Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
America Under Attack: How Could It Happen?
Aired September 12, 2001 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, America under attack. How could it happen? Four airliners take off from three airports within a 12 minute span. All have hijackers aboard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: A number of the suspected hijackers were trained as pilots in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Three planes are used for suicide attacks. One does not find its objective. We'll take a close look at just what happened aboard those planes. Meticulous planning. Plenty of resources. Deadly will. Who did it? How did they do it? And why?
We'll speak live with Senators John McCain and Richard Shelby, former New York police commissioner Ray Kelly, former CIA director Jim Woolsey and other top intelligence and law enforcement authorities. And as investigators begin casting their net, we'll go live to our CNN correspondents on the scene to find out what happens next.
WOLF BLITZER, CO-HOST: Wolf Blitzer reporting tonight from Washington. Behind me the White House, the Washington monument, and a short distance away just across the Potomac River, the Pentagon, symbols of a country which has now come under attack.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CO-HOST: And I'm Greta Van Susteren. On this day after, how did it happen? How it could have happened? We'll do our best to answer those two questions.
BLITZER: For those of you who are just joining us, here's a quick update on the developments at this hour.
Another building adjacent to New York's World Trade Center has partially collapsed. The 54-story One Liberty Plaza building was the new home of the Nasdaq stock exchange. Rescue workers combing the wreckage of the Trade Center's twin towers were evacuated. Earlier, they had pulled nine people alive from the rubble.
At the Pentagon, parts of which are still smoldering, firefighters showed their courage and their colors. And the President paid a visit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Coming here makes me sad on the one hand. It also makes me angry. And we -- our country will, however, not be cowed by terrorists, by people who don't share the same values we share, by people who are willing to destroy people's lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Boston, where two of the hijacked flights originated, is a focus of the investigation. Police and FBI agents swarmed a downtown hotel. And a car containing suspicious materials was impounded at Logan Airport. A number of people have been taken into custody, several of them in Florida, where authorities zeroed in on aviation schools and a home where one of the suspected hijackers may have lived.
For more on the developments in Boston, let's go to CNN's Boston bureau chief Bill Delaney.
Bill, tell us what we know right now?
BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, to give you an idea of the sheer dimensions of the investigations here, 150 state police detectives assigned to investigate Logan Airport alone. Among hundreds of FBI, state and local police who are fanning out for whatever evidence they can garner and talking now to people who have been taken into custody.
Three people taken into custody at Boston's Westin Copley Hotel today, in extraordinary scenes in Copley Square in the heart of Boston. Usually a place where people sit around and look at fountains and pigeons. Today, FBI SWAT teams, heavily armed with machine guns, storming into the Westin Copley Hotel where they took into custody three men.
Now FBI director Robert Mueller himself being careful to point out that these were not arrests. These men have been brought in for questioning, for possible links, for possible information, as sources to try to understand who committed the hijackings that left Boston, the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.
Now after the arrests, bomb-sniffing dogs made what authorities call a hit in the Boston Westin Hotel. It was at that point that the hotel and a nearby shopping mall were evacuated. Adding thousands into an already extraordinary scene in Copley Square, where thousands of onlookers had already gathered. Now thousands came out, evacuated from those hotels in mostly calm scenes.
Now it's being widely reported and sourced as well by CNN sources that the hijackers who came to Boston came from two places, from two directions, one team from Canada. Now a car at Portland International Airport has become a focus for state police there. They believe that was the car used by at least one of the hijackers. Another car is here in Boston. Now this was taken into custody at Central Parking here yesterday. It's now at an FBI processing center near Boston. And this, a very important piece of evidence apparently indeed. Arabic language flight training manuals reportedly found in that car. And CNN's Mike Boettcher reporting earlier that the car was registered to two Arabs.
Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Bill Delaney, very briefly, do we know when Boston's Logan Airport will reopen?
DELANEY: Closed indefinitely while officials here try to work with those FAA guidelines that have been imposed on airports around the country. It's closed indefinitely.
BLITZER: OK, Bill Delaney in Boston. Thank you very much.
SUSTEREN: The investigation into the attacks is literally spanning the globe, with hundreds of agents and law enforcement agencies involved and new leads developing by the hour.
For a look at the big picture, let's go now to CNN's justice correspondent Kelli Arena in Washington.
Kelli, give me an idea, a big picture how many people are involved in this investigation?
KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Greta, the FBI says they have 4,000 special agents, 3,000 support personnel. That's not to mention the hundreds of people that work in the FBI labs, working on this investigation around the nation. And they are pursuing, at last count, more than 2,000 leads.
SUSTEREN: Now we talked about this investigation, a number of crime scenes. You've got Boston. You've got Newark. You've got Pennsylvania. Let me go through the different crime scenes and tell me what's going on. In Boston, what kind of investigation are they doing at the airport?
ARENA: Well, at all of those locations, Greta, what the FBI has done is it has identified the takeoff sites, not only the airports themselves, but the surrounding areas and then the crash sites as crime scenes.
And at those locations, what they're doing is they're dusting for fingerprints. They are going through passenger manifests, rental car records. They're looking at telephone logs, videotape from parking garages, looking at pay phone videotapes. And we were even told by some law enforcement sources that investigators in Florida, for example, are going through neighborhoods and restaurants, showing people pictures of suspected hijackers. So they're really pounding the pavement and trying to gather as much forensic evidence as possible. SUSTEREN: And the crash site in Pennsylvania, is that getting closer to examination, because at least the plane, at least, has a chance of more parts there?
