CNN THE POINT WITH GRETA VAN SUSTEREN
Tracking the Terrorists: America's Most Wanted
Aired October 15, 2001 - 20:00 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.
ANNOUNCER: THE POINT: "Tracking the Terrorists: The World's Most Wanted." An anthrax alert on Capitol Hill.
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SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: I'm concerned deeply for my staff and I feel so badly for each of them.
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ANNOUNCER: The Senate majority leader's office quarantined. Tonight: the possibility of a bin Laden connection as the source.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wouldn't put him past him but we don't have hard evidence yet.
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ANNOUNCER: And tracking down bioterrorism step-by-step.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can pinpoint when the item handled at our postmarking equipment.
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ANNOUNCER: Plus, a visit to the site of the worst-known mass outbreak of anthrax.
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ANITA JETTE, VICTIM'S DAUGHTER: He started to cough and cough for a couple of days and then he came down with a fever and that's the way it started.
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ANNOUNCER: And the investigator who was in charge of hunting down the deadly bacteria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. PHILIP BRACHMAN, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Well, you wonder whether it's going to be confined within the one building or in the company or is it something that might be spreading out into the community.
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ANNOUNCER: The links from September 11 to the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa. And new details about a possible secret message hidden in an Al Qaeda videotape. And a look at another elusive criminal.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): America has committed so many crimes against the nation of Muslims that are unbearable. America is the head of criminals.
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ANNOUNCER: Why this is man one of the world's 22 most-wanted terrorists.
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PETER BERGEN, TERRORISM EXPERT: Ayman Al-Zawahri is technically bin Laden's number two. He's his closest adviser.
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ANNOUNCER: THE POINT. "Tracking the Terrorists: The World's Most Wanted." Now from Washington, Greta Van Susteren.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Good evening. Tonight, we got directly to Capital Hall where CNN's Jonathan Karl is standing by -- Jonathan.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Greta, another disturbing development this evening. This one out of New York. Yet, another case of possible anthrax exposure. This one at ABC News. CNN has learned that Rudy Giuliani, Mayor Giuliani of New York, is at ABC right now and is scheduled literally any minute now to hold a press conference with ABC President David Westin about this possible case -- a possible case of anthrax exposure at ABC.
We know very few details about this point. We expect to get those details when Giuliani and Westin come to the microphones.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jonathan, do we know whether or not this was possible contamination through the mail room? Do we have any information like that at all?
KARL: We have absolutely no further information than just that this is a possible case of exposure. Somebody who was at ABC exposed to the anthrax virus. And again, they're also using the word "possible" but it's serious enough Giuliani is on hand and they will be holding a press conference to talk about this. VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Jonathan, stand by for a minute. We'll come back to you in a little bit.
We're going to go now to Rhonda Rowland at the CDC.
Rhonda, what can you tell us about the latest in the anthrax investigation?
RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Greta, what I can tell you is we now have a second confirmed case of inhalation anthrax down in Florida. This is in 73-year-old Ernesto Blanco. He's actually been in the hospital since early October. We have been told previously that he was only exposed to anthrax, that he was positive for exposure but he did not actually have the disease.
Now, CDC officials, Florida Health Department officials are saying they have changed his diagnosis to actual anthrax. And they said by looking at his clinical symptoms along with continual tests that have shown -- been positive that they can now call it a case. And what's been unusual here, Greta, is that early on, his symptoms were not in line for clinical anthrax. But it is indeed. But the good news is he does appear to be doing well and they think that's because they started very early on giving him antibiotics very aggressively -- Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Rhonda, is he -- I assume that he's responding to the antibiotics, is that right?
ROWLAND: That's exactly right. Over time, he has done better. And what's interesting is that as time has gone on, his case has actually looked more and more like anthrax not maybe the typical clinical presentations, but when researchers and doctored looked back in history to cases from long ago, they did see signs that were in line with anthrax.
And again, they're saying that this is the inhalation form of anthrax, which is the most deadly. It's typically about 90 percent fatal, but in his case, they believe he's doing well because early on, he was given very aggressive treatment. So in this whole issue of anthrax, to see somebody with inhalation anthrax who's doing well is actually very encouraging.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, Rhonda, stand by. We're going to go back to Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill.
KARL: Well, Greta, another development we've learned from two sources -- the person who was possibly exposed to anthrax, it is actually a baby that they believe might have been exposed while the baby was at function at ABC studios there in New York. Obviously, no details as to the exact identity of that baby, but two sources saying that that's what's causing all this to happen tonight.
And again, we expect to hear more details. That press conference was actually supposed to start about 15 minutes ago. But now, we have learned that the person that they believe was exposed to anthrax was a baby who happened to be at studios at function there recently. VAN SUSTEREN: Eileen O'Connor is also here with us. Eileen, I know everyone says that this isn't terrorism, that we have to proceed very cautiously, but it's certainly is beginning to look more and more like it is a campaign by at least one person or one group of people with the same motive. They have the same MO.
EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they do. And the other thing is, of course, that the letter, as two sources have told CNN's Susan Candiotti that the letter that was sent to the anchorman Tom Brokaw did in fact contain some threatening language. And in fact, it was threatening to the United States and Israel.
In addition, it also warned the recipient that they take medication upon receiving this letter and it also praised Allah. Again, though another link as well to that letter, that letter to Tom Brokaw and another letter received today on Capitol Hill.
O'CONNOR (voice-over): A staff member of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle opened the letter postmarked Trenton, New Jersey at about 10:30 in the morning, discovering a powdery substance, which tested positive in preliminary tests for anthrax. DASCHLE: Well, I'm concerned deeply for my staff and I feel so badly for each of them.
