The decision means the United States can count on military support from its NATO partners, if necessary.
Possibly Thousands of Bodies in the Rubble
One day after the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, the extent of the carnage was still not known. Thousands were believed trapped in the rubble of the former site of the World Trade Center, which was leveled when two hijacked airplanes smashed into its famous twin towers Tuesday morning.
At the Pentagon, where a third hijacked passenger jet slammed into a section of the nation's military headquarters, officials estimated the number of people dead or missing there at about 200.
As for the four hijacked passenger planes — another jet was downed outside Pittsburgh on Tuesday — the death toll was 266 passengers and crew. All the flights were bound for California. Two originated in Boston, one from Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, and one from Newark, N.J.
At the twin towers wreckage site, officials said there was still a chance for miracles, and there have been a few. One police officer and six firefighters were pulled alive from the wreckage today. Two other police officers were rescued from the rubble during the night.
At trauma centers in Manhattan, legions of medical personnel — many of them volunteers — waited to treat victims, but ominously, fewer victims than expected arrived for care. News reports were filled with anguished people searching for missing friends and relatives.
Some 50,000 people worked in the World Trade Center, but it was unclear how many were inside at the time of the attack, or how many made it out before the buildings fell. About 24,000 people work at the Pentagon.
At least 202 firefighters were still missing and 57 police officers had not been accounted for in New York City.
"Everyone I know is dead," a rescue worker in New York said, referring to fellow rescuers who were buried in the ruins when the towers came crashing down.
A Massive Manhunt
While the frenzied rescue efforts continue, the federal government is conducting a worldwide investigation into what President Bush called "acts of war."
The probe is also reaching into cyberspace. Two of the nation's major Internet service providers, America Online and Earthlink, have been served with "surveillance orders" by the FBI, which is apparently looking for Internet and e-mail traffic connected to the attacks.
Investigators have found clues in Boston, Maine and Florida that helped identify the hijackers, and pointed to possible accomplices.
In Boston, where two hijackings originated, the FBI identified five Arab men as suspects, at least two of whom are believed to have flown into Boston from Portland, Maine, early Tuesday and were booked on the flights to Los Angeles.
Officials said investigators believe the hijackers used cash and credit cards to pay for tickets and hotel rooms.
The men may have entered the United States from Canada, and are believed to have "cased" Logan International Airport, making several trips back and forth between Portland and Boston.
FBI Director Robert Mueller said investigators are trying to identify and find relatives or anyone associated with the hijackers who may have had some involvement in the terrorist attacks. He stressed that no one has been arrested in the attacks.
Some people have been detained for questioning.