LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE
Anthrax Exposure Discovered in New York; Interview With William Cohen
Aired October 12, 2001 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening everyone. Another case of anthrax has been discovered. We're going now to the mayor of New York City, Rudolph Giuliani, who is holding a press conference. This is the podium where he is expected momentarily. We will be going to that podium as soon as the mayor arrives there.
In New York City an NBC employee was exposed to the anthrax bacteria. We will -- I'm told now that the mayor has approached the podium, so let's go there.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: Good evening. We have with us several doctors that will introduce themselves so you know who they are when you get to the point of asking questions. And obviously you'll have a lot of questions about this, so I thought maybe we would start by having them introduce themselves.
DR. STEPHEN OSTROFF, CDC : I'm Dr. Stephen Ostroff, O-S-T-R-O-F- F. I'm the associated director in the national center for infected diseases at CDC.
GIULIANI: I think you know everybody else.
Doctor Novello; commissioner.
ANTONIO NOVELLO, NEW YORK HEALTH COMMISSIONER: I'm Dr. Antonio Novello, the health commissioner for the state of New York.
GIULIANI: You know Dr. Cohen, and Dr. Carrot (ph), Dr. Shearer (ph) and Dr. Governor.
We'll catch you up to it from where we were earlier today. All of the employees that might in some way have been exposed, if in fact that is what occurred at NBC, are being tested. There is no health risk to the building. The reason that the testing is taking place is to try to determine the origin of the letter and the powder that was sent.
The employees that were close to the letter and the powder are being given Cipro as a prophylaxis, meaning that just in case. Out of an excess of caution it's being given. And the same thing is true at the "Times." The powder at the "Times" is being tested. We probably won't have the results, really definitive results, back until tomorrow. In each of these cases it should be emphasized that what we're dealing with is not in any way contagious. In other words, if a person contracts anthrax -- and the one woman at NBC, there was a test by CDC that determined that she has anthrax. She is recovering; she's home; she's doing the things you normally do. She was given Cipro back on October 1, and as a result of that it has handled the symptoms and she's doing OK.
And the reality is, detected, this is something that is very treatable, so that people should not in any way overreact to it. We'll repeat one more time what you should do about mail. And that is: If you receive a letter that you are suspicious of, or you receive a letter and you open it up and it has some powder in it or something that makes you nervous, leave it where it is. Do not pass it around your home, do not pass it around your office. Just think about that; there's no point in passing it around. It's just going to expose more and more people to what you think is suspicious.
Leave it where it is, call 911. Go to another room, even. Call 911. Leave it there, and then let the law enforcement professionals come and pick it up, have it tested, and it will probably turn out not to be positive for anthrax or anything else.
If it does turn out to be positive for something, it's very treatable. So therefore there's no reason for people to really become over-alarmed by this. I know that's easier said than done; we've got lots of people showing up in emergency rooms and elsewhere. And they're concerned and they're alarmed, but there's really no reason for it at this point.
And I'll the police commissioner and Barry tell you a little bit about the investigation.
Governor, do you want to make your announcement first? Go ahead.
GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Mayor, thank you.
You know, this was -- these incidents are not just efforts to hurt people seriously, they're incidents aimed at increasing the level of fear that New Yorkers and Americans have. And at a time of uncertainty it's understandable that people have a certain degree of fear.
But we have to overcome that. We have to come stand together. And our greatest asset, our sense of unity and common purpose; and we cannot allow these efforts to take away our freedoms and our willingness to go about our lives, maybe with a little more -- a lot more vigilance, but certainly in a way where we continue to utilize and take advantage of the freedoms that we as Americans have a right to take dear.
The state is going take a number of -- is in the process of taking a number of steps -- common-sense approaches to inform and protect the people as a result of these latest incidents. First we're going to, through the state police, put out protocols to all local enforcement agencies who might be responding to an incident or a threatened incident, to make sure they take the proper steps to safeguard them and get the appropriate information.
The health department, in conjunction with the state police, will be putting up -- putting out guidelines on how to handle suspicious letters or packages that may arrive. The mayor just gave some common sense approaches as to what to do, and we will be putting these out to the public, and also making them available on our state Web site: www.state.ny.us, where these steps, if you have a package or letter you might think is suspicious can be -- the steps that you should follow. And also other relevant information.
The state health department is in the process of setting up an 800-number for doctors and other health care providers so that if they have questions regarding diagnosing or treating a suspected case of anthrax or something similar, they will be able to get the most up-to- date expert information by accessing that 800-number.
I will be signing an executive order requiring all local law enforcement officials, when they of a suspected bioterrorist alert or attack, to file a report with the state police so we can coordinate with the city and the federal officials to make sure that all the information is gathered at a central register.