O'CONNOR: The staff member who handled the mail was tested, treated, as were others present and the office immediately cordoned off.
DASCHLE: There is no immediate danger for them given the fact that we were able to respond as quickly and as directly as we could.
O'CONNOR: The president echoing investigators who say they are looking at all possibilities, including domestic extremist groups but are not ruling out Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
BUSH: I wouldn't put it past him, don't we don't have hard evidence yet.
O'CONNOR: One new lead: a connection -- the letter sent to NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw was sent, like Daschle's from Trenton, New Jersey. Officials say finding the exact source of that mail is no easy task given that 650 million pieces posted nationwide each day.
TONY ESPOSITO, U.S. POSTAL INSPECTOR: The article of mail that was postmarked here in Trenton, New Jersey on September 18, along with approximately 246,000 other articles of mail was brought here from any one of possibly 46 other post offices and/or stations or branches.
O'CONNOR: New Jersey has already been a focus of investigators with evidence some of the hijackers stayed in this apartment in Patterson, New Jersey as well as links to those involved in previous terrorist attacks.
SKIP BRANDON, FORMER FBI DEPUTY ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: You have to look at it, but you can't discount the possibility that it happens to be somebody who's not related who's using Trenton as a mail drop.
O'CONNOR: There is also heightened concern among post office workers there.
ESPOSITO: At this point, we have two employees that reported to us that they had symptoms that could be construed as possibly being related to the anthrax virus.
O'CONNOR: They are being tested. A post office in Boca Raton, Florida also reported the presence of anthrax spores. Officials say they are cleaning the area and contend there's little chance of postal workers contracting the disease through closed envelopes. New York has received scores of phone calls reporting suspicious mail, some hoaxes.
BERNARD KERIK, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: People think that it may be amusing; it may be a hoax to send someone something with baby powder or talcum powder. The people that do that will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Hoax or not. Real anthrax or not.
O'CONNOR: New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani urging people to remain calm.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: And I'm going to go open some mail later and you can come with me. You can help me open it.
O'CONNOR: While the anthrax letters are not inflicting large numbers as causalities, law enforcement sources say it does fit Bin Laden's goal of disrupting the U.S. government.
BRANDON: It may be that this sort of thing is really all that they can do right now. But if it their involvement, it is effective. It's certainly causing a lot of concern in the United States.
O'CONNOR: And that's concern that could cause some additional problems for already shaky economy -Greta.
You know, Eileen, as we sort of sort this out -- who is getting letters, what's contained in the letters that might suggest terrorism even the common source. I mean it all sort of points in one direction. You had Planned Parenthood and also some national federation -- some abortion clinics have been shut down. They received powder. I mean that doesn't fit into this formula.
O'CONNOR: No, it doesn't. They received 90 different pieces of mail with powder like substance in it. And it also -- the wording of the letter in theirs was quite different. So, in addition, law enforcement is looking all across the board and they're not saying that all of the cases are related, which is why they started really separate criminal investigations in each case because they believe this could clearly be some domestic terrorist groups. You could have anti-abortion people. You could have some left wing groups. You could have some right-wing groups or supremacists. VAN SUSTEREN: So you have the copycats. You have copycats in addition to sort of skew the investigation and almost to mislead.
O'CONNOR: Absolutely. Copycats that also stretch the resources of you know, and these basically take advantage of that fear factor that's out there. It could with militia groups.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, New Jersey obviously has peeked my interest. Trenton, New Jersey is near Patterson, New Jersey and there's a tie, of course, to former terrorism.
O'CONNOR: Exactly. Well, in Jersey City, we know that the mosque for Sheik Rahman was in Jersey City and of course, he is in prison right now for his role in the first -- in the first World Trade Center bombing.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, give some geography. How far is -- do you think, is Jersey City from Trenton about?
O'CONNOR: Well, that's actually quite a significant difference -- 40 minutes to an hour was what I was told today. But again, still, there was also the hijackers' evidence that they stayed in a part of New Jersey. There was also these two men who were picked up on the train in -- on its way to Texas. They had lived in New Jersey and they were believed to have perhaps been part of a foiled hijacking plot.
So, again, a lot of links to New Jersey and as one investigator said to me today, it could be all coincidence but investigators, you know, end up not liking coincidence.
VAN SUSTEREN: But of course, then the weird thing though is the one that was sent to Nevada. That was a letter that apparently originated with the company, went to Malaysia, was returned from Malaysia with pornography and has tested positive at least on the some test for anthrax spores. That's bizarre. That doesn't fit into this.
O'CONNOR: It doesn't at all and that is being, again, treated separately and they're not saying any links to these East Coast cases. By the way, good news on that front -- six workers who were around that letter, exposed, handled that letter have tested negative for anthrax.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, step back. Al Qaeda, does it have an MO when it does terrorism so that this whole thing could even, you know, -- we may be wrong to think that it's even Al Qaeda?
O'CONNOR: Well, their MO generally is maximum casualties and a lot of death and destruction. But you know you've had the attorney general over the weekend say they've had 700 people detained. And they do believe that they might have thwarted some planned attacks. They might have disrupted cells. So there are some people who are saying, "Look, it still fits into another Al Qaeda MO, which is to do as much destruction as possible to the U.S. economy and the U.S. government." And it could just be that this is all they can do right now. But it certainly is effective enough because it's certainly stretching law enforcement. Their resources quite thin. And let's face it; it is really causing a lot of fear among Americans.
VAN SUSTEREN: Eileen O'Connor, thank you very much.
