CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Anthrax Detected in House Office Building; U.S. Completes First Ground Strikes; What Will Future Relationship be for Government, Airlines?
Aired October 20, 2001 - 12:00 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.
DARYN KAGAN, HOST: I'm Daryn Kagan in Washington, D.C. It is a day of many developments. In fact, we're standing by for a briefing from the Pentagon with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers. As soon as that begins, we will go to that live.
Meanwhile, while we wait for that, another development here in Washington, D.C., and is the discovery of more traces of anthrax; this time in the building at the House of Representatives.
And let's bring in our Kate Snow to know more about that -- Kate.
KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, confirmed now from the speaker of the House Dennis Hastert's office and also from the office of Minority Leader Dick Gephardt that they have found traces of anthrax in one particular building. It's on the House campus, it's on the House side of the U.S. Capitol. It's called the Ford House Office Building.
The reason this may or may not be significant is because, as you remember, on Monday, a letter was opened in Senator Tom Daschle's office. That's on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol in one of their office buildings. And that location, Senator Daschle's office, and one other mail room on the Senate side was the only place to date where they had found traces of anthrax. Now, apparently, they've also found some traces of anthrax on the House side.
We're awaiting a briefing. And I misspoke earlier. It won't be -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Dick Gephardt will not physically be there. Members of their staff will be there. But Lieutenant Dan Nichols from the U.S. Capitol Police expected to brief shortly.
KAGAN: I'm sure it will be informative no matter who shows up.
Now, let's look at the pictures that our viewers are seeing -- well, maybe we can bring those pictures back. But what our viewers are seeing right now.
It represents what was a very incredible week on Capitol Hill, and specifically the different ways the House and the Senate chose to deal with the scare and threat of anthrax.
SNOW: Right. In the end, both the House and the Senate cleared out of town and made room for these people. These are environmental testers, screeners doing some work yesterday.
KAGAN: Kate, I'm going to have to interrupt you. We're going to get back to more on that in just a minute. As we said, we have two stories we're tracking here at one time, and want to take it now to the Pentagon and Sheilah Kast, who's also standing by waiting for this briefing -- Sheilah.
SHEILAH KAST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn. How are you?
We are waiting for this briefing. We've been -- there have been lots of development in the last 24 hours, and we're full of questions about this first land incursion of the war. A hundred or so U.S. troops, special operations combat troops, who helicoptered into Afghanistan, the area around Kandahar, the stronghold of the Taliban ruling government, and did some sort of attack there, a liaison attack, working with the Northern Alliance, the main military opposition to the Taliban.
But we're anxious to find out what the objective of this attack was, whether the Pentagon considers that it was a successful attack, whether there were causalities. There are lots of questions about that attack.
We do know, of course, that there were two casualties, not in Afghanistan, but on a search and rescue helicopter supporting that mission, a helicopter that crashed south of Afghanistan in southwestern Pakistan.
And there are questions about that, too. We don't know what service these -- the two military personnel who were killed. We don't know exactly what their helicopter was doing. We are told by one official that perhaps it was an accident caused by a problem called brownout, when the helicopter rotor blades kick up dust and debris.
So we have lots of question, and eager for the hearing to begin -- for the briefing to begin.
KAGAN: All right. Sheilah Kast, we will check back with you and also with the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, while we wait, let's bring in one of our military analysts, and that is retired Major General Don Shepperd, who is standing by here with us, waiting to hear more.
General, good morning, first of all -- or good afternoon. Good to have you with us.
MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good morning, Daryn -- afternoon.
KAGAN: And once again, we are looking for more answers, but certain things that do seem to indicate so far that this has -- this campaign has entered a new phase.
SHEPPERD: I'd say so. This is what many have been predicting. The forces are in place. We now have the capability. The Taliban essentially are surrounded. This will not be easy just because they're surrounded, but we have the capability to do it with special operations forces, with air, and perhaps later, if we desire to, with army forces.
The main thing is we're not getting bogged down in a guerrilla war. We're going to strike at time and places of our choosing, day and night, Daryn.
KAGAN: You and I had a chance to talk before we went on the air, and you were talking, kind of like the psychological briefing that the American public needs to go for.
First of all, this news of two military personnel who apparently have lost their lives. Probably, we hope not, but probably not the last kind of this news that the American public is going to get.
SHEPPERD: Probably not. The secretary of defense and the president have been preparing us for a long and difficult war. This is not something that's going to be over in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. It's going to many times and many places for a long period of time.
It's exceedingly dangerous the things that our troops do. Day and night, all kinds of weather, night operations with lots of airplanes coordinated -- the opportunities for accidents are just tremendous.
Now, one other thing worth talking about is the secretary has also talked to us and cautioned us about linear thinking. In other words, we're all thinking of capturing cities, of lines moving down to the south. It may not be like this. You may see military pressure brought on, things destroyed, so that there is a sudden collapse of the Taliban in a rush to a coalition-type government. That's not a standard military war that we're used to thinking about.
The secretary has told us repeatedly, be patient and think in different terms. And I think we're listening now, Daryn.
KAGAN: So, more of that coming, in terms of pressure rather than just something that's concrete that the American people could hold on to and point to as something that would be winning that battle.
SHEPPERD: Right. The secretary is very careful with his words, as is General Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. What they're saying is, we are setting the conditions, setting the conditions for follow-on actions that enable the political solution.
Now, there's a message in those words. The message is, don't think like you used to think. We're not going to get bogged down in something that we can't get out of and we can't control. We're going to be very careful. We're going to take our time. We're going to do it right.
Unfortunately, casualties are part of it. War is not an easy business, as we just saw, Daryn. KAGAN: General Shepperd, we will encourage you to stand by and sir around with us and listen in to the Pentagon briefing. And once again, we'll bring that to our viewers as soon as it begins.
Meanwhile, let's check in live, closer to where the action is taking place, and that's with our Nic Robertson, who's joining us live now from Islamabad -- Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, we're hearing now just in the last few minutes that sources in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, say that they can hear helicopter activity over the city. They can't say more than that at this time. They don't know exactly where it's going. But they are reporting helicopter activity.
Last night also, the CNN staff in the compound in Kandahar reported hearing what they said sounded like five helicopters flying over the compound. And not long after that, they reported -- they said what they heard was a half-an-hour-long exchange of small-arms gunfire. Now this, they believe, could have been an exchange of gunfire between the Taliban and those commando forces that we heard have been operating in the south of Afghanistan, in the Kandahar area.
Also today, Pakistani authorities confirming that a United States helicopter crashed in Baluchistan, a remote desert region inside Pakistan. Those sources say that it crashed just across the border from Afghanistan. And, of course, we understand from United States military sources that that helicopter was working in support of the military operation that was going on in the south of -- in the Kandahar area.
Now, U.N. officials today here in Pakistan briefing journalists on their concerns about the current situation. They say that 5,000 refugees came out of Kandahar area into Pakistan. They say another 10,000 are stuck on the border inside Afghanistan.
Those, they say, to not have the proper documentation. Those refugees do not have the proper documentation to come into Pakistan. And they say, even when the refugees do get into Pakistan, they still have concerns, because they say the refugee sites for them are not yet ready. The water systems are not in place, and the camps are not yet open.
U.N. officials also concerned about deteriorating security situations inside Afghanistan. They say many warehouses around the country now are being looted. They have daily reports of incidences of staff being beaten. They say the U.N.'s de-mining teams inside Afghanistan so far have had some...
KAGAN: We interrupt Nic Robertson to go to the Pentagon.
(INTERRUPTED BY CNN COVERAGE OF A LIVE EVENT)
KAGAN: He might be new to the job, but General Richard Myers is very clued in to reporters and their tricks to get one last question there. That is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff giving a briefing at the Pentagon. Some of the things we learned. Two targets of the U.S. military overnight: an airfield in Southern Afghanistan; also, what was described as a Taliban command-and-control facility. At both places, the general saying that the Taliban not putting up much resistance or interference as the U.S. military went in and tried to take control of both of those.
The general also talking about the loss of life. Two U.S. soldiers lost their life in a helicopter accident, a Black Hawk helicopter accident in Pakistan. The general pointing out that this helicopter was not shot down, that this was a mechanical mishap, and there certainly will be an investigation into that situation.
Let's bring in our military analyst, retired Major General Don Shepperd, who is standing by with us here in Washington.