And finally, on Monday the legislature will be returning to session. And I believe they will be passing two additional important pieces of legislation. And they will make an act of bioterrorism -- if you, in fact, engage in the type of activity that may have happened here over the last few days -- an A-1 felony punishable by life without parole in jail. That's for either engaging in an act of bioterrorism or possessing with the intent to use elements that could be used in a bioterrorist attack.
Again, these are just common-sense approaches to make sure that the public is as well-informed as possible and as protected as possible so that we can go about our lives confident of our freedom and confident of our future.
Mayor, thank you.
BARRY MAWN, FBI: Just a little bit more information as to the letters received today. They were business-type letters from an anonymous individual. There was no return address on the envelopes. Perhaps most significantly that I could put out to the media is that both letters -- the one to NBC as well as to one to "The New York Times" -- was postmarked from St. Petersburg, Florida. One was dated 9-20 and the other one was dated 10-5. These were, as you know, addressed to the two media outlets. They were addressed to the individuals. I believe we're going to keep that for the time being, and we are not going to provide anything as far as the actual contents of letter.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) letters seem obvious that they came from the same source, both being from St. Petersburg?
MAWN: Well, we haven't made that; we'd obviously be looking at that. The fact that they did come from there, we're looking for similarities between the two letters, absolutely. QUESTION: Is the handwriting apparently similar on both of the letters?
MAWN: I'm not an expert in that, but that would be one of the first things that we would look at.
MAWN: (OFF-MIKE) the case?
MAWN: There are some similarities between the two.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) letter?
MAWN: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: What was said in the letters?
MAWN: I'm not going to tell what was said in the letters.
QUESTION: The folks in "The New York Times" building, when they were let out of the building we're told that it doesn't appear there was anthrax in that particular envelope and that there didn't appear to be any immediate risk to their health as they left. Is that no longer the case now?
MAWN: That there was?
QUESTION: No immediate risk to their health. When they left the building, they were told that.
MAWN: Well, I think the mayor was addressing that aspect. I mean, right now I'm just talking, and he can tell, and the doctors can tell you more about the health risks.
QUESTION: One second. The fact that they came from St. Petersburg, does that tie it more closely to the cases in Florida?
MAWN: No, we have not made that connection at this point in time. Again, as you know, we were not aware of the letter that was received in Florida, so we can't make that connection.
QUESTION: We had been told that you did not notify city officials until two days ago that you had this NBC letter. If that's the case, why did you wait until two days ago to notify them about this?
MAWN: Well, the actual handling of the letter went a couple different ways as far as notification.
Initially, the complaint was received on 9/25. The FBI responded to it on 9/26. From 9/26 to 9/27, there was a communication prepared to sent it to our lab. However, it was not sent because we were waiting to talk to individual that had received the letter or opened it. That, unfortunately, did not take place. The individual was unavailable. So two days did pass -- or three days passed, subsequent to which this individual did go to her doctor. So a second notification came through to the Department of Health, at which time the evidence response people and the FBI also became involved with it. It was initially assigned to two agents that just covered the lead. And upon that, it was immediately submitted for tests. As you know, and as the mayor has talked about, those tests were initially negative.
QUESTION: But why did you not inform the city more quickly of the fact that you had this letter and that it was being tested?
MAWN: Initially, when we got it, we conducted a preliminary inquiry, which we do for all of these scares, as I mentioned...
DOBBS: If you are just joining us, this is Barry Mawn, the special agent in charge of the FBI in New York City, appearing with the mayor and the governor, Governor George Pataki, discussing what is the third incident of exposure to the anthrax bacteria discovered at NBC offices here in New York City.
MAWN: So it was being handled and being prepared to be sent down. As I mentioned, we didn't have the opportunity to talk to the individual. So we didn't make any notification until we had put those pieces together.
QUESTION: So it was just one letter to each organization, not more than one letter to NBC and "The New York Times"?
MAWN: To our knowledge, there is one letter that we're dealing with at this particular time. The police commissioner, as well as my office, have, since this incident, received a number of other complaints, all of which are being followed up.
QUESTION: Both these letters, the letter at NBC and the letter at American Media, have been in the hands of the FBI since at least October 5, and yet none of the major media corporations were notified as to how to handle their employees until today?
MAWN: Well, there was no letter from American Media that I'm aware of. There's the letter that went to NBC. And there's a letter that went to "The New York Times" which we learned about today.
There was no -- it's possible that it came via a letter. But there was no letter recovered that is associated with it. The anthrax has been found in a mail bin and on the keys of a computer. So there has been no tie to a letter down there.
QUESTION: An incident at one media company, and then we had another one on October 5, and you have six world conglomerates in town, we don't notify the top executives
MAWN: They were notified today. When we found out the results, the positive results, we did put it out this morning. The mayor put it out. And now we're giving you additional information. And, obviously, as I just told you and as was reported this morning, it was mailed to media outlets. And that was put out there.
