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Small Plane Creates Big Scare; North Carolina Pastor Resigns

Aired May 11, 2005 - 15:30   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips. Checking stories now in the news.
No word yet on how this small plane came into entered restricted airspace in Washington, today, prompting a security scare. But the White House, the Capitol and the Supreme Court building were evacuated. The pilot and the student pilot are now being questioned.

Actor McCauley Culkin says that he was absolutely not molested by Michael Jackson. Culkin spent time at Jackson's Neverland Ranch when he was younger. His testimony today meant to offset two witnesses who said they did, in fact, see Jackson inappropriately touch Culkin.

And police say an Illinois father has confessed to killing his eight-year-old daughter and her best friend. Today a judge denied bail for Jerry Hobbs. Authorities say that Hobbs confessed to repeatedly stabbing his daughter, Laura, and her friend Krystal Tobias with a potato knife.

Stay tuned. Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS up next. We'll be back here tomorrow.

ANNOUNCER: Moments of chaos in the nation's capital: the White House and Congress evacuated. How did an errant plane cause so much fear and commotion, and did Washington's security systems work?

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D) NEW YORK: I know, it's a bit of an odd fellow, or odd woman, mix...

ANNOUNCER: Hillary Clinton teams up with Newt Gingrich. What could these former political adversaries possibly have in common?

Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.


JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST "INSIDE POLITICS": Thank you for joining us.

The words were enough to conjure up Washington's worst fears: a Secret Service agent barking out, Run, this is no joke, leave the grounds. And that is just what people did, at the White House, at the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court building. The evacuations were ordered when a small plane entered restricted airspace over the city late this morning. President Bush was away from the White House at the time, but Vice President Cheney was hustled out to a secure location. After 15 frightening minutes, the all-clear was given and the errant plane landed in nearby Frederick, Maryland, apparently directed by scrambling U.S. fighter jets. The pilot and another man were taken into custody by Maryland State Police to face questioning by federal authorities.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux was at the White House during the security alert. Suzanne, we heard it in your voice when you called the bureau.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, it was a very tense moment. It was a very confusing moment for many here at the White House. We saw uniformed Secret Service, also emergency response teams, with their guns drawn. Essentially, they were yelling at me to get out of the White House, to get off the grounds saying, this is no joke, to run, to run as quickly as possible and as far as possible -- all of this, Judy, within a four-minute window.

If you think about it, going from yellow to orange to red alert within four minutes here at White House, obviously a very clear threat they were faced with here at the White House. Vice President Dick Cheney, who was in the West Wing, escorted. We saw his motorcade quickly leave the White House. The president was actually not on the scene. He left 90 minutes ahead -- before all of this took place. He was on a bike ride. We're told that the first lady and former first lady, Nancy Reagan, both here, who were at the White House, were escorted to a secure location, a bunker location at facility here. Obviously, a lot of confusion, a lot of tension, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan tried to make a bit of sense of it all, after it was all over, giving us a little more detail about the timetable and how it all unfolded.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: At approximately 11:59, the threat level here at the White House was raised to yellow. There was a Cessna plane within about 15 miles of the White House. It was north of the White House. Shortly after that, around noon, fighter jets were scrambled. At approximately 12:01, the threat level was raised to orange. The plane was within 10 miles, and evacuation and moving of people to more secure locations began at that point.

Let me just point out that the Cessna was traveling in restricted airspace toward the White House and Capitol. The pilot was not responding to efforts to communicate with the plane, and then, at 12:03, the alert level was raised to red and at approximately 12:11, the alert level went back down to yellow.


MALVEAUX: Now, Judy, it was just moments ago that the president was asked about the incident. This is the first time that we've seen the president since the incident. As I mentioned before, he was going on a bike ride. He not here while all of this unfolded. He was asked two very important questions, the first, of course, is whether or not he thought this was any kind of attack against him. The president did not say anything. He is meeting with members of Congress to talk about his trip to Russia and some of the other locations -- didn't say a word. He was also asked, in a follow-up question, did he give the shootdown order? Was it necessary to do something like that? That is another very important question. The president, again, just did not decide to answer that question at all. The president, of course, the two big questions here that we have is a timetable, an eight minute -- let's take a listen to the sound, I'm being told.


Reporter: So, Judy, you heard a little bit of interaction between the president and one of those reporters, trying to get some response because as you know, a very tense moment, a lot of questions following this. There are two important questions here, of course, there's a critical window, an 8-minute window between 12:03 and 12:11. That is when it was red alert at the White House. Just how did things unfold during that period of time? Were they pleased with how things were handled? We don't have details about the specific window.

