Web Video: September 14, 2001

Aug. 27, 2014 AT 11:13 a.m. EDT

As part of PBS’s full evening special, America Responds, Gwen Ifill hosts a special Washington Week program just four days after attacks of 9/11 with reporting and analysis of that historic week from the late David Broder (Washington Post), Richard Berke (NY Times), Ceci Connolly (Washington Post), Martha Raddatz (ABC News), Barbara Bradley (NPR) and Alan Murray (Wall Street Journal).

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TRANSCRIPT

Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

GWEN IFILL, host: Four days in the life of a nation. They have riveted us, brought us repeatedly to tears, united us, and transformed us. The assault on America. Tonight, PBS brings you two hours of special programming: AMERICA RESPONDS.

WASHINGTON WEEK will examine the impact of the terrorist blasts on the life of the nation. "Wall $treet Week" will examine the tremors visited on the financial markets and the national economy. And then Charlie Rose and I welcome you to join us in a series of national conversations, joined by Bill Moyers. Please stay with us for a remarkable evening chronicling a remarkable and tragic week. First, WASHINGTON WEEK.

Our reporters take us around the country, to New York, where rescuers continue to dig through the rubble of what were once the world's tallest buildings. To New England, where the hunt for accomplices continues. And to Washington, a city under siege, where the White House, the Congress, the State Department and the Pentagon are coping with human loss and strategic response.

Covering all this for us tonight, Richard Berke of The New York Times, Ceci Connolly of The Washington Post, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, Barbara Bradley of National Public Radio, Alan Murray of The Wall Street Journal and David Broder of The Washington Post.


Analysis: Search-and-rescue efforts in New York; staging area and trail of the hijackers

GWEN IFILL, host: First, we leave Washington to go to our reporter on the scene in New York, Rick Berke, and to Ceci Connolly, who joins us tonight from Manchester, New Hampshire.

Rick, you've been walking the streets of New York today. Tell us what you've seen.

Mr. RICHARD BERKE (The New York Times): Gwen, I just got back from as close to the site as I could get, and I have to tell you, it's a wr--wrenching scene, as you can imagine, smoke still rising up from the ruins. I spoke to several of the search-and-rescue workers who were there for the president's visit today, and they said they were all heartened and encouraged by his words. One--one worker said he could barely hear the president speak through his bullhorn, but it really didn't matter. It was just reassuring to have the president visit the site. Another worker said, you know, he looked up, he was sifting through--literally sifting through body parts, and he looked up and heard the president. And he said, `The words were so welcome.'

I can't describe to you the--the outpouring of patriotism that I--that I've seen here with people lined up, cheering the workers as they go by, the workers themselves with--with red, white, and blue bandanas. Just everyone seems to be in this together, and it really seemed like the president was in his element today. He's--he's--he's--I think he's strongest not in big speeches or--or big settings but when he's talking one-on-one to the workers, when he's mingling with the crowd. And that's what he was doing today with--with these workers.

IFILL: Rick, we have seen these pictures by now over and over again of what it's like down there. But how different is New York now than the New York--that area of New York that you knew before this happened?

Mr. BERKE: Gwen, it's really overwhelming. It's--you go there and you're used to seeing these twin towers, and--the the city, the skyline is just not the same. I came--came here today on the train, and it doesn't look like New York City. And it's just--and--and we've all seen the pictures on television, but I--when you--when you come down and see it in person, it really is overwhelming. And I was just staring up at these clouds and smoke where these two Twin Towers used to be, the signature of--of the New York City skyline.

IFILL: There was a lot of talk before the president went today about how intense the security would have to be for him to travel there. Was it incredibly difficult to get around?

Mr. BERKE: I think the streets had already been pretty much cleared out in Lower Manhattan, so it wasn't that hard to get around. But his security entourage was much more--his whole entourage was much longer, much bigger than I had seen before. His plane was escorted with--by other Air Force planes surrounding it. And there was intense--as you might imagine, intense security throughout the city. I don't know if this started on Tuesday or--or if it was stepped up, I assume, with the president's visit. Even when I went to my hotel today, I was stopped outside the hotel and my name was checked, my ID was checked before I could even enter the lobby of the hotel.

