President Bush today tried to restore confidence in the intelligence community and the airline industry — two areas among the hardest hit by fallout from the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
The attacks, in which four hijacked commercial planes were crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon outside Washington and into a rural area of Pennsylvania, left almost 7,000 people dead.
They also revealed huge gaps in U.S. intelligence operations, and put airlines into financial jeopardy. Nearly 100,000 airline workers have been laid off in the wake of the attacks.
Law enforcement officials in the United States and Europe have made progress in their anti-terrorist investigations, however.
A Virginia security guard with suspected links to the hijackers was held without bail today, while sources tell ABCNEWS that about 30 arrests have been made regarding a plot to attack American, NATO and European Parliament buildings in Europe. See Story
Security in the Skies
Today, Bush visited Chicago's O'Hare Airport, one of the busiest in the nation, and said he would announce on Thursday a package of measures "to try to convince the American public it is safe to fly."
"We'll announce some confidence-boosting measures, some concrete proposals, and I believe we'll be able to work with Congress to get them done in an expeditious way."
These measures are expected include stronger cockpit doors to prevent would-be hijackers from gaining access to the cockpit, and an expansion of the air marshals program. Air marshals are armed, plainclothes federal agents who ride on flights anonymously.
Bush is not expected to support proposals to allow pilots to carry firearms on flights. "There may be better ways to do it than that," he said.
Bush was not expected to announce federalization of airport security either, sources said — but there was speculation that several aspects of it could come under greater federal control, such as standards and background checks of employees.
Smiling at the Spooks
Earlier, he made his first visit to CIA headquarters since the deadly attacks to express his support for the agency and its director, George Tenet.
Speaking to an auditorium full of CIA employees in Langley, Va., the president said of Tenet: "I've got a lot of confidence in him and I've got a lot of confidence in the CIA. And so should America."
"There is no better institute to be working with than the Central Intelligence Agency which serves as our ears and our eyes all around the world," he said.
The president later told reporters at the White House that he was receiving "excellent intelligence" from the CIA.
World in Motion
As he shored up confidences at home, the president appealed to others for support in his war on terrorism, dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom.
He started his day with phone calls to Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, who on Monday offered his country's strategically vital airports and bases for a potential strike on Afghanistan.
Kazakhstan is the largest state in Central Asia and a regional neighbor of Afghanistan, the country where terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.
Bin Laden is the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that left an estimated total 6,804 missing or dead in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.