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Lessons From 9/11 Still Loom Over Flight Safety Concerns; CNN Poll: Americans More Pessimistic About U.S. & Economy; Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) Discusses Law Enforcement Email Showing Knowledge Of Threat Prior To 1/6 & Threats Ahead Of 20th Anniversary Of 9/11. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired September 10, 2021 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Tomorrow marks 20 years since the 9/11 attacks, the day that changed our nation and the way we fly forever. What might the future hold?

CNN's Pete Muntean reports.



PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ellen Saracini can hardly believe 20 years has passed since the death of her husband, Victor.

He was the captain of United Flight 175 as terrorists, armed with knives and mace, forced their way into the cockpit and slammed a flight into the south tower of the World Trade Center.


But his widow says that will not be his legacy.

SARACINI: It would be a legacy that no one is able to get into a cockpit and use the airplane as a weapon of mass destruction.

MUNTEAN: It's why, in the months following the attacks, that the federal government overhauled aviation security, including a mandate that flight deck doors be made thicker.

But Saracini insists that's not, since pilots often open the door to rest on long trips or in an emergency.

SARACINI: What are you going to do the day they take over another aircraft? You're going to say, wow, I thought we had our acts together.

MUNTEAN: Major pilot unions call a secondary cockpit barrier an inexpensive extra line of defense. Congress mandated the metal grates be installed in all new commercial aircraft.

Captain Dennis Tajer represents American Airline pilots, who say secondary barriers should be on all commercial flights.

CAPT. DENNIS TAJER, ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION: Let's be clear. This is not only protecting the aircraft I'm captain on. It's protecting my airline, my country, and our passengers.

MUNTEAN: But the airline industry is still not fully on board. Top lobby, Airlines for America, says there's already a sophisticated and multilayered approach to security. And adding secondary cockpit barriers should be up individual airline.


MUNTEAN: Flight crews say the soaring number of inflight incidents are the latest reason to make it harder to reach the cockpit.

The FAA says there have been 4,000 reports of belligerent passengers this year including some who charged the door.

DAVID PEKOSKE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: There's so much in that history.

MUNTEAN: The TSA administrator, David Pekoske, says the agency is adapting to domestic threats. But the most critical protection in- flight remains keeping the cockpit secure.

PEKOSKE: If we can improve security, that's something we ought to consider.

MUNTEAN (on camera): The Federal Aviation Administration says mandating secondary cockpit barriers on newly manufactured planes is an agency priority for this year.

The Biden administration is set to release its official rules sometime in November.

But pilot groups say this is unfinished business following 9/11 and they are not done pushing for this on all commercial flights.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: A quick programming note. Join Jake Tapper as he asks the tough questions about America's longest war. "What went wrong in Afghanistan?" This new CNN special report begins Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.

We're back after this.



CABRERA: Tough action from President Biden after a really tough month for him and the country.

New CNN polls show his new COVID mitigation measures come at a time when more Americans grow more and more anxious about the virus and the economy.

And as the country's anxiety level rises, so does the president's disapproval rating.

CNN's senior political writer and analyst, Harry Enten, joins us to break down the new numbers.

What's the biggest take away, Harry?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER & ANALYST: I think the biggest take away is how worried and dissatisfied Americans are at this point.

Look at this number in which we basically say do Americans think things are going well in the country? Only 31 percent of Americans say yes.

That's down from 39 percent earlier this year. It is up from January 2021, which is obviously after the January 6th insurrection. But it's even lower than it was a year ago in October of 2021. It was 39 percent just before the election, in which the voters booted Trump.

When you look at the particular issues, are Americans worried on certain big issues, look at this. Economy, coronavirus, crime, impacts of racism. Look at that.

The change in the percentage of Americans that are worried, up 19 points on the economy, 10 points on coronavirus, 20 points on crime and four points on the impacts of racism.

These numbers are going in the wrong direction.

CABRERA: And looking at a couple of those issues there, Harry, we're seeing how that worry is impacting Biden's own ratings, his approval ratings.

ENTEN: Going, again, in the wrong direction.

You know, talk about two of the top issues at this point. The coronavirus which obviously is such a big issue. Look at this. Biden's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The approval rating now 56 percent. Disapproval 44 percent.

On the net, the net approval rating just 12 percentage points. Look how far down that is from April when it was 35 points. It's been chopped by about a third. Only a third of the same level.