We keep hearing about preliminary tests and tentative identification. Just what kind of medical detective work is involved in tracking down anthrax? Joining me from Iowa City is Mary Gilchrist. She heads Iowa State Hygiene Lab. She also is president of the Association of Public Health Laboratories.
Mary, tell me, how do you track down anthrax? When you go into a building where it's suspected that there may be anthrax spores, tell me exactly what's done?
MARY GILCHRIST, IOWA STATE HYGIENE LAB: Well, that step is done by the law enforcement individuals and sometimes by HAZMAT teams. They deliver, then, the specimens to us and we evaluate them for the presence of anthrax. And we have a variety of tests.
Our laboratory response network is a network of laboratories throughout the United States and right now, all of the laboratories are very busy. What they're doing is evaluating envelopes that arrived at people's doors that people are worried about. And we're working very hard to rule out any kind of concern. And it's quite an effort that we're undertaking in the states that don't have any positive cases, a very, very...
VAN SUSTEREN: Give me an idea...
GILCHRIST: ... important effort.
VAN SUSTEREN: Give me an idea of how many the University of Iowa has had in the past week or so?
GILCHRIST: Well, I know today that the ones that made through the filter -- we have the law enforcement people filtering to make sure that it's a credible threat. And the ones that made it through the filter today were around the half dozen number, which is quite a number for us to evaluate because they're very unusually specimens and it takes quite a bit of effort to evaluate and work through the process of the specimen culturing that we have to do.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, tell me exactly -- tell me what the culturing is. As the specimen arrives at the University of Iowa, what are you going to do with it?
GILCHRIST: Well, we have very different specimens but what we do is try to collect the powder out of the specimen, for example. And then, we will plate that powder on bacteria logical medium just as you see there. And then, we will incubating it overnight and if there are colonies there the next day that look like it might be the organism, bacillus anthraces -- that's a bacterium by the way instead of a virus -- we do a variety of tests to confirm that. And we try to give a presumptive positive result as soon as we can so that the patient can be put on an antibiotic.
VAN SUSTEREN: Once you've made the presumptive positive and then you further testing, can you say 100 percent whether or not it is? Is the test perfect?
GILCHRIST: At the presumptive positive level, it's usually well enough to encourage the physician to use the antibiotics but it's not confirmed. Now, we're in a hurry to tell the physician to get that antibiotic on board. So we release that data with that presumptive adjective there.
Now, we don't really want anyone to react as though it's a definite positive from the standpoint of law enforcement at that stage.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is your lab under guard right now?
GILCHRIST: Our lab is under guard -- the guard is there because there was an assumption made that there was an Iowa strain involved in the Florida case. That assumption has been completely negated now. We found that those data were not accurate. But we're still retaining that because there's some concerns about the fact that it was suggested that the strain was manmade in Iowa.
In fact, the strain was not manmade in Iowa. It was a strain that was isolated in Iowa about 50 years ago. That strain shared with researchers around the United States and around the world. And they studied the toxins, for example, to try to develop a way to combat anthrax. And now, it could be obtained from any one of several hundred, probably, sources. So even if the strain had confirmed to match the Iowa strain, it would be irrelevant and really wouldn't be from Iowa. But we're still dealing with some of the concerns that people have.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I read that there was a National Guard standing there with an M-16 to protect the lab. Is that -- if that's -- is that true, number one and why do you need if the strain is so easy to get any way?
GILCHRIST: They're there, at this stage, working to reduce the security concerns that we might have. And they're there -- they're probably going to be going away soon. We don't have a virulent strain of anthrax in our lab at all. We have a vaccine strain of anthrax in our laboratory that we use to control our tests. So there's no real concern about a hazard, a health hazard. But we're working through some of our security concerns and we're going to actually be developing a very excellent security outline that we'll be using probably in other states also.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mary, when this strain was divided up and sent around to different places so people could examine it, was it kept track of what went where? Is there a good record so at least we know where the Iowa strain went?
GILCHRIST: Absolutely not. This was a time period when everybody believed that all their peers and colleagues were doing the right thing. There was no concern whatsoever. And uniquely, with bacteria, you can't inventory them because you can take just a micro, minuscule amount and walk away with it and have enough to infect a number of other people within a few hours of growth of that organism. So it's a very difficult thing to try to inventory and keep track of.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, my thanks tonight to Mary Gilchrist for joining us from Iowa.
GILCHRIST: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: How prepared is the country for any kind of bioterrorism. Juliette Kayyem should know. She runs Harvard University's Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness. She also served on the National Commission on Terrorism.
All right, Juliette, is the United States prepared?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Hard question. We are much better prepared than we were 10 years ago, when we started to take a closer look at the possibility of terrorism occurring in America. We took focus and starting spending slot of money, basically, to buttress our local and state first responders so that they would better prepared, in particular that they would know what they're looking for and be able to identify anything like smallpox, anthrax and things like that.
But it's difficult because you know; this is a problem today, this -- these anthrax scares, hoaxes and the reality that we're hearing is going on. But it's not a public health crisis yet. We're, you know, less six or seven cases, only one fatality so far.
We are not prepared if you have the sort of worse case scenario. We are clearly -- our public health facilities, our law enforcement agencies and our hospitals.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are we -- OK, well that's from a public health standpoint once we get it. But are we, from a preparedness standpoint, prepared to prevent it from coming here and causing that public health problem?
KAYYEM: Well, there's a lot more that we can do. And there has been some focus on -- for biological agents, for example, what you want to do is be able to control the agencies that have them or possess them. For something like smallpox, for example, we know that there's only two places to get it -- here in the United States and at an institute in Moscow.
