CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Interview With Joint Chiefs Chairman
Aired September 11, 2002 - 11:37 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A very special guest indeed, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers.
General, thanks for joining us on this emotional day.
GENERAL RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Wolf, great to be here.
BLITZER: I want to get your reflections on what just happened here in just a moment. But on this word that the Central Command, U.S. forces mostly in the Middle East, are on this highest state of alert, Delta, as it's called, give our viewers some perspective, precisely what that means.
MYERS: Well, it just means a higher state of readiness and who can come in and out of installations and bases and camps and stations based on intelligence. It's something in the last year we've gone up and down in our force protection conditions.
BLITZER: Does it mean by the intelligence that a threat is imminent, that there could be a terrorist attack?
MYERS: Well, it just means we have cause for concern at this time. Sometimes we do this randomly, too, I might add.
BLITZER: The decision to deploy these anti-aircraft missile batteries around the Pentagon and elsewhere in Washington, it does underscore some serious threats here in the nation's capital as well.
MYERS: It's just an extension of our air defense. You know, we still have fighter caps and fighters on alert to protect American citizens, and this is an extension of that for ground systems. And as we look at the threat that will go up and down and we'll, you know, bring forces to bear or take them off alert.
BLITZER: Is there an abundance of caution, or is the intelligence such that there are some really, really serious threats out there?
MYERS: Well, I think it goes without saying, there's some really, really serious threats out there. We saw those on 9/11, and that's what this day is all about.
BLITZER: But there's some current ones as well, I assume.
MYERS: Yes, you bet. Oh, yes. BLITZER: I know you've been briefed on this Liberian freighter that's out there off the coast of New York. What can you tell us about that?
MYERS: Suspicions. Some of the equipment was -- detected some radiation, but then it turned out they're not sure if that was right or not. So they towed the ship offshore. They'll investigate.
BLITZER: And just continue to make your...
MYERS: Right. That's correct.
BLITZER: Once again, there's been an abundance of caution.
BLITZER: When you saw this service -- this memorial service here at the Pentagon, as the nation's top military officer, what was going through your mind?
MYERS: The first thing is you look in the front rows there where all the families were, families of those that were lost on that day, I mean, a great deal of emotion. As the day progresses, and as I wandered through the crowd after the ceremony, I can't tell you the strength that I derived from their steadfastness, from their resilience. I think it's the American resilience all over their faces and that's what I thought about. I thought about the personal tragedies that are associated with this day.
BLITZER: And this enormous building behind us has basically been rebuilt.
You've spoken to some of the people who used to work at the devastated, destroyed (AUDIO GAP) gone back to their desks.
MYERS: Right. And that's where we all gathered with the president before we came out. It's a brand new building. The Pentagon is made whole again. As I said in my remarks, it's not just the cement and the limestone that's been repaired, it's been that our hearts and our souls have been repaired by these great workers here that, on their own, decided to say "Hey, we can get this all done by September 11."
BLITZER: You spent some time with the president today. Briefly, what was he like?
MYERS: He was in a very somber mood. I mean, we've all set this day aside to remember those who sacrificed their lives on September 11. And that's the mood he was in. He was in a serious, somber mood.
BLITZER: Appropriate enough for this day, General Myers.
MYERS: Very appropriate. I mean, our hearts go out to those folks who lost their lives and their families. I think it's a really tough day. It's going to be a tough week. BLITZER: It's a tough day for you. It's a tough day for all the men and women of the U.S. military. It's a tough day for all Americans.
MYERS: You bet.
BLITZER: And people all over the world. Thanks for joining us.
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