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Tony Snow's First Day as Press Secretary; Video Released of September 11 Plane Crashing Into Pentagon

Aired May 16, 2006 - 14:30   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Federal money to tackle a state problem --- seems like a no brainer, but when it comes to illegal immigration, nothing's that simple. CNN's John Roberts gets the state's side.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Texas, where the National Guard has been the border since 1988, fighting the war on drugs, Governor Rick Perry welcomes the president's plan.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: And one of my criticisms of the -- of the federal government was that they weren't doing enough. So, we're -- you know, we are -- we are pleased to see that the federal government is understanding the very important role that they need to be playing.

ROBERTS: Perry is confident that the Texas National Guard can meet the challenge.

But, next door in New Mexico, where a state of emergency has been declared in border counties, Governor Bill Richardson opposes the plan. He wants the National Guard available for disasters like forest fires and insists border security is not the Guard's duty.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: What I don't want is for the National Guard to be used for political reasons to show the Republican right wing that the president is tough on illegal immigration. The way the president can be tough and all of us can be tough is to use more border patrol agents.

ROBERTS: Richardson had early support from California's Republican governor, but since his initial opposition over the weekend, Arnold Schwarzenegger has dialed back a bit, saying he would only be against permanently posting National Guard on the border.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I'm very optimistic that they are moving in the right direction of looking at border security in a very serious way. I think this is -- because that is the step one towards reforming immigration. That without securing the borders, you have nothing.

ROBERTS: As much as the issue has aligned Republican and Democrat, it has also split party colleagues. Arizona's Democratic governor, for instance, likes the idea. Her own plan to put the National Guard on the border has been tied up in a dispute over budgets and enforcement against illegal aliens.

But some experts on federal/state issues see possible problems down the road.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: States are very protective of their National Guards. It's not just that these are voters and their families are voters, but they have other responsibilities that they want to reserve, including things that might happen in the time of a natural disaster.

ROBERTS: Of course the president's proposal is only an offer, not an edict. If a governor wants to opt out, he or she can, though politically it may be a little difficult to explain why they are turning down federal money to attack a problem that effects their state so deeply.

John Roberts, CNN, Washington.


PHILLIPS: One down, several hundred give or take to go. I'm talking White House briefings conducted by the new White House briefer in chief, Tony Snow. If you were watching CNN a couple hours ago, you saw Snow's live debut featuring CNN's Ed Henry.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Tony, the president laid out this plan last night to bring the National Guard in, up to 6,000 troops. Back in December his own Homeland Security secretary I think on a program you were guest hosting said this is not a plan. Quote, the National Guard is first of all not trained for that mission. Why has the White House changed its position in the last few months first of all, and second of all, does the administration regret not moving quicker to deal with border security?

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Keep in mind, the original proposal was for National Guard members to do law enforcement activities, and there is no sense the National Guard is going to be doing that. Instead what the president is saying is we'll make National Guard units available to do non-law enforcement tasks such as doing vary kinds of construction, doing surveillance and intelligence work, which will permit border patrol agents, who sometimes have to do other things, to work on the border.

There's all talk of freeing up people who are at desk jobs within the border patrol who have been trained to do law enforcement to do so. The difference between then and now as Secretary Chertoff was saying, National Guard personnel are not trained to do law enforcement. The president is trying to do is to take people who are specifically trained to do this particular kind of law enforcement and get them out there. Get the assets on the border as quickly as possible.


PHILLIPS: Apart from the hardball, the briefing had its softer moments, wouldn't you say, Ed?

HENRY: Absolutely. I think you saw it right there. The administration's critics might say right from the get-go Tony Snow ducking some tough questions. I think his supporters would say he's pushing back against some of us in the media there and showing some of the skills he picked up in TV and radio and elsewhere.

I can tell you there was a lot of chatter afterwards among reporters about how he seemed to pick up the pace in there, in the room, moved a lot quicker than Scott McClellan did. Got to more reporters questions because of that. Also used humor and some candor.

At one point he slipped up about a legislative matter, quickly corrected himself. I can tell you, I think he likes that give-and- take. After that when it ended off camera he was overheard saying I will love this job.

I also talked to a former Clinton press person who admitted from the other side this person felt that Tony Snow did a skillful job on the first day of pushing back and getting the administration line out there, although this particular Clinton person told me she thinks it would be a good idea to take off the coffee cup.

I don't know if you saw it, but on the podium Tony Snow had a paper coffee cup with the presidential seal on it with him. This particular person thought it was tacky, but it was a light-hearted comment.

PHILLIPS: It definitely wasn't lighthearted when someone asked about the yellow bracelet. That seemed to really hit home with him.

HENRY: We had all been expecting drama, and we got more drama than we expected and more drama that Tony Snow expected. He was really fighting to keep him composure, fighting back tears, as he talked about his own battle with colon cancer. It came up when he was talking about the little yellow bracelet he was wearing.