We need to ensure that Moscow secures it because Americans have not been vaccined since the late 1970s except for military, of course.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me stop you there then. I mean are we certain that the smallpox in Moscow safe and sound and it's not -- that none of the smallpox there has gotten into the hands of any terrorists?
KAYYEM: I think we're fairly certain but I think that that is something hard to verify at this stage, given all the political tumult in Russia throughout the '90s. And of course, one of the major concerns is that Russian scientists, after possibly getting fired or -- with their economy going bad, may have been willing to sell their trade and that's something that we need to focus on and ensure gainful employment of scientists who know actually how to work with this material.
Because I'll say, you know, this material is very difficult to work with. It takes a lot of know how especially something like -- anthrax less though -- something like smallpox or other biological agents.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Mary Gilchrist was just on saying how -- when the virus -- when the anthrax was shared so that people could look at it years ago, that it wasn't inventoried. It's very difficult to inventory it. So I mean is there a bigger problem that we -- maybe smallpox, we can protect ourselves from but what about the anthrax? Is the U.S. ready for that?
KAYYEM: Well, in terms of stopping it, no. I would say that we don't have enough controls both from the law enforcement perspective or if I can add, from the criminal law perspective. We just simply do not have the right laws on the books to go after people who are playing around the stuff.
The Ashcroft legislation, which should get passed this week, has legislation in there in which it ensures that anyone who is in possession of something like anthrax is violating a crime. It's shocking to learn but previously, that was not a crime. We had to -- prosecutors had to prove that you not only possessed it but that you were going to weaponize it and use it for harm. We shouldn't have those standards. There's no reason that people should have these agents.
Labs, of course and other health facilities, of course, but individuals should not be in possession of it. So we're now focusing on buttressing the beginning side to sort of -- you know, identification side to ensure that, you know, people are not mucking around in this stuff.
VAN SUSTEREN: You run the National Commission on Terrorism.
VAN SUSTEREN: Were suggestions made or that things we should have implemented that we didn't? Or what do you recommend that -- steps that the United States take to protect ourselves from terrorism?
KAYYEM: Well, there were a lot of recommendations in regard to the -- this kind of threat, there were -- there were several. One was we need to buttress international cooperation and in fact, sign biological conventions and get with other nations who are in possession of -- at least friendly other nations who are in possession of this stuff. The second was obviously attempting to get a handle -- although it's been somewhat unsuccessful -- of these agents that are in countries that are state sponsors of terrorism -- Iraq comes to mind. And I think that's why you're hearing a lot of people in the administration really nervous about Iraq because we know that they have biological agents and we haven't been there for several years and also, of course, to end the sort of -- buttressing our public health facilities. It's so obvious and it would be so helpful not just for terrorism but for anything else. Our hospitals across the country are every day working on surge capacity. They are...
VAN SUSTEREN: And with that Juliette, I'm sorry, but I've run out of time. It's always nice to see you. Thank you for joining us tonight. KAYYEM: Thank Greta. All right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Juliette Kayyem.
What happened the last time there was an outbreak of anthrax in the United States? Yes, it has happened before and we will see the results when THE POINT continues.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anthrax is so rare that even one case raises suspicions. Not that long ago, it was more common.
CNN's David Mattingly looks back at an anthrax outbreak that was not caused by global terrorism, but resulted in a local tragedy.
ANITA JETTE, VICTIM'S DAUGHTER: He was a hard worker and he could do anything.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At age 49, textile worker Antonio Jette had never missed a day of work in the Sprawling Mills of Manchester, New Hampshire. He couldn't afford to with seven children to feed. So when he came down with what seemed like a cold the Saturday before Labor Day 1957, no one thought much of it.
JETTE: He started to cough and cough for a couple of days then he came down with fever and that's the way it started.
MATTINGLY: It was the start of a swift and devastating turn. Four days later, Jette was in the hospital, comatose, ravaged by a mysterious infection. The next morning, to the disbelief of his daughter, Anita, he died.
(on camera): You never heard the word "anthrax"?
JETTE: No, not until my father had it. And it was more than a year before we finally got to know a lot about it.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): What the Jettes didn't know was that in those days, anthrax was common at textile mills. Throughout centuries, handlers of wool and animal skins have been at risk of developing ugly sores and rashes. Cutaneous anthrax, it's called, easily curable with antibiotics.
But Antonio Jette died from a different, rare and deadly form -- inhalation anthrax. At the time, only nine people had come down with the disease in the United States since 1900. All had died. And Jette wasn't alone. There were now five cases in one town, at one mill, at one time. DR. PHILIP BRACHMAN, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Having this collection in one factory is an event that's never happened before nor since in the United States.
MATTINGLY: In 1957, Philip Brachman was a young epidemiologist working for the CDC, charged with hunting down this deadly bacteria.
BRACHMAN: Well, you wonder whether it's going to be confined within the one building or in the company or is it something that might be spreading out into the community, worried about whether there'd be fatalities involved in it and just how to explain it so that one could control.
MATTINGLY: What Brachman found was alarming. There were nine workers infected with anthrax at the Arms Textile Mill, four, with cutaneous anthrax, five with the deadly inhalation form. Out that five, four died, all within days of developing symptoms and pinpointing the source took weeks.
Eventually, the trail led to bails of goat hair, like you see in this picture, part of a single contaminated shipment from Pakistan. And while this was going on, how did the public react? Perhaps equally disturbing. The public, at large, didn't know. The mill didn't close. Workers kept working.
