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Text: Karen Hughes Update on Federal Activities
Tuesday, September 11, 2001; 3:48 p.m.
Following is the transcript of White House Counselor Karen Hughes's press briefing on federal activities following Tuesday morning's attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
KAREN HUGHES: I'm Karen Hughes, counselor to President Bush, and I'm here to update you all on the activities of the federal government in response to this morning's attacks on our country.
As you heard from President Bush a short time ago, the federal government is acting to help local communities with search and rescue and emergency management operations, to take all appropriate precautions to protect our citizens, and to identify those responsible for these despicable attacks on the American people.
While some federal buildings have been evacuated for security reasons and to protect our workers, your federal government continues to function effectively. We have a federal emergency response plan, and at President Bush's direction we are implementing it. We began to implement it immediately after the first attack in New York this morning.
We contacted American forces and embassies throughout the world and placed them on high alert. The United States Secret Service immediately secured the president, the vice president and the speaker of the House, and they are all safe. They have also secured members of the national security team, the president's Cabinet and senior staff.
As you know, President Bush was in Sarasota, Florida, when the first attack occurred this morning. Air Force One has now landed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, and the president is in a secure location. He is in continuous communication with the vice president and key members of his Cabinet and national security team.
Vice President Cheney and our national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, are in a secure facility at the White House. I have just come from there. The secretary of transportation and other members of our White House senior staff are gathered at a command center there, and we are coordinating with other branches of our federal government.
The secretary of defense remains at the Pentagon and the secretary of state is en route back to Washington from his trip to South America.
President Bush is conducting a meeting of the National Security Council as we speak. They are meeting President Bush from his location and other members from different locations in Washington and other locations.
As many of you have been reporting, the Federal Aviation Administration ordered all airports closed, and all planes which were in the air were directed to land at the nearest airport. International flights were diverted to alternate locations outside of the United States. Transportation Secretary Mineta has directed the Federal Aviation Administration to suspend operations until at least noon tomorrow. So no airline flights will operate until at least then and until the FAA announces that operations will be resumed. Secretary Mineta has also issued orders controlling the movement of all vessels in United States navigable waters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has activated eight urban search and rescue task forces in New York, and four of these highly trained teams are at work here in Washington at the Pentagon. Every federal agency has implemented continuity of operation's plans to make sure the government continues to function effectively.
While the markets closed today because of the situation in Manhattan, the United States financial system has continued to operate.
Banks have been open all day. The Federal Reserve has operated regularly and continuously. The Department of Health and Human Services has mobilized medical personnel and supplies to provide help to local authorities who are working so diligently to respond and try to help the victims of these terrible attacks.
President Bush has committed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to identify and bring to swift justice those responsible for these despicable attacks.
The Department of Justice is setting up a hotline for families who fear that their relatives may have been victims of one of these attacks, and we will be announcing that telephone number shortly.
Our fellow citizens and our freedom came under attack today, and no one should doubt America's resolve. President Bush and all our country's leaders thank the many Americans who are helping with rescue and relief efforts. We ask our fellow Americans for your prayers, for the victims, for their families, for the rescue workers and for our country.
Thank you all very much, and we will continue to update you as information is available and confirmed.