General, first of all, we got to see some pictures off the top of some special command forces as they were getting ready to go into Afghanistan. What did you take from those pictures?
SHEPPERD: Daryn, this is an astounding briefing. I mean, real- time TV, with real pictures of the people doing it, without revealing operational details. This is masterful on behalf of the Pentagon here.
KAGAN: Not easy to do that, to do both.
SHEPPERD: I tell you, here we are in Washington, watching this halfway around the world. General Myers said special operations forces and U.S. Army Rangers going against terrorists' targets and the Taliban command-and-control facilities.
We saw pictures of people preparing their gear, loading on the transports. He did not say what type of transports. All of -- one was a C-130 there, obviously, and he did allude to that later. Then we saw them jumping in. It's almost like watching a grade-B movie. And I cannot...
KAGAN: Except it's real.
SHEPPERD: It's real. I cannot overemphasize how difficult, how dangerous, how complex, how much preparation and exercising this takes.
And out of this, he says we had two people that were injured, not seriously. Of course, two people killed in the aircraft accident in Pakistan and three others injured.
KAGAN: But that's separate from the pictures that we're seeing.
SHEPPERD: Separate, indeed.
Then he went on to talk about also -- and we saw pictures of them blowing up an ammo dump there. He went on to talk about the other air activities going on, to include four C-17s, more humanitarian relief.
And then he was repeatedly questioned about how we extracted them. He wouldn't say. He wouldn't say at all.
And he talked about hitting two targets, not simultaneously but in the same period of time. He talked about the reason for this -- gathering intelligence. He wouldn't go any further.
People said, "Did we capture?" He wouldn't say about that.
But basically, he said the message is, we have the capability, at times and placings (sic) of our choosing, to do what we want. This is just astounding capability.
If I were the Taliban watching this, what I would take from this is what General Grange said last night: You cannot sleep again. We have the capability, an astounding capability, to do this.
SHEPPERD: One of the most impressive briefings and impressive shows of film I've ever seen on military subject, real time -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Help us understand some of these targets, General, especially the airfield. By going in there, the general did talk about intelligence. But if the U.S. military does control that airfield, isn't that a facility they could also use that would let them get into that area?
SHEPPERD: That's true, it does. I mean, you at some point need airfields if you are going to bring in large numbers of forces and resupply them.
But remember, he was questioned about, "Are we still holding it?" And he would not say anything else. The indication, obviously, that the people have been extracted, the operation is over for now. I take it they were not holding the airfield.
On the other hand, the reason for going in there would have been, as he said, to gather intelligence. We were after intelligence. He talked about one of Omar's buildings or facilities, which is a fairly large facility.
So obviously, as he said, they were there on the -- they were there for an extended period of time, and essentially they are now out.
Amazing, truly amazing.
KAGAN: General Shepperd, thank you for helping us to interpret those pictures and the information coming from the Pentagon.
With more analysis, let's bring in our military affairs correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, who is standing by at the Pentagon.
KAGAN: Jamie, a question that the general would not answer at the very end, "Is this the beginning of a ground war?"
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is the beginning of troops on the ground, but it's not the beginning of what we think as a conventional ground war where U.S. forces go in, take and hold territory.
You may have noticed during the briefing I was asking General Myers about that, whether -- you know, because he left us hanging. He showed us the troops going in; didn't show us how they brought them out. We presume they actually were brought out by helicopter.
One of the interesting things about this briefing is, we always have an idea of how an operation is going to unfold. There's always a sort of textbook way to do things. And then when the actual mission comes up, it's always slightly different.
In this case, we had talked a lot about helicopters bringing the troops in. But in order to increase the stealthiness of the beginning of the operation, they used paratroopers who silently dropped in, not giving away the beginning of the mission with helicopters. And then not having to use helicopters until the very end when it was time to extract the troops.
KAGAN: Jamie, General Shepperd, I don't know if you could hear him, but he was really taken by the pictures and what the U.S. public is allowed to see about this operation. All of your years covering the Pentagon, were you struck, as well?
MCINTYRE: Well, this is the first time that we've seen them release battlefield video with a -- taken by a nightscope. Normally, we have people on the ground ourselves who are able to provide that, and normally the United States military provides access to the troops before they go out in a way that doesn't compromise the mission.
Unfortunately, we only saw very small snippets of what the operation was, only exactly what the Pentagon wanted us to see. You know, we have no way of knowing if other things went wrong in other parts of the operation. We don't have any access to that.
So it was remarkable imagery, but it only shows us a very small portion of what happened and only precisely what the Pentagon has decided is appropriate.
Now, the Pentagon says that a large part of this is for their operational security as they're -- this is not going to be the first mission. They're going to have to do more. And they don't want to give away some of their procedures so that the Taliban can anticipate that, and that's certainly understandable.
But nevertheless, this marks the first time I've seen battlefield video released by the Pentagon at a Pentagon briefing.
KAGAN: Two interesting perspectives, one from a former general and one from a newsman; one taken by the pictures we get to see and one who would like to see a little bit more.
Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon, thank you very much.
Want to go back overseas now, check in in Islamabad and Nic Robertson, who is standing by.
ROBERTSON: Well, Daryn, too soon to get a reaction from the Taliban to those pictures. But from when we were inside Afghanistan just a month or so ago, this was the real concern of Taliban officials, that there would be these limited ground operations, where troops would come in, take control of an area, take control of an airport perhaps, and then pull out again. This has been, up until now, a really unknown question for the Taliban.
They've seen an increase in the activities there. Our sources in Kandahar and other places saying that they've seen the Spector Gunships come in in the last few days. They heard the helicopters last night.
They in Kandahar said that they could hear intensive small-arms gun battles in the city, indicative, they felt, of hand-to-hand-type combat between potentially a commander unit and Taliban forces. Certainly some indication from that briefing there that there was an operation very close to the vicinity of Kandahar.
But that was the concern of the Taliban, that special operations forces would come into an area, control that area while they were there, do whatever it was that they wanted to do, and then pull out -- a big concern of the Taliban in the past. Too soon yet to get their immediate reaction to this so far -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Nic Robertson in Islamabad, thank you very much.
KAGAN: Want to get White House reaction. Of course, President Bush continues his trip in Shanghai. Still, we want to go to the White House and our Kelly Wallace, who's standing by -- Kelly.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, with it being, what, 12:30 a.m. in Shanghai, we believe President Bush resting at this hour, gearing up for what will be his final day in Shanghai.
Two observations, really, to add to what has already been said.
You heard General Myers talk about how these troops were going to now prepare for the possibility of future actions, going after future targets and also of targets and command-and-control centers, places harboring terrorists and terrorist activities. Again, the indication, of course, what we saw Friday overnight in Afghanistan, southern Afghanistan, not likely to be the last time you see U.S. ground troops in Afghanistan.
And as for President Bush, Daryn, we heard him earlier in the day, and you General Myers echoing those comments today, the president talking about the deaths of those two U.S. soldiers killed in that helicopter incident in Pakistan. The president saying that his heart's going out to the families of those soldiers. But he also said, just as General Myers said, that they did not die in vain, and the president using an opportunity in Shanghai to say that the cause here that the soldiers and others are involved in is, quote, "just and right" and that the United States will prevail. Daryn, you have seen President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, other senior officials preparing the American people for the possibility of sacrifice and for casualties. Obviously, this moment has come. The president calling it "a moment of sacrifice." Obviously telling Americans that more could be on the way, but that this cause is just.
Daryn, back to you.
KAGAN: Kelly Wallace at the White House. Kelly, thank you.
Now, if our viewers had been with us for about the last 40 minutes, you know, we've been covering two stories for you: the military angle, but also the discovery of traces of anthrax at an office building at the House of Representatives.
KAGAN: For more on that story, let's bring in our Jonathan Karl, who's standing by on Capitol Hill -- Jonathan.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Daryn, a couple of critical details about that story. It's the Ford Office Building, as we've been reporting. And as we've also been reporting, the Ford Office Building includes the mail room, which is the mail room where the mail goes to the office buildings where the representatives actually have their offices.
What we have learned is that it was specifically one machine in that mail room that tested positive for anthrax. It was the machine that serviced the Longworth House Office Building.
