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CNN Live Event/Special

America Under Attack: New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani Gives Press Conference on Current Situation

Aired September 12, 2001 - 09:41   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we're going to head back to Atlanta where Miles O'Brien is standing by. Miles, there's been a flurry of siren activity down below. We have no idea, again, what the significance of that is or the significance of the military jet that made a passover south early this morning but we'll try to figure out what all that means and then bring that information to you.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Paula keeping us posted from New York.

The Pentagon was built immediately after World War II and it stood impervious during all those Cold War years, and today, at least one face of it, lies a charred ruin, several hundred people killed as the third aircraft to strike hit yesterday morning.

Ken Bacon is a former Pentagon spokesperson. First of all, thanks for being with us, and if you could just share with us your reaction to what you've seen unfold.

KEN BACON, FMR. PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: Well I was horrified like everybody else. Friends of mine were in that building but I think the most important thing to focus on today is that the building is still operating. I understand that two-thirds of the 24,000 people who normally work at the Pentagon are there today carrying on operations,and I think this is a strong symbol of American resolve and resilience.

O'BRIEN: It -- the attack obviously a strong symbol of the defiance of these terrorists. This must, in some way, shake and rattle the people who work inside that building, and all the people they represent in the US military at large?

BACON: Well, of course, literally and figuratively shake and rattle. But the fact of the matter is that the people who are in the military today, serving our nation, understand that there are risks. They understand this when they join the military. This is not the type of risk they anticipated, but they anticipate that they will face risk.

I think that the important thing is that they're back at work. They're ready to do their job and respond to any instructions they get from the president. O'BRIEN: As we look at some pictures from lower Manhattan today, as the effort begins there, hard to even comprehend the amount of -- the Herculean task that lies ahead to find possibly additional survivors and then, of course, just begin the forensic process.

I'm curious, you've been privy to the behind-the-close-door meetings that occur in the wake of something like this. What's being said? What's being laid out on the table as the options for the current White House?

BACON: OK. First of all, at the Pentagon itself, there are three priorities. Care for the casualties, limit the damage and maintain operations. And I think that Secretary Rumsfeld quick rundown to the bombed area yesterday showed that he was paying attention to the casualties then went right back to the command center.

Right now what the Pentagon is doing is working with while it carries on the operations and takes care of the casualties, tries to stop the burning it is working with the intelligence agencies to try to figure out who's responsible for this what I consider to be an act of war against our national military command center. And, two, to present the president with a list of options that he can both -- from which he can choice in making a response.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Bacon, you know at the risk of doing some Wednesday morning quarterbacking here if you will. There's been a lot of criticism of the intelligence community in the wake of this -- or there always is in the wake of a terrorist attack like this. Cognizant of the fact that we talk about you know literally the fog of war, do you think there was a misstep? Was there a lack of communication that made this attack possible?

BACON: I don't think it's -- well, clearly, something went wrong. We know that to begin with. But I don't think it's fair right now to point fingers or cast dispersions at any part of our intelligence community and we need to get more facts.

We depend on a series of defenses -- on perimeter defenses and one of them is airport security. Clearly, there was a lapse of airport security. But what more happened - what signals we might have missed, it's too early to tell right now.

What we can say is we as a nation have been working very for the last five or 10 years to improve our responses to terrorism. We've made considerable progress. Clearly, we have to do more.

O'BRIEN: If you were still involved in your former role as the spokesperson for the defense department at the Pentagon. What would you be advising the bosses to do today and the coming days?

BACON: I'd advise them to do what they've done. To be forthright with the American public, to present information as soon as their ...

O'BRIEN: Mr. Bacon. Mr. Bacon, my apologies. I have to interrupt you. We're going to go to New York now. Mayor Rudy Giuliani with a news conference. Let's listen in.


We just completed a long meeting with all of the agencies of the city, state, governor participating in the port authority so we can work on the things that we have to do today to first of all focus our efforts on recovering as people as we can and save lives. Second, try to begin to -- the removal of debris to that area of the city, which is going to be a task that goes on for at least two or three weeks. And then focus on the other issues that are of importance to the city. Make sure that food comes into the city. Make sure that people are able to go about their lives and are taken care of in the hospitals. And to try to bring the city back to normal as soon as possible and we're going to aim to try to do that for the rest of Manhattan starting tomorrow. And we'll be focusing on that and trying to accomplish that all day today.

We have had -- we have been successful in recovering at least one other person. A port authority police officer. We're hopefully going to be able to recover a fourth one. And we're in the process of doing everything we can to try to locate other people and that'll be the major focus of our attention.

We also appeal to...


GIULIANI: Since some came forward late yesterday, last evening. If they do, please contact the police department and the FBI because it could be of enormous help in the investigation of the case. We're going to try to open schools tomorrow. We're hopeful that we'll be able to - we certainly will be able to do it in the entire city and we'll be working on a plan for the maximum number of schools that we can open on the east side of Manhattan, particularly the lower east side of Manhattan. Con Edison is working, I think, as intentionally as they possibly can to try to get power restored. It's going to take some time and we're bringing generators in. The governor made available to us a group of generators that we've moved to Randall's Island and will be using them in that area of the east side that needs generator power because they may need it for quite some time.