SNOW: It's going to be sound stupid and I'll be personal here. Just having gone through this last year -- I said this to Chris Wallace, was the best thing that ever happened to me. This is my Ed Muskie moment. I lost a mother to cancer when I was 17, same type, colon cancer. What has happened in the field of cancer since then is a miracle.


HENRY: He's mentioning Ed Muskie, the senator who cried at the New Hampshire primary many years ago. Trying to use a little bit of humor there. Afterwards he tried to break the ice. Very tense for a moment there by joking his doctor has told him he can't get cancer in this new job, but he can get a lot of heartburn from the White House reporters.

He's trying to use a little humor. I think in all seriousness on this first day one thing he did accomplish with that moment which clearly is not calculated, it came up spontaneously, was he humanized himself, something Scott McClellan had a hard time with. His critics thought he was robotic in his answers. From day one, Tony Snow humanizes himself a little bit.

PHILLIPS: That's not a bad thing. Ed Henry, thanks a lot.

We've been waiting for this video for the past 45 minutes or so. I'm told the Department of Defense has released the videotape that it says shows American Airlines Flight 77 striking the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

This has been held in very close quarters under wraps until the Zacarias Moussaoui trial had ended. Now we will see it for the very first time and get reaction from those who were there. The news keeps coming. We'll be right back.


PHILLIPS: Straight to CNN Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre, working that developing story that we've been telling you about, that video concerning the aircraft that hit the Pentagon back on 9/11. Jamie, it's finally been released.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Kyra. This is, again, a more complete version of the six still frame images that CNN obtained unofficially back in March of 2002 and broadcast then. The full tape has been something the government has been holding as evidence in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, but now that that trial is over, they've released the full video.

And the video, which runs for a minute or so, shows what happens just before the impact and also the plane coming into the building. It's from two separate cameras, both at the same location, at a Pentagon checkpoint entrance. And it's hard to see as we're playing it here. It's sort of stop action video. Again, very similar to the still frames we before.

But when you run the video back and stop it, at one point you can see what appears to be the nose of the plane just entering the frame. The very next frame there's an explosion, and then in the second angle, which is taken from another camera, a little bit lower down, you can see what appears to be a white flash that also looks like the plane.

But again, it's not going to be distinct enough to convince conspiracy theorists who still question whether a plane actually hit the Pentagon. But for anyone with any common sense, and, given all the other evidence we have, there's really no doubt that a plane hit the Pentagon. But the fact that the government was holding these videotapes from the security camera, not releasing them, was simply fueling suspicions around the world.

And now, as a result of this lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a public interest group asking for the -- and the fact that the Zacarias Moussaoui trial is over now, the government is releasing the tapes and as well as releasing them from the Department of Justice. They're also being posted on the Pentagon's Web site -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Jamie McIntyre. Thank you so much. Jamie, you were there at the Pentagon and so was Admiral Timothy Keating. He was in the Pentagon's Navy Operations Center just moments before Flight 77 obliterated it. Twenty-four people died in that room, and today Admiral Keating is at NORTHCOM/NORAD watching the skies and keeping a close eye on the ground, specifically the border debate flaring in Washington. He's on the phone with me right now.

And Admiral, I first want to get your response to this videotape. I know it brings back a lot of extreme memories for you from that day.

ADMIRAL TIMOTHY KEATING, COMMANDER, NORAD/NORTHCOM: Kyra, it does. I'm watching you, and I have just seen the clips that Jamie was talking about. Those -- the idea of a conspiracy is totally inaccurate. I can testify that firsthand. And seeing the airplane fly into the building reminds of friends, good kids who were in the watch center that morning -- Bobby Dolan (ph), Larry Gesfred (ph), Andy Shenauer (ph), and a couple dozen more.

PHILLIPS: Now you -- your classmate from the Navy and flight school friend was the captain of that flight, Chick Burlingame, right?

KEATING: Correct. Captain Chick Burlingame, American Airlines, I went to school with him, lived next door to him for four years at Annapolis, Kyra, and went through flight school in Pensacola and Kingsville, Texas. Chick was a very good friend.

PHILLIPS: You know what kind of man he was and what kind of pilot he was. I know you could never put us into the mindset of what he was probably going through, but I have no doubt you're going to tell me he was extremely strong-willed and quite a brave sailor.

KEATING: I've wondered since that morning when we learned, all of us who were classmates of Chick's, that he was on that airplane, what the terrorists had to do to get him out of that cockpit. I was in a plebe summer boxing match with Chick, and he pounded me. I don't like admitting that on national media, but Chick was really tough, and the terrorists had to perform some inhumane act to get him out of that cockpit, I guarantee you.