And secondly, of course, was there an indication that the president was going to make that very difficult decision whether or not to shoot down that plane? That plane was three miles away from the White House during the red-alert level period. Now, Scott McClellan says that there was no indication that it actually, got that far, that the president had to make that kind of decision. But, of course, as you can imagine, a lot of people wondering just how close it was to that decision having to be made, and just how close was it before you realized that it could have been much, much worse -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, if nothing else, this provides them an opportunity to look at whether the procedures they did use are the right ones. And, Suzanne, I just have to say, one other coincidence, that former First Lady Nancy Reagan is at the White House when this happened, when the last time we had an incident like this was the week of former President Reagan's funeral, and she was in Washington then.

MALVEAUX: Very unusual, but we were told that both the first lady and former first lady, Nancy Reagan, both here at White House, were taken to a secure location. They remained here at the White House complex, unlike Cheney who was ushered away and returned, unlike Bush who wasn't here while all of this took place.

WOODRUFF: Very interesting. I'm sure we all have questions about exactly where people went, but that will continue to unfold. Suzanne, thank you very much.

So, the security scare produced striking images and strong emotions on Capitol Hill as well. House members were in the middle of a vote when the order came to evacuate. You can see that in the picture here. In just a matter of seconds -- these dramatic pictures you're looking at -- the floor of the House of Representatives was cleared, and then later, when lawmakers returned, their leaders had nothing but praise for the Capitol police, and the way the evacuations were carried out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. TOM DELAY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: In addition to the members of the House, the Capitol was filled with a number of foreign dignitaries, tourists, certainly, staff and congressional pages. The Capitol police led a rapid yet orderly evacuation for all of these people, as well as those who were in the House office building.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Well, I had the same experience everyone else did. The alarm came. We all got out of Capitol. I had concerns because, of course, they pulled the leadership out very fast, and I was concerned about the tourists, the people who work and the media who cover us, that they would get out. But the sergeant-in-arms was just telling me that it was five minutes and everyone was out. It was very fast and much faster than any time before.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MINORITY LEADER: But I'm a -- Capitol police. I was a Capitol policeman. Very proud of that. I recognize the work I did those many years ago as a Capitol policeman, pales, pales, pales, in comparison to the problems that face this beautiful building, this building of the American people. But I'm so confident that we have the best police force in the world here on Capitol Hill.


WOODRUFF: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Our congressional correspondent Joe Johns was on the Hill when the word came to evacuate. He described the experience.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very rapid evacuation of the United States Capitol on short notice. The first sign I got of trouble was watching the TV remote when the Senate was evacuated. It was obviously time to leave -- a race down the stairs with the United States Capitol police shouting, you have two minutes to get out, and something about a plane. I saw some people trying to keep up with their children as they were being escorted out of the building. When I got to the first floor, I saw the Senate sergeant- at-arms and asked him what's going on. He held up two fingers indicating you have two minutes to get out.

When I got outside the door, I heard overhead, the sound of an aircraft, and the first thing I thought was, it's too late, we're not going to get out of the plane -- building, because the plane's already here. Of course, the aircraft, it turns out was, was in fact military aircraft that had been scrambled into the area.

From there, a race away from the building, the U.S. Capitol police, again, directing thousands of people in a stream to run in the direction of Union Station. From then, it was simply a waiting game until the all-clear sign came, and thousands of people started going back into the building. We've been through it before here at the Capitol, and always intense. Joe Johns, CNN, Capitol Hill.


WOODRUFF: Thank you, Joe.

And, now, let's get a bigger picture how the security scare played out and whether the system worked. Let's listen to CNN's Kathleen Koch who joins me now in the studio. Hi, Kathleen.


Well, the FAA says that this is really an example of the system set up after 9/11 performing flawlessly. Let's sort of go through what happened. First of all, it was Potomac Tricon (ph), that's an outlying radar monitoring site that spotted a plan heading south, and it was heading into what's called the "air defense identification zone," and we have something that shows you what it looks like. It's sort of a Mickey-Mouse shaped region of three overlapping circles, and they radiate out from the three local airports, Reagan National, Dulles, and Baltimore-Washington International. Small plans can only fly into that area if they have a particular four-digit transponder signal, and most importantly, if they stay in contact with air traffic controllers.

You know, in this case, this particular plane couldn't be raised on the radio and it was headed right into the inner circle, that red circle you see. That's a 15.7 mile restricted zone around downtown Washington, D.C. Now only commercial aircraft, government planes and Medevac aircraft are allowed in there.