We've also learned that there was a child care -- there is a childcare facility, as we know, in the Ford Office Building, but that they tested that childcare facility and there was absolutely no sign of any anthrax presence in the childcare facility in the Ford Office Building.
There was also no sign of any anthrax in the machines that bundle mail for the other office buildings, including the House side of the Capitol.
Now, the Longworth Office Building, significantly, is not the office building where Dennis Hastert has his office. So it doesn't seem to be the same pattern where, you know, as know in the Senate side, the anthrax letter went to the leader of the Senate, Tom Daschle. While we don't really know where this was going -- we can't conclude, but we know that it seems to be that the anthrax was found tested positive in the machine for the Longworth Office Building.
Now, there are many representatives that have offices in there, and they have no clue, at this point, as to what it could have been, but that's what we know right now.
KAGAN: And, Jonathan, just real quickly, this comes -- this discovery comes as this whole facility has been shut down for a number of days. KARL: Well, that's right. And we also know, and I believe we've been reporting, that those buildings are shut down, and they are continuing to do their environmental screening of all the other office buildings.
And as of now, we have no indication that there is a sign of anthrax present anywhere in the House side of the Capitol complex besides in that mail room and in that specific machine, that bundling machine, that handles mail for the Longworth House Office Building.
Now, one other thing is that for people that work in that office, in that mail room in the Ford Office Building, they will be asked -- and they will be setting this up very shortly -- to get nasal swab tests to see if they were actually exposed -- Daryn.
KAGAN: Brings up a lot of questions about how those anthrax spores got there. There are more questions and answers ahead. As I understand it, we are expecting a news conference on Capitol Hill. When that news conference happens, you will see it live.
More on that, more details on that part of the story, also, on the military. And we have an anthrax, an emergency room doctor expert for you, coming up. We'll take your e-mail questions and get more information from him. Right now, a quick break.
KAGAN: Showing you a live -- I believe it's a live picture -- right now, the Ford Office -- there you go, the Ford Office Building on Capital Hill, part of the House of Representatives. Earlier today, traces of anthrax found in this office building. Once again, this is one that has been shut down for a number of days, as officials go and conduct an official sweep, looking for any indication of anthrax, which apparently they have found today.
Want to let you know, joining me today is Kate Snow, my colleague who usually covers Capitol Hill. Frankly, we had planned to do an entirely different show today, but given the developments, I'm glad you are sitting by my side and are going to help me with the story with the latest information, also talking to our anthrax experts. So, Kate, stand by right there.
Joining us right now from Kansas City is Dr. Joseph Waeckerle. He is an expert on anthrax, bioterrorism and the government's response, and emergency room medicine in general.
Dr. Waeckerle, hello, and thanks for joining us.
DR. JOSEPH WAECKERLE, ANTHRAX EXPERT: Good morning.
KAGAN: Actually, well, good morning to you in Kansas City. We're already on to afternoon here in Washington, D.C.
Want to get to this latest development in this story, when we hear traces of anthrax found in this House office building. How much anthrax do you need to come in contact with in order to be exposed? WAECKERLE: That's a good question. The science studies have demonstrated it can be 2,500 spores, up to 55,000 spores.
And it's really not only the amount that you breathe in, but it's the size of the particles and how far down it gets in your body and how susceptible you are to it. So there are a number of factors that determine whether you become infected by anthrax.
KAGAN: And you said breathe in, but just to refer to my instant schooling in anthrax, you can also get it by touching it, right?
WAECKERLE: Yes, that's the cutaneous form. We're always more worried about the inhalation form because it has to be treated rather rapidly. The cutaneous form can also be acquired by getting some on your skin, but it has a very, very low complication rate, especially if adequately treated.
KAGAN: Kate Snow has been living through this anthrax crisis on Capitol Hill all week long.
You have a question for Dr. Waeckerle.
SNOW: Well, Doctor, they're now asking -- we just heard Jonathan Karl say that they're going to ask every one who was in that building to now go and get nasal swabs. We've been hearing a lot about nasal swabs. In fact, on Capitol Hill, they've done some 4,000 nasal swabs already.
SNOW: Can you explain what that is and why they do that test?
WAECKERLE: Sure. A nasal swab allows the investigators, the epidemiologists who are studying exposure possibilities, to determine if you have been exposed. It does not mean that you've contracted the infection. It only means that you've been exposed.
And an example of that is all of the people that have worked in the wool and fiber industry and worked around sheep, who carry anthrax. They're possibly exposed, but most of time they don't have the disease.
SNOW: And they're suggesting now that only those who were in the mail room in that Ford Office Building need to go get those tests. Why would that be?
WAECKERLE: At this time that's the only locale where they've actually identified a source of anthrax that might be the source that they would be exposed to. So they need to determine if, in fact, if it was aerosolized or spread to the people in that particular room.
SNOW: And as I understand it, Doctor, it's more of an epidemiological test -- that's a big word -- but it's more of a test to see where it is than an it is a medical test to diagnosis people. Is that right?
WAECKERLE: That's correct. What you want to know is if they've been exposed and if they've been exposed to the same organism that they found in the bundling machine or in the room.
And that begins to establish some point sources so that you can then say, "Well, if you were in the room and that was in there, then we need to make sure that you're OK." And it allows you to do these studies to determine if it's spread and the source and as I said earlier.
KAGAN: I want to remind our viewers that of course we have a number of questions for Dr. Waeckerle but, also, this is your show, as well. And you can send in your e-mail questions to Dr. Waeckerle. The address is very simple. Just send it to email@example.com.
Dr. Waeckerle, you an expert as we mentioned, not just in bioterrorism and anthrax, but in dealing with these mass situations where a lot of people might get sick or injured at one time.
Given what you've seen that's taken place over the last week, is the U.S. ready for a mass anthrax exposure?
WAECKERLE: I think the U.S. is better prepared than ever before. And what was very encouraging this last week was Governor Ridge and the other leading federal authorities to come together on TV and demonstrate a unity that we have clamored in the past, that the government has finally responded to.
So it's nice to see the administration and the Congress coming together and saying, "Now we're going to have a new position, a new secretary leading the charge." Because in the past, we've had over 40 federal agencies, 20 of which have been involved in health care alone in this country, involved in this, and there was no leader.
WAECKERLE: So if there's no leader, there's lot of leaders.
Now we have a central leader, and management and oversight authority is critical to a national strategy and response.
KAGAN: Let's go from that leader to the front lines, which is not going to be police or the FBI. Frankly, it's going to be doctors and emergency rooms and hospitals across the U.S. Are they ready to fight a bioterrorism war?
WAECKERLE: Well, we're becoming more ready every day. The first thing is it's nice to see the media educating everybody, and that helps us because the media is central in communicating information and education to the public.
But interestingly enough, it also raises the awareness and the level of awareness in all of the emergency health care professionals, the doctors, the nurses, the paramedics, the fire departments and police, so they were more vigilant than ever.
And, as you all know, and I'm sure everybody in America knows by now, this is a very difficult disease to diagnose clinically, because it's very non-specific. You sort of feel like you have the flu for a while, until you get really sick. So we need to raise the level of awareness. By doing that and educating, especially, the emergency health care professionals that staff the emergency departments and the hospitals in America, we will be more vigilant, and it will allow us to detect and identify the disease early. If we do that, then we can really benefit our country and our patients.
SNOW: Dr. Waeckerle, it's Kate. Let me ask you one critical question, though, about Capitol Hill and what's happened there.
The Ford Office Building, which we're just learning about now, it was open until Wednesday night. So was the Hart Office Building, for that matter and -- most of it, not the corner where Senator Daschle's office is.
But I'm wondering, do you think the authorities responded as best they could on Capitol Hill? They seem to not exactly know where to put the perimeter and how to handle the situation.
WAECKERLE: Listen, I don't know all the particulars, with regard to the investigation, but you have to understand that those are open, public buildings. And, in fact, I testified there a week ago. And so, knowing who's in and out at any one time makes it very difficult to identify everybody there.
But what they did is they did a classic and appropriate epidemiologic investigation. They went through each room and identified if there was any source of anthrax in each room. After they went through and identified the point sources, then they identified people that might be primarily in those rooms.
WAECKERLE: And then, of course, they spread the investigation, as they should, to potential contacts outside of the most central individuals. And it takes time to do that.
