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America Under Attack: Former FBI Agent Discusses the Attack and the President's Statement

Aired September 11, 2001 - 20:48   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Also, the story that hasn't been told is the generosity of the spirit of the New York people. I mean, a lot of New Yorkers get a bad rap here, but the fact is there was a plea made for people to donate blood, and in many area hospitals there were as many as four- to five-hour waits, people lining up.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: This is a city that has taken a number of terrible hits in recent times. But in moments like this, it's truly the best of us that we saw today. I don't think it's simply New Yorkers, I think we would have seen this most anywhere else, but there are a tough group out there below us 20 floors, and they handled an awful, awful experience today with extraordinary calm, to which I think we all are grateful.

ZAHN: All right. Right now, I am going to check in with James Kallstrom, who was formerly of the FBI. Welcome, thank you for joining us tonight.

Sir, can you explain to the American public how it is possible that four commercial airliners were hijacked in a several-hour period?

JAMES KALLSTROM, FORMER FBI AGENT: I don't think we can explain that right now, Paula. I mean, we will be answering those questions in the future. I can tell you this, that everyone in law enforcements and intelligence agencies prayed and hoped that something like this would never happen.

It has happened. I thought the president gave a great speech tonight. I was particularly impressed -- it's a bit redundant from the other speakers, but his discussion of there will be no difference between those that committed this horrendous act and those that supported, harbored, assisted this horrific act -- I think that's a very, very key point.

And as the days roll out, the United States, this great country we all live in, and the heroism that you saw on the streets of New York, I saw that day in and day out in smaller tragedies, and I'm sure we will see that throughout the United States.

But as the days wear on, the United States and the allies, if they carry out what the president said, will be far better off for it.

ZAHN: If you would, sir, though, would you come back to the vulnerability that was exposed today. What is the significance that two planes were successfully hijacked from Boston, what is the significance of the fact that all four of these flights were cross- country flights?

KALLSTROM: Well, I mean, I think we can read into that, Paula, I don't know the answers. It would seem like the interesting and tragic thing is that people would give their lives that could also fly sophisticated airplanes, that they apparently could get on these airplanes through generally good screening techniques. I heard one report that they were carrying knives or boxcutters, and that could be.

ZAHN: How do you get through security with boxcutters on you?

KALLSTROM: Well, I'm not going to go into all the different ways that could happen, and I don't know exactly what happened. I don't think now is time to try to figure that out. Obviously, people want to know tat answer, but I think now let's concentrate on the dead, the families, those that are still alive in the rubble in New York and the Pentagon, out in Pennsylvania, let's work like crazy to find out who did this. That's what going on right now. And let's bring toes folks to justice.

And let's do what the president said. Let's see no difference between those that did it and those that helped it, harbored it, assisted it. Let's do that.

ZAHN: If you would walk us through the process that begins tomorrow. Rescue workers still are not able to penetrate that perimeter area surrounding the World Trade Center because of falling debris, because of smoke. Walk us through what we can expect tomorrow.

KALLSTROM: More of the same. I mean, I think everybody is 24 hours a day now. I mean, I saw reports just a while back that close to 200 New York City firemen are missing, 40 or 50 New York City police officers are missing, and certainly all the people that were in the World Trade Center are missing. So, there has been a valiant attempt already to save lives, and that will continue.

ZAHN: All right. Mr. Kallstrom, thank you so much for your time this evening.

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