ARENA: Well, exactly. I mean, in Pennsylvania, that was the only plane that went into the ground instead of into a building. So they have a much better chance of getting at it and really trying to get some information. Plus, law enforcement sources also tell CNN that the transponder on that plane was open for a period on that flight. So they may have information, at least air traffic control may have information, directly from the cockpit on that flight.
And as you know, Greta, we also have people who have called from not only the Pennsylvania flight but others. But specifically from Pennsylvania, we've heard from family members that have outlined the tragedy that went on, on that flight.
SUSTEREN: Kelli Arena, thank you for joining me tonight.
BLITZER: World Trade Center and the Pentagon, "acts of war." And officials now say the White House itself was an intended target.
Let's go live to CNN's senior White House correspondent John King, obviously at the White House. John, tell us what we know about that?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, to put this new information in context, let's think back to yesterday morning when the first pictures were being shown of those planes hitting the World Trade Center. We saw an evacuation here at the White House. CNN is also told now by sources that Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, other top White House officials were ushered out of their offices to a command and control bunker, a fortified command and control bunker, deep beneath the White House grounds here.
Why? Administration officials now saying that that plane that came across the Potomac River caused so much damage across the River at the Pentagon, its initial target, we are now told, might not have been the Pentagon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have real and credible information that the airplane that landed at the Pentagon was originally intended to hit the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us about the nature of that evidence?
FLEISCHER: No, of course I cannot. Any questions relating to how we have obtained any of this information, sources and methods, I will of course not answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why it changed course? Why the Pentagon and not the White House?
FLEISCHER: We really do not know the answer to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Administration officials also saying not just the White House, but in their view, they also believe that Air Force One, the President's jet, was a target for the terrorists. That, they say, the reason the President did not fly directly back to Washington from Sarasota, Florida. You will remember he stopped first in a military installation in Louisiana, then a military installation in Nebraska. Only then did the President return to Washington with an extraordinary fighter escort visible to those flying aboard Air Force One.
The administration saying it believed Air Force One was a target as well. Some sources even saying they believe that plane that crashed outside of Pittsburgh was planning to turn south and bank its way toward Washington, and if possible, emphasis on if possible, collide with Air Force One as the President was returning to Washington. Wolf?
BLITZER: John, pretty amazing stuff. The President did meet with his National Security team once again today. Do we know anything at all about a timetable for a possible U.S. military response?
KING: We know nothing specific about a timetable, except the public words of the President and the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, both saying to be patient, that fighting terrorism will not come in a day or two.
But we know, Wolf, from sources familiar with those discussions the President met twice with his National Security team today. And we are told that among the items discussed possible were possible military options. We're told though, these discussions are in their earliest stages. The priority right now for the administration, building broad diplomatic support.
The President spoke today to a half dozen international leaders, including the presidents of China and Russia. And the administration very much welcoming Nato's statement that these terrorist attacks on the United States, in the view of Nato, are attacks on the Nato alliance. So the President promising there will be consequences to this, but also saying it might take some time.
BLITZER: John King at the White House. Thank you very much.
Back to you, Greta.
SUSTEREN: New information, Wolf, is emerging about what happened aboard those four hijacked planes before they were brought down, information which may shed light on what the passengers and crew were doing, and may help reveal who carried out the attacks, and why.
More from CNN's Miles O'Brien.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nothing seemed amiss when American Airlines flight 11 left the runway in Boston Tuesday morning. The 767, 200 was about half full, toting 81 passengers, a cockpit crew of two and nine flight attendants to the opposite coast. The captain likely planned for a five hour flight. So there was roughly 8,500 gallons of jet fuel in its three tanks.
FAA radars track the airliner as it followed the flight plan. But then about 20 minutes into the flight, somewhere over upstate New York, it turned sharply to the south. Flight 11 was hijacked apparently by knife-wielding men.
Airline pilots are trained to handle such situations by keeping calm, complying with requests, and if possible, dialing in an emergency four digit code on a device called a transponder. It transmits crucial flight data to air traffic controllers.
The action takes seconds, but it appears no such code was entered. But in the cabin, a frantic flight attendant managed to use a phone to call American Airlines Command Center in Dallas. She reported the trouble. And according to "The Christian Science Monitor," a pilot apparently keyed the microphone, transmitting a cockpit conversation. The hijackers could be heard saying, "We have more planes, we have more planes." Radio transmissions like this would have been recorded on the ground by the FAA.
JOHN WELLS, "BOSTON HERALD": The police have identified five suspects that they believe were involved with this terrorist act. And two of whom may be brothers, apparently, reportedly. Two of whom, two others may have flown in from Portland and originated in Canada.
M. O'BRIEN: About five minutes before Flight 11 started heading south, another 767, United flight 175 left Boston also for Los Angeles. 65 souls aboard. 15 minutes after becoming airborne, it veered off course. One passenger made two calls to his father. In one exchange, he said a flight attendant was stabbed. In the second call, he told his dad the plane was going down.
JOHN TEERLING, FORMER AMERICAN AIRLINES CAPTAIN: They knew not to carry guns on the airplane. If they fired off a bullet, I mean could have explosive decompression on the aircraft. They knew what they were doing. And they knew what their mission was, obviously.
M. O'BRIEN: We know what happened next. The 767 struck and ultimately leveled the World Trade Centers twin towers.
TEERLING: I know pilots. If you're going to die, you're not going take -- you're not going to fly in a World Trade Center to do it. Yes, there would be a struggle, major struggle.
M. O'BRIEN: By 8:20, the third hijacked flight, American flight 77, a 757, left Dulles Airport outside Washington, again bound for Los Angeles with 66 people on board. Radar tracking information on this flight obtained by CNN seems to indicate the transponder was turned off, which would have made it tougher to see on radar.
