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Rumsfeld Vows Pentagon will be Open Tomorrow

Aired September 11, 2001 - 19:08   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.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go right to Jamie McIntyre, our military affairs correspondent. He is standing outside the Pentagon that took a huge blast today big, a big attack at the Pentagon. Jamie, tell us first of all, the headline from what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said at this briefing we just heard.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Probably the headline is what he didn't say, which is what the United States will do next. Except to hint that the U.S. has firm resolve in this matter, perhaps the biggest hint coming from joint chief chairman General Hugh Shelton who said he doesn't want to talk about what is going to happen next, but he said to the American public, rest assured, make no mistake, your armed forces are ready.

So the United States clearly hinting that they are willing to take military action as soon as they can determine who is responsible for hijacking these planes and then crashing them into these buildings. Here at the Pentagon, the building is still smoldering. But the Pentagon, the head of the incident command team says that they believe they have the fire contained. It is not yet under control, and they think that they will have the fire under control shortly.

Secretary Rumsfeld vowed that the building would be open for business tomorrow. He is talking about of course the other side of the building where his office is, where the Pentagon briefing room is located. And the Pentagon wanted to make a point tonight of having Rumsfeld in the briefing room to show that the U.S. government and the headquarters of the U.S. military is operating.

And he was flanked with bipartisan support from Capitol Hill. The leading Democrat and Republicans from the Senate Armed Services Committee there to show support that the United States, when attacked, has no divisions in its political will.

Again, the Pentagon will not comment on how many casualties there are here. We know that there are probably at least 100, perhaps more. Incident teams, special urban rescue teams, from the neighboring counties around here, have been brought in to help sift through the rubble and look for survivors despite the fact that when you have a smoky fire like this, it's almost impossible for people to survive.

The rescuers say that they still have hope, that in these cases there can still be people trapped in areas perhaps where there was some air where they could survive and they will not be giving up hope until they go through all of this wreckage -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jamie, and just to recap, the devastation at the Pentagon, at that corridor at the Pentagon several corridors indeed, the result of a hijacked American Airlines flight, flight 77 from Washington, Dulles Airport scheduled to fly to Los Angeles International.

Hijacked and flown from Dulles airport which is some 15 to 20 miles or so, from the Pentagon crashing into the Pentagon causing that devastation. Did we get any hard numbers killed and injured in the attack?

MCINTYRE: No. The Pentagon is absolutely refusing to even speculate even though we know the numbers are fairly high. For instance we know that there were 65 people on that plane. We know they all perished. We know that there were people in those offices that were right in an area of the Pentagon. It had just been renovated, part of the multi-billion dollar renovation here at the Pentagon.

We know there have been bodies taking out. In fact, Rumsfeld made a comment at one point that he wasn't going to talk about what comes next while they are still removing bodies from the Pentagon. But apparently in an effort to stop any speculation about it, they just are not giving any numbers out here on the killed and on the injured.

BLITZER: Jamie stand by. We are standing by for a briefing at the White House with cabinet members who will brief on the U.S. response, the emergency response obviously under way in New York and here in Washington.

You are taking a look at a picture of the White House briefing room. We are expecting Joe Allbaugh, the FEMA director, the secretary of health and human service, Tommy Thompson, and the Attorney General John Ashcroft.

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