QUESTION: Were both these letters handwritten? Were they typed?
MAWN: I'm not getting into the contents of the letter.
MAWN: I'm not going clarify that.
QUESTION: If the powder with the NBC letter did not test positive for anthrax, could somebody explain how the woman would have absorbed it through her skin? (OFF-MIKE) the glue on the envelop, another...
GIULIANI: Doctor, you want -- this is the question we just covered a minute ago.
OSTROFF: I don't know all the details of the letter. However, my understanding is that, at the time that the materials were looked at, there was very little of the substance actually remaining.
And so the testing that was done was done on very little substance. There are many potential reasons why that particular letter may not have shown evidence of anthrax: one of them being that maybe the substance was not distributed throughout the material; another being that possibly that wasn't the source. So we have to keep an open mind about how she was potentially exposed. The most likely explanation is that it was linked to this particular letter.
It makes sense in terms of when her onset of illness was and what we know about the substance that was in there. There's more work that needs to be done.
QUESTION: So if there was more of a substance, could it have tested positive?
OSTROFF: Obviously. That's...
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) or airborne anthrax that was -- that the NBC employee has right now?
OSTROFF: The NBC employee has cutaneous illness.
QUESTION: Dr. Ostroff, is it the same strain of anthrax in New York and the one in Florida?
OSTROFF: Well, there is no organism right now in New York. So we're not able to do any comparison.
(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... because isn't determining the strain also very important in determining the resistance in the drugs that will be used?
OSTROFF: That's part of the reason why it's so important to try to do the types of sampling that's currently going on within the building, so that, hopefully, an actual isolate of the organism can be obtained. And then those types of comparisons can be done.
QUESTION: How long do you expect that will take before you determine that?
OSTROFF: Well, I think that they are still trying to determine the scope of the sampling that will be done within the building, so I can't give you an estimate of that. But...
QUESTION: Can Dr. Cohen or Dr. Ostroff explain the progression of the woman from NBC's symptoms? What was the first, second, third, just to help other people be cautious of what the symptoms might be?
COHEN: The patient first experienced a rash on her left anterior below her clavicle on 9/28, September 28. In the course of a few days, it progressed to be very erythematous, very irritated. It became ulcerative and necrotic, meaning there was a lot of dead tissue that was obvious at the core of this ulcerative lesion that she had.
And she saw a dermatologist, a physician on October 1, who placed her on Ciprofloxacin. And, in a matter of two days, you could see very clear healing of the lesion and the wound. And she had some low- grade fever prior to that. That improved. She was feeling better. So, clearly, her skin, her cutaneous lesion was very sensitive to the Ciprofloxacin. And she is doing well now.
QUESTION: Was she hospitalized?
QUESTION: Dr. Cohen, what's the situation at the city's emergency rooms right now?
COHEN: Well, we understand that there are a lot of people who are going into emergency rooms, trying to be tested or asking for Ciprofloxacin. And we do have to make it very clear that we have no evidence in the city that there is any uptick of exposures to bioterrorism, other than immediately in the vicinity of the floor that we identified the receipt of the letter and the individual at NBC news, who developed a cutaneous anthrax condition.
And, at this point, we are testing the material that was in the envelop that was sent to The New York Times Company. So there's anxiety. There's a lot of fear out there. We don't recommend that people get Ciprofloxacin from their doctors, because these are very powerful antibiotics. And it doesn't make sense for them to be taking it unless there's a clear medical indication.
And if there's such a need, there will be enough of these antibiotics for them. We are working closely with the CDC, which previously made a large shipment of these pharmaceuticals available to us. They could do it again in a matter of hours. So there is a run on pharmacies. People are nervous that it's not going to be there...
DOBBS: This is Dr. Cohen, talking about the symptoms that showed up in the woman who was an employee of NBC News in New York City: lesions, dark lesions that began with a rash and obviously anthrax -- in this case cutaneous anthrax, meaning that it was contracted through the skin, not inhaled, as were the three cases in Florida -- and this separating, at least in the type of exposure, the case here in New York City with the NBC employee with the three cases of exposure to anthrax which were inhaled by employees of American Media in Florida.
Now, you have just heard the mayor, Governor Pataki, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Barry Mawn, the head of the FBI here in New York, talk about the ways in which they believe the employee was exposed, the fourth exposure to anthrax that we know of. She apparently opened an envelope, and a "New York Times" employee opening an envelope.
Both of those envelopes, we are, at this point, not certain as to whether or not there is an exposure with "The New York Times" employee. There is some confusion amongst the officials in New York as to precisely what is going on with that employee. Earlier today, we've been told there was not a problem, the mayor suggesting today that that is not finally decided -- but in both cases, those letters originating, mailed from Saint Petersburg, Florida.