JOHN CLAYTON, "MANCHESTER UNION LEADER": Even though there was a great grapevine in place amongst the different mills, there was no talk about this. I asked my folk and they -- there's no recollection of it because it was kind of kept quiet.
MATTINGLY: John Clayton is a columnist for the "Manchester Union Leader." He speculates that a post-war belief in government might have kept people calm.
CLAYTON: And since the Center for Disease Control was involved, there may have been an implicit trust in the people who were taking part. So it wasn't talked about much.
MATTINGLY (on camera): The epidemic could have been worse. But by coincidence at the time, the CDC was conducting field studies on a new anthrax vaccine at the mill. About a third of the mill workers had been vaccinated and during the outbreak, not one of these workers was infected.
(voice-over): Antonio Jette started working at the Arms Mill too late to join in the vaccine study. Even if he had been able to, he might not have seen the need.
JETTE: Well, in them days, we didn't think like they do today. You had something, you got over it and that's it. We had no idea how serious a disease this was.
MATTINGLY: After the outbreak, all workers at the Arms Mill were vaccinated. Inhalation anthrax disappeared. But anthrax spore remained in the mill environment. The first news accounts of the outbreak finally appeared almost a year later. So when the mill went out of business in the 1960s, anthrax was no longer a community secret. And officials ordered the still-contaminated buildings destroyed.
BRACHMAN: If they had just torn it down as it were, you could have created aerosols of spores, which could've resulted in disease among people breathing in that air. So that to protect the environment and to protect people, you have to decontaminate.
MATTINGLY: The entire mill was pressure washed, treated with formaldehyde, dismantled, and burned in special incinerators. What they couldn't burn, like the millions of bricks, they treated again in chlorine and buried.
Today, the mill site is a parking lot in River Front Park. The buried bricks? They're a parking lot, too, next to a soccer field. But even this wasn't enough to erase a now 44-year-old anthrax epidemic from the public conscience. Manchester health director Frederick Russo.
FREDERICK RUSSO, MANCHESTER HEALTH DIRECTOR: Today, we're looking for that absolute protection from anything, whether it be a food-borne illness, the flu, or what have you. So anthrax, I think, has a different scare today than it would have back in the '50s.
MATTINGLY: And it's a scare relived now with every new anthrax event. In sharp contrast to a simpler time when a town went about its work, while a deadly disease silently took four lives.
JETTE: You have to go on with your life. You have to take of your families. You just can't sit and worry about it, because it will not help you. You're just hoping and praying that you are not in harm's way and that others aren't either.
MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN, Manchester, New Hampshire.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're standing by for a news conference on the latest anthrax case in New York. This one at ABC News. CNN has learned that the child of an ABC News employee is affected. The child had recently visited the ABC newsroom. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and police officials are at ABC News. A news conference will be starting momentarily. And we will bring it to you live.
THE POINT will be right back.
SUSTEREN: Chances are, you did not pay too much attention to the trials held after the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. But in light of September 11, a second look at the defendants and their testimony is a big warning we all missed.
Here is CNN's Deborah Feyerick. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Terrorists found guilty of plotting to blow up U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998 traveled in the same circles and knew some of the same people now being investigated for the World Trade Center attacks.
The links are particularly important to investigators, as they connect the players in Osama bin Laden's elusive terrorist network. For example, authorities are looking closely at the relationship between convicted terrorist Wadih El-Hage, and German-based exporter Mamoun Darkazanli, a Syrian exile seen on the right.
Investigators want to find out whether he channeled cash to some of the suspected hijackers. During the embassy bombings trial, prosecutors introduced a business card for El-Hage's trading company with the same Hamburg address where Darkazanli lives.
What's more, Darkazanli's bank account number at Deutsche Bank appears inside El-Hage's address book.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're putting banks and financial institutions around the world on notice.
FEYERICK: Darkazanli, his assets frozen by the United States, admits knowing three of the suicide flyers, including alleged organizer Mohamed Atta. Darkazanli has denied any involvement in the attacks. But also raising investigators' suspicions is Darkazanli link to this man, Mamdouh Mahmum Salim.
Salim, bin Laden's former financial officer, is the highest- ranking bin Laden operative in U.S. custody. He's awaiting trial, charged with plotting to kill Americans as part of bin Laden's worldwide terrorism conspiracy.
Darkazanli admits meeting with Salim several times, but for legitimate business reasons, including helping Salim set up a bank account to fund an Islamic radio station in 1995.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: At least three of these hijackers have already been positively identified as known associates of bin Laden, with a track record in his camps and organization.
FEYERICK: Evidence against bin Laden, presented by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, cites additional connections between convicted embassy bomber Mohamed Al-Owhali and a man known as Khallad. Al- Owhali told the FBI Khallad gave his orders to attack the American embassy in Kenya.
Investigators want to know if this is the same Khallad suspected of spearheading the U.S.S. Cole attack in Yemen a year ago. And the same Khallad reportedly photographed in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year, with hijackers Khalid Almihdar and Nawaf Alhazmi.
Investigators are also analyzing whether one man, someone known as Shayk Saiid, was the paymaster, controlling the purse strings for bin Laden's day-to-day operations, as one al Qaeda defector testified during the embassy bombings' trial, and whether he may also have wired money for attacks on the World Trade Center.
(on camera): Two al Qaeda operatives testified at the embassy bombings trial that bin Laden wanted them to learn to fly. And they did, taking lessons at American flight schools, just like the suspected hijackers several years later.
Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
SUSTEREN: We're standing for a press conference from New York. Rudy Giuliani and the police are going to be giving a press conference on the latest news that an infant may have been exposed to anthrax spores. but we're going to now switch gears.
