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CNN The Situation Room - Transcript

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CNN The Situation Room - Transcript
Thursday, October 6, 2005


BLITZER: And we're hoping that Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly will come out and simply say false alarm, go back to business as usual. There had been some sort threat, we checked it out, it's not specific, it's not credible. That's what we're hoping to hear, but there's no guarantee we'll hear it. Peter King, Congressman from New York, Republican from New York, saying -- telling the Associated Press a little while ago that he has been told by New York City officials that there has been word of a credible security threat to the New York City Transit System.

So, it is only a few minutes away. Peter King is actually on the phone with us. Congressman, tell our viewers what you know.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Wolf, actually, about an hour and a half ago, Commissioner Kelly called me and told me there was a credible threat to the New York City transit system and that he and the mayor would be making an announcement sometimes after 5:00 and that basically the NYPD was on top of the situation.

He called me as a informational since I'm chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and also I worked very closely with him. He did not seem at all panicked, and certainly Ray Kelly wouldn't in any event, but he felt as if -- again, this is my reading into the conversation that he thought it was, you know, serious enough that the mayor was going to make an announcement and the police were going to take certain action. BLITZER: Well, this news conference is expected momentarily. We'll go there live, Congressman, as soon as it starts. But did he give you any specific details? Because you're quoted by AP as saying it's a credible security threat. How exactly did he phrase it?

KING: I actually -- what Commissioner Kelly said to was -- he said there was a credible threat against the New York City transit system.

BLITZER: A credible threat.

KING: Against the New York City transit system.

BLITZER: And did he say where it was coming from or did he give you any specific details?

KING: No, he did not.

BLITZER: Did he say they're getting information from the Middle East?

KING: He didn't say that to me, no.

BLITZER: Did he give you any other specific information?

KING: No, just the mayor would be holding a news conference, that extra police were going to be deployed, that he was going to take whatever steps he, you know, has planned to take in a situation like this, basically that the NYPD knew what had to be done and they were going to do it and the mayor would be making the announcements.

BLITZER: You have got a lot of constituents who use that subway system, the transit system, on a daily basis. Seven million New Yorkers use the New York subway system every single day. Potentially, Congressman, give us some perspective. What's going through your minds right now.

KING: Well, I have many concerns. I have members of my family that are on the subway right now, so that's certainly, you know, something I should be concerned about. And also as being a Congressman from the area, thinking of all of the people on the subway system. On the other hand I have ultimate faith in Ray Kelly and the NYPD.

They're as efficient and as effective as any police unit in the world could be. Ray Kelly has been monitoring these situations. For him to take action means it shows some concern on his part. On the other hand they're so well-trained, so well-coordinated that if there's anyone who can do the right thing, it's the NYPD. I have absolute faith in them.

BLITZER: Congressman King, have you checked this out with other federal authorities, the Homeland Security Department here in Washington, the FBI, others that you as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee might be in regular contact with? KING: Yes, I have had conversations and I've been in contact with them. But I would prefer to let Commissioner Kelly have his news conference before I make any other comment on this.

BLITZER: How worried are you personally?

KING: Since 9/11, I've always been worried. I'm actually assured by the fact there are threats, but we're on top of them and that the NYPD is taking action. In the event there -- you know, that there is anything to this, I have faith in the NYPD. But I think we -- you know, we do live in a dangerous world. This is another example of that, but I'm confident that things will turn out OK.

BLITZER: We're showing our viewers, Congressman -- I don't know if you're seeing CNN -- pictures, live pictures of one subway station. We're seeing people walking down those stairs, some people walking up those stairs to take the subway. Would you recommend that people take the subway at this moment?

KING: I would say -- you know, again, I'll wait and see what Commissioner Kelly says in the news conference. I have faith in the NYPD, and I would think that if Commissioner Kelly thought people shouldn't be taking the subways, he would have made that announcement by now. So if it's OK with Commissioner Kelly, I'll accept that.