The good thing about this, if you have to say there's any good thing about anthrax, is there's a window of opportunity in potentially exposed and infected people to identify them and treat them before they have any bad things happen to then.
SNOW: From a medical point of view, though, Doctor, would it would have been better to shut down those buildings a little sooner?
WAECKERLE: Well, that's hard for me to speculate, not knowing what the level of concern was.
I think that you have to balance the potential for an exposure or a source of anthrax with the needs to run our government and with the perception in the public that our government's been compromised, and that's a very difficult decision that the authorities must weigh. And when you look at the risk-benefit of that, I'm sure that they felt that there was not that much risk and there was greater benefit to keep our government running.
KAGAN: One thing we learn every time we have an anthrax scare or infection or exposure or discovery like we do today, people start talking about what they can do at home. Whether or not they're on Capitol Hill or Kansas City where you are, there is an increased interest especially in the antibiotic of Cipro. Who needs to go on it, and who should really be staying away from it?
WAECKERLE: I think most people should stay away.
What we have to remember in this country, as pointed out in the press conference, is there's been six cases of anthrax reported to date. In each of those cases, there was a known source of anthrax and a known exposure. And these are very high-profile people, so there's not a great deal of threat to the rest of America, fortunately.
If we, in fact, become panicked and do inappropriate things, like take Cipro, we lose our greatest weapon against anthrax should it ever occur on a general basis, and that is we cannot give Cipro to everyone. There's not a great enough supply right now, and we will be remedying that. And we only want to give it to the people that need it.
If you take Cipro prophylactically, just to prevent it, because you feel like it or you feel bad, you take an antibiotic that's expensive. You're liable to have a sensitivity reaction to it.
WAECKERLE: You're liable to grow organisms in your own body that become resistant to it, which makes it much more difficult to take care of you in the future.
And of course there's complications of Cipro, especially in children, and potentially pregnant people. And you have to, again, weight the risks and the benefits of taking the medicine.
KAGAN: We have a phone call for you, Doctor, and it's coming in from North Carolina.
Caller, what's your question for Dr. Waeckerle?
CALLER: Yes, I was just curious, why don't you guys recommend anything to build immune systems, such as Immune 26? Have you ever heard -- I don't know if you're ever heard of them. There's things that build immune system that might help fight that off.
WAECKERLE: That's a great question. And, in fact, medical science is now looking at immune modulators that we're trying to discover and enhance our ability to fight infection, not only before it occurs, but as it just occurs, so that we can prevent these types of infections.
But unfortunately, with regard to the medical science, as I understand it, there are no immune modulators that I could recommend to the American public at this time.
Certainly in the nutrition industry, they have different standards, and people have different feelings. And the great thing about America is you're free, within certain boundaries, to do whatever you think is right for you. KAGAN: E-mail questions also coming in for you, and we might be stretching your anthrax intelligence here, or body of knowledge, Doctor, but we'll put it up here anyway.
This is from Ben, and he asks, "How long can anthrax spores last in the form that they've been sent through the mail?"
WAECKERLE: Anthrax spores -- this is an amazing fact, and it just fascinated me. I saw it on the Discover Channel the other night. They took a bug that was embedded in amber for approximately 16 million years and aspirated, or took out, from the bug the stomach contents, and there was anthrax spores in there that were still alive, viable.
WAECKERLE: Routinely we assume that anthrax is viable for 25 to 50 years in the soil. Another interesting fact is that the cattle drives that went across America for 100 hundreds, along those routes there are still viable anthrax spores and, in fact, some of the highest concentrations in the soil of America. And that was 100 years ago.
KAGAN: Kate's been doing a little anthrax research herself. She's going to jump in and see what he thought about it.
SNOW: Doctor, I had been told that it has to have a nutrient base, though, so that if it's on your clothing or your desk it might not last as long as if it's in your body or in a nutrient base.
WAECKERLE: Well, you can't mix up the spore versus the bacteria itself. And you're absolutely right, Kate, that you have to have a nutrient base and a certain amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide that our body readily supplies, and that's why they do their damage in a human being, for the bacteria but not for the spore.
The spore won't convert to a bacteria unless it is in that nutrient base. But the spore itself is a very taught little bug and can last a long time in the environment.
KAGAN: Very interesting. Dr. Joseph Waeckerle, we appreciate your insight, your intelligence and also your patience, as you're with us on this day of developing stories. Thank you for joining us from Kansas City.
From there, we go to a live picture of the Ford Office Building here in Washington, D.C. The discovery of anthrax spores -- today, more on that, and a news conference is coming up.
Right now we are going to fit in a quick break.
KAGAN: I'm Daryn Kagan in Washington, D.C., joined by my colleague Kate Snow as we cover a number of developing stories here in the nation's capital today. We'll bring you up to date on the anthrax story in just a minute.
First, let's look at the military angle and the Pentagon briefing we heard live here on CNN just within in the last hour, beginning with U.S.-led airstrikes Afghanistan again last today, as word coming of a new phase in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Taking a look now at video of what the Pentagon describes as a special forces operation in the ground in Afghanistan.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says that U.S. military forces went in last night, carried out two separate operations which achieved both their objectives.
The general saying that, among other things, U.S. forces came across stores of rocket-propelled grenades and ammunitions and were able to destroy them.
President Bush says that two U.S. service personnel were killed in a helicopter accident and that they will not have died in vain. The Pentagon says the accident took place in Pakistan near the Afghan border. Officials say the troops were part of a search and rescue team, standing by to enter Afghanistan if needed.
And we heard in that Pentagon briefing that that helicopter was not shot down. It was part of a mechanical mishap. The investigation into that incident, in which two people lost their lives, does continue.
Now, the developing and breaking news out of here in Washington, D.C., and that is the discovery of anthrax in one of the office buildings attached to the House of Representatives. And for more on that, let's go to Capitol Hill and Jonathan Karl -- Jonathan.
KARL: Yes, Daryn.
Official confirmation now from the leadership in the House of Representatives, a joint statement from Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, the Republican, and the Democrat Leader Dick Gephardt.
They are confirming the details we've been bringing to you this morning. And they are also adding -- and I want to read directly part of their statement -- quote, "All other bundling machines tests are negative. Because of the suspension of mail delivery, it not known whether any of the affected mail was delivered."
So to recap, we know that this anthrax hot spot was found in a very specific location, the Ford Office Building, in the mail room, and only on one bundling machine, a bundling machine which handles deliveries to the Longworth House Office Building, which is not the place where Dennis Hastert has his office, but it is the place where Dick Gephardt, the Democratic leader, has his office.
But again, they don't know if any of the mail was delivered. They don't have any signs of any affected mail, so they don't know who the target could have been. But they're also saying that the child care center that is in that Ford Office Building tested completely negative, as did the rest of the building that they have tested so far. So they are only recommending those nasal swab tests we've been talking about for people that were directly in that mail room. No other nasal swab tests are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control at this time.
We are expecting a press conference probably in about five minutes, where we will hear from the spokesperson for the Capitol Police, Lieutenant Dan Nichols, and we will also hear from the Capitol physician, Dr. John Eisold. We're expecting that, like I said, in about five minutes -- Daryn.
KAGAN: All right. When that begins, you will know where we'll be, live back with you. Jonathan Karl, on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.
Now, to another side of the terrorism story, safety in the air. One brave woman signaled her support this week of air travel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA BEAMER: I'll be cautious, and I'll be prepared, and I'll be vigilant, but I will not be afraid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: That was Lisa Beamer, the widow of one of the passengers who fought and died aboard Flight 93 after it was taken over by terrorists on September 11.
Lisa Beamer says she takes a stand and she takes a flight. Many other people take a pass on air travel these days.
Joining us now about what lies ahead for passengers, airlines and the federal government, Congressman Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia, and Kenneth Quinn, formerly general counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration. He is now in this newly formed Aviation Security Association set up after the terrorist attacks to oppose the federal takeover of airport security.
Gentlemen, welcome. Thanks for joining us.
REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: Nice to be here.
KAGAN: First of all, Congressman Moran, what's your reaction to our latest news today, and that is the discovery of anthrax in that House office building?
MORAN: I think it shows that the House leadership was correct in shutting down all of the office buildings yesterday and doing a clean sweep. This is what we were afraid of. And, you know, I have to say that the Senate showed us a little false bravado there in staying open. Once you send the staff home though, they're not going to accomplish much anyway.