So when it wasn't responding, heading right in there, two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled. Now, we have a graphic that shows you how they came around, they launched some flares to try to get the pilot's attention. Also, there was a U.S. customs service, Blackhawk Helicopter, monitors the skies around Washington. It joined in on the hunt and it actually escorted that slow-flying plane then to the ground at Frederick Airport in Maryland.

The FAA says that everyone was really on the same page the entire time, seeing the same information, sharing information, both law enforcement, the Pentagon, the FAA, Department of Homeland Security. Judy, everyone insists that the system worked very well.

WOODRUFF: Well, it certainly seems to have and it seems to have worked quickly. But are they working on making it even more quick?

KOCH: They are, Judy, because, believe it or not, the FAA says that it is roughly twice a day that the big Mickey Mouse-shaped area is clipped by aircraft, just grazed, not like in this case, where it went right in. So what they're going to do is they are going to put in a laser system. And I think we have some video we can show you of it.

It's a ground-based laser system, and what's it's going to do is it will flash a series of lights, both red, red, green, red, red, green -- there you see them -- to any pilots that are approaching into the large Mickey Mouse-shaped area. And that will warn them, get back, you're in restricted airspace, and hopefully prevent them from having to launch the F-16s, F-15s. Those things -- every time they have to scramble them, that's $30,000 to $50,000 of taxpayer money being spent.

WOODRUFF: Not to mention what could happen if they went on. Finally, I wanted to ask you about the -- there is some legislation moving through Congress that would permit general aviation, that is private aircraft, once again to use Reagan National Airport, which is so close to the White House, to the Pentagon. Where does all that stand?

KOCH: Lots of people are pushing that through, mostly local Congress people. Eleanor Holmes Norton (ph), representative of the District of Columbia. And then also senators from the surrounding states. They want to reopen it to general aviation, to small aircraft just like this one. They've been lobbying hard. There is a bill moving through both the Senate and the House and moving at a pretty good rate at speed. It will be interesting to see whether this incident slows that down a bit.

WOODRUFF: Whether it -- or stops it altogether.

KOCH: Quite so.

WOODRUFF: OK, Kathleen, thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: And we want to urge all of you to stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

Coming up on INSIDE POLITICS, we'll experience more of the tense moments when the D.C. halls of power were cleared out.

Also ahead, they acknowledge they're a pretty odd political couple. So what would bring Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich together?

And later, we'll tell you what the minister who tried to make his church off limits to Democrats has decided to do now.


WOODRUFF: Two men are in custody after the small plane they were in came within three miles of the White House today, prompting evacuations of several of the most prominent federal government buildings.

Our justice correspondent Kelli Arena has more on who those men are and how they may have wound up where they did.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The aircraft, the Cessna, is owned a club called the Vintage Arrow Club. It's based in Smoketown, Pennsylvania. The club owns just this one aircraft. And we spoke to a member of that club, a man named John Henderson (ph), who told us that he knows the pilot on board.

CNN has made a decision not to release the names of the two individuals on board, but we can tell you that one of them was described as an experienced pilot, the other as a student pilot. And we're told that they were headed from Smoketown to North Carolina, where there is an air show.


WOODRUFF: Kelli Arena. And we now want to turn quickly to our Bob Franken, who is in Frederick, Maryland, where the two men on the plane were apprehended. I guess not actually arrested, Bob, but they've been taken into custody.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They've been taken into custody. Now, ironically, the plane was taken to this apron, which is at Airline Owners and Pilot's Association section of the Frederick, Maryland, airport. Ironic because that is the lobbying organization for private flyers. As a matter of fact, one of the people who was on the plane -- and we're not releasing names nor is AOPA -- one of the people on that plane was a member of the organization.

The plane, a small two-seater, a Cessna 150 is what we're told here, it was on the apron here just a short time ago. It was towed into one of the hangars. Now planes that violate the airspace oftentimes have landed here since September 11th, because this is just outside the 75 mile ring around Washington, which is the general area for the less serious violations.

In this particular case, of course, they penetrated the much more serious 15 mile ring around the Capitol and the White House. Now, this is something that has been put out on the Web site of this organization time and time and time again to pilots.

And I want to bring in now Phil Boyer, who's the president of AOPA. Tell me about that. I mean, how is it somebody could have made a pilot error like this?