We go from links to the past, to possible links to the possible links to the future. There's been a lot of concern that Osama bin Laden is sending signals in those al Qaeda videotapes. "Time" magazine correspondent Doug Waller joins with more on that and what we may have missed.
Doug, what's the possible code that the administration thinks may be in those bin Laden statement?
DOUG WALLER, "TIME" MAGAZINE: What they're intrigued with was the statement that bin Laden made that was released the day of the bombing, two Sundays ago. At the end of that statement, there was one sentence where he said, "I swear to God that America will not live in peace."
U.S. investigators have had a former al Qaeda associate tell them that the first part of that statement, "I swear to God" is not something that bin Laden would normally say. So it has U.S. officials intrigued whether that might be some type of signal to his operatives around the world or here in the U.S. to launch another round of attacks.
In the past, bin Laden has used his public statements, not only for propaganda, but also to send signals so that people around the world associated with the organization know certain phrases that are basically signals, a go order to start another attack.
SUSTEREN: Are they simply intrigued or has it gone a step further? Have they gotten, for instance, linguistic experts in the bin Laden language that, you know, that say that this is a signal?
WALLER: They pour over every single word. Intelligence analysts look at everything he says. They compare it to what he said before. They compare it to what his followers say. And they look for any type of phrasing.
Unfortunately, the signals are so vague very often, that it's very, very hard to pick up. The other thing too, any counter terrorist expert will tell you, is that usually the big terror attacks don't come with any, you know, sign ahead of time. They come a bolt out of the blue, as we discovered on September 11.
SUSTEREN: You've been in the business a long time. What do you make of the fact that the news organizations have now backed off playing, at least, after the Osama bin Laden statement, there was then a statement by his PR representative. What do you make of that?
WALLER: Well, I think that's what the State Department wanted to have happen for two reasons. Number one, they were losing the PR war and the spin war in the Middle East. And number two, they were worried that, you know, this was just a way for him to communicate.
He can't communicate on cellphone. He can't call on a radio anywhere because the National Security Agency monitors all of that. So he never talks on the phone. The only way he's been able to communicate since then is, you know, through these broad statements. And think they're trying to choke some of that off.
SUSTEREN: OK, let's switch gears. Trucking industry, where's the investigation going here in the United States related to the trucking industry?
WALLER: There are 30,000 trucks on our highways that carry hazardous materials. The FBI's deeply concerned that this might be a future threat here. So they've been going to some 600 trucking schools all over the country to try and get the records of who's been attending.
SUSTEREN: All right, let me break. We're going to go up to New York. That press conference is beginning in New York.
DAVID WESTIN, PRESIDENT, ABC NEWS: Thank you for joining us on short notice. I'm David Westin, president of ABC News, and I'm joined here tonight by Mayor Giuliani, by Commissioner Kerik, by Assistant Director Mawn of the FBI, by Commissioner (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from the Emergency Management of Health -- I'm sorry Emergency Management. Commissioner Cohen of the Health Department, and also Dr. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from CDC. Thank you.
I'll make just a short statement, and then we'll turn it over to Mayor Giuliani, and I'm sure we'll take your questions.
We learned this evening of an incident involving the child of an employee of ABC News. This child was present in our building at 47 West 66th Street September the 28th for a short period of time. Shortly thereafter, the child contracted some sort of unknown disease. There were some difficulties in diagnosing the disease. The child ended up in the hospital.
And through various means, ultimately there were tests done, I believe with CDC, on some blood and some biopsies, and we learned this evening that in fact the child, in preliminary tests, both blood and biopsy, has tested positive for cutaneous anthrax.
We do not know for sure that that was contracted through an exposure at ABC News, but we are operating on that assumption at the present time. I emphasize, this is cutaneous anthrax. We've all learned more than we ever wanted to know, I suspect, about this disease. But that is, of course, the much less dangerous one, the one that can be treated with antibiotics.
My understanding this evening is that the child is responding well, the prognosis is excellent. We are, however, of course, taking this very seriously. We have been working with the authorities through the evening to set up a policy by which we will do thorough investigation to try to identify exactly what the source of this was to make sure that there is no further exposure possible here.
There are no other instances of which I'm aware in which any people at ABC News have exhibited any symptoms of anthrax disease. We are confident that the authorities have this well in hand. We are confident that we can protect the health and well-being of our employees, which of course is our first responsibility.
And we go forward with confidence. At the same time, we're taking this very seriously, and we will be working hard over the next few days to make sure that we do all the right things.
And with that, I want to thank Mayor Giuliani and his team for showing up this evening on very short notice, and I'll turn it over to him.
MAYOR RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: Thank you very much, David.
I also want to say that ABC has handled this in a very responsible and a very cool and calm and, I think, very sensible way.
The reality is that we will be investigating and trying to determine exactly what happened. The preliminary analysis is that the baby was here on the 28th of September for a couple of hours. That's a sufficient of time so that if there were some kind of major spread of symptoms, there would be a significant large number of other people with symptoms. There is no one else with symptoms. The baby has responded to treatment, and we're very hopeful that the baby's going to make a full and complete recovery.
At the same time, we'll be conducting an environmental review tonight, try to get it done as quickly as possible. It might take a little bit longer to make sure that the premises and the areas are safe. We're doing that out of an excess of caution. We'll interview a significant number of employees to try to recreate what happened.
You might remember in the situation with NBC, it took some investigating to discover the ultimate letter itself. So we'll see if we can trace it to a source. And I also think the police commissioner should describe something else we're doing tonight, again, out of an excess of caution, so that there is no overreaction to it. There shouldn't be an overreaction at all.