We'll be able to go back to work Tuesday and make sure that we know those buildings are now safe.
KAGAN: But that is not where your office happens to be?
MORAN: No, my office is in the Rayburn Building, which is one of the principle House office buildings. The Ford building actually is for extended committee staff. And I don't know why it would have been in the Ford Building. Frankly, it's not a building that would have any symbolic significance. Strange.
KAGAN: More information on that ahead.
All right, let's get to the topic that affects a lot more Americans than just where you gentlemen do a lot of your work on Capitol Hill, and that is the nation's airports and how security is being handled.
I have flown quite a bit since September 11, and I can tell you it's handled differently in a lot of different airports, especially when you go through that metal detector.
KAGAN: First, to you, Congressman, how do you think this should be handled? Is this something the federal government should take over, or is this something that private individual companies should be continued to allowed to handle?
MORAN: I think the federal government should assume responsibility, be held accountable...
MORAN: ... be held accountable.
KAGAN: Take it over?
MORAN: Yes, be held accountable.
KAGAN: Take it over?
MORAN: Yes, absolutely. If we're going to be held accountable, we've got to be responsible for hiring the people, training them, doing the adequate background checks and, I think, paying them adequately with sufficient benefits so that we can really professionalize that function.
Right now, I think that's our weakest link in terms of airport security. It needs to be beefed up. And you can't be paying people minimum wage and expect them to exercise the kind of judgment that we're expecting people to do and to interpret the sophisticated equipment that they have to interpret.
KAGAN: Ken Quinn, you represent a lot of people who make millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, in this business. I would imagine they have a different opinion as to how it should be handled.
KENNETH QUINN, FORMER FAA GENERAL COUNSEL: Well, actually, they're not making a lot of money in the United States. What they really do...
KAGAN: But they still want the business. They don't want to give up the contracts.
QUINN: Well, absolutely. Because of aviation security, this nationalized approach, a federal takeover of security was a failed approach. They tried that in Europe, and they found after a huge spade of hijackings, grenades going off in airports, that you can't have accountability in the federal government.
KAGAN: But are you saying that it's working now? I can tell you when I flew out of Baltimore on Sunday night...
QUINN: No, no I was not defending the status quo at all. You don't have the work force out there that is professional and effective enough. Why? Because you have them reporting to airlines.
In a highly competitive business, very cost sensitive -- I agree with the congressman -- we need to federalize, but not nationalize, the work force. The federal government needs to set the standards they can pay the people who you really lower the turnover, you increase the wages, and you make and enforce against strict federal standards.
That's the way to do it. That's what's done in Europe. It's professional, it's effective, it works. A nationalized approach doesn't.
KAGAN: Let's just quickly mention we are standing by for this news conference so that when it begins we're not going to be rude -- I mean, we actually will be rude...
KAGAN: ... but we will have you gentlemen stand by for that -- Kate.
SNOW: I wanted to ask Congressman Moran a question on that point. It's been said time and time again, and it's been told to me by many Republicans on the Hill, that federalizing the work force is simply creating another federal bureaucracy where one isn't needed. You're going to be hiring thousands and thousands of federal workers. It's a new red tape, a new bureaucracy. Why would you do that?
MORAN: Well, you've done it with Customs, you have done it with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and I now think we need to do it with airport security.
It passed the Senate 100 to nothing. It is being held up for just the reason you raise, and actually I think it's even more political than that. Our majority whip suggests that if they get hired by the federal government, become federal employees, they will join a union and then they will be more likely to vote Democratic. I don't think that that's a compelling enough reason not do to this.
If we're going to be held accountable, which we should be, we need to hire people. Right now, because of competition, they're being paid little more than the minimum wage. And you can't expect people to act professionally if you're not compensating them accordingly.
QUINN: Compensation needs to be raised. It be can be raised by the federal government itself. Holding up INS, Immigration and Naturalization, that was an abject failure on September 11. They were handing out visas like candy to people who had known links to terrorists organizations. Accountability and the federal bureaucracy just don't match...
MORAN: You want us to privatize the FBI and INS, Ken?
QUINN: ... you cannot hire, you cannot fire -- well, I don't want to go postal on airport security either. What we need to be doing is setting very strict standards, enforcing against those standards.
You cannot hire and fire in the federal government. You cannot pay differentially in the federal government. You've got to figure out what was the problem. The problem with September 11 was not a breakdown in the private security work force. It was a breakdown in federal agency...
KAGAN: How can you say that, given that people...
QUINN: It was a breakdown at CIA, not being able to penetrate terrorists cells.
KAGAN: It wasn't a breakdown for all those men who got on those planes with box cutters?
QUINN: There is no evidence -- what was wrong was, again, a federal government breakdown. The federal standard, what ought to be investigated, what ought to be confiscated, was wrong. So now we've ratcheted that down.
So the FAA, the federal government standard was wrong. The FBI, tracking known terrorists, was wrong. The INS, handing out visas to people with known links, was wrong.
KAGAN: But you're...
QUINN: So now we think we're going to federalize this huge bureaucracy on top of a bureaucracy and think they're going to be infallible. That's just not...
MORAN: Well, there's been a lot of finger pointing, but the reality is that 90 percent of the security people have less than six months experience on the job.
MORAN: And they just looked at Dulles Airport. They found 80 percent weren't even U.S. citizens. There's nothing wrong with not being a U.S. citizen, but how can you do a background check...
QUINN: No, but you change the standard. You change the standard. If the federal government wants to give us citizens... MORAN: Well, you could have changed the standard by now. We have federal standards.
QUINN: You look in Europe, Congressman, look in Europe. The same security companies over there have just come into this country, and what they're doing -- turnover is 10 to 12 percent over there. Wages...
KAGAN: Well, how do they keep their people?
QUINN: ... are 60 percent higher. The difference is they're reporting to a federal government whose concern is about security, not the airlines. You got to take them out of the equation, and we dramatically raise the bar very high, very fast. And I dare say, you try to nationalize the work force now, it is the worst possible time to be doing it. You are going to create a gaping hole in this nation's security at the worst time.
MORAN: You know, you represent Argonbright. They do security checks at Dulles and National. The General Accounting Office and Department of Transportation just found that they've been hiring felons. They haven't been doing security background checks. They pay people a little more than the minimum wage.
QUINN: Private companies should not be doing criminal background checks. That is a responsibility of the federal government.
What we ought to have is private companies saying, look, here are the people we want to hire. Are they good from an immigration standpoint? Are they good from a criminal background check standpoint? Red light, green light? Put them to work.
KAGAN: And we're going to put you to work, but right now we're going to give you a break. We're going to take a little pause here at the conversation -- very lively. Much more to talk about.
Also, we are standing by for that news conference on Capitol Hill, so stay with us.
KAGAN: Continuing our conversation once again with Ken Quinn and also Congressman Jim Moran talking about airport security.
Ken, I want to get back to a point that you made, talking about you don't want the federal government to take over airport security, yet you want to take a system that a lot of people think is broken and throw more federal money at it. How do you justify that?
QUINN: Well, we do need more money. We need -- the congressman raised a good point. These people have to be better paid. Turnover is a legitimate problem.
So what we need to do is offer health benefits to these people. We need to make it a professional career, as it is in Europe, where turnover is very low, wages are on average 60 percent higher. Again, a federalized system, but one where it's not a federal work force. It is a strong public-private-sector partnership. That's where we need to get to in this country.
KAGAN: Do you both agree on the basic premise that we need better security and that people are willing to pay for it? Because that's what I'm hearing out in the real world.
QUINN: Absolutely, absolutely.
KAGAN: People will pay a $2.50 surcharge. So why not -- so, Congressman, why not just do it? It just seems to simple.
QUINN: That's what's holding up congressional passage is this insistence on nationalizing.
MORAN: Well, we think that we're not going to get an improved system. We're going to go back to the same -- if the bottom line is the bottom line, of profit and loss considerations, then we're going to continue to slip to the lowest common denominator of compensation of these people.
If they're hired as federal employees, they have some promotional opportunity. They have some ability to get some retirement, some health benefits, which they're not going to be if they're contracted. Then we're going to be able to professionalize it. The way it is now, you have federal standards there. They're oftentimes not...
QUINN: We don't have federal standards.
MORAN: Well, you do have some federal standards.