We were able to move 120 dump trucks out of the city last night, which will give you the sense of the work that was done overnight. And so some of the debris has already been removed. More of it is being removed and it'll be done by barge all throughout the day today.

The subway system is operating in all of the city but below 14th street and largely because right now we have that closed. So if you're in any of the other four bureaus (ph), public transportation is normal. The subways are normal. The busses are normal. If you're in Manhattan, the subways are going to be working to 14th Street and then for those that go underneath they'll just go straight out to Brooklyn. As soon as we can get that area of the city open, however, there will be subway service there except for the one, two and three lines, the west side IRT below 34th Street because of the collapse that took place. And, again, we ask all New Yorkers to cooperate and to try to help each other. There are going to be a lot of people today who need help and need assistance either because of the fact that they know people that were lost in this terrible tragedy or just because they're frightened of what may happen. If you could comfort them and help them and assist them, particularly elderly people, that might be a way in which you can contribute. And we're getting very, very close cooperation from the state, from the federal government, and I think people in New York.

The best way they can deal with this right now is not only to deal with their own grief, which we all feel and have, but to show that we're not going to be anyway affected by this. That we're not going to be cowarded by it. That we're not afraid. That we're going to go about our business and lead normal lives and not let these cowards affect us in anyway like they're trying to do, which is to instill fear in us.


As the mayor indicated, the focus right now is still on search and rescue in the hopes that we can get other people out of the debris and save more lives. We have, at least count, 18 different search and rescue teams down there. And I want to thank my colleagues. We have eight from Connecticut that Governor Rowland sent in. Others from around the country. We have a specialist team coming that Governor (INAUDIBLE) is sending from Puerto Rico. And this type of support from around the country that is allowing us to get through this.

I have to tell you. I was down at the scene last night. And mayor, your police and fire not only were heroes at the beginning, but they're still heroes. They're down there under enormous personal strain and risk. I saw them at ground zero while a high rise was on fire right across the street that could have collapsed. And they are risking their lives to try to save their friends, and their colleagues and the New Yorkers who are still trapped. And we have to thank them, say a pray for them.

This is a time for rescue. It's a time for commitment, but it's also a time to reflect and grieve for those who didn't have their parents come home last night or for those who still might be lost.

And we will get through this because, as the mayor indicated, New Yorkers come together in times of crisis. And we've seen tremendous spirit, donating blood, volunteering at hospitals, helping us to get through this, and we have done everything we could to be supportive. We have National Guard troops here now. We are mobilizing fire departments from Westchester and Rothen (ph) that are backing up in Bronx. We're mobilizing fire departments from NASA and Suffolk that will help in some of the outer bureaus on Long Island.

But what we don't need are people just simply coming in to volunteer. We have the hotlines. We have the organization. We have tremendous coordination between the city, and the state and federal government. So people who want to exercise their expertise, whether they're firefighters, they should contact their fire department. If they're EMT's or nurses, they should contact the hotlines that we have set up with the state, where we've already had about 10,000 calls.

So this is a tragic episode in American history, but New Yorkers will get through this. America will get through this. We will not be intimated. We will not lose our freedom.

GIULIANI: There is one other thing we should do -- these are the flight recorder boxes that the firefighters and the police officers and the rescuers are looking for. And we're going to -- we'd like -- we'll give you copy of this. We'd like you to put it out as broadly as possible. We'll also giving copies to all the rescue people and the recovery people so that they can try to find them. All together, there'll be four. Two for each airplane. And that's what they look like, except it'll be obviously covered with soot and dirt. But there are a lot of people involved in the recovery and relief effort who know what they're looking for, and then there'll be some that don't. So if we can give those out, it would be very important.

This morning's meeting was devoted to the relief and recovery effort, largely. This afternoon, we are going to focus on the economic recovery of the city, and work with the hotels, the restaurants, the real estate industry. We are going to rebuild. We are not only going to rebuild. We are going to come out of this stronger than we were before.

And in addition to having wonderful people in New York, as the governor indicated, we also have the strongest business community of anyplace in the world. We will call upon them and we will need their help, but we are going to come out of this emotionally stronger, politically stronger, much closer together as a city, and we we're going to come out of this economically stronger, too. We are going to start working on that right away.

I believe...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: the smoke from the World Financial Center was from a defective generator that the fire department worked on. There was no major fire at the World Financial Center.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll make a brief statement. Obviously, you all know, this is a pending criminal investigation. I can tell you that it is being coordinated by director Mueller at FBI headquarters. We have essentially all 56 field officers in the country involved in this. There are albeit primarily a dozen officers where the airplanes were hijacked, and last we're doing a lot of things, as far as that goes particular airports, checking on the planes, checking with crews, cleaning people. All of that is ongoing as we speak.