PHIL BOYER, PRESIDENT, AIRCRAFT OWNERS ASSN.: Not a great day for these two pilots. And it's almost beyond me. It's hard to be living and flying in this area, and I would call southern Pennsylvania, the Lancaster area this area, without being aware we have some of the most restrictive airspace possible. Now in defense of -- at least one we've identified as our member and pilots who incur, say, as you said, the outer ring very correctly. You can you get lost. You can get disoriented. People viewing can think about driving a car. You've got on a street, now you start turning, now all the streets start looking alike.

And remember, we're doing this without radio contact, because the areas the people were flying into start with and apparently where they were going to end up, in North Carolina, were all places you could fly without radio contact, because they weren't going in what they thought was any kind of airspace.

FRANKEN: Well, now, let's talk about that. If they were flying from the Lancaster area, as we hear, and they're going to Lumberton, North Carolina, which we're hearing, it would make absolute sense that, absent the knowledge they should have had, that they would flown exactly where they did. Is that correct? BOYER: I think pilots have -- yes, exactly. I think Miles O'Brien --your own Miles O'Brien --- pointed out vividly, with his aviation background, that if you draw a straight line, it would take you right through the flight path they went. You might say they're pretty navigators, that they were using GPS, because they followed that line within miles of the Capitol building and the White House.

At the same time, nobody, I don't care where they live in the country -- because it's not just security airspace. There's airspace around large airports, there's airspace around large cities, that you have to follow certain rules. So no longer can you draw a straight line from A to B.

FRANKEN: Well, one other question, very quickly. What about the danger that they would have been shot down?

BOYER: Very valid. There are surface-to-air missiles now stationed around the nation's Capitol. But I think, at the same time, if we put any kind of -- shine any kind of light on this that has any glow to it at all, is, you know, the government's system worked. They tracked this plane without radio contact, et cetera. They intercepted this airplane with flares, finally got their attention. I'm sure they tried to do so much earlier.

And then they probably assessed that this is a two-seater airplane, single engine, with two people, adults, in it. It barely carries the fuel to get to -- even halfway to North Carolina. So they probably made the calculated decision, let's not do this. Because, as a matter of fact, this happened before in 1994. You may remember there was a suicide attempt. Exact same model airplane, a Cessna 152.

FRANKEN: By the way, we are identifying the pilots as Troy Martin (ph) and Jim Schaeffer (ph). Does that coincide with the information?

BOYER: I can't confirm it. I read their names. And I wouldn't want to try to speculate.

FRANKEN: In any case, here we are in Frederick, Maryland, where their plane was taken. And Judy, I think it's fair to say that at the moment, they're in a heap of trouble -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: I think so. Again, Bob, tell us the names that you've learned?

FRANKEN: Troy Martin (ph) and Jim Schaeffer (ph) Those were names that had been kept quiet early on, but now they're being released. One was, of course, a student pilot, is what we've been told. And the other was an instructor. And assuming that this was pilot error, which seems to be the initial suggestion here, then they're going to explain, how could they possibly, in this day and age, not know about the no-fly zones around Washington, D.C.

WOODRUFF: Right, and again, they were flying out of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which, of course, is a little bit north of Washington. All right, Bob Franken, thank you very much. Bob reporting from Frederick, Maryland, where the plane was forced to land.

Decision day nears for members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Up next, the latest on John Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador, and an update on a still undecided Republican senator.


WOODRUFF: It's been anything but business as usual here in Washington today. Still ahead, the 15 minutes of flight and fear after a small plane came too close for comfort. Our security analyst will review what went right and if anything went wrong.

And we'll find out if the security scare is on bloggers' radar.


WOODRUFF: It's a few minutes before 4:00 on the East Coast. And as the markets get set to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Christine Romans in New York with "The Dobbs Report." Hi, Christine.


As you might expect, stocks fell on news of those evacuations in Washington, D.C., but the selling didn't last long once it was learned that the plane was diverted and no one was hurt.

So let's take a look at markets now. Right now, the Dow Jones Industrial average up 22 points, 10,303. And the Nasdaq is half a percent higher. And oil prices helped turn the market around, as well. Crude dropped nearly $1.50, back below $51 a barrel.

Also, the nation's trade gap narrowed by 9 percent during March. That's the largest monthly drop in more than three years. Imports fell, despite a surge in oil prices, and foreigners bought more American-made goods. The nation's wide trade gap has been a major concern to economists. Now, this is unexpected drop is good, but most say it's just temporary.

A very tough day for United Airline retirees. The airline got the OK to dump four of its pension plans on the federal government. It could lead to the largest pension default ever. The 120,000 United workers involved would lose a quarter of the value of their total pension fund, but that's not the worst of it. United is back in court again today, asking the bankruptcy court judge to throw out its union agreements, too. The machinist union has already authorized a strike, if that happens.