This is a noncontagious, very treatable disease if, in fact, anybody has this disease, treatable with antibiotics. There are situations that people face every day in their lives that are significantly more dangerous than this. So if people all work together and we remain calm and we all report things as quickly as possible, we'll be able to deal with it.
Commissioner, I'd (OFF-MIKE)...
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) what's the age of the child?
GIULIANI: I would like the commissioner to make a statement, then we'll answer, we'll answer all the questions.
BERNARD KERIK, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Within the last two hours, I've directed teams of investigators in conjunction with Barry Mawn to report to, respond to different media agencies throughout the city. They'll be going to CNN, CBS, the Associated Press, "The Daily News," Fox News, and "The New York Post," and will be doing environmental surveys in and around the mail rooms, just as a precautionary measure.
And I want to -- I just want to emphasize that, this is strictly a precautionary measure to determine whether there is any indication that there has been any contamination in those areas.
We have no one in those areas with symptoms. We've had no complaints, we've had a few people that have come forward and wanted to be checked. They've been checked. We've had no findings of anthrax there. This is strictly precautionary.
They were dispatched about an hour and a half, two hours ago. They should be finished and concluded by midnight. "The New York Times," as you know, was done on Friday, along with NBC, so we will have hit all the major media and press outlets in the city, and we'll take it from there.
QUESTION: Could you tell us the age...
WESTIN: I hope you'll understand, we're going to do our very best to respect the privacy of the family here. This is a valued employee. I think I can say safely, somewhat under 1 years of age, but I'd rather not be more specific, if you'd forgive me. Yes, an infant, yes.
QUESTION: Could you tell us, Mr. Westin...
WESTIN: It's a boy.
QUESTION: Could you tell us, Mr. Westin, if you can, where specifically the child was taken into the building? And also, as a follow-up to that, you mentioned the fact that you were operating under the assumption that other people may have been exposed to it, although you've said you haven't seen any findings of that.
What are you doing? What are the precautionary measures that you're taking, given that assumption you've made?
WESTIN: Well, in reverse order, we as -- we are operating on the assumption that someone may have been exposed, just out of an abundance of caution. And from what I've understood from the mayor and his colleagues tonight, if someone had been exposed on the 28th when the child was here, we already would have seen symptoms and we would have been well along the way.
So it would have to be for -- from some anthrax spores that were left behind, and with time, it becomes a little less likely. So we're doing that out of an abundance of caution, but we're assuming the worst and proceeding on that basis to protect the health and well- being of our colleagues, basically, is what's happening.
At this point, we're still in the process of exactly determining the whereabouts of the child that day. Right now, we have an indication of two floors within the building, particularly, where the child visited. But I wouldn't want to mislead you and suggest that we know everything yet. That's exactly what the police and the various health officials will be doing, is pinning that down more exactly.
QUESTION: ... made this clear and I didn't pick it up on this. Are other people at ABC being tested?
WESTIN: We have no basis to test anyone at the present time. We've -- remember, this happened, I think, about three and a half hours ago now that we first heard about it. But right now, as I said, we have no reported symptoms of any sort for cutaneous anthrax, which the officials, again, indicate we should have had by now if people were infected. There's a limited incubation period.
At the same time, we're going to rely upon the expert advice of the federal and the local authorities as we go forward to determine what testing is appropriate and necessary and if there is a prophylactic need for antibiotics, we certainly will take care of that. We'll do whatever we need for our employees.
But we really have to follow the guidance of the professionals here. I'm certainly not a professional in that area.
QUESTION: ... plans to move any of our news operations tomorrow...
WESTIN: I'm sorry.
QUESTION: ... ABC World News, do you have any intention of moving...
WESTIN: Right now, we do not. Again, this is preliminary. We're just working with the authorities. But right now, given what we understand, we believe it's likely that we continue operations where they are. There obviously will be some disruption because there'll be some investigation going on, whether it's interviews or other scientific things. But right now we are hopeful, although not certain, that we'll be able to just remain in the same places.
If not, we have provisions to move to other places in the building. We have a lot of facilities, so (OFF-MIKE)...
QUESTION: What makes you think the exposure was here?
WESTIN: I don't know that it was. I don't know whether it was. I think that, and the authorities should speak to this, the fact that there was the NBC experience indicates that, that, that, that it's quite possible. It's possible the child was exposed somewhere else. It just seems quite a coincidence, I think. But I'll let other people speak (OFF-MIKE).
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) hope you're going to answer this question. Has the ABC facility been thoroughly tested, and have you come up negative or positive with any results of those tests?
KERIK: No, we have investigators here now at ABC. They've begun their interviews. They will conduct the interviews, continue interviews during the evening, and they will also be doing environmental surveys throughout the building in the areas where the child was.
QUESTION: Going through the mail here?
QUESTION: Commissioner, do you think that this is actually an attack on the media? Can you interpret this as such? I mean, there have been several media organizations that have been infected, you know, (OFF-MIKE).
KERIK: Well, at this point we can't say. What we can say is that we know NBC received an envelope that had anthrax in it, and there could be a possibility that something was received here, could be. That's yet to be determined. And we would urge the other media outlets to do the same thing that everyone should do, pay attention to your mail, be cautious, don't panic. If you receive something in the mail that is suspicious, put it down, isolate and contain it, wash your hands, and call 911.
QUESTION: Commissioner, (OFF-MIKE)...