We do know this. An hour and 20 minutes after departure, it plowed into the Pentagon. On board was Barbara Olson, a well-known attorney and frequent CNN legal commentator. Huddled in the back of the plane, Olson called her husband twice from her cell phone. She described the frantic scene.
TIM O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She said that they were armed with knives and box cutters, paper cardboard cutters.
M. O'BRIEN: Even as the focus shifted to the nation's capital, a fourth plane, United Airlines flight 93 bound for San Francisco out of Newark, takes sudden 180-degree turn near Cleveland. More than 1 of the 38 passengers called their families to offer final good-byes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said I want you to know I love you very much. And I'm calling you from the plane. We've been taken over. There are three men that say they have a bomb. Then the phone went dead.
M. O'BRIEN: The 757 began homing in on the Washington area, its target unknown. But this flight did not make it that far. It crashed into a cornfield in Somerset County Pennsylvania. Was there a struggle in this cockpit? The military denies it was shot down. Pilots assessing this horrific sequence of events, to a person, believe the hijackers were in control of the three planes that hit their targets, and that they must have been well-schooled in aviation.
TEERLING: No, these people were well qualified on the airplane. They knew the systems. They knew the navigation and they knew the flight management system and computers. And they knew navigation. I mean, they went from Boston and right down to New York. I mean, they had to know which way to turn.
Miles O'Brien, CNN.
BLITZER: And with investigators turning much of their attention to Boston, let's turn now to "Boston Herald" reporter Jonathan Wells, who's been tracking the hijacking probe. He joins us as we just saw from our Boston bureau.
Jonathan, what do we know about how these hijackers managed to board these two planes at Logan Airport in Boston?
WELLS: Well, that part of story is really yet to come out, how they actually got on the planes. Other than apparently their purchase of seven of the tickets that were used for the two flights were purchased with a credit card, a common credit card, which helped the FBI detain three individuals at the Westin Hotel today in Boston who apparently are associates of the hijackers. But how they actually got on the plane, the mechanics of that, I don't know.
BLITZER: And what do you know, if anything, about their whereabouts just before they got to Boston. Had they been in Boston for some time or did they get there only just before the flights?
WELLS: Well, here's what we understand. At least two of the hijackers apparently came down from Canada, we believe through Nova Scotia, boarded a ferry to Maine. From Maine, either getting off Bar Harbor or Portland, Maine. They then eventually ended up on a flight to Boston.
Now there apparently may be other hijackers that entered through Canada by a different route, possibly by car. Overall, what we've learned is that a terrorist cell was apparently operating in Massachusetts, had, you know, its members traveling to Canada at various times, it appears. Had been operating in Massachusetts for some time leading up to this.
We've heard mention of Springfield and Western Mass as a post for some of these people. And essentially, you know, they were able to hatch this plot in Massachusetts to some extent and use Massachusetts as a staging area for the attack on New York.
BLITZER: Jonathan Wells of the "Boston Herald," thank you very much for joining us.
And there is a widespread belief that yesterday's attacks succeeded because of major security and intelligence failures.
Joining us now, the former CIA director Jim Woolsey. Larry Johnson -- he's the former State Department counterterrorism official. And Senator Richard Shelby. He's the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Gentlemen, thanks four joining us.
Senator Shelby, tell us first of all, what do we know right now -- what do you know right now about who may have been responsible for these attacks?
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, this investigation as you know, is ongoing. I was in a briefing with the attorney general and the FBI director earlier this afternoon. I won't comment on that. But I can tell you, Wolf, I said last night and I've said it again today, there are certain parallels, I believe, between what happened yesterday in some sense with what happened to our embassies in Africa three years ago.
Think of the timing. The first thing that came to my mind was the parallel between precise timings of these bombings. In this case, it was the airplanes, but timing's important. Timing's always been important to Osama Bin Laden and his group. Now was it Osama Bin Laden or was it some similar cells? We'll wait for the investigation. I've got to believe it's linked.
BLITZER: Director Woolsey, a lot of people say that the signature of Osama Bin Laden is all over these attacks. Are you ready to draw to that conclusion?
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: It may be all over these attacks. And I think that might make us a bit suspicious that is something else might be up. Certainly Bin Laden may well have been deeply involved and may have been the operational figure and his people in this, but that doesn't mean that he acted alone.
When I see Bin Laden issuing fatwahs, religious edicts, putting out videotapes, issuing poems, having his subordinates talk about how they're taking part in terrorism against the United States, I begin to think that maybe we're supposed to focus solely on Bin Laden. And there might be something else in train.
My suspicion -- it's no more than that at this point -- is that there could be some government action involved together with Bin Laden or a major terrorist group. And one strong suspect there I think would be the government of Iraq.
BLITZER: Larry Johnson, the government of Iraq sponsoring this act of terrorism, is that your sense as well?
LARRY JOHNSON, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: No, I think that's highly unlikely for several reasons. Principally, Iraq right now has been winning the political battle against the United States in the effort to lift sanctions. Secondly, the only recorded terrorist attack we have by Iraq against the United States was the attempt in February of 1993 to kill then former George Bush, senior.
Saddam is a lot of things, but he's not crazy. And the motivations for him at this point to launch an attack, that's not just killing Americans but has probably killed people from as many as 40 different nations in the World Trade Center, which would turn the world against him at a time when he's been making progress in the United Nations and getting sanctions lifted. I think, you know, we should not ascribe to him -- that kind of idiocy.
BLITZER: So let just move onto Senator Shelby, Larry Johnson. But before I do, very quickly, if it's not Iraq, is it your sense it is just Osama Bin Laden?
