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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Bush Discusses Anthrax in Radio Address

Aired November 3, 2001 - 10:04   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.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. military campaign and the growing anthrax threat, just two pressing issues on President Bush's agenda this weekend. He is at Camp David, Maryland, meeting with his national security team.

CNN's Kelly Wallace, who is with the President near Camp David, with more -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello there, Martin.

Well, the president met with his National Security Council this morning for about 30 minutes. And just moments from now, the president's radio address -- his weekly radio address will be broadcast. And this, the first time the president devoting his entire address to the issue of anthrax. This, after the administration has come under criticism over the past several weeks for its handling of these cases of anthrax, whether it was quick enough to respond, and why at some times different agencies were saying different things about the threats.

So look for the president to offer a bit of an explainer about what the federal government knows; and also look for Mr. Bush to try to calm and reassure Americans about the issue of anthrax, saying that the federal government is doing everything it possibly can.

Here now, the president. Let's listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning.

As all Americans know, recent weeks have brought a second wave of terrorist attacks upon our country: deadly anthrax spores sent through the U.S. mail. There is no precedent for this type of the biological attack. And I am proud of the way our law enforcement officers, our health care and postal workers and the American people are responding in the face of this new threat.

At this point in our investigation, we have identified several different letters that contained anthrax spores. Among them were the letters mailed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on Capitol Hill, NBC News in New York and the New York Post newspaper. Four Americans have died as a result of these acts of terrorism. At least 13 others have developed forms of anthrax disease either in the lungs or less severely on the skin.

Public health officials have acted quickly to distribute antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to anthrax. When anthrax exposure is caught early, preventative treatment is effective.

Anthrax can be treated with many antibiotics, and several pharmaceutical companies have offered medicine at reduced prices.

The government is swiftly testing post offices and other sites for anthrax spores, and it's closing them where potential threats to health are detected.

We are working protect the people based on the best information available. And as we deal with this new threat, we are learning new information every day.

Originally, experts believed the anthrax spores could not escape from sealed envelopes. We now know differently because of the cases where postal workers were exposed even though the envelopes they processed were not open. Anthrax apparently can be transferred from one letter to another, or from a letter to mail-sorting equipment.

But anthrax is not contagious, so it does not spread from human to human the way a cold or a flu can. Anthrax can be killed by sterilization, and the Postal Service is purchasing sterilizing equipment to be installed across the country. More than 30 billion pieces of mail have moved through the Postal Service since September the 11th. So we believe the odds of any one piece of mail being tainted are very low.

But still, people should take appropriate precautions. Look carefully at your mail before opening it. Tell your doctor if you believe you may have been exposed to anthrax. An excellent summary of the symptoms of this disease can be found on the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov.

Remember, doctors warn that you can put your health at risk by taking antibiotics when you don't need them. So use antibiotics only after consulting a health care professional.

If you see anything suspicious or have useful information, please contact law enforcement authorities. The Postal Service and the FBI have offered a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to the arrest and the conviction of the anthrax terrorists.

And those who believe this is an opportunity for a prank should know that sending false alarms is a serious criminal offense. At least 20 individuals have already been arrested for anthrax hoaxes, and we will pursue anyone who tries to frighten their fellow Americans in this cruel way.

We do not yet know who sent the anthrax, whether it was the same terrorist who committed the attacks on September the 11th, or whether it was the other international or domestic terrorists. We do know that anyone who would try to infect other people with anthrax is guilty of an act of terror. We will solve these crimes, and we will punish those responsible. As we learn more about these anthrax attacks, the government will share the confirmed and credible information we have with you.

I'm proud of our citizens' calm and reasoned response to this ongoing terrorist attack.

Thank you for listening.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

WALLACE: And there you heard President Bush, again, devoting his entire radio address to the issue of anthrax; definitely trying to calm any concerns on the part of the American people. You heard Mr. Bush say anthrax is not contagious.

He also talked about how the federal government and the postal service are taking precautionary measures to make sure the mail is safe. This address, though, coming at the end of a week where we did learn that a woman in New York died of inhalation anthrax. And law enforcement officials still do not know how she contracted that disease.

We also heard the president do a bit of defense of the federal government, saying that it is learning new information every day; that there is no precedent, he said, to this biological attack. And then, Marty, though, Mr. Bush closing, making it clear that the administration and law enforcement still does not know who is responsible for producing this anthrax and for sending it in the mail, saying the administration still doesn't know if it is someone here in the United States or from an international terrorist.

Marty, back to you.

SAVIDGE: All right, Kelly Wallace reporting to us live near Camp David this morning. Thank you very much, Kelly.

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