GIULIANI: It really -- it's important, it's important to emphasize the following. If you do receive a letter that you think is suspicious, suspicious enough so that you're -- you know, you're going to call and ask us to look at it, do not carry it all around the building and show it to other people. Seriously, people would not have understood this, you know, a few days ago, so it's understandable if they might. If you receive something suspicious, you would talk to other people about it.
The best thing to do is leave it where it is, leave the room, call, then we can investigate it.
Second, since we are going to go through these reviews at all of the -- at the different media outlets, if people over the last three weeks or so have received letters that now in retrospect they think were suspicious, let us know about it. Because if you remember, that's what happened at NBC. The original letter that was given to us was negative, but then upon investigating, we found there was a letter several days earlier that turned out to be positive that had been filed away.
QUESTION: Has the doctor from the CDC (OFF-MIKE)...
WESTIN: Sorry, could I just say one thing? I'm sorry, Mr. Mayor, but just in response to the question on the attack in the media, because I think this is important for all of us in this room. I mean, we're all members of the press or we wouldn't be here. And we all are cast, in a strange way, as both a subject of a story and covering a story.
I think it's terribly important for all of us right now. We don't know what the motives of these people are. It's not really that constructive for us in the media right now, I think, to be speculating on that.
I think it's more important now than ever, for the public that we serve, that we stick to what we know, reporting what we know, avoiding what we don't know, and putting it in context.
I mean, this is something of great concern. We're taking it very seriously for our employees. But bearing in mind, this is a child who is being treated successfully, excellent prognosis. We don't have other instances. So we're obviously concerned about it. You're all here. But I think it's important not to feed whatever motives may be behind this by building it into something it's not.
QUESTION: Sir, is it a statement of confidence...
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE), Mr. Westin...
QUESTION: ... that you're holding it here...
QUESTION: ... answer, you know, (OFF-MIKE) as a leader of the media organization. How do you expect media organizations to function efficiently when, you know, your employees are too afraid to open letters? I mean, do you think it's...
WESTIN: I think, I think...
QUESTION: ... (OFF-MIKE)...
WESTIN: I think, with great respect, with great respect, I think anyone that thinks that ABC News is not going to function effectively because of this is greatly underestimating the men and women of ABC News. We are determined about what we're doing. We are smart enough to figure out what the truth is and to put it in perspective and not to overreact.
We will go about our business, we will be prudent, we will be careful, we will protect our people. But we will continue to report the news the way we always have. This is not going to slow us down one bit.
GIULIANI: People, people should not be -- people should not be afraid to open their mail. That's an absurd thing to suggest to people. We're talking about now two cases. We move in this city probably -- I'm going to guess -- 15 million pieces of mail per day, maybe more. So the reality is that there's a psychology here, and don't -- do not -- don't, don't, don't, don't fall into the psychology of this, which is that there's nothing to be afraid of in dealing with your mail.
If it turns out that a piece of mail is suspicious in any way, you've got plenty of time to deal with it, if you deal with it calmly. So there's nothing for anyone to be afraid of. And frankly, if there was any danger in this building, do you think that I would be here?
QUESTION: Sir, what -- what if...
GIULIANI: There's -- yes, right, well, not the police commissioner.
QUESTION: Sir, what effort is being made...
GIULIANI: We wouldn't be here if it was...
QUESTION: ... (OFF-MIKE)...
GIULIANI: ... there's nothing, there's nothing to, there's nothing dangerous here, at all.
QUESTION: Commissioner, what effort is being made to find out where else this child could have been exposed?
SUSTEREN: We've been listening to some disturbing news coming from New York. A child, an ABC News employee, has cutaneous -- that's skin anthrax. The child is responding well to treatment.
Let's go to our Eileen O'Connor, Eileen, your thoughts?
EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, as you've heard, it's a criminal investigation. And you've also heard all of them, the president of ABC News, the police commissioner and the mayor, cautioning people not to blow this out of proportion.
It may be that this child, again, did not contract the anthrax at ABC News. But again, it also is very treatable. And they said that the child is responding to the treatment. And again, they're cautioning everyone just go about their business. Open your mail. If it's suspicious, be prudent, but this is not something that's not treatable.
SUSTEREN: Rhonda Rowland, down in the CDC, your thoughts?
RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one thing that's very encouraging is the Cipro, the antibiotic we've been hearing about, is effective. It works in children. We hear that this child is doing well.
We're hearing this is a preliminary test result on the blood and the biopsy taken from the baby, but what we've been hearing from the CDC is when they have enough evidence to suggest that there's a risk, they think it's very important to bring it to the public's attention. And again, we're still talking about isolated incidents. And once again, skin anthrax is not contagious and is highly, highly treatable.
SUSTEREN: All right, let's go to Doug Waller of "TIME" magazine. Doug, your thoughts?
WALLER: Well, it's -- as more of these cases pop up, you're going to the inevitable question is, is this an organized terrorist activity here? The president...
SUSTEREN: Well, it's certainly organized. I mean, everyone keeps exercising caution, saying, well, we don't know, we don't know. But I got to tell you, I mean, it's awfully suspicious that these cases keep showing up. They didn't show up, you know, two months ago.
WALLER: It is. And if you want to create a media frenzy over this, the way you do it is send all the envelopes to the media. I think whoever's, you know, if there's one person thinking this thing through or one organization, you know, it is getting things stirred up quite a bit across the country.
SUSTEREN: And of course, you have the high risk of copycat criminals, which we've discussed earlier in the hour. I mean, there's always that risk.
WALLER: Oh, there is. And I think the FBI thinks that a lot of these eventually will prove out to be copycat cases.
SUSTEREN: All right, Doug Waller from "TIME" magazine. That's all the time we have. Up next, "LARRY KING."
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