It's a rare situation. A group of dissident shareholders took on a company's board and they won. The billionaire investor Carl Icon (ph) is Blockbuster's biggest shareholder. He's been fighting the company over exorbitant executive pay packages and opposed its move into online movie rentals. Today he and two colleagues won seats on the company's board.

Coming up at 6:00 p.m. on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," "Broken Borders." The debate between Lou and the director of North Carolina Policy Watch on whether illegal aliens should be attend college in the United States.

Plus, a special report on CAFTA. We'll take a look at what the big business lobbies are hoping to gain from this trade agreement.

And the author of "Unearthing the Dragon" joins us to explain the origin of dinosaurs and what it means for us today.

That and more, 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." For now, back to Judy Woodruff in Washington -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks, Christine, and we'll be watching. Now, back to INSIDE POLITICS.

Officials are back at work in Washington's halls of power. But they may still feel a little unsettled, returning after a security scare that briefly put the White House on red alert. Hundreds of people were ordered to evacuate the White House, the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court, when a small plane entered restricted airspace over Washington. Military aircraft escorted the plane to an airport in Frederick, Maryland, not far away. Law enforcement sources say the two men on board the plane, a pilot and a student pilot, were taken into custody and they are now being questioned. A friend of the men tell CNN that they were on their way to Pennsylvania to an airshow in North Carolina.

Well, from Vice President Dick Cheney to Capitol Hill, secretaries, Washingtonians, didn't know if they were in real danger or not, but they followed orders and they fled. Here's another look at those frightening moments.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I want to just interrupt because we're getting some disturbing pictures from Capitol Hill right now. I want to show our viewers what we are seeing. CNN staff is telling us there is some sort of evacuation under way up on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, let's go.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Out the front gate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Northwest gate, hurry up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going out the northwest gate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wolf, there's been quite a bit of commotion that has just occurred over the last couple of minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go, let's go!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The chair will recess. Chair stands in recess. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were inside the White House at the briefing room and we came outside of the briefing room. That is where we saw Secret Service who were quite excited. They were yelling for us to either stay in the building or get off of the grounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go, keep moving.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then they started to just say run, get off of the grounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go folks. Get off your cell phones and move out of the building. Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the Secret Service agents told me, run, this is no joke.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The indication was, we're told now by Capitol police through my producer Steve Turnim (ph) that there may have been a plane in the airspace.

BERNIE SHAW, FMR CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I was standing outside the carport and I looked up because I heard these roaring jets. What I saw were two F-16 jets and they were circling, overhead, circling a single engine plane, and the jet fighter pilots were banking very quickly and I saw them fire two warning flares in the direction of the single engine plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a suspect plane. It apparently ignored repeated attempts to communicate with others. The plane was on a flight path of concern, given the lack of response, so that's why the jets scrambled, but the all-clear, as we've been reporting, has now been given.

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: What you saw unfold here today are the procedures and policies that have been put into place since September 11, so that the federal government is able to respond just as quickly as it can when it believes it may have a threat.


WOODRUFF: So, now that the panic has passed, many people are reviewing what happened and asking whether security officials and systems responded fast enough and in the right way.

Let's bring in CNN's security analyst Richard Falkenrath, who served as a deputy Homeland Security adviser for the White House. Richard Falkenrath, what did we learn from this? We learned people can run, but what else did we learn?

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we learned we have a pretty good air defense system around Washington. This is the most tightly protected air space in America. We have a lot of systems to detect aircraft moving in, and we have a lot of response systems in place, so that part went pretty well. The evacuation of the buildings is a more troubling aspect of this.

WOODRUFF: In what way?

FALKENRATH: Well, it doesn't look good. It's probably the right thing to do. There was some official, some duty officer in the watch station, probably the Secret Service center in the White House complex, who had to make the call, right then, to push the button, go to red, which would result in evacuation of the building. But the images are bad. We never, at the White House, like to do this, because the images of everyone fleeing the halls of government are just not what we want to be projecting.

WOODRUFF: Why would we care about image though, if somebody could potentially be threatening the White House or the Capitol?

FALKENRATH: Oh, well, I mean, in the end, we don't care. We still have the system in place where, the Secret Service views it to be an aviation threat to the White House complex, he will go to red and there will be an evacuation. But, nonetheless, you don't want to get the sense of a person who makes a mistake, violates the airspace, triggering this sort of very large-scale response in downtown Washington.