Probably the major thrust that we are doing right now is we do have the manifest. We are reaching out to all of the families, interviewing them, and the primary purpose of that is, obviously, to get any information you have had. The media has reported there has been a number of calls made from these various planes, we would like to put out to the people that we would like to put out to the people. If they haven't reported that to law enforcement, to call their local law enforcement or FBI, so we can get ahold of it. The obvious thrust for us at this point in time is to identify the members, the individual who were in fact hijackers. So that is the major thrust.

We will be doing a crime scene. The primary thing is, as the mayor just pointed out to you, is the black boxes. We are working with the city, but again, that's going to follow this search and rescue ongoing intense investigation.

That's all I have at this time.

QUESTION: Can you say anything about the arrest in Florida and the seizure of a car in Florida, and the seizure...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a number of leads that we're running around the country. A number of these I will not get into specifics, although it's my understanding we did detain some individuals over in New Jersey. But essentially, we are finding out that that is not all that relevant at this particular point in time. But I will limit my comments. That is going to -- any of the investigative news pertaining to this investigation will come out of Washington D.C.

QUESTION: Is there anyone in custody at this time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Other than the one I mentioned to you, there are some over in New Jersey.

QUESTION: Can you explain to us, Mr. Monds (ph) how airplanes hijacked could come into the New York area without being detected by radar, without the route they were taken being questioned by people in transponder radar?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't really answer that. That would be FAA and NTSB. I don't know the answer to that.

QUESTION: Did you have any warning at all that there were hijacked planes in the air?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No ,I can tell you, this was a surprise as the mayor and governor has pointed out. It was a surprise and shock. We had no forewarning of this happening.

QUESTION: Mr. Monds, there were reports that the FBI was investigating a hijacked plane just before the first plane hit the World Trade Center, is that true?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not aware of that.

QUESTION: The range of potentially, of people that were in the World Trade Center that are still missing, that are presumed dead? What is the conceivable range at this point?

GIULIANI: The numbers that we're working are in the thousands. Obviously, we hope that's not the case. But the estimate would be for both of the buildings, that -- although, building number two had a chance to clear out -- a lot of people probably cleared out of building number two. Building number one some had time to clear out. There were areas of it that were affected. The best estimate we could make relying on port authority and just everyone else that experience with this is, that there will be a few thousand people left in each building. And then our recovery relief efforts and work with the medical examiner are premised on those kinds of numbers.

QUESTION: Mayor, can you explain, if there are thousands of bodies and there 120 trucks of debris taken out, where are the bodies, if there's only 41 confirmed fatality, where are the rest of them?

GIULIANI: Well, in the debris are structural things that were out are trouble things in the way of the relief effort. I don't know that the debris was actually taken out of the actual buildings that fell. But if -- some of you haven't been down there, but the area is -- was very constricted by lots of structural damage and things that were in the street. So a lot of the debris that was taken away, I suspect, was the debris that blocks the entry and exit of the vehicles that have to go in and out of there. Altogether, I think so far, we would account for about 45 bodies.

QUESTION: Are the other ones still buried in the debris.

GIULIANI: I would imagine that that's the case.

QUESTION: With the listening device, are they still hearing signs that there are people alive?

GIULIANI: The rescue workers do have listening devices are. They also have dogs with which they are searching. And we're making an effort -- every effort to get the people out of there.

QUESTION: Any indications that there are people alive, though? I know that they are hearing listening devices. Are the dogs hearing that?

GIULIANI: I can't say that the time.

QUESTION: Today, is the city still on the heightened state of alert.

GIULIANI: Absolutely. Yes.

QUESTION: And how long will that remain in effect so far as the emergency?

GIULIANI: It's going to last until further notice.

QUESTION: Mr. Mayor, could you explain to us why there are so many trucks around...

QUESTION: ... in the World Trade Center, putting the towers back up as a symbol of anything right now.

GIULIANI: There's no question we're going to rebuild. I don't -- I can't say that we know the exact nature yet of how we are going to do that. And we would like to meet with lots of people.

QUESTION: Do you believe that the skyline will be whole again?

GIULIANI: The skyline will be whole again. Exactly what will be there, I think we have to leave to giving some people some time to consider it, to think about it, and also the reality is that the people in New York city will be whole again. We are, very, very strong people.

QUESTION: Any sense of the cost that the point, and the state and the federal government is paying for the legal efforts?

GIULIANI: Governor?

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI, NEW YORK: In my mind, that's the last thing that you think at this point. We are not concerned of who is picking up the tab. Just doing everything that we can to make sure that the relief efforts are the strongest possible, and we'll sort out the costs and the economic consequences later.

QUESTION: Is there anyway to try approach through the subway tunnel, that perhaps people trapped in the areas below? Is that considered to do? I don't I have no idea is. That something that can be tried.

GIULIANI: Excuse me?

QUESTION: To approach through the subway tunnel to get to...

GIULIANI: They are looking at every access area to that area, the rescue workers.

QUESTION: Has that been tried so far as you know?

GIULIANI: Specifically, I don't know, but I am sure that they are looking.