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.
In the afternoon, Bush met Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher in Washington, who expressed his country's support for the president's efforts, but also urged against rash actions.
"We believe that the United States, as the government of a country that believes in law and justice will act on the basis of a case, a good case, and I'm sure they have a good case," he said.
Protesters Cheer as Embassy Burns
In Kabul though, 1,000 protesters took the law in their own hands, in what the Taliban called in a statement a "historic demonstration," setting the abandoned U.S. embassy and several cars on fire.
"The residents of Kabul will never accept a puppet government imposed by foreigners and are opposed to that," the statement published by the Afghan Islamic Press said. "U.S. President Bush has stated that this will be a crusade, but in fact this will be a war against the world of Islam, and all Muslims should be aware of the threat."
The protests at the U.S. embassy building in Kabul are little more than a symbolic act, since there has not been an American diplomatic delegation in Kabul since 1989. However, the building has been maintained by a crew of Afghans, and is still considered U.S. diplomatic property.
A Mass Movement
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Afghans fearing a U.S. attack have left their homes, seeking safety beyond the borders of the barren, war-torn nation.
In neighboring Pakistan, where many of the refugees are headed, officials admitted they were reluctant to let them in. They said they feared anti-American infiltrators and saboteurs would also be let into the nation with the influx.
Pakistan is the only country in the world to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan's legitimate rulers, but its President Pervez Musharraf has expressed support for President Bush's anti-terrorism campaign.
Pakistani officials said today their government would not allow bin Laden to enter the country, but also said it would not become involved in any military action against Afghanistan.
In Pakistan, anti-U.S. demonstrations have calmed.
Mullah Mohammad Omar, the leader of the Taliban regime that controls Afghanistan, also said in a statement distributed by the Afghan Information Ministry today that he believed it was not likely the United States would attack Afghanistan.
"America has no reason, justification or evidence for attacking," the statement said. "Therefore all those who have been displaced internally or externally are instructed to return to their place of residence."
Officials tell ABCNEWS that American forces are ready for an airstrike campaign, though Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has indicated an immediate airstrike is unlikely.
More Threats at Home
On the domestic front, the FBI is pursuing a Detroit man with a license to haul hazardous materials who also is said to have ties to the 19 men who hijacked the four planes used in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on Sept. 11.
Last week the FBI arrested Nabil Al-Marabh, another Detroit man alleged to have ties to the hijackers and who also had a license to transport hazardous materials.
Fears of a possible truck bomb or chemical weapon attack on a major city led to checks of vehicles that snarled traffic around New York on Tuesday. Law enforcement agencies received tips that there was a truck bomb on its way to New York from New Jersey, but none was found.
Officials even considered closing the Lincoln Tunnel, which would have left the George Washington Bridge as the only direct link for automobiles between Manhattan and New Jersey.
Officials in New York have also been checking into whether any of the vehicles used for spraying insecticide around the city are missing. The city has been carrying out a campaign against mosquitoes to fight the spread of the West Nile virus.