WOODRUFF: Was it an overreaction?

FALKENRATH: I don't think it was an overreaction. I don't know. We'll have to find out more as details come out, but what we know so far, it seems to have gone pretty much by the book.

WOODRUFF: And, by the book, meaning the word went out, there -- I assume there are, what, lights, flashing lights? I mean, how does the word go out?

FALKENRATH: Well, it goes out many different ways. Most systems are not as good as we would like them to be, but this was the deepest penetration of the restricted airspace around downtown Washington that we've had since 9/11.

WOODRUFF: Even more than during the Reagan -- Ronald Reagan's funeral last year...


WOODRUFF: ...where you had a small plane come into airspace. Because I was at the Capitol and was running along with everybody else.

FALKENRATH: That's right, and the reasons that you run -- the reasons that -- where the evacuations are triggered -- because the mathematics are bad. If you are three miles out and you are traveling at 150 miles an hour, you are going to be there in 60 seconds. So, you don't have much time, and that's why, when we go to red and an evacuation is triggered, the law enforcement personnel have a protocol for that, and they follow orders and procedure, and try to get everyone out as fast as they can.

WOODRUFF: If you were in charge of making it better, what kinds of questions would you be asking right now? FALKENRATH: Well, I think you want to keep looking at how to relate the evacuation decisions from the air defense decisions, and at the moment, they are sort of separated. The White House has an evacuation procedure that the Secret Service controls. Capitol Hill has one that the Chief Gainer controls. The Supreme Court has another one that someone else controls. These are largely separated from what is happening in the air with the fighter jets that are intercepting the plane.

WOODRUFF: Well, I think some of us -- I mean, I certainly thought that a good bit of that had been streamlined after 9/11 and certainly after that incident last summer.

FALKENRATH: Some aspects of it have been streamlined, but I don't think it has been entirely streamlined. The -- what most of the work that has gone on has been about the air defense response. The Department of Defense has really gotten this down to a science. It was harshly criticized in the 9/11 Commission reports for how they handled the threats on those days. I think they have come a long way in just systematizing this.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk about that little plane. Single engine Cessna, two pilots. Did the situation get too close to shooting that plane down, do you think?

FALKENRATH: Well, it probably got pretty close. It would have been a matter of minutes, I think, or, certainly, about a minute before they would have had to make the decision on whether to shoot it down or not. They also would have known the altitude of the airplane, and so it would matter if the thing was -- if the airplane was flying in a straight line or if it was descending rapidly. If it was descending rapidly, my sense is there would have been a shootdown order in about 30 to 90 seconds from when the plane actually turned around. But it was a very small airplane. The same airplane -- it's same type of airplane that crashed into the White House lawn in 1994.

WOODRUFF: So, for that reason, you are saying you have to take it seriously.

FALKENRATH: Yes, the people in these jobs must assume the worse, and even though it was a small airplane, it could have had a bomb on board, it could have had a weapon of mass destruction on board, and their job is to assume the worst, not hope for the best.

WOODRUFF: Richard Falkenrath, CNN security analyst. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. I know you've been helping us out all day, understand this. Thank you.

FALKENRATH: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Outside of the Washington beltway, a church still is reeling after political preaching from the pulpit and a controversial minister's decision to move on.

Also ahead -- former Democratic senator Zell Miller is embracing another Republican. We'll have the details. And when we go inside the blogs, did the D.C. security scare get a reaction online? Stay with CNN tonight for a SPECIAL REPORT on the events here in Washington, "Defending the Skies."


WOODRUFF: Before today's security disruption, the regular order of business was well under way here in Washington. This morning, two once bitter opponents found common ground when Senator Hillary Clinton joined forces with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. What could bring these two polarizing figures together? Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider takes a look.


WOODRUFF: Our apologies. The gremlin got into that report. We're going to put it together just as fast as we can and try to have it for you. Is that right? We still don't have it? We do have it now.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): 1993, Newt Gingrich attacks the Clinton healthcare plan.

NEWT GINGRICH, FRM. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, the essence of the Clinton bill is an enormous centralized government bureaucracy with much higher taxes, much bigger bureaucracy.

SCHNEIDER: 1996, the Democrats run scare ads.

ANNOUNCER: But if Dole wins and Gingrich runs Congress, there will be nobody there to stop them.

SCHNEIDER: Two of the leading antagonists from the 90's were back on stage today singing a different tune.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: I know it's a bit of an odd fellow or odd woman mix.