IFILL: The weather today, the rain which, by some accounts, turned a lot of that dust into concrete, was that hampering the rescue efforts...

Mr. BERKE: Right.

IFILL: ...as far as you could tell?

Mr. BERKE: Right. The workers, Gwen, said it really did hamper their efforts because it made the--all the debris almost into a quicksand. So--and it was dangerous, it was very slippery. But by later today, the sun was out and things seemed to clear up a bit, but they said it really did hamper the eff--efforts earlier today.

Let me also just mention, Gwen, the scene the - politically speaking, the scene today with the president there was something we've never seen before. This outpouring, where he was surrounded by members of the--of the Democratic delegation, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut - we've never seen that before. This president had only been to New York once in his presidency. You had people like Senators Lieberman, Senator Clinton, all these Democrats in the picture with the president, lending a hand.

And another interesting scene was Mayor Giuliani going up to kiss Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the two one-time rivals. It's something, you know, you'd never imagine seeing before, but this tragedy seems to have brought everyone together.

IFILL: Ceci Connolly, you've spent much of the day traveling the border--or kind of treading the border of New England and Canada where so much of the investigation has centered on where these terrorists--alleged terrorists, came from. What have you seen?

Ms. CECI CONNOLLY (The Washington Post): That's right, Gwen. Well, it's interesting this sort of journey that I've gone through. I left my house in Washington at 4:00am Wednesday and I left a city, as you know, that is heavily guarded. I passed the vice president's mansion, a number of embassies along Massachusetts Avenue, police cars, guards everywhere. Union Station, literally wrapped in police tape when I got there to get on the train. Came first to Boston, where, on Wednesday, Boston was still in a high level of anxiety, tension. You got up to Maine and it's a very different feeling. It's subdued. There's sadness, and there's a real uneasiness here among the people who are very used to traveling over the border routinely, suddenly learning that a number of these hijackers, potentially some other accomplices, came through Maine, came through some of the small border crossings, took a flight from Portland, Maine, down into Boston, almost using it as a staging area. That's a very disquieting feeling for New Englanders, especially up north, who are used to a very bucolic, rural way of life.

IFILL: Let's go back a bit to Boston. Were you in Boston when they - there was this very highly publicized raid of the Westin Copley Plaza Hotel the day of or the day after the bombings?

Ms. CONNOLLY: The day after, Gwen. That was Wednesday, right around 1:00pm. Interestingly, I had arrived maybe an hour earlier, gotten off the train right near there. If you're familiar with Boston's Copley Plaza, it's almost in the center of downtown. It's a very popular shopping area, hotels, and this was the Westin Hotel. It was quite terrifying to see the police force that descended on this hotel. I saw SWAT teams, two bomb squads come in, a number of officers carrying those enormous shields and battering rams, assault weapons. They very quickly swarmed in on the hotel, from what we understand, went to an upper floor in the hotel where they believed, researching through some credit card purchases to--that they were going to find accomplices. As we found later on, that was really not the case. But it was astonishing to see how rapidly and in such numbers the police descended there and not only evacuated the hotel but the entire shopping mall.

IFILL: But where they did find at least evidence that the hijackers had crossed into this country was in Portland, Maine, which seems like an un--unlikely staging area.

Ms. CONNOLLY: It certainly does. And, you know, I spoke with the chief of police in Portland, Michael Chitwood, and he said, you know, `People just feel like this is Maine, this kind of thing doesn't happen here.' But, indeed, it does.

Just to clarify a couple facts, Gwen, the situation in Portland was such that one of the hijackers, Atta, and a second hijacker rented a car from the Boston area, drove to Portland on Monday at some time, stayed at a Comfort Inn right along the highway there in South Portland, got up in the morning, drove to the Portland Jetport, abandoned the rental car, which has since been impounded. They got on a 6:00am flight. They were detected on surveillance cameras in the airport, and police have those tapes. And they flew from 6:00am into Boston. It's a quick hop. And then they boarded American Airlines Flight 11, destination, Los Angeles, and that was the first plane that hit the World Trade Center.

