's father. Tell me how his morning started.

SONYA RODRIGUEZ, RELATIVE: He was in Jersey City in the office there when he -- found out about the first explosion. Went through the tunnel. Last thing they knew was that as everyone coming out of one of the towers -- they were not quite sure which tower -- he was going up to get his men, because they have an office there at the world trade center.

He was -- he spoke to his assistant director, he was in the stairwell. And told them very calmly that he was fine, and that he was just going up to get his men, which I believe their office is in the 60th floor. I'm not quite sure, and well, the phone went dead and that was it. There was no bang, no nothing. It just went dead.

COHEN: Fred Marone is the director of public safety for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which has offices in the world trade center -- had offices in the World Trade Center and in Jersey City. So he started the day in Jersey City. When he heard about the explosion, he didn't run away. He ran to the explosion.

RODRIGUEZ: This man is amazing. If anybody is going to be a hero he is. He is a like bear, you know. We are all rooting for him. We know if he's okay, he's going to be fine, he's going to be helping other people. He's going to be motivating other people. He's going to be telling other people that it's -- they're going to be okay, you know? This man does not do anything -- you know, he has no self-acts. He is very selfless.

COHEN: Now, you went to the Armory to register information about him, and you ended up staying. Tell me why you stayed.

RODRIGUEZ: I saw that there was a lot to be done and there were a lot of people who didn't know where to go and what to do. And I kind of just threw myself in. I was helping with the Salvation Army. Feeding people, cleaning up, making sure that anyone who had any questions, if I was able to answer them that I was there for them. I ended up staying and just got out.

COHEN: It was amazing to me. You said earlier to me that very few people -- you said only two in the whole time you were there actually broke down. That is amazing.

RODRIGUEZ: Two people. Everything in the Armory right now is very well organized. Everyone knows their post, and they're speaking to people with a lot of sensitivity. And I can't tell you, I mean, for a day like this everything inside is being well run. And so people are very melancholy and they're distraught, but they are holding in because people working there are being great troopers.

COHEN: After they register upstairs and register all their information, they go downstairs to look at some lists. Tell me about those lists?

RODRIGUEZ: The list is of everyone who has been identified. Everyone who is in a hospital, whether, you know, it's any of the main hospitals. And once you go through that list -- I don't know if you want to know about the second list. The second list is a little -- it's a sad situation. If you can't find the name of your loved one in the first list, they'll give you the second list of all the people that they may know something about, but that not all the information, but that they have found gone. That they've been gone. They are dead.

COHEN: And I ask you this not to be gory, because I think it's important for people to realize how specific this is. The lists are bodies that they've found?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, yeah, they're bodies that they found. The second list. They'll give as much information, as I said, as possible. They will say, you know, white male, blue eyes, brown hair. You know, that's pretty much it.

COHEN: Sonya, thank you. I know you've had a horrible day. And for your own family, but you have helped many other families.

RODRIGUEZ: His family wants to let everyone than they are so proud of him, and they are so proud of all the Port Authority officials and everyone who has been helping out. They want to give their thanks and condolences to all their family and friends if they haven't found them, and Mr. Marone has a good troop behind him. We're just doing the best we can. Thank you very much for this.

COHEN: Thank you, thank you. We want to talk also with some other families who have gathered here. As you can see, we are catty corner to the Armory, where families are coming to register information. And so many -- the media is here. People are gathering to the media, wanting to tell their stories, wanting to give every detail that they can about their lost loved one in the hopes that someone has seen them.

Let's talk to Ms. Diaz here, who is looking for her cousin Aida Rosario Vasquez (ph).

Tell me about what your day has been like, trying to look for her.

ELENA (ph) DIAZ, SEARCHING FOR COUSIN: Since Tuesday this has been going on. We've been waiting for her to call. No -- she hasn't called no one in the family. We've been calling hospitals. She's not on any of the lists in the hospital. We decided to come here today with the flyers that we made up for her.

We came to the Armory. We did a missing persons report on her. And we went downstairs to see the list. She's not on any of the lists that are downstairs. So this is our last hope.

If anyone has seen her or heard from her, please contact the number that's listed on this flyer. And please, if you see her, let her know that we're waiting for her to call home. Please.

COHEN: Thank you, Mrs. Diaz, Elena Diaz.

Joie, I want to tell you how people have been so helpful out here. They have donated food at the Armory. Children have made cookies and have distributed them with notes saying "We love you" to the people who are inside the Armory -- Joie.

CHEN: Elizabeth Cohen there at the Armory. And again, to any viewers who still want to get the word out about their loved-one, If you will send in a picture of your loved-one, we'll post it on the Web site. This is another opportunity for those many, many people in New York who are trying to get the word out about the people they are looking for.

HEMMER: Many people we've heard from, descriptions, too, describing people for whom they're looking. So, that can be applied to this as well.

In the meantime, though, it is only day three. Unfortunately. We shall be back tomorrow.

But in the meantime to Washington, Wolf Blitzer and Greta Van Susteren take over for us now. Good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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