SCHNEIDER: What's changed? Both Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich are thinking about running for president in 2008. Moreover, healthcare has re-emerged as a problem. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll last month asked people to rate issues they regard as extremely important. Healthcare costs came in second right behind terrorism, just ahead of the economy and gas prices and way ahead of the two issues Washington is obsessed with, Social Security and the way federal courts handle moral issues.

Gingrich and Clinton are showcasing themselves as practical politicians trying to solve a real problem. The cost of outmoded healthcare information technology in lives as well as dollars.

GINGRICH: Paper kills. This is not complicated. If you see paper in the health system it risks killing you.

SCHNEIDER: In 2000, President Bush promised to be a uniter not a divider. So did John Kerry last year.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: I'm a uniter, not a divider.

SCHNEIDER: Gingrich and Clinton are trying to do what Bush and Kerry failed to do, depolarize the political environment.

GINGRICH: That it is a genuine thrill to be here in bipartisan effort.

CLINTON: At our first meeting when we were agreeing so much with each other, I think people thought the end is near. It's a sign of the end times.


SCHNEIDER: Gingrich needs to show his compassionate side. Senator Clinton needs to burnish her national security credentials. And today, the senator noted twice that she and Gingrich served together on advisory panel appointed by the Pentagon on the future of the military.

WOODRUFF: Very interesting. Let's ask -- let me ask you, though, about this notion that they have with regard to healthcare using more technology. You have done some looking into what happens when you try to use more advanced technology in healthcare. What did you find out?

SCHNEIDER: There was a story about two months ago about Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, which is one of the most advanced hospitals in the country. They implemented about two and-a-half years ago a plan that would essentially improve their information technology. But it required physicians to enter patient information and prescriptions on the computer.

The doctors went up in revolt. They said they didn't want to waste time dealing with computers when they could scribble it on a piece of paper. And they were very insulted when the computer would come back with an alert -- these are doctors, after all -- with an alert saying this is an illegitimate medication, you can't prescribe this dosage.

WOODRUFF: Because they couldn't read the handwriting.

SCHNEIDER: Yeah. Right. So, the result was they had to kill the system.

WOODRUFF: So which will make it all the more fascinating to see whether this goes anywhere.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. Exactly.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider.

On a political note, add the name of Edward Cox to the list of potential challengers to Senator Clinton next year. An adviser tells CNN that Cox is seriously considering the race. And that he plans to form an exploratory committee within a week.

Cox is a lawyer and life-long New Yorker, but he's perhaps best known as the son-in-law of the late former President Richard Nixon. Cox married Tricia Nixon in a 1971 White House ceremony.

On Capitol Hill, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the nomination of John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations. A party line vote would result in a 10 to 8 victory for Republicans. And would forward Bolton's nomination to the full Senate.

A spokesman for Rhode Island Republican John Chafee says the senator still has not made up his mind, though it remains likely he will vote for Bolton.

Three other committee Republicans have expressed concerns about Bolton, but none of them have announced they will vote against him. In an interview for tonight's LARRY KING LIVE, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice depended Bolton and said she thinks he will be approved by the Senate.


LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: How about stories of negative treatment of personnel?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I can tell you that there are a lot of people who work for John Bolton who are inspired by him and who are intensely loyal to him. And John is hard charging. There's no doubt about that. But he has been very successful in managing people. He's been very successful in his diplomacy. I expect that when John leads the mission at the U.N., that he's going to do it in a way that is respectful of the people who work for him and that he'll get the best out of them.


WOODRUFF: Turning to another fierce debate on Capitol Hill. The use of Senate filibusters to block some of the president's judicial nominees. The Associated Press says Senator John McCain is urging the GOP leadership to reach a compromise with Democrats. As part of a potential deal, the AP says McCain suggested that his colleagues accept Democratic leader Harry Reid's private assurances that Democrats will not filibuster future Supreme Court nominees except in extreme circumstances.

Meanwhile, some of the Princeton University students who have been staging a mock filibuster in support of Senate Democrats brought their protest to Washington this morning. They set up their mock filibuster at the Capitol reflecting pool, a spot within sight of Republican leader Bill Frist's office.

Former senator Zell Miller has his eye on another GOP candidate. Up next in Political Bytes there's word that the long-time Democrat is backing a well-known Republican for Georgia lieutenant governor.


WOODRUFF: The leader of a North Carolina Baptist church, embroiled in a political controversy, has resigned. Several people say they were kicked out of the church because of their political beliefs. Now, as Bruce Morton explains, the church's pastor has quit.


