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America Responds

September 18, 2001 at 12:00 AM EDT


TERENCE SMITH: From the site of one of Tuesday’s attacks, the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that even capturing Osama bin Laden would be enough to prevent a U.S. military attack in the coming months.

DONALD RUMSFELD: It’s not a matter of a single event. We’re talking about a very broadly based campaign to go after the terrorist problem where it exists, and it exists in countries across the globe. As I’ve indicated, this one network, Al Qaeda, that’s receiving so much discussion and publicity may have activities in 50 to 60 countries including the United States. Therefore, it will not be quick and it will not be easy. Our adversaries are not one or two terrorist leaders or even a single terrorist organization or network. We’ll have to deal with the networks. One of the ways to do that is to drain the swamp they live in, and that means dealing not only with the terrorists, but those who harbor terrorists.

TERENCE SMITH: A few blocks away, administration officials continued to work on pulling together an international coalition to fight terrorism, including Arab states. This morning, Secretary of State Colin Powell said he welcomed moves towards an Israeli- Palestinian truce.

COLIN POWELL: Chairman Arafat has issued some strong positive statements with respect to the situation in the region and the efforts he will be making to reduce, eliminate the violence. And I’m pleased that Foreign Minister Peres and Prime Minister Sharon affirmed to me that they would be doing everything on their side to disengage from the opportunities for conflict with the Palestinians in specific towns and cities so as to have sort of a separation that might encourage a state of nonviolence.

TERENCE SMITH: Meanwhile, as the investigation continued, Attorney General John Ashcroft said this afternoon that associates of the hijackers may still be in the U.S. He said last Tuesday’s hijackers may have had other targets.

JOHN ASHCROFT: We are looking at the possibility that there may have been more than four planes targeted for hijacking. But we are not able at this time to confirm that.

TERENCE SMITH: Ashcroft also announced new rules that would take effect for detaining illegal aliens, including those detained in the current investigation.

JOHN ASHCROFT: The regulation previously allowed the Immigration and Naturalization Service only 24 hours in which to decide whether to charge an alien that had been taken into custody because of a violation. The revision announced last night expands the 24-hour time period to 48 hours, or to an additional reasonable time if necessary under an emergency or in other extraordinary circumstances. This rule change will apply to the 75 individuals who are currently detained by the INS on immigration violations that may also have information related to this investigation.

TERENCE SMITH: The Attorney General said so far four people had been arrested as material witnesses. He also announced that new antiterrorism task forces would be created in every major city under the direction of the local U.S. Attorney.