Police, though, are also investigating, according to a number of officials that we've spoken to, individuals who crossed through Coborn Gore, which is a tiny Canadian port--border crossing, another small one named Jackman and potentially came from Nova Scotia by ferry into Maine.

IFILL: Well, we'll be following that investigation. Ceci Connolly and Rick Berke, thanks, both of you, for joining us, and travel safe.

Ms. CONNOLLY: Thank you, Gwen.


Analysis: Status of the FBI's investigation and manhunt

GWEN IFILL, host: In Washington today, all of the nation's emotion and resolve was on display at the National Cathedral here, where religious leaders, political leaders and members of the International Diplomatic Corps gathered to mourn. President Bush's words captured the somber nature--nature of the occasion.

(Excerpt from video)

President GEORGE W. BUSH: On Tuesday, our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes and bent steel. Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning to read. They are the names of men and women who began their day at a desk or in an airport busy with life. They are the names of people who faced death and in their last moments, called home to say, `Be brave' and `I love you.' They are the names of passengers who defied their murderers and prevented the murder of others on the ground. They are the names of men and women who wore the uniform of the United States and died at their posts. They are the names of rescuers, the ones whom death found running up the stairs and into the fires to help others. We will read all these names. We will linger over them and learn their stories, and many Americans will weep.

(End of excerpt)

IFILL: Barb Bradley, we just heard a little bit from Ceci Connolly about this investigation. Update us on where the FBI stands right now.

Ms. BARBARA BRADLEY (National Public Radio): Well, right now, they have moved into the manhunt stage. We've learned a lot about the hijackers themselves, but now what they're trying to do is before the--before the trail goes cold, so to speak, they're trying to find the associates, the people who are on the ground helping them, giving them money, food, lodging, whatever, the network here.

So what they've done is they have a list of about 100 names. They are spreading those names out, giving them to police, to the airlines, to everyone, basically, and saying, `If you come across these people, we want to talk to them. They aren't necessarily suspects, but they may have information that we--we want that--that could help us with our investigation.' They've issued, so far, at least 30 search warrants. Goodness knows how many secret search warrants they're going to be issuing so they can monitor conversations. They've issued hundreds of subpoenas and they are basically in full-tilt manhunt.

Mr. ALAN MURRAY (The Wall Street Journal): It's remarkable that they found the names--they have the names of ni--the 19 hijackers--they think the 19 hijackers--already. But, you know, I--I wonder--watching this investigation, some of these--some of the people who were on this long list, it turns out to be cold leads. Some of them--one--one person was claiming a case of identity theft. And you begin to think, `What is this massive manhunt that is roping in all these Muslims?' In--in one case, there was a--an Indian Sikh who was arrested. Is it raising concerns in the--in the Muslim community that there's--there--you know, a week ago, we might have called this racial profiling.

Ms. BRADLEY: Racial profiling, right. I think probably if we went out on the street and took a poll, I think a lot of people would be more tolerant of racial profiling in the wake of this. When you look at the list of names, they're all from the Middle East. And I think en--people suspend--I think we're in a time where people are wondering whether we suspend civil liberties a little bit. That's not to say that that won't fade quickly, but people are very, very concerned. And, you know, there is--there is such mass confusion right now. This is typical. When you have a big crisis like this--Waco or the Oklahoma City bombing--you remember what happened there, everyone thought it was a Middle East bomber.

What happens is there's so much confusion, so many leads out there, so many unsourced--or unnamed sources giving information that--that you have utter confusion. Last night was a perfect example, right? Kennedy Airport. We had reports that there were two groups of five men each boarding two different planes, there were knives, there were guns, that kind of thing, and--and that they were forcibly removed. Well, it turns out that that wasn't true. Whose fault was it? Partly, it was the press fault--the press' fault. Partly, it was the, quote, "eyewitnesses'" fault. Partly, it was the government's fault for failing to really squelch these rumors before we went any further.