And the other big issue, the economy, which, of course, intersects with the coronavirus so much. Here, again, we see the same thing. The net approval rating on the economy down seven points since April.

You look at the overall issues and Biden's handling them, and all the numbers in our poll suggest that Americans think they're going in the wrong direction.

CABRERA: Got to leave it there today.

Harry Enten, good to see you. Thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.


CABRERA: Newly uncovered emails revealing law enforcement was urged to get ready for violence and a, quote, "mass casualty event" on January 6th. So what happened?


CABRERA: The House Select Committee investigating the capitol riot wants more responses to its sweeping request for records. The panel says it has received thousands of pages so far.

All this as we are learning hundreds of law enforcement officials knew about the potential for violence on the 6th and they even discussed how to communicate in case of a, quote, "mass casualty event."


Joining us to discuss is California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, among others.

Congresswoman, they were on alert for a serious incident on January 6th. But what was actually done about it?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Well, that's the question, one of the many questions that has to be answered and why this select committee is so critical to the future of the safety of the Congress of the United States and the U.S. capitol.

CABRERA: Capitol police are now concerned about the potential for violence at an upcoming rally on September 18th, so next weekend, and they note an uptick in violent rhetoric around that day. Are you worried?

SPEIER: Oh, I'm concerned, of course. Now, there's some speculation that, because they have been outed already and there's greater scrutiny going on, that they're going to disperse to the state capitols around the country.

Make no mistake, Ana. These are domestic terrorist organizations. And they are being supported and funded by the former president of the United States.

His campaign manager is actually the director or organizer of this event that's scheduled for January 18th.

So, we have, in fact, a situation in this country that is untenable. And it's going to take all of law enforcement to come together to dig out from this morass of anarchists and persons that want to do harm to those who are governing our country.

And I think we've got a long road to go. But this committee, this select committee's work is just beginning. And what they've already uncovered would indicate that we have a lot of work to do.

CABRERA: And for our viewers who may not know, this upcoming rally is a rally in support of the insurrection.

Members of Congress themselves as recently, as July 27th, publicly protesting the treatment of those arrested in connection to January 6th.

Congresswoman, how are these rally goers, some 500-plus, we're told, are expected, how are they supposed to interpret that?

SPEIER: I think that they have one focus, and that is to create an environment where a coup can take place.

We had 1,000 law enforcement officers who were injured. We had five that died as a result of the insurrection. So, this is truly a sinister group of people.

And they come from different areas and different groups, but the Internet has provided them a means to find each other, and that is why we saw what we saw on January 6th.

CABRERA: Are you still worried about your safety? We know, coming up at this rally, there's going to be fencing put up and obviously Congress won't be in session. This is happening on a Saturday.

Does that, I guess, you know, improve any of your feelings about the threat?

SPEIER: So, I don't think the threat for September 18th is one that will be of concern to members, because we won't be there.

But how about the next time they organize where they don't announce it? How about the fact that we have put all that fencing up? Who's going to pay for that?

Because they have conducted themselves in such a violent manner, we have to put double reinforcements in place to protect those who are serving our country.

So it should be not lost on any of us that this is a group of people that want to overturn our government.

CABRERA: And tomorrow, of course, is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. U.S. Intel officials say they expect terrorists to exploit the 9/11 anniversary and the Afghanistan withdrawal in their messaging. But officials have said they are not aware of any specific credible threats.

Do you think the U.S. is safer now from terrorists than it was 20 years ago?

SPEIER: I don't know that we can say we're safer. I mean, we're more alert. We have to be more alert.

We have to use all we have to use all the intelligence resources we have, the human intelligence, the signal intelligence, the electronic intelligence to assist us in making sure that we can keep the homeland safe.

But it is -- it is a world, unfortunately, that has cells of these terrorist organizations everywhere, and then we have our domestic cells that want to do harm to us as well. So we have -- we have to be very vigilant.


CABRERA: All right, Congresswoman Jackie, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much for joining us.

SPEIER: My pleasure.

That does it for us today. Thank you for being here. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. I'll see you on Monday. Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

Victor Blackwell takes over right after this.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Thank you for joining us for NEWSROOM. I'm Victor Blackwell. Alisyn is off.


We are beginning today with this major pushback against President Biden and his new COVID mandates.

The new vaccine rules will impact as many as 100 million Americans. We're talking federal workers, federal contractors, health care staff, and employees of large companies.