QUINN: You don't even regulate security companies today.
MORAN: And it's very difficult...
QUINN: That's the problem.
MORAN: ... to audit them. I think we should assume responsibility and be willing to pay for it; professionalize these people, give them some promotional opportunities. The Senate, as I said, voted 100 to nothing for it. I don't see why it needs to be held up in the House.
QUINN: And there was a lot of objection in the Senate to that.
KAGAN: I want you to put your opinion aside for a second and give me a prediction. Where is this going? A year from now...
QUINN: Well, I think it looks...
KAGAN: ... when we fly, what's it going to look like...
QUINN: ... right now, it looks like... KAGAN: ... in U.S. airports?
QUINN: Right now, it looks like stalemate, unfortunately, in the Congress.
KAGAN: So nothing's going to happen?
QUINN: I think the president ought to just jump in, issue an executive order. The most important thing that needs to be done in aviation security is to take the airlines out of the equation. We shouldn't have security in the hands of the airlines.
Security companies ought to report to their federal government now. And I think if you do that now, you're going to raise standards, raise professionalism and effectiveness. And what you'll find is what you find in London's Heathrow, at Gatwick, at Schiphol, all these great environments.
KAGAN: Keep the companies and your clients in business, is what you're saying.
QUINN: Don't get rid of the security work force. Terrible thing.
MORAN: The problem with an executive order is it doesn't authorize the compensation, the additional expenditure.
QUINN: Well, authorize the money.
MORAN: So then you've got to have legislation, Ken. You can't do that just by executive order. The Congress has to act. The Senate acted; the House needs to act very quickly.
And you know, even -- no matter how many additional flights we offer at airports like National, what matters is the number of passengers. We don't have the American people with sufficient confidence now.
QUINN: We're not waiting for Congress to act, though. The administration's already moved forward very smartly here.
MORAN: We need to give them some greater assurance.
QUINN: What you (OFF-MIKE) is a good example in Athens. Athens was on the list and was going to be cited by the FAA itself as not having sufficient security systems in place, on the watch list. They had a nationalized approach.
So what did they do in the last year? They turn to private security companies to raise the standards. They have more accountability, more flexibility, more professionalism. These people are doing embassies, military installations, federal government buildings, high-threat jails, VIPs and diplomats, and now...
MORAN: Anything would have been an improvement at the Athens airport.
QUINN: And now Athens is a model of security, because it's a partnership.
KAGAN: Well, gentlemen, we have a phone call. Let's take the phone call. It is from Oklahoma.
Caller, go ahead. Oklahoma, are you with us?
OPERATOR: If you'd like to make a call...
SNOW: Lost that call.
KAGAN: Well, need security there.
KAGAN: We can go to our e-mail here, which is much more reliable than the phones these days. And this is from Deanna (ph), and she writes that she travels a lot internationally. She is always amazed that here in the U.S. they don't have security X-ray at each and every departure gate that other countries seem to be able to afford. Why not?
Congressman, why don't we have better facilities here in the U.S.?
MORAN: It's a good question. We ought to. That's the simple answer.
QUINN: Well, and you do have X-ray at every gate, so I'm not sure what she's saying there. But you do have -- what we need to do is enhance...
KAGAN: She's saying departure gate. She's saying at the departure gate, before you go on. When you fly...
QUINN: Well, you have a sterile area at every airport, so you're funneled through that. Right now, the problem is we don't have a work force, and we've got standards set down to here, and we're not targeting and selecting people. The European model, again, with a public-private partnership, has people more funneled. High-threat locations, high-threat people, you're selected for greater interrogation, greater confiscation.
Folks like the good congressman, maybe myself and you, known travelers with known profiles and the lack of any background to, you know, really have any suspicion attached to you, you go through. And you can go through with your toenail clippers, it's not a big deal.
MORAN: Well, one of our biggest problems is not at the major hub airports. It's at the smaller airports that feed into the major airports.
KAGAN: Portland, Maine, where some of the suspected hijackers got aboard.
QUINN: That's right, and that is a huge problem with the Senate bill. The Senate bill creates a bifurcated system. One level of security for the major hubs, another level of security, a hodgepodge of state and local governments for smaller airports.
SNOW: Well, it allows law enforcement officials to be -- state police or people like that -- to be at the...
QUINN: Sure, kind of a hodgepodge, cobbled together, whatever state and local law enforcement, apparently, to any small airport.
But you don't have this federalized system under the Senate bill for places like Portland, Maine. We have to have a more uniform security system in place right now, to deal with the threat -- everywhere, uniform.
KAGAN: As it is now, under the companies who are running it now, clients, people that you represent, as I was telling you during the break, I flew through Baltimore on Sunday night. One company runs the B gates, another company runs the C gates. The B gates, the line was two and a half hours long. C gates, it was two minutes long. And they confiscated completely different things.
QUINN: Well, you know, what that was probably more of a function of one gate was probably Southwest where everyone is flying over...
SNOW: But there's no uniform standard.
KAGAN: Yes, I went through both security and both...
QUINN: That's one of the big problems. We need that...
KAGAN: They confiscated different things from my bag. Actually, I made it through B, and C, they confiscated different things.
QUINN: The whole problem has been the FAA itself unfortunately,it has not certificated security companies and screening companies. They were right ready to do that prior to September 11. They need that rule so that you can have a certificate, put a training standard in. Today, they're 12 hours and 40 hours in Europe. These private companies, their feet to the fire, 90 hours of classroom training -- far more professional.
And you know what? If you don't like the performance, you either yank the contract or you pull the certificate. You get accountability, plus you get competition.
If you want a national work force, and you think the postal system is the only system we ought to go to and you think FedEx and UPS have not brought innovation and a better product and better services, and the Postal Service is better for having that competition, then nationalize, by all means.
KAGAN: We have a phone call. Let me get the phone call in. OK, the phone call is from Florida. Caller, go ahead.
CALLER: Thank you. I'd like to ask Mr. Quinn, why isn't the airline industry promoting the 100 percent screening for checked-in luggage? I know it takes a little bit of time but I think at this point in time, everybody would feel much safer should that occur.
KAGAN: Actually, it turns out our guests don't have ear pieces. So I'll go ahead and relay the question. The caller from Florida wants to know why the airlines aren't promoting more of the screening of the luggage, of the checked-in luggage, and going through that like they do in Europe?
QUINN: Yes, it's two big differences in Europe. You normally have all checked baggage subject to X-ray. You also have a bag match. Everybody that gets on board has to have a ticket and their bag on board. If they haven't gone on that airplane, then they don't get -- actually, the bags have to be pulled. You don't want someone to leave a bomb in the luggage. We need to apply that to the domestic system.
SNOW: Well, the caller wants to know why isn't it applied to the domestic system?
QUINN: Well, after Lockerbie, a lot of folks have examined that issue, and frankly, the intelligence and law enforcement community simply said that the domestic system is not as high of a risk as the international flights. We've not got a huge wake-up call, and so that's under very active consideration by...
SNOW: If that something you can legislate?
MORAN: Well, yes. And another factor is cost considerations. All of these additional security precautions take money.
KAGAN: And civil liberties.
MORAN: And civil liberties.
KAGAN: There's that balance. Ken was talking about, why aren't people just picked out at random at an airport? A lot of people are offended by that. If they're a law-abiding citizen and just truing to get from one destination to another, they don't want to be held up like that.
MORAN: You're exactly right, Daryn, but the midpoint of that balance has shifted since September 11. People are, I think, are now willing for invasion of their privacy to make sure that all of the other people flying have also been scrutinized.
But the bottom line is that we need to do more than incremental changes. We need...
QUINN: No question.
MORAN: ... some dramatic changes.
Go ahead, Kate.
SNOW: Well, I was just going to -- I'm wondering what you pulled out of your wallet there.
SNOW: The congressman pulled something out of his wallet right in the middle...
MORAN: I want to show you something here.
SNOW: Makes us a little nervous.
MORAN: I want to show you something, why we need some greater change than what is being suggested. At Washington National Airport, a colleague of mine...
SNOW: It's in your district.
MORAN: Yes. It serves the nation's capital.
QUINN: He represents it very well, by the way.
MORAN: Thank you very much.
MORAN: And you represent your clients very well.