JOHNSON: The only person over the last eight years, the one that we know for sure that has killed the majority of Americans in terrorist attacks, is Osama Bin Laden and groups linked to him. And that's not a matter of opinion now. We have that as a result of the embassy - the U.S. embassy bombing trials from east Africa earlier this year.
Moreover, in one final point, in that trial, evidence emerged that demonstrated that Osama Bin Laden had had prior meetings and contacts with Mugnia (ph), the Hezbollah chief who was involved with the bombing of the Marine barracks, bombing of U.S. embassies, hijackings of airplanes. And the reason he wants to emulate Mugnia (ph) is because Mugnia (ph) succeeded in driving the United States out of Lebanon.
BLITZER: All right. Senator Shelby, you're the ranking Republican, the ranking member of the Senate intelligence committee, the former media past chairman. I want to read you a line from what William Safire, "The New York Times" columnist, wrote today. He said this. "The next attack will probably not be by a hijacked jet for which we will belatedly prepare. More likely, it will be a terrorist purchase nuclear missile or a barrel of deadly germs dumped in a city's reservoir.
That's pretty alarming kind of stuff. Is it far-fetched?
SHELBY: I don't think anything's far-fetched. We've been trying to prepare for weapons of mass destruction on the intelligence committee. I, Senator Gramm, and others have tried to alert the American people to that. We have training to deal with terrorists now, the first responder program. People that would destroy our water supplies, do other things. I think it would probably come in a chemical attack first, but that's just my hunch.
BLITZER: Director Woolsey, yesterday I spoke to Paul Bremmer, former State Department and ambassador for counterterrorism. He made the point that in 1995, the CIA effectively stopped recruiting agents in some of these terrorist cells perhaps out of concern that Congress wouldn't like the fact that they were on putting on the U.S. government's payroll some sordid, very nasty figures, and that could have undermined human intelligence gathering capabilities by the United States.
Is that a fair point he makes?
WOOLSEY: Jerry and I agree very much agree on that. He chaired the commission on terrorism that I served on. This is some guidelines that were put out a few months after I stepped down as director. And they grew out of the Jennifer Harbury (UNINTELLIGIBLE) mess in Guatemala.
And the upshot is that the CIA has guidelines now that don't block it from recruiting people with violent backgrounds as spies, but they somewhat deter it and inhibit it. And you know, if you're -- there are a lot of good people trapped inside bad governments who want to work for the United States. And that might be one way -- that is one way we get spies who help us in governments.
But inside Bin Laden's organization or Hezbollah, there are only people who want to be human rights violators. So if you don't recruit human rights violators, you don't recruit people inside terrorist organizations. And I think Jerry is on the right track with that. I think those guidelines, particularly with respect to terrorist recruitments, ought to be changed.
BLITZER: So by all accounts, therefore, Larry Johnson, would you characterize this failure, this as an intelligence failure, these four attacks, these four hijacking yesterday and the devastation that resulted from them?
JOHNSON: In one sense, but this is not to assign blame. What really is going on here is the CIA is set up and structured much like the U.S. Calvary was before World War II. Horses had no place in World War II, yet it was still a part of the army. And unfortunately, most of our intelligence apparatus overseas is structured to still deal with the Cold War. And there have been efforts to change it. But again, I'm basing this upon -- I've got several friends who are in, who are in senior positions as case officers. The morale is terrible. There is a risk averse culture.
And Director Woolsey put his finger on it. These folks are just not able to penetrate what they need to, because we as this country, we can't decide whether we want to kill the rats who are in the sewer, but we don't want to get into the sewer. So therefore, we want to stay out of the sewer, but we want the rats to -- we've got to make a choice at some point.
BLITZER: Senator Shelby, you'll have the last word. How do you resolve that dilemma that Larry Johnson and Director Woolsey just spoke about?
SHELBY: Well, I think we're going to have beef all aspects and change a lot of the structure and the environment in our intelligence agency. We've been talking about that.
I want to talk about just one second. I believe it was not a success yesterday for our intelligence agencies. If it was not a success, it was a failure. Now I'm not here to put blame on anybody because there have been many successes, but we have to start with where we are. We had a terrible situation yesterday. We will have it again unless we eradicate terrorism. We've got to do it. We can do it but only with resolve.
BLITZER: OK, I want to thank all three of you, Jim Woolsey, Larry Johnson, Senator Shelby, thanks for your insight on these remarkable hours as they go by. Thank you very much.
SHELBY: Thank you.
BLITZER: And updating once again, the latest developments at this hour.
A 54-story building across the street from New York's World Trade Center has partially collapsed. Rescue crews working the ruins of the twin towers were evacuated before the building at One Liberty Plaza began top fall. Nine people have been pulled alive from the rubble of yesterday's attack.
While some workers were back on the job at the Pentagon, today fire and rescue crews are finding it tough to make much headway in still smoldering ruins.
One way the country is reacting to the devastation and horrific casualties is through prayer. There was a gathering in Dallas today and a vigil has been underway at the U.S. Capitol.
The investigation into the attacks has led authorities to several parts of the United States. Boston, where two of the hijacked planes originated, has been a focus of their efforts. A number of people have been detained for questioning. Greta?
SUSTEREN: Wolf, for more insight into the massive task investigators are facing, we're joined by Bill Hinshaw at CNN Center in Atlanta. He's a former special agent with the FBI and a veteran of many bombing and hijacking investigations. And from New York, former city police commissioner, Ray Kelly. Welcome to both of you.
Bill, first to you. How do you get knives and box cutters on airplanes? In fact, on four different airplanes within about an hour a half?
