Hughes, Counselor to the President
September 11, 2001
@2:30 P.M. EDT
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 Offitt 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
Vice President Cheney and our National Security Advisor, 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
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 12:00 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 operations and four of these
highly trained teams are at work in Washington at the Pentagon. Every federal
agency has implemented continuity of operations plans to make sure the government
continues to function effectively.
While the market is 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.