Now, if you're comparing to the three cases, the three other cases of exposure in Florida, St. Petersburg is about 240 miles away from the offices of American Media.
So, to repeat, the authorities are saying do not overreact -- the doctors, the mayor acknowledging that the emergency rooms here in New York City are beginning to fill up with people who either want antibiotics -- best known among those antibiotics, which compose, of course, penicillin, is a drug called Cipro.
And people obviously very concerned at the same time that we're watching the governor and the mayor, the police commissioner, the head of the FBI, tell us that citizens should not be overreacting. Obviously, they want to make certain that everyone is clearly, clearly aware of a threat, a threat that, at this point, is not known to be linked in any way to the events of September 11. But certainly the FBI has now two criminal investigations under way.
We will continue our coverage of this story.
And we'll continue in just one moment after this break.
DOBBS: Again, the focus tonight of investigators: a fourth case, a confirmed fourth case of exposure to anthrax bacteria in New York City.
Two letters are at issue here, one, of course, received by the employee of NBC News. That is the case: a female employee of NBC News confirmed to have exposure through the skin to an anthrax virus received from a letter ostensibly, apparently. And, also, investigators are looking at another letter received by an employee of "The New York Times."
In both cases, those letters -- and, if we may, take a look at this map -- originating in Florida, the letters originating, both of them, from Saint Petersburg. Now, authorities, and particularly the FBI, do not wish to disclose very much about those letters, either their contents or the style of them, other than to say they were business-type letters with no return address.
They are about 240 miles across the state from the location of American Media, which is, of course, the place where three employees of that company confirmed as having been exposed to anthrax. In those cases, however, inhalation was the way in which the exposure was contracted.
Now, Peter Viles is outside NBC at Rockefeller Center, where the employee, this fourth confirmed case of exposure to anthrax, has been identified -- Peter, what is the latest?
PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, just to clear up, if we can, the chronology here, we believe the letter mailed from Saint Petersburg, Florida, on September 20 arrived here on the 25th.
It was on the 28th that the person who opened that letter, an assistant to Tom Brokaw, we are told, first had a rash. She was started treatment on antibiotics on October 1. She has been on antibiotics for 12 days. We're told she is in good health. But at about 3:00 this morning, federal officials learned that she had in fact tested positive for the anthrax infection -- that news later broken today here at a press conference by NBC president Andy Lack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY LACK, PRESIDENT, NBC: We received a positive test for cutaneous anthrax for one of our colleagues who works on "Nightly News." We're not going to give you her name because we want to protect the confidentiality of the individual. She is in good health, in good care.
GIULIANI: The CDC feels that the best thing to do is to test, environmentally test, the areas where there may have -- may have -- and I emphasize "may have been" -- exposure. So that would be one floor of this building and one or two other areas. They are going to be closed down for a while, not because there's any real thought that it's dangerous, but because they want to test it and make sure there are no remaining anthrax spores of any kind in the area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VILES: Now, that news conference earlier today was in the same building where the anthrax was found -- the building not shut down in any fashion. In fact, it is still very much open for business. Behind me, there are retail shops on the first floor that remain open. They did clear out part of the third floor, where "NBC Nightly News" is located, and parts of two other floors, but no lockdown here. This is a 50 story building, still very much open. This is General Electric's New York headquarters.
The building, again, has not been shut down in any capacity -- and, again, the FBI investigating this now as a criminal case, as it is the Florida case -- Lou.
DOBBS: Peter, just one point of further clarification: No shutdown, you say, but is there any part of the NBC offices there that is shut down for hazardous-material investigation?
VILES: We understand that much of the third floor, where "Nightly News" usually originates, is shut down, and parts of at least one other floor. The "Nightly News" broadcast, we are told tonight, will not be from its usual location on that third floor; instead, from the "Today Show" studio in another building. So, yes, part of the building is shut down for extensive testing. They haven't found any anthrax other than what was found on that woman.
DOBBS: Peter, thank you very much -- Peter Viles reporting from midtown Manhattan.
And, of course, the anthrax scares, at this point in time, are, by the authorities, not linked to the events of September 11. But, certainly, all that is happening over the skies of Afghanistan and the retaliation by the United States -- led by the United States, along with Great Britain's forces -- continuing.
In Cairo, Egypt today, members of a leading Islamic institute called for a jihad again the United States. But five prominent Muslim scholars have released a ruling, or fatwa, that endorses retaliation against terrorism by American Muslims, especially those serving in the U.S. military.
Meanwhile, anti-American protests rocked several cities in Pakistan.
Christiane Amanpour joins us from Islamabad, Pakistan with the very latest -- Christiane.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, it's been a relatively quiet day, actually, in the region. There was no bombing reported in Afghanistan today. There was a pause, apparently, by the Pentagon.
