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Breaking News

Four Killed as USS Cole Rammed Near Yemen

Aired October 12, 2000 - 9:22 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

HEMMER: All right, Mike Hanna live in Jerusalem. Mike, thanks to you. We'll Back in touch shortly throughout the morning here.

In addition to that, while Mike was speaking. Our CNN folks on the ground in the Middle East now reporting that George Tenet, CIA director, is in the region. In fact, now getting word that he's in a meeting with Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader at this time. When we get details out of that meeting, we'll pass them along to you.

In the meantime, here's Daryn now.

KAGAN: Following that other big story, the ramming of USS Cole, a Navy destroyer in the Gulf port near Yemen. Four sailors have killed in that attack and more than 30 injured, this attack coming from explosive-laden rubber raft.

For more on this, for some comments and some insight, we're going to bring in Bill Owens. He is former vice chair of joint chiefs of staff.

Mr. Owens, thank you for joining us this morning.

BILL OWENS, FMR. VICE CHAIR OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: It's nice to be with you.

KAGAN: What's your reaction to this attack on the USS Cole?

OWENS: Well, you know, it just points out how deeply engaged and involved are military men and women are around the world. They live in a very uncertain world out there, and this ship obviously has been undertaken -- has been hit by something that looks very much like it was not an accident. And so I think -- I think it is something that is very serious. I guess we don't know if it's in some way attached to the other events of the Middle East. But our young men and women out around the world are serving our nation as real patriots, and they're under continual threats from all kinds of forces out there.

KAGAN: Here's a U.S. destroyer that's in the Gulf of Aden in a routine refueling stop, and it suddenly hit by raft with a bunch of explosives. Is there a reason you're afraid to take the next step and call it a terrorist attack? Lack of information at this point.

OWENS: Well, I think it's lack of information. You know, we just don't know what has happened out there, and I'm sure we'll learn a lot more over the hours ahead. But if you have a raft that -- or a zodiac boat that has explosives that is run into the side of a U.S. ship, it certainly looks very suspicious, and that kind of thing is very difficult to defend against, whether it's a boat from the ocean or whether airplane, or a missile from the skies. These are very, very difficult things on a 24-hour a day basis to defend against.

We are very vigilant around the world about these kinds of thing. But it is indeed a tragedy, obviously, and it's very difficult to prevent.

KAGAN: And in fact, as Jamie McIntyre, our Pentagon correspondent, reporting earlier, George Tenet saying that for the last year at least, it's been a matter of not if, but when a U.S. military target would be attacked. What does that say about the other men and woman serving for the U.S. military around the world?

OWENS: Well, you know, it is continual vigilance that they must exhibit. and there are many things that can happen to them around the world. So the U.S. military takes a great deal of care to ensure that these sons and daughters of America are well protected, but it is a threatening world, and, obviously, everyone will be very interested about what we can do to prevent the next one of these.

KAGAN: Bill Owens, former vice chair, joint chiefs of staff, sir, thank you for joining us this morning.

Again, we continue to follow our two big stories, the ramming of the USS Cole, the death of the four U.S. sailors. Also, the increasing tensions and violence in the Middle East. Right now, "Morning News" takes a quick break.

We'll be back, right after this.

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