BILL HINSHAW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's pretty well planned and it's relatively easy or was relatively easy because I think the focus of the interdiction was against weapons and explosives and not against knives or screw drivers or box cutters.
SUSTEREN: But you know, Bill, you still got to get through security. And every time I go through security, my body goes through the metal detector and my carry-on baggage goes through machine.
Isn't anybody looking?
HINSHAW: I've gotten on the plane with Swiss army knives. The last flight I was on was behind a guy that had a toolbox that had a number of fancy looking tools, but among them was a box cutter and several long screw drivers. So I think the whole focus was not on what the hijackers used.
SUSTEREN: Ray, do you think the questions -- have packed your own bags and have your luggage been with you since you packed them? Are those questions simply of no value?
RAY KELLY, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: Yes, I think they're of no value. I think they're silly. If you remember when we first started, magnetometers in checking people in, we used law enforcement personnel to do that. We've gotten away from that for a long time. We now use people who try hard, but certainly the standards are not very high. There's tremendous turnover. That's something that I believe has to change right now in the near term. It's just a silly exercise.
SUSTEREN: Ray, what do you make of the fact that they were able to get knives and box cutters? I mean, it wasn't simply one slip, one person. I mean, this was a plan, four different flights had them.
KELLY: Undoubtedly, it was a plan and I'm sure it was practiced. It was something that they just didn't do for the first time. You know, if you look at the FAA test that they do at virtually every major airport each year, some of the failure rates are as high as 80 percent. So it's an area that needs to be looked at, needs to changed radically. It's drifted so much since the '70s when we first started these types of security checks.
SUSTEREN: You know, Bill, when I hear him say 80 percent failure, that apparently we've known there's an 80 percent failure in the security on these questions and getting weapons onto planes, I must admit I'm scandalized. I mean, is this what's been happening in our airports?
HINSHAW: I suppose it has. That's what the tests show, but until we have an event such as this, it didn't really come to -- become a national event.
SUSTEREN: Ray, obviously the pilots of these planes have gone down, but there are a lot of people that may have helped these pilots commit this horrible crime. How do we find the others, the ones who may have helped a little bit and therefore are co-conspirators and are just as responsible?
KELLY: Well, the classic backtracking investigation is what FBI is doing now. You're checking rental car records. You're checking itinerary. I mean, we've seen it. We saw in 1999 with Ahmed Ressam. We know that Canada is clearly an easy point of entry for people that come from places like the Middle East, get into Canada and then come across our border.
Last year, we had almost a half a billion visitors into the United States. We need much stronger border protection. We tried to get that in Congress after Ahmed Ressam came across in the millennium in 1999. And there was, quite frankly, no response.
We need a much more robust examination of people coming into the United States. It hasn't changed certainly in the last two years. And that was -- Ressam came in with 150 pounds of explosive and was headed for LAX. He was convicted. He also, by the way, pointed toward Osama Bin Laden. So, I mean, more and more evidence is being accumulated that points to Bin Laden as our major enemy in this area.
SUSTEREN: Bill, how easy to get into these cockpit?
HINSHAW: Well, the last plane I was on, the cockpit door was open like it does in the time. In the days a quarter of a century ago, when we were facing the hijackings where people were hijacking for money, they closed the cockpit door and usually there was an armed sky marshal behind. And nobody went in there, not even flight attendants.
SUSTEREN: But today, I mean, obviously four did get in. Do you think it's extortion that they threaten the pilots? They're going to slit someone's throat or do something like that to get the pilots to open the doors?
HINSHAW: I think they possibly could have because my understanding is that the assumptions have always been don't do anything to make the hijackers mad. Let's get them on the ground. We'll negotiate with them, given them pizzas for passengers and do something like that. These people obviously had an entirely different intent. And they didn't fit the profile. And we paid for it.
SUSTEREN: Ray, I've heard so often, everyone's saying, these are a trained experienced pilots. And I do understand there's some reports in that they had trained in Florida. But to fly a 757 or a 767, at least, I would think takes a significant amount of training? Does it not?
KELLY: Well, you well, aircraft these days are fly by wire. They're computer controlled. You can get even simulator programs for computers. I think once it's up in the air, it's probably not that challenging, particularly if you have had some flight training. So I think it's probably easier than you might suspect.
SUSTEREN: What about aiming though? They still wanted to hit targets. Three of planes were headed for targets.
KELLY: Right. And I think, obviously, they had some training in that regard. But, I mean you talk to pilots, they say that it isn't that complicated. There is, a lot this of course is on automatic pilot. You get from one location to the other by going from point to point to point. You disengage that automatic pilot, then you do the aiming.
Yes it takes some training, but I'm told it doesn't take that much to be able to steer the aircraft.
SUSTEREN: All right, Bill Hinshaw, Ray Kelly, thank you very much for joining us this evening.
KELLY: Thank you.
SUSTEREN: The effort to identify the hijackers has led investigators to Florida, where they are questioning people and executing search warrants.
CNN's Susan Candiotti is in Vero Beach, Florida with that part of the story. Susan?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Greta. Indeed, the FBI here in Florida had a very, very busy day indeed. We'll try to give you the highlights of what happened here this day and in other locations as well.
First, we're going to report to you that the FBI indeed has leads on suspected hijackers that were involved in this terrorist attack. They are still hijackers that attended flight schools here in Florida. And at this hour, the FBI continues to look at other flight schools here in Florida.
Law enforcement sources say that two of the suspected hijackers, at least two of them, lived here in Vero Beach. Two of them are brothers that lived here. One of them lived on this very street. Both are described as Saudi citizens.