Mr. DAVID BRODER (The Washington Post): Barbara, what do your sources tell you about the possibility that there are still active terrorists or terrorist cells out there with the capacity to do some more damage?

Ms. BRADLEY: Well, I think--I think most people think this is far from over, that we have to be on a state of high alert. Yesterday, Attorney General John Ashcroft said that the se--we're--we're fairly secure now, we--we've got great security in place. I don't think that did anything to arrest anyone's concerns. I think people believe that there are--there are cells out there still. They may go down underground for a while, but this--this is a kind of--this is a kind of attack that can be repeated. I mean, we don't know when it'll come.

Here's the thing about how Osama bin Laden or these other groups work. They will get their network in place. They will put the sleepers here in the United States. These people will be living here openly. The--and then at any time they can, you know, hijack four planes. This is an operation that probably has been in the works for a couple of years now, but--but it could just happen at any time.

IFILL: One quick question: 36,000 leads, according to Robert Mueller from the FBI. How many of them are credible?

Ms. BRADLEY: Oh, gosh, who knows? I mean, they've got a Web site and they've got a toll-free number and it's ringing--it's ringing off the hook. They're getting a lot of--you know, a lot of hits on that Web site. Who knows? But, you know, they have to check them all. That's the thing, and that's one of the things that I think we're going to be looking at in retrospect. Did we have the leads a few months ago? Did we have the leads a year ago that this was going to happen? Was all that data out there and we didn't analyze it because we don't have the Farsi speakers, for example...

Mr. MURRAY: Right.

Ms. BRADLEY: ...to go ahead and analyze it?

Mr. MURRAY: Right.


Analysis: Secretary of State Colin Powell's efforts to obtain support from other countries in the international investigation

GWEN IFILL, host: Well, over at the State Department, these are the questions which are being asked as well. Colin Powell has named fugitive Osama bin Laden as the chief suspect in the international investigation, and he's been pressuring other countries with ties to bin Laden to help track him down.

(Excerpt from video)

Secretary COLIN POWELL (State Department): I was raised a soldier, and you're--you're trained there is the enemy occupying a piece of ground. We can define it in time, space and other dimensions, and you can assemble forces and go after it. This is different. The enemy is in many places. The enemy is not looking to be found. The enemy is hidden. The enemy is very often right here within our own country.

(End of excerpt)

IFILL: Martha Raddatz joins us from the State Department tonight. How goes the secretary of state's arm-twisting in this--in trying to get to the bottom of this?

Ms. MARTHA RADDATZ (ABC News): Well, he seems to be doing very well. He is getting lots of support from countries around the world, but I think what he's really trying to do in this arm-twisting is say, `What I want you all to do is decide whether you're with this new coalition, this New World, to fight terrorism, or whether you're not.' And there's some specific things he's asked certain countries to do, especially Pakistan. He has asked Pakistan to close off--to allow US planes to cross over their airspace in the event of a military attack on Afghanistan; he has asked them to seal the borders with Afghanistan; and he has asked them to stop sending fuel to the Taliban. Those are the kinds of specifics. He has not received a formal answer to that yet. We've heard lots of good things coming out of Pakistan, `We support you,' but there's been no formal answer to those specifics.

What they really want is intelligence. They want intelligence from all these places they believe are harboring people who work with Osama bin Laden. And, Gwen, it's really unbelievable how many cells they suspect there are. It goes around the world. They're in the Philippines, in parts of Africa, in the Middle East, in the Persian Gulf, in South America. And I--it was very interesting to read an old State Department report--not so old, a couple of months old--saying, `And he allegedly has cells in the United States.' Well, we know that to be true now.

Mr. ALAN MURRAY (The Wall Street Journal): To--to what extent do--d--do those cells depend on him? I mean, if you--if you succeed in taking out Osama bin Laden, have you--does anyone think you've solved the problem, or do those cells continue to--to operate and be a threat?

Ms. RADDATZ: I--I think those cells would probably continue and operate. In fact, it might make it worse in many ways. Experts say, `Look, if you take out Osama bin Laden, then you have a real martyr, you have a brand-new cause because then you're going to go fight for Osama bin Laden.' Remember, this is also very well funded, estimates of about $300 million and about three--3,000 Islamic militants around the world.