JOHN J. PAVEY, CHANDLER'S ATTORNEY: I really -- no cameras, or cameramen, or (INAUDIBLE) or anything having to do with the news.

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Behind closed doors, Reverend Chan Chandler, under fire for preaching politics, told East Waynesville Baptist Church members he's resigning. His lawyer spoke to reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reverend Chan Chandler has resigned as pastor of the East Waynesville Baptist Church. He spoke strongly about his belief in the anti-abortion movement.

MORTON: But audiotape of a sermon last October is clearly political.

PASTOR CHAN CHANDLER, EAST WAYNESVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH (voice- over): The question then comes in the Baptist church, `how do I vote'? Let me just say this right now: if you vote for John Kerry this year, you need to repent or resign.


MORTON: Last night it was his supporters, not the nine who had been expelled, who left the church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's the devil's work.

MORTON: And some of the older members, including some who were expelled, look toward rebuilding their church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can start the healing process, thank the lord.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Politics is fine in their place, but in this pulpit here, that's no place to preach politics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a political rally. It's to worship god.

MORTON: Some tears, some hugs. Bruce Morton, CNN, reporting.


WOODRUFF: Former Democratic Senator Zell Miller appears to have found another Republican candidate he plans to support. The "Atlanta Journal Constitution" reports that Miller is backing Republican political strategist Ralph Reed in his race next year for Georgia lieutenant governor. The newspaper also reports that Miller has contributed to Reed's campaign. His campaign website lists Miller among those planning to attend a fund raiser next month.

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has headed north. He's in Michigan today where he's headlining two Republican party fund raisers. Barbour is sometimes mentioned as a potential dark horse candidate for the White House in 2008.

Today's security alert as seen by the blogosphere; up next, our blog reporters gather online reaction to the day's unusual events here in Washington.


WOODRUFF: The inhabitants of the blogosphere are weighing in on today's security scare here in Washington. Let's check in now with CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter. Hi, Jacki.


Yes, D.C. area bloggers were picking up on the news as it was happening today. But, once word came out the immediate security threat was over, so was much of the conversation. We do want to point out how the group blog The Corner handled it at National Review online, that's John Potter (ph) writes, over there, stop blogging about Macaulay Culkin to say that the Washington area had been evacuated, the Capitol and the White House. Specifically, Jonah Goldberg (ph) asking if there's anything he should know, and clearly, by 12:20, the conversation had gone back to pop culture. So, very quick handling over there at The Corner.

ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Now, one of the people evacuated with blogger Andrew Cochran (ph). Cochran is a consultant who focuses on security, counter-terrorism issues, and he was in one of the Senate buildings when this happened earlier. Here is his blog, He was evacuated and he blogged, posting -- running -- posting from his Blackberry as this was happening. "White House Congress evacuated, possible airspace violations," he writes. Updates, few minutes later, when gets the all clear, saying the Capitol police had "outstanding guidance to evacuees." It all went very smoothly. He was talking to Capitol police over there as it happened.

Down the road on Pennsylvania Avenue, nearer to the White House -- this is back at The Corner's blog again -- this is Elizabeth Fisher (ph). She was saying that not all people were taking it all seriously. It wasn't all panic. There may have been some panicking in the Capitol, but just a few blocks away, on Penn, people are welcoming the interruption, seeing a lot of Cap staffers enjoying the sunshine over there. So, not all people running as some of the pictures might have shown you.

SCHECHNER: So, Atrios, over at Eschaton,, screaming at the media, "stop hurting America," angry at the mainstream media reaction. But at least one commenter sort of got it. He said, the evacuation order seemed fairly reasonable. So did the military response, and if I'd been one of the journalists who was told you had one minute to leave I might think it was newsworthy as well. So, not all screaming and yelling at the media. But some, a little upset.

Then, an interesting post over at Truth Quantify, this is Jared (ph) who is a second-year law student in South Carolina, interested in the story, posting the full Reuter's story. He also has an image of the National Capitol Region Air Defense and some pictures with a quote we really like, saying it's really a no-win situation. If a plane comes into restricted air space, ignoring warnings to leave immediately, you shoot it down, you risk killing an innocent pilot. If you don't shoot it down, you risk allowing a terrorist to succeed with the attack. Saying, glad I don't work for the air defense wing of Homeland Security. So just a brief wrap-up of how they handled this situation, Judy, on line.

WOODRUFF: OK, Abbi, Jacki, thank you both. We'll see you tomorrow. And, that's it for this inside edition of INSIDE POLITICS.



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