One of them is Adnan Bukhari. We have a photograph of him. He is said to be in his '40s. He is described as a commercial pilot for Saudi Arabian Airlines. Also living in Vero Beach, Bukhari's brother, Ameer. Both lived here with their wives and children.
Now this afternoon, we also had a chance to go inside one of rented homes. This is the one rented by Adnan Bukhari. It was searched this day by the FBI. And according to documents left behind by agents, they seized a number of items, including a computer, computer software, U.S. immigration papers, bank receipts, phone cards, a flight safety bag.
We also saw a pilot certificate, as well as a certificate that they had received specialized instruction on multiengine planes.
These pilots, we are told by law enforcement sources, attended flight safety international, a flight school here in Vero Beach. Law enforcement sources also tell CNN that the Bukhari brothers were believed to have been on of the two flights out of Boston, one of those two flights that wound up slamming into the World Trade Center.
Also we can report to you that a car impounded in Portland, Maine, according to law enforcement authorities, was rented at Boston Logan Airport and driven to Portland, Maine.
Now the Maine state police confirm that two of the suspected hijackers were on a U.S. Air flight out of Logan Airport. Again, one of the two planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.
The FBI also looking at two more suspected hijackers, who spent some time both in Venice, Florida as well as Coral Springs, Florida, which is located in the south. The two are Mohammad Atta and Marwan Yusef Alshehhi.
Now they stayed for a few days at the home of Charlie Voss in Venice, Florida. And they took courses at Hoffman Aviation. These people both had passports from the United Arab republic. And finally, we can tell you that at this hour, at FBI headquarters in Miami, the FBI is interviewing someone they describe as a witness or friend or associate of the suspected hijackers. Back to you, Greta.
Susan Candiotti. Thank you very much. Wolf back to you. >
the investigation is also moving forward on the international front tonight. CNN's Mike Boettcher is tracking those developments. He joins us from CNN center in Atlanta. What kind of leads mike are you hearing that would point to Osama bin laden.
SUSTEREN: Susan Candiotti, thank you very much.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Greta. And the investigation is also moving forward on the international front tonight.
CNN's Mike Boettcher's tracking those developments. He joins us now from the CNN Center in Atlanta.
What kind of leads, Mike are you hearing about that point to Osama Bin Laden?
MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they're doing is going back two years and going over all of analysis they've had in this transformation of Al Qaeda, which is the network run by Osama Bin L. There are intercepts. And that has been talked about by officials in the governments. SIGENT as it's called, signals intelligence. But they are also going back with clues back to the last two years, as Al Qaeda has tried to transform itself, Wolf, trying to bring in various groups of other countries especially from North Africa.
They're taking a close look at Algerians as well because it was an Algerian terrorist group, GIA, which tried to also perform a similar terrorist incident ramming a hijacked airliner into the Eiffel Tower. That was unsuccessful, of course. That happened back in the mid '90s. It was thwarted.
So they're casting their broad net, looking at what the information was over the past two years, Wolf. And they have gleaned a lot of evidence from that period.
BLITZER: And I know, Mike, you have a sort of a handbook that the Osama Bin Laden organization Al Qaeda circulated, which was intercepted. Tell us about some of the tips they have in there?
BOETTCHER: Well, this was introduced in the trial of the bombers of the African embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. It is an operations manual. And it dissects precisely small things, for example, what Susan was talking about on the air just a few moments ago, how to rent an apartment.
Let me give you example. In one section called security precautions related to apartments," it reads, "providing the necessary cover for people who frequent the apartment, avoid seclusion and isolation from the population and refraining from going to the apartment at suspicious times.
And it is preferable to rent these apartments using false names, appropriate cover and non-Moslem appearance."
Now if these suspected terrorists are parts of Al Qaeda, certainly this manual would have been part of the game plan, so to speak, Wolf. They would have followed.
BLITZER: Mike Boettcher, thank you very much. And let's get some historic perspective now on this tumultuous day, day and a half, the attack on America. How are we coping? What's likely ahead? Let's check in with CNN's senior analyst Jeff Greenfield. He's in New York.
Jeff, I was moved yesterday, Jeff, when you spoke about fear in America and how all of us probably will change our definition of that word as result of what has happened.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I think that's right, Wolf. We have been a country blessed by two oceans, blessed by -- except for the Civil War, never really having had violence on our soil with the rare exception of Oklahoma City.
I think if you were around New York today, it felt different than any other time I can remember. I took the subway down to work, as I always do. People were not just quiet, they were numb. I spoke to one of my old friends today, who's a frequent world traveler, not going to Europe on his next planned trip, really uneasy about getting on an airplane.
And that, I think, is the most significant question we face, whether this event really does, for a long period of time, fundamentally shake the security that we as Americans have always felt in our own country.
BLITZER: And there's no doubt even much more mundane matters will be rethought, for example, going up in a high-rise building. What were to happen if they rebuilt the World Trade Center? A lot of people might be afraid to go up to the 90th floor?
GREENFIELD: Well, I think in fact, that has already come up. There's this sense in New York that we must be able to show we will not be cowed by terrorists. That's a very noble sentiment. Who is going to want to work in that building?
I myself yesterday, Wolf, gazed a few blocks east of the Empire State Building, and for a couple of hours I must say, I had kind of uneasy feelings: Is that the next target? And when you walk around like that, when people who grew up in Europe, lived in Europe during World War II, they know what this means, but we as Americans don't know what this means.
You spent a the lots of time in Israel. You know they've come in some way to live with that. And I do think that one of real questions, I don't we can possibly answer it for a long time to come, is whether there will a long-term sense of uneasiness for people who move around big cities, who get on an airplane, something we take for granted.