MORAN: A colleague, a congressman from Arkansas, Mike Ross, was asked for a photo ID. He shows his congressional ID with his picture on it. It can't be duplicated. And the security screener says, "I don't recognize that organization." This was the U.S. House of Representatives. And he says, "You don't know the U.S. Congress?" And she says, "No."
So finally, he was able to pass the ID because he pulled out a Sam's Club Warehouse, which she did recognize. But she didn't know what the United States House of Representatives was.
That's why we need to professionalize the force, make sure they're adequately paid...
QUINN: Obviously you need to get rid of that one person who may have had a problem. That doesn't mean you nationalize a work force.
I mean, the transition alone, you're going to have security work force bolting for other jobs during a very high-threat environment. Thirty-thousand people plus, that is a major vulnerability in the system. That's an awful idea.
KAGAN: And they're going to have Kate and I bolting for another job if we don't go to a commercial break here.
QUINN: Yes, absolutely.
KAGAN: A very spirited discussion. I want to thank both Ken Quinn and Congressman Moran.
QUINN: Pleasure to be here. Thank you.
MORAN: It's been a pleasure.
KAGAN: Thank you very much. Safe travels to both of you.
We're going to talk about another thing that people face every day, your mail. Is it safe? And how do you a make sure it's safe, both at work and at home?
We want your e-mail. That's safe. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. And we're also taking your phone calls.
We are standing by once again for this news conference from Capitol Hill, the latest on the discovery of traces of anthrax on Capitol Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK POTTER, POSTMASTER GENERAL: If you receive something that's suspicious, we want you to isolate it, put it in a plastic bag, don't let other people touch it, don't shake it, don't taste it, don't sniff it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAGAN: That is the postmaster general, Jack Potter, this week, advising the public.
We also are talking about mail safety, and joining us to talk about how the postal service is responding is Deborah Willhite. She is the Postal Service's senior vice president for government relations.
Ms. Willhite, welcome, and thanks for joining us.
DEBORAH WILLHITE, U.S. POSTAL SERVICE: Thank you for having us.
KAGAN: Little did we know when we booked you as a guest that this would be a very newsworthy moment to have you here. Once again, we are standing by for a news conference from Capitol Hill, the latest development being that traces of anthrax found in the mail room of the Ford Office Building on Capitol Hill, connected to the House of Representatives.
Your response to this latest development? Once again, we're talking about anthrax and the mail. WILLHITE: Well, we have been on a very, very high alert for the past several weeks, since September 11. We have throughout the history of the Postal Service had a lot of substances move through the mail. We commonly trace 80 different threats of anthrax per year.
We will be involved in this investigation on the Hill, and the Postal Inspection Service will be involved. We'll be working with them to isolate what piece of mail, if it was a piece of mail that got the anthrax into this particular machine, and working with them to trace it back to its source.
KAGAN: So you're working hand in hand with the investigators.
KAGAN: Also learning today that more -- we had thought originally just one postal worker in Trenton, New Jersey, had come in contact with anthrax, and now it turns out that number is bigger. Can you give us the latest numbers and tell us how those people are doing?
WILLHITE: There are two that have been confirmed. Both are doing quite well. The mail carrier...
KAGAN: Two confirmed as infections?
WILLHITE: Right. And they're both doing very well. The mail carrier is recovering, and we expect them both to fully recover.
KAGAN: And where is that investigation taking you as you pass through how the mail works in Trenton, New Jersey?
WILLHITE: Well, it's a very thorough investigation, as you all reported quite substantially. There is a lot of information on a piece of mail that's provided through the various barcodes. And with the FBI and with the Postal Inspection Service, we're back-tracing where the mail actually originated and came from. And we think that there's going to be substantial breaks in the story.
KAGAN: As you can see, we have a split screen up for our viewers, showing that we have this news conference, looks like it's about to begin on Capitol Hill. Expecting to get the latest information on traces of anthrax. Let's listen in.
(INTERRUPTED FOR CNN COVERAGE OF A LIVE EVENT)
KAGAN: We've been listening to a news conference from Capitol Hill, getting the latest information on those traces of the positive swab of anthrax that showed up in the mail room of the Ford House Office Building. There will be further tests done on mail room workers. Unsure of the number and unsure exactly how many will have to start taking Cipro in response to that.
I want to bring in two guests that we have who have direct involvement in the House. That would be Congressman Peter King from Long Island and also Representative Maxine Waters from Southern California. Welcome to both of you.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you. Good morning.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Good to be here.
KAGAN: Ms. Waters, I'm going to go ahead and start with you.
KAGAN: We heard the Capitol Hill physician, Dr. Eisold, say, well, this really isn't surprising, finding this anthrax, not if you follow the trail of mail as it goes through the House and these office buildings.
Are you surprised to hear there are traces of anthrax at the place of your employment?
WATERS: Well, absolutely not. We saw that there was anthrax found over on the Senate side, and I expect it show up on the House side. I just had no idea how extensive it would be.
But I think the decision to go through all of those places and to bring the environmental people in and find out, it was a good decision. And now we know what we must do, and we must do this every day. It's not over, and we will probably find more.
KAGAN: Congressman King, let's bring you in. We also heard Dr. Eisold saying that one reason that this sweep has gone so well, because the House side and those buildings have been closed has made it easier for them to go ahead and do that environmental sweep. Sounding like perhaps it's important for the House to stay closed longer than Tuesday. What do you think about that?
KING: I think we should do what we've done in the past, and that's follow the advice of the police and the medical professionals. We did that, and that's why I think this test today has been so successful.
I think it's also important to realize that by following the advice of the police and the medical professionals, we're doing what all Americans should do, and that's take that advice.
I think also, I think it's a bit of a wake-up call to the Senate, and it shows them, I think, that what they did the other day was really a lot of pompous, posturing windbaggery by...
KING: ... you know, staying open -- even though they weren't staying open, they were hiding away in their secret offices in the Capitol. And, really, I think it exploited and shamefully exploited, for political purposes and personal purposes, a very serious issue. Anthrax is very serious, but it also can be very controlled if we do what we are told to do.
KAGAN: Let's just keep in mind, we have no senators present right now to defend themselves as we make those accusations.
Kate, go ahead.
SNOW: Well, so do you think, Congressman King, that you'll be back in session this week? Will you be able to get on with business? There are a lot of things that are out there that you were going to do this past week, the economic stimulus plan to help the economy, airline security. Will you be able to get to any of that now?
KING: First of all, I expect we are going to be back on Tuesday. I think, because of the fact that these tests have been going on for the last several days and will continue over the weekend, we should certainly be able to come back on Tuesday.
And there is a lot of important work that has to be done. There's a number of issues that we agree on. There are other issues that we disagree on and should have a healthy debate on, such as the stimulus bill, such as airline safety. And I'm sure Maxine Waters and I would agree that we want to get back to those debates as soon as we can and as soon as it's appropriate to do so.
And I think, as far as I'm concerned, we're coming back on Tuesday.
KAGAN: All right, Congresswoman Waters, in Los Angeles, so much of this has focused on the East Coast, especially Washington, D.C., and New York. What about your home town, Los Angeles? Is it ready?
WATERS: Well, people are anxious and they're concerned, and they're watching with great interest. And all of us in the Congress of the United States are focused on making sure that our local jurisdictions are prepared to respond to any occurrence that might take place, where there may be anthrax or any other chemical or biological agents that are found.
I talked with my police chief, and they are, I think, ready. They are coordinating with the FBI and the fire department. They all know what their roles are. And I think the responders are ready. And now we're trying to educate our constituents about how the response to such an occurrence would work.
I think that out here on the West Coast, we're very, very sympathetic to what is going on, my constituents are. All of the people out here are very sympathetic to what's going on in Washington, D.C. And they want to be reassure that we're on top of it, and we are. We're making good decisions.
And I would like to commend all of the people who are taking care of us in Washington, D.C., and the way that they're making these sweeps this weekend and the discovery that they have made and how they're going to handle it. It makes good sense. And I think that makes the people out here feel very comfortable that at least we know what we are doing.
KAGAN: Well, on that note of the sweeps that are taking place and the news of today of this discovery, do you think it's important for the House to stay closed or to open up for business and show America that you can go on and conduct your business?
WATERS: Well, we don't need to do any posturing. We don't need to be politicking on this. We need to make good decisions. We need to find out whether or not there are other discoveries of anthrax. If there are other discoveries, we would be foolish to go back into those offices.