And, at the same time, the people here in Pakistan, certainly the authorities, have seen Friday come and go and they have breathed a huge sigh of relief, because this is traditionally the day of the week when the religious leaders call out the people to protest. There were indeed protests on the streets of Pakistan. Most of them passed off loudly, a little rowdily but, for the most part, in a controlled fashion.
It was, of course, the first Friday since the aerial campaign began. And, therefore, emotions in this part of the world are higher than they have been over the past several weeks. But, as I say, although there was the ritual anti-American, pro-Taliban slogans, some burning of flags, there was not the kind of mass uprisings and demonstrations that the organizers had called for.
In other parts of the Islamic world, thousands of people came out on the streets in Tehran, the capital of Iran. This of course, the capital of that had lots of people in the streets supporting and sympathizing with the American victims of the September 11 terrorist attack.
Now with the bombings underway in Afghanistan, thousands in the streets condemning those bombings. And in other parts of the Islamic world today, there were also demonstrations, also fiery sermons at the mosque. But for the most part, it was peaceful, non-violent and there have not been the mass uprisings that certain Islamic extremist leaders have called for, Lou.
DOBBS: Christiane, thank you very much. Christiane Amanpour reporting tonight from Islamabad.
Well, growing concerns around the world about security, particularly as growing unrest manifests itself in the Middle East and new scares about anthrax are joining here in this country.
Joining us now for his perspective on all of this is former Defense Secretary, regular MONEYLINE contributor William Cohen. Bill, good to have you with us. This fourth confirmed case of exposure to anthrax, the authorities are being very, very careful about this, not linking in it in anyway to the events of September 11. But obviously, it is a growing problem.
WILLIAM COHEN, FMR. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I think the authorities want to make clear that people shouldn't panic at this point. We've had a number of scares over the years with the threat of anthrax being used particularly at abortion clinics. Many of them turned out to be, and most in fact, to be hoaxes.
So we have to be careful we don't set off a rash of people who for one reason or another decide they want to engage in copycatting. I might point out that while the -- there's a high impact, should any biological or chemical agent be released, anthrax or others, it's a low probability of it. So we have to take this in some perspective.
But prior to this time, the last time we saw any sort of a chemical being used in this fashion goes back to 1984 with the Rajneesh cult out of Oregon. And they sprayed some agricultural products with salmonella, causing some 180 people, as I recall, to become ill and then died.
So looking at the history of this, we have to put it in some perspective. Again, educating the American people, but not alarming them.
DOBBS: And obviously, we can watch these public officials, particularly Governor Pataki, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Barry Mawn, the head of the FBI here, you can rush them almost struggling with wanting to inform the public, but at the same time, not wanting to give these events, these cases, more weight than they should, not to create greater concern than is appropriate on the part of the public. That's a very difficult balancing act.
COHEN: It is a balancing act, but the public should also know that we have anticipated this type of threat in the past. The federal government, under the Clinton administration, initiated programs now be carried forward by the Bush administration, training our cities, some 120 cities in terms of preparing for a weapon of mass destruction being used on American soil.
We have some 27 weapons of mass destruction assistance units, that are primarily National Guard units. 27 of them with 22 people in each unit also on hand to deal with any kind of a situation like this.
So I think that while we have to be aware, be prepared, be vigilant, also have to be -- put this in perspective and not panic.
DOBBS: And if we may move to the war again terrorism, where it is being carried out through military response, that is in Afghanistan, today U.S. forces, British forces apparently observing the holy day of Muslims and backing off of their assaults on targets, the Taliban targets and those of the al Qaeda terrorist network.
Do you think that that -- this display of sensitivity will have any benefit, any reward?
COHEN: Well, it's hard to say. I think to the extent that the American, British forces went forward without any sources as such, it might have contributed to even more emotionalism on the part of the Arab population. Hard to measure it, but I think was a good move on the part of both the American/British forces.
We have pounded those sites quite heavily the last three days, four days. And I think that there'll be assessment made. We could have used the aircraft to make a bomb damage assessment and see what needs to be struck at a later time.
So I think it's evidence that the United States and our British friends and others are not interested in trying to punish people on a holy day and to respect their day of observance. But more is to come. And they should be prepared for this. And we ought not to relent. This is something that has to be carried forward. And we will do so in a very systematic, very precise fashion, as precise as we can make it.
DOBBS: Is there, Bill in your judgment, and you just raised the issue, any risk here that rather than the United States receiving some credit for being sensitivity on the holy day for the Muslim population of Afghanistan, that in fact, the Taliban and al Qaeda infer from it some weakness or lack of steadfast resolve to carry out the task the President has put before our military?