I mean, Wolf, you and I both know that the biggest complaint we've had about airplanes is they never takeoff and the -- you know, the trauma of airline travel. That seems like a relatively trivial matter right now. And I wonder whether that's going to affect, in some sense, our whole national sense, that is Americans we've been protected.
BLITZER: And from what I hear you saying, and I certainly agree with you if I hear you right, this event will change all of our lives for perhaps ever.
GREENFIELD: I think, you know, we are so given to overstatement in the media that I almost hesitate to put it that way, but I think you are right, Wolf. I think this is -- I think September 11, 2001, is going to define an America before and after every bit as much December 7, 1941 or November 22, 1963. I think it is not too much to say that we will not live anymore the same we have been used before this event. And that is something that's -- it's so unusual for this country to go to it that I think we haven't begun to get our minds around what that means.
BLITZER: I totally agree. Jeff Greenfield in New York. Thank you very much.
SUSTEREN: A war hero himself, he says this country is now at war again. Saying this nation is in a state of "controlled fury," he has a message for those behind the attacks. Senator John McCain joins us now live from Capitol Hill.
Senator, thank you for joining us. You have said that we are at war, as well as the president of the United States earlier today said they were acts of war. Are we really at war? There's been no formal declaration, but are we at war?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I don't think there's any doubt, Greta. Acts of war have within perpetrated on the United States of America by these terrorists. And they have declared war the United States of America. And so I think it fits the criteria.
Now as far as a formal declaration of war on the part of the United States is concerned, that may be somewhat difficult in respects that I'm not sure exactly how you do that. But I don't think there's any doubt that we are in state of war.
SUSTEREN: In the event that can identify the parties who have done these horrible tragedies on American soil, do you expect or would you want the United States to declare formal war against the perpetrators?
MCCAIN: Yes, I do. But I don't know exactly whether it fits the criteria for a declaration of war on the part of the Congress of the United States. Whether it is a statement that the president and Congress make together about the nature of this conflict that we are in, is something I think we have to worry about in more of a Talmudic fashion.
But what we're really talking about is that the American people need to know this is a long, hard struggle. It wouldn't be over if we got rid of Mr. Bin Laden tomorrow. There are other organizations that are bent on the destruction of the United States. And in order for us to preserve American, our way of life, we're going to have to sacrifice American treasure, and unfortunately in some cases, perhaps some American blood.
SUSTEREN: Senator, have you had opportunity to speak to the president about this?
MCCAIN: I haven't spoken directly to the president. I've spoken to literally all the other administration officials.
BLITZER: Senator McCain, it's Wolf Blitzer. There's a new poll that just came out, an ABC News/"Washington Post" poll that suggests that all Americans may have to sacrifice something else. Look at these numbers. Would you be willing to give up some of your liberties in this country, in order for the government to crack down on terrorism? 66 percent said yes. Only 24 percent said no. Those numbers are obviously much higher than they were before this incident. How concerned should the American people be about having to give up liberties to deal with terrorism?
MCCAIN: I think the very reason why we have to do whatever is necessary to eliminate these organizations and/or punish the countries that are involved as well. And that's why I think the president's statement was very important about countries that harbor these people as well as organizations themselves.
But what we have to do is make sure that there's a steadfastness of purpose, and thereby, we can preserve America's liberties. Yes, there will be lifestyle changes. We'll never be the same getting on an airliner again. And there will be other security measures that need to be taken, but best way to ensure maximum liberty for the United States of America is to remove the threat to it, because this whole threat obviously was about destroying our way of life.
BLITZER: And as you know, Senator McCain, some of your colleagues are proposing that Congress pass an act, a declaration of war, a formal declaration of war. Against whom? I'm not exactly sure, but is that a good idea?
MCCAIN: I think in theory it's not a bad idea because I think the more steadfast and the strongest message we send is good. But as you just said, I'm not exactly sure who we declare war on. I think we could achieve the goals of making sure that the world and the American people know of our steadfastness and our seriousness perhaps by some other kind of declaration. I just don't know exactly how mechanically it would work to declare war, because as you said, who it would be on?
SUSTEREN: Senator, what do you make of the fact that our NATO allies have unanimously sort of joined in support of the United States? What does that mean, sort of the big picture that Nato has least made this statement so quickly?
MCCAIN: I think it's credit to the president and Secretary Powell and others that have made this happen to quickly. I think it's a significant step. I think now we will recruit our Asian allies and other allies throughout the world to make basically the same pledge. I think the President is doing what his father did in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War. And I think they deserve credit for what's been done in a very short period of time.
SUSTEREN: So as a practical matter, Senator, what do you expect in the next few days with all this sort of world support for the United States and at least, a tremendous amount of, you know, anger in this country?
MCCAIN: Well, I think we have to control the anger, for one thing. We don't want to retaliate against any American or anyone who is of Arab descent. That's not what America's all about.
We have to focus our anger on those that deserve it. And that is, these organizations in this countries. We have to continue to tell the American people that there's not going to be a quick fix. We have to continue to build alliance and partners and coalitions so that we can act in a concerted fashion.
Every nation in the world is in danger if the United States is in danger. And then I think we formulate our plans to respond militarily, not ruling out any option. And so far, I think we are proceeding well, but we've got a long way to go. And of course, all of our American hearts are heavy.
BLITZER: Senator McCain, when President Bush says he will make no distinction between those responsible, the terrorists responsible for these actions and those whose harbor them or support them, give them sort of protection, what does that say to you?
MCCAIN: It says to me he's right on the mark because these terrorist organizations would find it impossible to carry out the sophistication, the training, the operational capabilities that they have attained if they didn't have a country that would give them sanctuary and sometimes assistance. So this is an integral part of this challenge that we face. And I was very pleased to hear the president make that statement because I think it's very important.