There are things that we can do. We can be in Washington. We can be in other areas. There are some things that we can carry on.
But for us to go into offices where there are discoveries, just to simply say we're tough or we want to show that we're handling the nation's business, is foolish. And I don't expect that our constituents would want us to do that.
Not only do we have to be concerned about ourselves, we've got to be concerned about all of those workers. We've got thousands of people who work on the Hill. Their mothers and their fathers are calling us. One woman called because she heard that there was anthrax in our ventilating systems. And we had to assure her at that time that we did not know that to be the truth. And any of our staffs who would like to leave even if we've told them that it's safe, they may do that.
So we have to make good, solid, sound decisions, and do political posturing so that we can people feel as if we're in control and we know what we're doing. I think people know the difference when we're making good decisions and when we're just playing politics.
SNOW: Congressman King, did the right decision get made, though, because it took a little while -- you say you did the right thing by leaving town -- but it took a while to leave town. I mean, those buildings weren't closed down, even the House-side buildings weren't closed down until Wednesday night. Was that a mistake?
KING: Kate, the issue was not to leave town. The issue was to cooperate with the police and the medical professionals. We did what they told us to do.
Obviously the anthrax was discovered on Monday. It wasn't until Wednesday that the police and the health officials that it was best to leave so they could do the testing on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So we finished our business on Wednesday, and we went home. And we left Washington so that those offices could be swept.
Now, the difference between us and the Senate was their offices are also closed down, but unlike the Senate, Maxine and I don't have secret offices in the Capitol where we could have stayed. We have -- and that's the truth. They have -- the Senators have...
SNOW: You're talking about the hideaway offices.
KING: ... secret hideaway offices, paid for by the taxpayers, where they were able to go and hide away and then come out and vote. And what they voted on, by the way, on Thursday, was what Maxine and I had voted on on Wednesday. Again, I'm not trying to make a point here. I'm trying to reassure the American people that the House of Representatives did exactly what we were requested to do. This was a bio, chemical, criminal investigation that we were asked to cooperate with. And we did not want to throw ourselves in the way of that to score some cheap political points and interfere with the police investigation.
KING: If we had, perhaps this anthrax would not have been found and you would have had some young kid working in the Ford building infected with anthrax.
Now, maybe the senators are willing to pay that price; we're not. I'd rather be a person who does the right thing rather than some senatorial windbag.
KAGAN: But, Congressman...
WATERS: We left one day early. We normally leave on Thursday anyway. So we were out one day early, and that's not shutting down the Capitol in any way. So they started the sweep on Thursday instead of on Friday. That makes good sense once you discovered was that there was a possibility that it may be in some other buildings. So I think it was a good, sound decision.
SNOW: And before we scare anybody too much, I just want to get a little perspective from both of you. You both feel safe coming back to Washington, coming back to Capitol Hill? I mean, these are relatively isolated areas that we're talking about, aren't they?
WATERS: I feel safe if we follow the medical and environmental advice that Representative King just referred to, if we're listening to the people who have knowledge and expertise in this area. If they tell us we shouldn't be in those buildings, we shouldn't be there. If they tell us it's safe, I'm going to accept their recommendations and I'm going to go in. So it's not...
KAGAN: And on that note...
KAGAN: ... I'm sorry, I just have to cut you off there. I just want to get a quick word there from Congressman King.
KAGAN: You're not getting your mail. You're not in your offices now. Constituents have a lot of concerns out there. What's the best way for them to communicate with their congresspeople?
KING: Well, they can certainly us by e-mail. They can contact us in our district offices. We certainly have the phones going there. They can mail to the district office. But I would say probably e-mail is the best way, followed up by a phone call to our district offices.
KAGAN: Congressman King, Congresswoman Waters in Los Angeles, thank you very much. WATERS: You're certainly welcome.
KAGAN: Coming up, we're going to talk about what is referred to now as snail mail, the old-fashioned kind. You will be getting this, this postcard, in your mailbox very soon. We're going to tell you what this postcard is and, also, how you can tell if your mail is safe.
Stay with us. A quick break.
KAGAN: We are talking about the mail that comes into your home, with Deborah Willhite. She is with the U.S. Postal Service.
And I also want to show you something that is going out to 138 million Americans, starting today. A postcard that should arrive within the week in your mailbox -- there it is -- it is showing -- that's one side. On the back side, it's going to tell you how you know your mail is safe.
Debbie Willhite, quickly tell us what's on this postcard, and how is it going to help American consumers?
WILLHITE: It's common-sense advice. The best weapon we have in this fight against biological warfare is common sense, educated postal workers, educated citizens.
What to look for? Basically, any mail that is arriving without a return address, with a return address from someone you do not know, a return address that does not match the postmark, address to someone who no longer lives at that address, a misshapen envelope, an envelope with something inside that is lumpy, an envelope that is over-taped.
KAGAN: Our time is short, so I'm just going to say that that's going to be on that postcard that comes.
WILLHITE: It's all on the back of it.
WILLHITE: If it comes, do not open it. Just put it in a plastic bag, wash your hands, call your local law enforcement, have them come get it.
KAGAN: Got it. In the final moment we have left, is the U.S. Postal Service in trouble? Already severely in debt before this all happened, before September 11. Can the Postal Service handle this added security and the added burden of handling threats like anthrax and get mail to everyone's home?
WILLHITE: The Postal Service will handle this additional burden. The Postal Service will get through this. We will ask for the help of the American citizens. We will ask for the help of the supplemental funding that everyone is getting help with during this attack. Postal Service must survive. It is one of the absolute parts of the American infrastructure, and most Americans depend upon us every day and we depend upon being there.
KAGAN: Deborah Willhite with the U.S. Postal Service. Thank you very much. We will look for these postcards in our mailboxes in the coming week.
In our final moment, we want to check in with Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill with the latest on that anthrax scare -- Jonathan.
KARL: Well, Daryn, you've heard of the press conference here with the Capitol Police and with also the Capitol physician. One interesting detail to add to that is a decision still needs to be made as to whether or not the House will come back in session on Tuesday as planned. Decision has not been made on that.
What we've learned is that the leadership of the House of Representatives, yesterday in a conference call, had a discussion about a possible alternative location where they could convene the House of Representatives if they feel it is not appropriate or safe or ready to go back into the actual Capitol building. So that is something under consideration. They do want to get started early next week and, if need be, they are making preparations for possibly going to an alternative location.
Besides that, very quick recap. What we know is, for the first time, we have discovered signs of anthrax on the House side of the Capitol complex. It's in a very specific location, though. It's in a place called the Ford Office Building, which is about three blocks away from the Capitol building itself. It's in a mail room and, within that mail room, it is only in one single machine -- the machine that bundles mail for another House office building, called the Longworth Building.
We also learned in the press conference that this does not necessarily mean there was a contaminated letter that was sent to the House of Representatives. One possibility discussed is there could have been cross-contamination with the letter that was sent to Senator Daschle, because all of the mail that goes to the Capitol complex first goes to an off-site mail room that is a couple of miles away from the Capitol. That is split up -- half of it goes to the Senate and half of it goes to the House.
So it's possible that at that site, there could have been some cross-contamination, at least that's what we were told by Lieutenant Dan Nichols here at this press conference.
SNOW: And, Jon, all of the testing continues now, right, the environmental screening that's been going on since Wednesday?
KARL: Yes. And we've got a little bit of detail on that, Kate, what they said is they are going to screen -- they have confirmed they are going to screen the entire Capitol complex. They had not told us that in the past. But now, given that we now see a sign anyway that there's been an anthrax discovered on the House side of the Capitol complex, they will do all of the office buildings on the House side.
They also told us, Kate, that they have screened the Capitol building itself, and nothing has come back positive. But we also learned that positive test result from the Ford Office Building in that mail room, on that mail bundler, that test was taken on Wednesday. And the leadership didn't learn of the result until 10 o'clock this morning. So apparently, it can take a long time to get these results back -- Kate, Daryn.
KAGAN: More information ahead. Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill. Jonathan, thank you.
Also, my thanks to Kate Snow and to all of our guests.
Once again, a slightly different show than we planned this morning on bringing you, but that is the nature of what we do here in the news and especially here at CNN.
I'm Daryn Kagan. I want to thank all of you at home for joining us.
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