BLITZER: And how much more security can they do in these subways? Because they bolstered security in recent months, especially after what happened in London, what happened in Madrid earlier.

KING: I think Commissioner Kelly will be saying at the news conference what additional steps have been taken.

BLITZER: Would it -- do you think it's wise at this point -- I know it would be a huge logistical nightmare to get metal detectors for people walking down those stairs to go into the subways.

KING: It will be almost impossible to do that. I mean, the NYPD has taken additional action. There is further technology that's being looked into. But to put seven million people through metal detectors would be absolutely impossible.

BLITZER: But they've added a lot of uniformed officers on those subways, haven't they?

KING: Oh, they have. The NYPD has taken additional action. They are monitoring the subways. There are additional cops on the trains, on the subways, both in uniform and in plain clothes. There's also coordination with the MTA police, so this is a well coordinated effort, and whatever additional action Ray kelly feels has to be taken will be taken. And I have ultimate faith in his judgments.

BLITZER: When, if ever, was the last time that Commissioner Ray Kelly, called you, Congressman, and gave you this kind of head's up?

KING: Well, I've only been chairman of the committee for three weeks. You know, Ray Kelly and I have been friends for years, but this is the first, you know, official call I've gotten. But, again, I can't speak what happened prior to when I became chairman of the committee.

BLITZER: Can you stand by for one second? Out justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, has got some additional information. Congressman, I might want you to respond, to what she's picking up. Kelli, what are you picking up?

ARENA: Well, Wolf, I spoke to some sources on this, and I was told that the information that came in, while it's still being debated as to whether or not it was credible, was deemed not viable, that after being analyzed, basically the conclusion was drawn that this was a plot that could not be carried out, that according to several sources.

They did not offer for me any detailed information exactly what that plot was, but did say that it was deemed to be not viable. I did go back to FBI Headquarters and ask them, again, for some official comment, and what the spokesman in Washington said, again, was that the FBI is aware and engaged in an active investigation.

A little differently this time said they have not corroborated or discounted this information, meaning just what they said. The investigation is active, but again they emphasize that they do not believe there is any imminent threat. They continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security, local law enforcement officials.

And, as Deb Feyerick said, there will be an FBI representative at that press conference later, possibly get some more illumination on the viability issue here. But that's the very latest, Wolf, on what I was able to gather.

BLITZER: All right. Kelli, thank you very much. And we're standing by for that news conference to begin. The mayor of New York, the police commissioner of New York, Congressman Peter King is still with us on the phone. He's the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

That's a live picture we're seeing from the podium of the news conference where it will take place, and we'll get official word from New York authorities on what's going on. It's not viable. It may be credible, it may be specific, but not necessarily viable. These words take on enormous significance, Congressman.

KING: They do, and it's why all of us should listen to exactly what Commissioner Kelly says at his news conference. He's an expert on this. He's been analyzing it. Obviously the FBI has been analyzing it. I think it's important to see what Commissioner Kelly says at the news conference as to what action he's going to be taking.

BLITZER: I've got to believe, Congressman, and correct me if I'm wrong, if this were an immediate problem, a real serious immediate problem, they wouldn't have waited all day to a 5:30 or 5:40 news conference that we're waiting for right now. They would have come right out and said, you know what? We're shutting down the subways. KING: I wouldn't think so, but, again, I really just -- we're talking about such very delicate and sensitive area. I think it's important to let the police commissioner tell us exactly what he has to say, because I think for us to speculate, again that can create other problems.

I'm content to wait and see what the commissioner says. And, again, he's the guy who's on the ground. He's the one who has set up probably the best counter terrorism force in the country and let him announce what he's going to do. And we'll take it from there. Again, I'm very assured knowing that Commissioner Kelly is the person who's handling this.

BLITZER: He's widely respected, Ray Kelly. He's by all accounts done an excellent job in New York City dealing with this problem in the aftermath of 9/11. I want to thank Peter King, Congressman Peter King for joining us. We'll check back with you later, Congressman ...

KING: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: ... if we can. Congressman Peter King is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.


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