COHEN: They would be making a very serious mistake if that were the case. I have seen President Bush in action. I have -- I was over at the Pentagon today, meeting with Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz and others.
This administration is very committed to staying the course. There's resolve, determination and absolute commitment to carry this struggle forward. So anyone who anticipates that because of any kind of a hiatus under these circumstances is to be interpreted as weakness or a willingness to relent, they're making a very big mistake.
DOBBS: Bill, thank you very much. Bill Cohen.
We will continue in just one moment. We'll have the latest developments for you in the war against terrorism next.
DOBBS: As we've reported to you, the fourth confirmed case of exposure to anthrax in New York City. Today, everyone from the President, to the Secretary of Health & Human Services, the Attorney General, trying to inform, and at the same time, calm the public about a potential anthrax outbreak.
Kelly Wallace has the latest for us from the White House. Kelly?
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, President Bush learned of this latest incident earlier Friday. And then he and his aides decided to speak about it publicly. Again, a delicate balancing act for this White House, trying to get the facts to the American people, let them know the government doing everything it possibly can do, and at the same time, urging Americans to go on with their lives.
Now there is one development to report to you. All day, the Bush administration publicly has said it really can't say at this point in time, that there are links between the New York case, the Florida case, and the September 11 terrorist attacks. But Vice President Dick Cheney is going a bit further, saying that these anthrax incidents could very well be linked to suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Here's what the Vice President told PBS' Jim Lehrer in an interview done today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know that he's trained people in his camps in Afghanistan, for example. The copies of the manuals that they've actually used to train people with respect to how to deploy and use these kinds of substances.
So you start to piece it altogether. Again, we have not completed the investigation. And maybe it's coincidence, but I must say, I'm a skeptic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: So some suspicions raised by the Vice President. That entire interview, by the way, can be seen on "The News Hour With Jim Lehrer." As for Mr. Bush, we did mention that he did decide to talk about this incident publicly. He did that at the end of his remarks celebrating National Hispanic Heritage month in the East room.
The President saying this incident of an NBC News employee testing positive for anthrax is a cause for concern. But he said the government is responding very, very quickly. He also did say that the nation is still in danger of terrorist attacks. Again, the message the government is taking every possible precaution, but that Americans should go about their normal business, should go on playing, should go shopping, go about their normal lives.
Lou, the message is from the President that if Americans don't do that, then the terrorists will declare victory. So you see, a very delicate balancing act for this President, trying to try and calm a very jittery public, but at the same time, letting people know to go about their normal lives.
DOBBS: And as you alluded, Kelly, at the same time, in the -- I was about to say the backdrop, it's really more the forefront, the FBI warning for -- to all law enforcement officials, putting them in high alert for a threat of a terrorist attack of an unspecified nature over the course of the next several days.
DOBBS: Kelly, thank you very much. Kelly Wallace from the White House. Well, efforts to choke off Osama bin Laden's money supply, those efforts are growing and intensifying. Today, 39 additional names of individuals and groups were added to the list of accounts to be frozen around the world.
Tim O'Brien reports from Washington.
TIM O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 39 new names announced by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill includes several people believed to be senior aides to Osama bin Laden. 18 of them are on the FBI's most wanted terrorist list.
PAUL O'NEILL, TREASURY SECRETARY: This list will continue to grow, as we share information between nations, and develop an increasingly clear understanding of the complex network of terrorist financing.
O'BRIEN: Treasury officials say 66 countries have already issued blocking orders. They will not identify the countries, but Saudi Arabia, whose role could be pivotal, is apparently not among them. Administration officials say they're still satisfied with the Saudis cooperation.
JOHN TAYLOR, TREASURY UNDERSECRETARY: We have every indication that they are cooperating and will plan to take actions to going down the road that fulfill the commitment to cooperate.
O'BRIEN: U.S. banks face civil and possible criminal liability for transferring money into or out of the accounts of those on the list.
JOHN BYRNE, AMERICAN BANKERS ASSOCIATION: Even the ATM, you would not be able to use the ATM. The technology would be adjusted so you could not withdraw money.
O'BRIEN: Secretary O'Neill expressed confidence that freezing assets will dry up the resources of al Qaeda, but for how long?
RAYMOND BAKER, CENTER FOR INT'L POLICY: I think that we can be effective on interrupting the terrorist network that we're able to identify. I am disturb when bin Laden says that we can't stop him from reconstituting his networks or using other networks that are lying in wait. I believe that he probably has those capabilities, yes.
O'BRIEN: Treasury officials tell CNN there are other groups with sizable assets who could be on the list, but are not. They're on a different list, a watch list. The idea, the best way to track what terrorists are doing, in some cases, is to track where their money is going.
DOBBS: Tim, thank you very much. Tim O'Brien.