Mr. DAVID BRODER (The Washington Post): Martha, give us a little background on US and Pakistan. Do we--how much leverage do we have with that government? Is our request to them an invitation that they can't refuse?

Ms. RADDATZ: I think they can refuse it, in--in a way, because they also have domestic considerations. And if they start sharing intelligence, they've got Afghanistan right next to them. They're very worried about that. We can certainly put pressure on--on Pakistan, as--as Colin Powell said this week, sanctions, any sort of pushing funds away and really distancing Pakistan. And they don't want India to be closer to the United States and Pakistan to be farther away.

IFILL: Mar--Martha, we understand what Colin Powell has basically been telling our allies and our enemies is, `It's time to choose sides.' Has he been getting the response he seeks?

Ms. RADDATZ: He has from most people. Again, he hasn't received specific responses from specific countries. He has had platitudes from everyone. Everyone, aside from Saddam Hussein, has said, `We're very sorry. You have our condolences.' But he wants to see action.

I--I talked to a senior State Department official tonight who said, `Look, what we're hearing is great. We want to see things.' And I--again, I think what they want to see is that those countries--and some of those countries are on the terrorists' lists themselves. They want to see those countries help the United States fight other terrorists.

IFILL: Thanks, Martha.


Analysis: Potential impact of the week's events on our economy

GWEN IFILL, host: Well, fallout from the week's events has figuratively and literally rained down on Wall Street. The markets are to open Monday, Alan. What will we see at the opening bell?

Mr. ALAN MURRAY (The Wall Street Journal): You want me to give you investment advice?

IFILL: Absolutely.

Mr. MURRAY: Look, I was--I was getting--when I left the office this afternoon, I was getting these e-mails from people who are saying, `Be a patriot. Buy stocks on Monday morning.' I don't know if people are going to do that.

What you have to realize is a week ago, before this horrible series of incidents took place, we were in an economy that was right on the brink of recession. And the only thing that was really holding it up was the confidence of American consumers who were going out, buying cars, buying houses, even though the economy was we--weak. You have to think, based on everything we know about incidents like that, that when those airplanes flew through the two World Trade Center towers, that that confidence collapsed. You have to think that's going to have a profound impact on an economy that was already on the brink of--of recession.

We saw a similar effect when Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait. We had a very weak economy at the time. That event pushed us into recession. There's strong reason to think the same thing will happen here, and, at some point, the market's going to reflect that.

Now, the--the government, the Federal Reserve, the SEC, everyone is out there saying, `Take it easy on Monday.' The system has been closed now since Tuesday, never happened before since World War I. `We don't want a lot of people selling off. We don't want to--we don't want to--we don't want to stretch the system.' But I don't think you're going to see a lot of people jumping in and buying either.

Ms. BARBARA BRADLEY (National Public Radio): Alan, what--what's going to happen with the airline industry? And what--what is the government's role going to be?

Mr. MURRAY: Well, the airline industry is--is in a mess. I mean, they operate on very thin profits normally and now all their revenues have dried up. They're not flying, they're not making any money and they still have huge expenses. But Congress is in a mood to be generous right now, as David knows better than anyone, having spent time up there. The House this afternoon was voting a bailout for the airline industry, billions of dollars in order to keep this industry--industry afloat. If--if you're an industry in trouble, now is a good time to be in trouble because Congress seems to be prepared to come to your aid.

IFILL: Well, the Fed weighed in on this this week. Did we--did it have an eff--its intended effect?

Mr. MURRAY: Yeah, I think it--you know, one of the things that happens at a moment like this is when people get scared and institutions get scared and you can't--and some banks are shut down and you can't trade money, people want to hold onto cash. In fact, I found--after working to almost midnight Tuesday night, my car was locked up in--in the garage, I needed to take a taxicab home. I went to the money machine. I went to four money machines in a row. No cash.

IFILL: Really?