SUSTEREN: On a personal level, senator, how difficult or hard is it on members of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives in a situation like this, when the American people at least feel so unprotected?
MCCAIN: I think it gives us a sense of responsibility to communicate with the people and our constituents and do what we can to assure them that this is the greatest nation in the world, will remain so. And we'll do everything we can to protect them.
But I also think that, as your conversation with Jeff Greenfield, we've been a very fortunate nation. We've been protected by two oceans. And now we live in an era where all of those protections are not as valuable as they were in the past. And we still live in a very dangerous world, which is a reason why the United States of America must maintain its military preparedness.
VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, senator, you know, we also value our freedoms. That's why so many people want to come to this country. How do we have that balance in the future, the fear versus the freedoms that we've enjoyed so much?
MCCAIN: First of all, we have to destroy the threat to those freedoms. And then second of all, we have to do everything in our power to protect those freedoms. Yes, there may be some changes. Maybe there's -- as I said, the airline business, perhaps their borders have to be more carefully pleased. There may have to be some changes, but we must be dedicated to the proposition of preserving the freedom of the American people, otherwise terrorists have won, and we can't allow that.
BLITZER: Is there any way, though, to reconcile the changes that are obviously going to unfold in the day-to-day lives of Americans with the need to signal to the terrorists that they're not going win, that our lives are not going to change? MCCAIN: Yes, Wolf, because I think there's a real difference between perhaps waiting a half hour, an hour to get an airplane, instead of walking on board, and really the curtailment of the fundamental freedoms of democracy: freedom of movement, freedom of speech freedoms, all of those freedoms that are the vital parts of democracy.
And yes, we may have to have changes concerning the lifestyle, but I don't think in fact it is our commitment, it's our solemn promise, that we will preserve the liberties that made nation so great and are exactly the reason why they want to attack and destroy us.
BLITZER: Senator McCain, we only have a couple seconds left, but can Americans stand down right now and assume that this terror operation is over with and we can go back to day-to-day lives?
MCCAIN: I don't know. I assume so. But we have to be vigilant and we have to be prepared. And the sooner we eradicate this threat to our nation, the more we can have a permanent sense of security, the more likely it is.
BLITZER: Senator John McCain, always good to speak with you. Thank you very much.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
And let's recap once again some of the latest information we have, as of this minute. Search and rescue crews have evacuate the Word Trade Center site after the partial collapse of another nearby building.
It's One Liberty Plaza, a 54-story tower, whose tenants include Nasdaq. Investigators believe they've identified some of the hijackers. Part of the probe is focusing on Florida, where several people are being questioned, several homes were searched.
New details of possible efforts to save the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. At least two of the passengers were able to call relatives. On passenger told his wife the men on board had voted to try to overtake the hijackers.
And members of Congress held a vigil tonight on Capitol Hill. Tomorrow, they're expected to approve $20 billion for the recovery and the investigation.
Greta, I know you have been covering a lot of these kinds of investigations, nothing obviously as huge as this. They always say the first hours after an event like this are the most critical in collecting so-called "forensic evidence," that could hold up in a court of law. It is your sense that these hours are slipping away or are they doing the job they can do?
SUSTEREN: I don't think so, Wolf. I mean, this is a very different investigation. I don't think right now the American people or president is necessarily to prosecute. I think that they have a different sort of agenda, especially when we hear words like war being thrown around in terms of -- I think the government has a very different approach to not seeking to bring them into a courtroom, but to do something very different.
Having said that in this case, we know who was on the planes because there's the manifest, the passenger list. The more difficult problem is those who assisted or aided, anybody who sort of gave the nod, maybe a security person who might have looked the other way as they slid in with a knife. Those are the more difficult people to identify.
And I don't think that it's necessary, you know, that we're going to get those people. But those people who helped are just as involved in a conspiracy to kill all those people and just as responsible. They're the hard people to catch. And I don't think time makes a big difference.
BLITZER: Is it your sense, Greta, that if the U.S. government holds up some very, very stringent legal requirement, legal condition for pursuing those who may be responsible, the U.S. may wind up doing nothing?
SUSTEREN: I don't think the U.S. is going to do nothing. I mean, listening to Senator Shelby, Senator McCain, the president of the United States, I think the American government is going to do something. I don't know what it is.
But I also think, if given the opportunity to bring people into court, I think they will do that. And in 1996, a statute was passed, an antiterrorism statute in which if you are convicted under that statute, you are eligible for the death penalty. You'd be tried in federal court and you will be eligible for the death penalty. And I suspect with the magnitude of the destruction and tragedy that you'll get the full force of the government against you.
BLITZER: And the reason that Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the first World Trade Center is serving a life sentence, plus 200 years, didn't get the death penalty is what?
SUSTEREN: You know, I don't know. It's because the jurors decided apparently not to give it. I don't jump in the minds of the jurors. But the one thing is that, you know, as I looked around Washington tonight Wolf, I got to say that the city is very quiet tonight after the tragedy at the Pentagon here. But we are now facing the police presence in the city. And things may change a lot for us, at least in the short run.
BLITZER: All right, Greta. And that wraps our coverage for this special hour, but stay tuned, "LARRY KING LIVE" is up next here on CNN.
SUSTEREN: Larry will be talking to witnesses, aviation safety experts, terrorism experts and lawmakers. This, the day after the attack on America. Good night, Wolf. BLITZER: Good night, Greta. Right after "LARRY KING," there will be a special one hour CNN report. "America under Attack," hosted by CNN's Aaron Brown and Paula Zhan. Good night.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com