Well, it seems in some ways, less than important in these days of the war against terrorism, but there was a remarkable rally on Wall Street in the final hour of trading today. The fact is, in the final hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial limited its loss, after being down more than 200 points to a loss of only 66 points. The markets selling off initially on the anthrax scare, as that fourth case was reported in New York city.
The Dow finishing at 9344 for the week. The Dow Jones industrials gaining just about 2 percent. And the Nasdaq itself on the week, recovering to a gain of 1.93, and a gain for the week of 6 percent.
So with all that is happening in this world of ours these days, not a bad performance in terms of the markets. We will continue in just a moment. And when we do, we'll bring you up-to-date with the very latest developments in the war against terrorism. Stay with us.
DOBBS: Tonight, a new concern about airport safety in this country. Federal prosecutors charging that the largest airport security in the country is hiring screeners who have criminal records.
Argenbright, the firm, handles security at some of the nation's largest airports. The Argenbright clients include Dulles Airport in Washington, Logan in Boston, New York's La Guardia Airport, and the airport at Dallas-Fort Worth.
The federal government saying that Argenbright falsified reports and performed inadequate background checks on their employees, putting the public in jeopardy. And this is not the first time that Argenbright has been in trouble.
Argenbright has been fined more than $1 million already for violations. These latest violations, by the way, have occurred since the September 11 terrorist attacks, making them all the worse. The company found in violation of course, of those charges. And the Attorney General singling out Argenbright as a result of these most recent violations.
DOBBS: A bill designed to strengthen airport security is tonight stalled in Congress. The argument centers around airport screeners and whether they should be private employees or whether they should work for the government. "New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman prefers the latter idea.
Paul, good to have you with us.
PAUL KRUGMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Good to be on.
DOBBS: This is an extraordinarily story that Argenbright, held up by the Attorney General for its violations since September 11. I mean, this is incredible.
KRUGMAN: Well, I think what it demonstrates, for those of us who think this would be federalized, it demonstrates just how screwed up the incentives are. If you're going to make what is really a national security function, something like what the Coast Guard should be policing, if you're going to make a private enterprise, the incentives are all to, you know, pinch the pennies. And so strong are those incentives, they're doing it even now.
DOBBS: The -- in fairness as we look at experiences across the globe in Europe, most screeners are by comparison to the firm -- the employees of firms such as Argenbright, are far better paid, far better trained. Is it really an issue of public versus private employees or the kind commitment, both financial and in terms of training that is given to the importance of these airport screeners?
KRUGMAN: Well, I think that the point is that as long as it's really left in the hands of the airlines, which is the way we do it, the competitive pressure on the airlines is to keep the cost to a minimum.
Now there are some private screeners in other countries, but by and large, they aren't really private. They're what the Brits call quangos, the airport authority which is really almost part of the public sector. It may be a private corporation legally, but it acts like the public sector. And we're the ones who really do it, you know, as for profit screening, in effect. DOBBS: Well, for profit, but certainly with these violations by Argenbright, do you think this bolsters the idea and do you think that that bill in Congress will be shaken loose as a result of developments?
KRUGMAN: I've been a little startled. I would've thought that this stuff would breeze through. You know, in Fairness, it's not clear that better screeners would have stopped September 11, but it just shows how deep are the ideological divisions in Congress, that in fact, this still doesn't want to happen.
DOBBS: I want to tell our viewers here, Paul, if I may interrupt just for a moment. We have just received word from Pakistan that the attacks over Kabul have resumed. That is, the U.S. military is once again, striking targets in Afghanistan, attacking the targets of the al Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban. Those targets are being hit just within the last few moments. And we just wanted to bring you up-to-date on that. And as we learn more, of course, we'll bringing that to you.
Paul, I want to return, if I may, to your point on airport security as an issue of private and public. Is it your judgment that those who are posing federalized airport security at this point, have simply lost the basis for any argument going forward?
KRUGMAN: Well, you know, I'm biased. But I can't see it. I can't see how you can possibly argue that this is not a federal responsibility.
DOBBS: Especially with National Guard troops now in the airports.
KRUGMAN: That's right. I was in an airport recently. Yes, it's extraordinarily. But you know, remember that we had a political agenda. And it's still going on.
DOBBS: It's quite a different world. Whether one is biased as you suggest, the political viewpoint or an ideological viewpoint, it's quite a different world after September 11.
KRUGMAN: Yes and no. I mean, in a lot of ways, it's still the same world it was. You know, the markets are roughly back where they were before. Consumer confidence is more or less back. In some ways, what's interesting, is how much.
DOBBS: Right, I was speaking, Paul, in terms of the issues.
KRUGMAN: Oh, that...
DOBBS: Of national security, personal safety and public safety.
KRUGMAN: No, that's utterly different. We were probably in this world before September 11. We just didn't know it.