Mr. MURRAY: Cash was all out. That's--that's the same instinct that a lot of companies are feeling. There's a demand for cash. And what the Fed said is, `We will meet that demand.' They were putting money into the system at extraordinary rates, tens of billions of dollars, in order to keep the economy functioning smoothly.

Mr. DAVID BRODER (The Washington Post): Big spending coming for the military. Does that, in itself, become a kind of a prop for the economy?

Mr. MURRAY: Well, it could--it--it could down the road--and--a--a--when that money actually starts to get spent. But, as you know, David, that could be many months away.

And--and then the other thing--if--if you look back to a decade ago as the model, the other thing that becomes a prop or a boost for the economy is when people start to get some sense that we have met the enemy. When Norman Schwarzkopf started marching back into Kuwait, confidence rallied, the market rallied. But it's hard to imagine what the comparable event in--in this strange war against terrorism is going to be.


Analysis: Congress back to work and speaking with one voice

GWEN IFILL, host: Flags are everywhere. Congress is speaking with one voice, and the nation seems to be taking one collective deep breath. How about up on Capitol Hill, David?

Mr. DAVID BRODER (The Washington Post): Well, it's been four days of mood swings there, but today was the best day that they've had since Tuesday. For three days, they felt as if they were targets. First, of a bo--of a plane that they thought was circling the capital in a menacing fashion, then bomb threats that kept emptying the building. Now they finally got to go back to their jobs, and they legislated significantly today. Symbolic action, a resolution passed by the Senate and probably, even as we're here this moment, being passed by the House of Representatives that gives the president authority to use, quote, "all necessary and appropriate force" against the terrorists and those who may be harboring them. Substantively, $40 billion of funds passed unanimously, half of it totally at the president's discretion, but most of the rest earmarked now to help in the relief and the recovery in New York and, to some extent, in our own area here.

IFILL: Let me bring Martha Raddatz in.

Ms. MARTHA RADDATZ (ABC News): I actually want to ask a question. I've been a little tied down to the State Department. I might have missed this, but has anyone seen Dick Cheney during this week?

Mr. BRODER: No one has seen him for three--2 1/2 days now. The White House says, and we have no way--reason to doubt this, I suppose, that he has been placed at Camp David so that he and the president will be in separate locations as a matter of national security.

Ms. RADDATZ: How big a role is he playing?

Mr. BRODER: I think he is involved in every decision, from everything that we learned from the White House.

Mr. ALAN MURRAY (The Wall Street Journal): David, what about all these concerns about the Social Security surplus that we were--have talked about endlessly before Tuesday morning?

Mr. BRODER: That was last week and it is no longer relevant.

I want to say just one other thing about the members of Congress. You had that wonderful clip of the president speaking, and I talked with a number of the members after they came back to Capitol Hill from that service. This was a truly healing event. The music was magnificent. The...

IFILL: It was.

Mr. BRODER: ...clergymen, and particularly Billy Graham, spoke to the hearts of these members and the American people. One member said to me, `This may very well have been Billy Graham's valedictory in a career of unparalleled eloquence.' And if it was, it was a speech and sermon that will always be remembered.

But the truly fine moment was the president of the United States. He spoke in very simple, but very strong words, and they were absolutely appropriate. And the gratitude toward him--for him rising to that occasion, that you heard from both Democrats and Republicans, was really touching.

IFILL: Now does that mean that we now take a deep breath and we move on to the next stage of this because this crisis isn't even close to over?

Mr. BRODER: Oh, no. There's much more work to be done in the security area, in the policing area, in the search for the fugitives and in the legislation. They've got a lot of work left to do.

IFILL: Well, David, thank you very much. You've been a trooper joining us every night this week. Thank you very much.


GWEN IFILL, host: And thanks, everybody else, as well. We'll be back next week with--oh, and thank you, Martha. We'll be back next week with more daily special reports as events warrant. Later tonight, I'll be joined by Charlie Rose for an hour of reflection and conversation on where America goes from here, part of our continuing coverage, AMERICA RESPONDS. And now for a look at how America responds when its major symbol of finance and commerce collapses, shutting down Wall Street, next up, we go to "Wall $treet Week With Louis Rukeyser."

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