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Are U.S. Citizens Safe From More Terrorist Attacks?

Aired June 1, 2002 - 07:41   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.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to broaden our view now on security issues, not just in relation to the India-Pakistani conflict but critical questions on America's war on terrorism. For that, we're joined once again by CNN security analyst Kelly McCann. Good morning, Kelly.

KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Hi, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, let's talk about these (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and these alerts. Explain this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the most recent time that these were used.

MCCANN: The threat is kind of omnipresent. It has always been there and it's always going to appear that they'd fallen into terrorist hands they could be used domestically here, or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) overseas.

The bigger threat, though, really comes from the Soviet system, the SA-7s and 16s because they were -- there was so much accessibility to them. Stingers are fairly tightly controlled, and there is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) issue as well.

If you look at it in sum of all the threats, yes, it's there, but there is also some things that the FAA and other people who are very into this are doing -- irregular flight patterns so that in-flight planes can't be detracted, and one of these missiles, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Secondly, security buffers. On an analysis based on, you know, around airports, where could a man with a pipe-like device, which is kind of ungainly and big and long and has a signature, where could that person just stand upright or even be in a kind of concealed position and let one of these missiles go?

So you're going to see security patrols in that area, pushing people further and further away.

And lastly, increased vigilance on the container ships coming into the U.S., because they've got the weapons here into the country.

So all of those things are moving along, just like other security measures are.

PHILLIPS: Initially, where do these weapons come from? MCCANN: Well, you know, I mean, the world conflict areas, you know. I mean, if you think about the last time one was used was in the Congo, the SA-7, and it brought down a commercial airliner, and I think like 50, 52 people were killed.

If you look at conflict areas, low conflict areas, high conflict areas, weapons are all over the place. And again, for someone who has money and anyone who has adverse U.S. sentiment, you know for them to pick one up and then put it in the pipeline that you can smuggle it in, it is conceivable. So they're available.

PHILLIPS: And this threat has been around for a while, obviously. We're just hearing more about it now. Can you talk a little bit more about the kind of measures that the military takes?

MCCANN: Oh, sure. I mean, a Stinger missile or any kind of armament like that, understanding just how threatening that device is, you can't just in the U.S. armories go get one or pay a guy $50 to like leave one out so you can take it. I mean, they're very, very tightly controlled, even in training. The troops just don't have immediate access to them. They don't bring them into the barracks. In fact, troops don't even have their weapons in the barracks in a lot of cases anymore, as they used to.

So the old idea that, you know, those things are just around military bases is ill-conceived. The way that they are put in the system, the inventory control, the EOD (ph) efforts around, you know, everything that could go wrong, even in training when you fire one of these things is incredible.

So it is difficult to get a U.S.-made missile. The CIA did a buy back program in Afghanistan to get some of those back. And remember that they were in the conflict in Afghanistan, 20 years old, shelf life.

PHILLIPS: Well, Kelly, now the FBI has been given more latitude and we're talking about surveillance. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Will we have to worry about the ACLU? You know, we've talked about constitutional scholars getting involved in situations like this one, when it comes down to more surveillance.

MCCANN: It's a cake question. Do you want the cake, or do you want to eat it? Do you want to be secure, or do you want to put up with a little bit of inconvenience and annoyance?

You know, it's similar (UNINTELLIGIBLE) very fundamental terms. Why did your parents always poked your head in when you were having a sleepover? Not because you were doing anything, but because you might do something. So again, you know, the moral of the story is, don't be a bad guy. I mean, don't be up to no good and it shouldn't concern you.

Now, it runs at odds, significant odds, with a lot of things. For instance, places of worship. I can see where people would be very resentful over that, but in the current circumstance, taking emotion out of it, take politics out of it, tell me one circumstance where vehement anti-U.S. sentiment co-exists with any other religion? You can't. And if you take the emotion out of the equation and the politics out of the equation, then it makes sense that we need to at least be vigilant around those places, because the old adage, "look like, act like Snowhite" is still true today. If I want to disappear in your society, I appear to be doing everything legally.

PHILLIPS: Kelly McCann, well said. CNN security analyst. Thank you, Kelly.

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