DOBBS: Paul Krugman, good to have you with us.
DOBBS: Thank you.
As we've reported to you, a fourth confirmed case of exposure to anthrax, this time in New York City. An employee of NBC News. We want to go to Peter Viles for the latest. Another incident involving letter mailed to "The New York Times," addressed to an employee of "The New York Times." Some considerable confusion around that as to whether or not that person has been exposed to anthrax. What is the latest you have for us, Pete?
VILES: There is no indication that employee in question, the reporter Judith Miller, has been exposed to anthrax. She did receive today, a letter containing a white, powdery substance. And if I heard the New York police correctly at the press conference with Rudy Giuliani at the top of the hour, they said this letter came from St. Petersburg, Florida, as did the letter suspected here at NBC.
Arrived today. They cleared "The New York Times" newsroom briefly and conducted a number of tests there for chemical agents in the newsroom. Those tests have come up negative. But as we have found this, these tests take some time. So they cannot rule anything out at this time.
But so far, all test are negative. The reporter, Judith Miller, probably the most prominent authority in journalism in the United States on the subject, Lou, of bioterrorism.
DOBBS: Absolutely, Peter. And I think we might even take away the modifier probably, writing as she has extensively on bioterrorism and the Middle East. So that is certainly good news. Thank you very much, Peter Viles.
We will be continuing here in just a moment. We will have the latest for on the resumption of bombing against the targets of the Taliban and the al Qaeda network in Afghanistan. That bombing resuming just in the past a few moments. Stay with us.
DOBBS: As we just reported to you, the bombing of Taliban and al Qaeda network targets in Afghanistan has resumed just over the past few minutes. Six explosions, according to Reuters, heard in the Afghan capital of Kabul in the early hours of what is now of course Saturday there.
Six bombs apparently dropped. The shock waves of those there in Kabul, suggesting that they were very heavy ordnance. But in point of fact, the anti-aircraft fire over Kabul apparently lighter than it has been in previous evenings. And again, just to reiterate, the bombing of those Taliban and al Qaeda network targets in Afghanistan has resumed here in the past several minutes.
We want to turn now to our colleague, Wolf Blitzer. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" begins in just moments. And Wolf, what do you have on tap? WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Well we'll obviously, Lou, have much more on these latest resumption of the airstrikes. We'll also have more on the anthrax scare in New York. I'll talk with "The New York Times" reporter, who's written a book on bioterrorism, "How Concerned Should You Be?" I'll ask CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And we'll go to the White House and Islamabad for the latest on the airstrikes. That and much more next.
DOBBS: Thank you very much, Wolf. All of that coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" in just a little over two minutes.
In the backdrop to all of this of course, this war against terror, the terror strikes on September 11, the curtailing of air travel and a significant amount and suffering in that, of course, the manufacturer of aircraft Boeing.
And Boeing today announcing it will cut up to 12,000 jobs by the end of this year. Those layoffs part of Boeing's plan to eventually eliminate as many as 30,000 jobs.
Katherine Barrett is in Renton, Washington and she has the very latest for us. Katherine?
KATHERINE BARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, it was in the darkness before dawn here that workers on the third shift of Boeing's Renton assembly plant received royal blue packets, notifying them they would be laid off in 60 days on December 14. As you said, the 12,000 now are the first phase of a production pullback, that will eventually eliminate 20 30,000 jobs at Boeing. The company made the decision last month. It said it was regrettable, but unavoidable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RYAN, BOEING COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT: The aviation industry changed in 45 minutes on September 11. And our airline partners are in real bad shape right now. And when they're hurting, Boeing Commercial Airplanes is hurting. And we had to act and had to act fast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARRETT: But generous severance plans made some of the workers we spoke to this morning fairly optimistic about their layoffs. Others were philosophical at a time of war, being merely laid off makes some feel lucky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you're handed lemons, you make lemonade. I'm going to take an opportunity to go to school and let Boeing pay for it and collect unemployment for a while and get educated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You lose your job, you lose your job. But you know, at least I'm alive. That's -- I thank God for that. And I haven't lost anyone close to me in the, you know, terrible events that happened."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that Osama bin Laden has reached out and touched me. And I'm feeling it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARRETT: That last fellow even said that he wished he could join the Navy to fight back somehow. Lou?
DOBBS: Katherine, thank you very much. Katherine Barrett from Washington tonight.
We want to take, as we close here, show you what happened in the markets today, a recovery from what had been a 200 point loss on the Dow Jones industrials, a recovery in the final hour of trading. A loss of 66 points. The Dow gaining two points, however, on the week, while the Nasdaq gained 1.93, gaining 6 percent on the week.
That's MONEYLINE for this Friday evening. Thanks for being with us. I'm Lou Dobbs.
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