Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft
Media Briefing September 12, 2001
This is a highly coordinated effort.
I want to thank all of the federal, state and local agencies that have worked tirelessly yesterday and today to help the victims of this act of war and to find the people responsible for these terrible acts.
Immediately after the first report of a plane crashing into the World Trade Towers, numerous Federal agencies, coordinating with the White House, mobilized their resources.
Throughout the day, secure videoconferences took place among the National Security Council, Department of Justice, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Treasury, FEMA, the CIA, the FAA, and numerous other federal agencies.
The President and the Vice-President presided over a number of cabinet and subcabinet meetings and videoconferences. Continuity of government plans were put into effect.
Within the Department of Justice, our full resources were put into operation immediately. As I will explain in greater detail in a few minutes, these resources have been deployed to investigate and to assist victim survivors and victim families.
But let me stress that this is not simply a Department of Justice effort.
The response of the federal government across the board has been, I believe, magnificent. I will turn now to the information that response has developed.
We will give you whatever information we can. However, we will give you only facts we can confirm.
We will give you whatever information we can. However, we will give you only facts we can confirm. We will give you whatever information we can. However, we will give you only facts we can confirm. You may be hearing things that we have not told you, but some people have the luxury of speculating. We will not speculate, but only give you confirmed facts.
Also, we must be careful to protect confidential intelligence sources and methods so we do not compromise this ongoing investigation.
The four planes were highjacked by between 3 and 6 individuals per plane, using knives and box cutters and in some cases, making bomb threats.
A number of the suspected hijackers were trained as pilots in the United States.
The Department of Justice has undertaken perhaps the most massive and intensive investigation ever conducted in this country.
The full resources of the FBI, the Justice Department's Criminal Division, the U.S. Attorney's Offices, the INS, and other components have been brought to bear.
Throughout the day and into the night last night, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, and I were present at the FBI's Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC).
The Justice Department is working closely with investigators, the FAA, and the intelligence community, including the CIA, the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Department.
Numerous agencies have assigned personnel to the SIOC at the FBI to coordinate investigative efforts.
The Justice Department's Terrorism and Violent Crime Section is coordinating the response of U.S. Attorneys' Offices nationwide.
These agencies have a presence at the SIOC 24 hours a day and are coordinating efforts both in the United States and worldwide around the clock. Investigators are reviewing intelligence and have received numerous credible leads.
Command posts have been established at all crime scenes. Evidence Response Teams and the FBI's Disaster Squad have been deployed to the crash sites.
Recovery of bodies and collection of evidence is ongoing at the Pentagon and the crash site in Somerset County.
Investigators are working with the National Transportation Safety Board to recover the black boxes from the crash sites.
The crime scene at the WTC has been secured but is not yet accessible to investigators.
The United States Attorneys Offices Terrorism units and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces are obtaining the passenger manifests, rental car receipts, telephone logs, video tape from parking garages and pay phones at all scenes for review and appropriate follow-up interviews.
All investigative resources of the FBI's laboratory and crisis response capabilities have been mobilized.
Now let me turn it over to FBI Director Bob Mueller to talk more about the investigation.