Guest: John Timoney, Gerald Posner
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: This is London. At nine minutes to 9:00, on the seventh day of the seventh month, the subway between the financial district, the Underground, is attacked.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were all trapped like sardines, waiting to die.
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OLBERMANN: Five minutes later, a second bomb near Kings Cross Station.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dead bodies on the tracks, train blown open.
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OLBERMANN: Twenty-one minutes after that, a third explosion under the Edgware Road.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Horrendous. Just like (INAUDIBLE).
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OLBERMANN: And 30 minutes later, a fourth bomb, aboveground.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw this bus literally just explode.
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OLBERMANN: Terror in London. Three dozen dead or more, at least 700 injured, the prime minister saying it was done by those acting in the name of Islam.
But was it, in fact, too unsophisticated to have been al Qaeda? And what would—what could we do here?
Plus the unbelievable coincidence of who was there.
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RUDOLPH GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: We were right near Liverpool Station when the first bombing took place.
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OLBERMANN: This is COUNTDOWN's special coverage of the attack on London.
Seven-seven. London's subway, the Underground, its primary refuge against the German bombing attacks from the air in World War I and World War II. Thousands of lives, hundreds of thousands of lives, were preserved there. Even the leaders of the British governments in the two wars rode out the Zeppelin attacks and the later blitz raids on the platforms of the city's ancient tubes.
Early this morning, that image of the London Underground as refuge changed, perhaps forever, in a span of just 26 minutes.
There are at least 37 dead, 45 seriously hurt, and perhaps 700 more injured after three bombs went off on rush-hour subways and a fourth detonated on a double-decker bus aboveground.
The awful aftermath of the sequential terror attacks, but there is a growing awareness that the casualty totals seemed low, given that four separate bombs went off, three of them underground at rush hour. But the fear and the sense of universal threat has been burned into London as if this had been Madrid or even 9/11.
The source and the methods unconfirmed at this hour, though a previously unheard-of group using al Qaeda's name has claimed responsibility.
It began at 8:51, British Summer Time this morning, when a bomb ripped through a train on the Circle Line traveling between Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations. At least believed dead there. Just five minutes later, another train hit on the Piccadilly line. Again, a moving train, not one waiting in a station, this one headed from King's Cross to Russell Square. At least 21 believed dead there.
Then at 9:17, 26 minutes after the first blast, another bomb went off on another Circle Line train that had just left Paddington Station headed for the station at the Edgware Road, an area described as the very heart of Muslim London. At least believed dead there.
Finally, at 9:47, came the bus attack, a number 30 bus, ripped apart near Tavistock Place. At least two believed dead there. The roof of one of London's most iconic symbols, the double-decker bus, was ripped right off, our affiliated British network, ITN, reporting that some of the passengers on the bus at Tavistock Square had been subway passengers who had been evacuated after the Underground system had been shut down.
Fortuitously, the bus was hit just as it neared the building in which dozens of doctors were convening. They rushed to treat survivors.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw this bus literally just explode. There was a huge noise there, and bits of glass flying everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Suddenly, there was a massive explosion, really big. People screamed. The lights went out in all the carriages. It was filled with smoke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were still smashing windows, pulling the doors open with their bare hands, trying to get any form of oxygen into the carriage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was people trapped, twisted, there was bits of the carriage missing, seats missing. And people covered in blood, and no help. I was within 10 feet, but fortunately in the next carriage, so I just feel very, very lucky. I've seen some terribly injured people today.
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OLBERMANN: The timing could not have been more surprising for the British. Just a month ago, the nation's security forces lowered their threat warning level. Just yesterday, Britain had been celebrating its unexpected selection as the host city, London, for the 2012 Olympics.
Prime Minister Tony Blair was himself the host of the G8 summit in Scotland. He hurriedly returned to London to face a grieving and shocked nation.
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TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think we all know what they're trying to do. They're trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to frighten us out of doing the things that we want to do, of trying to stop us going about our business as normal, as we're entitled to do. And they should not and they must not succeed.
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OLBERMANN: And central London on this 7/7 looked today remarkably like downtown Manhattan on 9/11. The streets first filled with commuters, walking incredible distances to their homes because there was no mass transit left. That's the Waterloo Bridge there. Despite the attack, London bus service resumed before dark. Uncertainty about the subway service, there may be some, but definitely not through the damaged stations, tomorrow.
