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Text: U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001

Following is the transcript of a news conference with Attorney John Ashcroft, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson and Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta on the aircraft attack on the U.S. and FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh.

ASHCROFT: Today America has experienced one of the greatest tragedies ever witnessed on our soil. These heinous acts of violence are an assault on the security of our nation. They are an assault on the security and freedom of every American citizen.

We will not tolerate such acts. We will expend every effort and devote all the necessary resources to bring the people responsible for these acts, these crimes, to justice.

Now is the time for us to come together as a nation to offer our support, our prayers for victims and for their families, for the rescue workers, for law enforcement officials, for every one of us that has been changed forever by this horrible tragedy.

The following is a summary of the known facts surrounding today incidents.

American Airlines Flight 11 departed Boston for Los Angeles, hijacked by suspects armed with knives. This plane crashed into the World Trade Center.

United Airlines Flight 175 departed Boston for Los Angeles, was hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center.

American Airlines Flight 77 departed Washington Dulles for Los Angeles, was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon.

United Airlines Flight 93 departed Newark for San Francisco, was hijacked, and crashed in Shanksville (ph), Pennsylvania.

Crime scenes have been established by the federal authorities in New York, in the Washington, D.C., area, in Pittsburgh, in Boston, and in Newark. The full resources of the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Attorney's Offices, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Prisons, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Office of Justice Programs, are being deployed to investigate these crimes and to assist survivors and victims' families.

Thousands of FBI agents in all of the field offices across the country and in the international legat offices, assisted by personnel from other Department of Justice agencies, are cooperating in this investigation.

The FBI has established a web site where people can report any information about these crimes. That address is www.ifccfbi.gov. That address again is www.ifccfbi.gov. Individuals can report any information they know about these crimes to that web site.

MINETA: Our system has been severely burdened by the stress of these horrendous attacks, but we will recover.

In a democracy, there is always a balance between freedom and security. Our transportation systems, reflecting the values of our society, have always operated in an open and accessible manner and they will again. Please be assured that we are activating all of our resources on an emergency basis and services will be restored as soon as possible.

ALLBAUGH: Good evening. I activated, this afternoon, eight urban search and rescue task forces from all over the United States and an incident support team to arrive in New York. They are on their way as we speak.

I have spoken with Governor Pataki, Governor Gilmore, Mayor Giuliani. They're handling this as about as well as anyone could handle it.

These teams we've deployed are specially trained teams from all across the country comprised of engineers and other technical individuals with dogs that are trained to handle incidents such as this.

We at FEMA have also put a team on the ground, an advanced element team, who will be at the scene of the disaster probably as we speak. The Army Corp of Engineers are already on the ground getting ready to handle debris removal.

This afternoon, as you know, the president did declare New York City a disaster. I have named Ted Minnette (ph) the federal coordinating officer. He will be my personal representative on the ground during the duration of this incident.

In Washington, as the secretary said, we have three mortuary teams on site, three medical teams, four urban search and rescue teams. I believe this afternoon we shared with members of the media the names of those specific teams. We will be deploying individuals as needed. I'll be in constant contact with those governors. Additional search and rescue, if needed.

We're identifying additional needs that state and local governments are requiring as a result of the president's disaster declaration. Tomorrow morning at 8 o'clock individuals who have been harmed may call our help line. Let me give you that number: 1-800-462-9029, 1-800-462-9029. We at FEMA will do all that we possibly can; after all, that is our job.

Our hearts are hurting this evening. Those individuals who have lost loved ones or do not know where their loved ones are in our prayers and are in our thoughts.

Thank you all very much.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company


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