For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 11, 2001
Press Briefing by
Attorney General John Ashcroft,
Secretary of Hhs Tommy Thompson,
Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta,
and FEMA Director Joseph Allbaugh
the Briefing Room
7:15 P.M. EDT
MS. BUCHAN: Good
evening. We'll be having General Ashcroft, Secretary
Thompson, Secretary Mineta, and Director Allbaugh will each be
providing you with updates on how their agencies are responding to
today's events. As we'll be giving you as frequent updates
as possible, they will not be taking questions at this
time. And with that, I will turn it over to General
ASHCROFT: Thank you. 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 the 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 the 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
The following is a summary of the known
facts surrounding today's 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, 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.
Attorneys Offices, the U.S. Marshal's 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 victim families.
Thousands of FBI agents in all the field
offices across the country, and in the international legate offices,
assisted by personnel from other Department of Justice agencies, are
cooperating in this investigation.
The FBI has established a website where
people can report any information about these crimes. That
address is: www.IFCCFBI.gov. That address
again: www.IFCCFBI.gov. Individuals can report
any information they know about these crimes to that website.
It takes courage for individuals to come
forward in situations like this, and I urge anyone with information
that may be useful and helpful to authorities to use this opportunity.
The Office of Victims of Crime has
established a toll-free 800 number for family and friends of
victims. They can call 800-331-0075, to leave contact
information for a future time when more information is available, to
find out information about a victim or to find out information about
the rights of victims and the services available to victim survivors
and victim families.
The determination of these terrorists will
not deter the determination of the American people. We are
survivors, and freedom is a survivor. A free American people
will not be intimidated, nor will we be defeated. We will
find the people responsible for these cowardly acts, and justice will
SECRETARY THOMPSON: Every
single American lost something today. And every one of us at
this time expresses our deepest sympathy to the victims of today's
tragedies, and their families.
It is now our mission to begin the healing
from this tragedy. From the moment that we learned of these
attacks, the Department of Health and Human Services has begun readying
teams and resources to be sent to New York City and the Washington area
to meet any needs of state and local officials.
So far, we have sent four disaster medical
teams to New York City, and three of these disaster medical teams to
the Washington/Northern Virginia/Baltimore area.
These medical teams each consist of about
35 physicians, nurses, and emergency medical
technicians. They are all trained to deal with traumatic
injuries and other emergency needs.
We've also sent four disaster mortuary
operational response teams to New York and three to the greater
Washington area. We're also in the process of shipping a
great deal of emergency medical supplies to New York City with the help
of the Centers for Disease Control. In short, we're making
the full force of the Department of Health and Human Services, both as
resources and medical expertise, available to the areas that need our
We've also, this afternoon, activated the
United States Public Health Service Commission Corps, which consists of
approximately 6,000 health professionals. We also are giving
back-up assistance to the 500-bed ship Comfort of the United States
Americans all over are calling up and
asking what they can do. The best thing they can do is
respond to this great call by volunteering to give blood. We
need Americans to continue to answer that call. No matter
where you live, please, do your civic duty and assist us by donating
Our primary job is to make sure Americans,
harmed by this tragedy, get the help that they need. We will
remain in constant contact with the governors, the mayors, public
health officials and other local officials to make sure that all their
needs are being met.
It is a sad day, but America and all of
its citizens certainly share tonight in the grief that has been
caused. And as the President and everybody in his
administration have said, we, the government, will continue to operate
and continue to provide the services to all Americans.
SECRETARY MINETA: One of the
most cherished freedoms is the freedom of movement, the ability to move
freely and safely. But today, that freedom was
attacked. But we will restore that freedom throughout the
national transportation system as soon as possible. And we
will restore the highest-possible degree of service.
These terrorist acts are designed to steal
the confidence of Americans. We will restore that
confidence. We have already taken some first steps as a
precaution. I have ordered the FAA to ground all commercial
air traffic until at least tomorrow afternoon. After the
attack, some of our aircraft were diverted to Canada. And so
we owe our Canadian neighbors a debt of gratitude for helping us as we
redirected over 120 flights and their passengers to airports in
As of 6:00 p.m., Amtrak resumed its
passenger rail service. Major railroads have taken steps to protect
their assets as well. The United States Coast Guard is
taking all necessary actions to control the movements of all vessels in
navigable waters of the United States. Coast Guard
helicopters have been assisting with medical and national security
We are currently looking at a wide variety
of additional security measures to increase traveler
security. Travelers will indeed see increased security
measures at our airports, train stations, and other key
sites. There will be higher levels of surveillance, more
stringent searches. Airport curbside luggage check-in will
no longer be allowed. There will be more security officers in random
Travelers may experience some
inconveniences. But we ask for your patience. But
we must do whatever it takes with safety as our highest
priority. The Department of Transportation is working
closely with the White House and appropriate federal agencies to mount
a coordinated nationwide recovery effort. Each American must
know that we will restore our national transportation system to a safe
and efficient status as quickly as possible. 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
DIRECTOR 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've spoken with Governor Pataki, Governor
Gilmore, Mayor Giuliani; they are handling this about as well as anyone
could handle it.
These teams we've deployed are especially
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 Corps 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
Monette the Federal Coordinating Officer. He will be my
personal representative on the ground during the duration of this
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 8:00 a.m., individuals who have been
harmed may call our help line. Let me give you that
number: 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, are in our prayers and are in our
Thank you all very much.