PHILLIPS: And you had more than 24 men and women -- or more than 24 men and women under you. You lost 24 of your own while working in the Pentagon. You had to deal with a lot of those families after this happened, didn't you?

KEATING: Yes. It was heart-breaking, Kyra. These were young men and women who were on watch. And those were 24 that were down at command center. Navy lost almost up to 50 soldier -- or sailors and civilians. And Army, remember, lost 35 more than that. So between the Army and the Navy, there were over 100 families who lost their loved one that morning.

PHILLIPS: Do you think it's a good idea that we're looking at this video, that we're seeing this and that it has been released? KEATING: Well, it's easy enough for me to say, Kyra, because I knew those folks. But they weren't directly related to me, though I'd been with them that morning. I'm sure it will cause those families who -- for example, Chick Burlingame's brothers and sister, it will be painful for them. But my experience with these folks is that they don't want to hide anything. They want to confront the reality that we're in the global war on terror head-on. And so they'll accept it for what it's worth.

PHILLIPS: My final question -- just looking at this video reminds me of just the war in Iraq. You were in charge of that air campaign, Shock and Awe. You knew why you had to do what you had to do, whether it was Afghanistan and Iraq. No doubt you look at that video and you try to keep focused on the overall war on terror.

KEATING: To be sure, Kyra. These are -- the folks who were trying to win this war, we're fighting them all around the globe, and this -- the video reminds us that we can't ever let our guard down here in the United States or any place else. It's an asymmetric war, and they're going to come at us any way they can. And that's what we're here in Northern Command doing, is protecting the men and women in America and Canada and Mexico against similar attacks.

PHILLIPS: Admiral Timothy Keating, thanks for your time today. I really appreciate it.

KEATING: Thanks, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: The news keeps coming. We'll keep bringing it to you. More LIVE FROM coming up next.


PHILLIPS: A break in the weather. That's all waterlogged New Englanders want to know right now, and they could get it later today. Then perhaps they can start drying out from all this. Roads impassable, houses unlivable, business districts flooded. The governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire have declared states of emergency and called out the National Guard to help evacuate residents or place sandbags on riverbanks.

We expect to hear from Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney regarding the flooding in his state. He's planning a 3:30 briefing. That's Eastern time. We're going to bring it to you live. We can find out what's going on with regard to emergency funds.


PHILLIPS: I'm now being told that press conference has been moved up. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney expected to speak at 3:00 Eastern time. That could happen just a few minutes if now, about seven minutes. We'll take it live as soon as he steps up to the podium.

Well, glitz and controversy are nothing new for the Cannes Film Festival. If there's one premiere invite that's more coveted than most this year, it's for "The Da Vinci Code." The movie adaptation of Dan Brown's bestseller is already generating hype and protests.

Our Sibila Vargas is live in Los Angeles with all the details. Hey, Sibila.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kyra. The countdown has definitely begun. The glitteratti is all about town in France fro the Cannes Film Festival. The red carpet is out and the champagne and caviar, ready to go. But the most famous international film festivals doesn't start until tomorrow, when some of the most famous people grace the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. The event will last for 12 days, featuring many A-list celebrities from all around the world.

And slated to open the festival is the highly anticipated film "The Da Vinci Code." Speaking of "The Da Vinci Code," the cast of the film and the author of the book arrived in Cannes in grand style and helped set a world record. All traveled from London to Cannes, France, on the Eurostar train.

Now, the trip took seven hours and 25 minutes and set a Guinness world record for the longest nonstop international train journey. Actor Tom Hanks, director Ron Howard, actor Paul Bettany and author Jan Brown and other cast members were on board. It was also the first time the Eurostar has traveled from Cannes, France with passengers.

But as you said, not everyone is jumping on the "Da Vinci" bandwagon, so to speak. Just days before hitting the theaters, some worldwide criticism continues. Now, the powerful archbishop Angelo Amato said Catholics should boycott "The Da Vinci Code" and speak out against it, and Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze said Christians should consider legal means against the film and the book.

And politicians in the Philippines petitioned for the film to be banned from that country, while hundreds of protesters took to the streets in India to call for similar steps. The movie opens on Friday.

Be sure to watch CNN's coverage of Cannes Film Festival throughout the week with our entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson, my colleague, right here on CNN.

Now, tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," porn in the USA. The controversial teacher who insists on showing his students porn films in the classroom. He says he's got a good reason why and he'll tell us in the interview you'll see only on TV's most provocative entertainment news program. That's "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN headline prime. Certainly not part of my college program, Kyra. Curious to find out what he's going to say to justify that.

PHILLIPS: Well, my director Scott just woke up. He's paying attention now. Thank you, Sibila. That helps.

All right. On a much more serious note, we're talking about an update on the flooding in New England. We're going to hear from Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney live. That's straight ahead. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT