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America Under Attack: Suspicious Planes Tracked Over Western Canada

Aired September 12, 2001 - 09:30   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.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's turn to David Ensor, who is in our Washington bureau, with a bit of breaking news -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, I want to be very careful how it put this, but U.S. officials confirm that three planes in the airspace of western Canada near Vancouver are currently being tracked by Canadian officials -- by the Canadian air force and ground officials -- and it's unclear what these aircraft are up to. They are attempting to ascertain who is flying them. And chances are, officials say, that there's nothing to this, nothing nefarious.

You are probably going to hear a lot of these kinds of reports. The airspace of the entire North American continent is now being watched very closely by thousands of people. But nonetheless, we can confirm that there are three aircraft that the Canadian officials are still trying to identify, figure who they are, why up they are up there.

They expect to very soon be able to report that there's nothing untoward about this, but at this point, they are not able to do so. So those three aircraft are being tracked very closely, according to U.S. Officials, Miles.

O'BRIEN: David, cognizant of the delicacy of the situation, do we know them to be large airliners, or are they general aviation aircraft?

ENSOR: We have no additional information beyond what I told you, except to say that it is a tracking effort by the Canadian air force, as well as Canadian civilian authorities. It's being taken very seriously up there, but as I say, U.S. officials believe they will shortly be able to announce there's nothing to this. But given the level of alert now, anything like this is being watched closely -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: David, just to clarify one point in my mind, that unprecedented ground stopping of all aircraft in the United States yesterday, did that apply to any way to Canada?

ENSOR: My understanding is there were some parts of Canada, particularly along the border, where airports were grounded. A lot of planes were rerouted to there from the United States. Canada has been very closely cooperating with U.S. Officials in the effort to get to the bottom of this, and to retrack aircraft, if need be.

So they are now in constant communication with U.S. officials, here in Washington and elsewhere, on these three aircraft. They are hoping to be able to ascertain very soon that there's nothing nefarious to them. But they haven't done so yet -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: CNN's David Ensor, who covers national security for us, joining us from our Washington bureau.

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