Back to the current moment. The city remains as it has been for hours, starkly, silently, nearly empty.
Our correspondent Jim Maceda has been a witness to this extraordinary day, and he join us now from outside the tube station at the Edgware Road, the site of the last three underground bombings.
Jim, good morning.
JIM MACEDA, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning.
It is, it's about, what, 1:00, 1:10 in the morning my time. And you're right. For the past, oh, number of hours now, it has been eerily quiet here. At about 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon, when that first wave of people who work in these areas would have been jumping into cars or buses or trains, they weren't. They were holding maps in one hand and cell phones in another, and in a very disoriented way, started walking, many of them not knowing which direction they were walking in.
But they were trying to contact loved ones or neighbors, car pools, anyone that could get them home. And we're talking about people who had the (INAUDIBLE) -- were facing the prospect, Keith, of walking five, 10, 15, or 20 miles to get to either a pickup point or a place on the fringes of the city where they could be picked up and brought home.
So we saw a lot of stiff upper lip today, a lot of stoic quietude, people being very British. But I think, and many others who were here, felt that that belied something that you alluded to in your intro, and that is a sense of fear and foreboding that, in fact, for the first time, the perpetrators of these crimes today crossed a red line, a red line that Londoners simply didn't think would happen to them.
They didn't really believe that the horrors of New York or Madrid or elsewhere would strike in London, although it's clear that the authorities have been preparing and bracing for that since 9/11. Still, you had the sense of crossing the Rubicon here today, again, with people who ostensibly carried it out in a very orderly fashion, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Jim, as to the stiff upper lip, that's a city that's no stranger to terror. The IRA blew up Lord Mountbatten in Ireland. They tried to blow up Harrod's department store, they shot mortar bombs at 10 Downing Street. And these are just events from 1979 onwards.
But I'm gathering the familiarity with terror was of very little use, at least psychologically, to the citizens of London today.
MACEDA: I think it did help somewhat. I think the familiarity of simply being in a crisis like that, where there is death and there is blood in the streets, and many of them who are of a certain age had been through it, as you said, for 10 or 50 years during those IRA attacks.
But still, Keith, this was very different. You recall the IRA attacks, even the most dramatic ones on Harrod's, at Hyde Park and elsewhere were often what they call here one-offs.
What we saw today was a coordinated, systematic attack, series of attacks, meant to kill or maim as many civilians as possible. Even the worst IRA attacks, and certainly nobody can forgive them or excuse them, were going after, at least usually going after, military or police targets.
This was not the case today. People who were hit today were ordinary Londoners who were going shopping or going or coming out of work mostly going to work in the Underground. So it's a very different feel, and I think that's why people who had that—this stiff upper lip, but it was trembling a lot today.
OLBERMANN: If you go online and read the British newspapers, you will see these quotes again and again from British police, Jim. No notice was given, we received no warning of this, as if it was still expected from the IRA days, when there would be, in fact, some half-hour or, in some cases, less time than that, advance notice from the bombers that the bomb was going to go off.
MACEDA: Yes, absolutely right. I think that was the very first thing that the police said in their briefing today, in fact, was that there was no warning. They also went on to say that there was no—credible, I think was the word, claim of responsibility either.
But yes, this was simply not the way it was done before. And certainly took them off guard. And a lot of questions now are being asked about how, in what was considered to be the safest, the most protected, secure city of Western Europe, how not one or two but four of these attacks could happen within 55 minutes.
Back to you.
OLBERMANN: Jim Maceda, reporting from outside the Underground station on the Edgware Road in London. Great thanks, Jim.
There's already a break in the case. There may also already be a suspect. British authorities have told American officials that they have recovered timing devices associated with today's attacks. No other details.
The American officials telling NBC News that a report elsewhere that two unexploded bombs have been found is incorrect. None were found.
And “The Wall Street Journal” is quoting an unidentified European police official as saying British investigators have already asked their counterparts in neighboring countries about a Moroccan man who had been living in Britain named Mohammed Gerbuzi (ph), the same source saying Gerbuzi had already been investigated by the British in connection with the 2003 suicide bombing in Morocco, and last year's Madrid atrocities.
We'll talk now with our terrorist analyst, former counterterrorism coordinator of the National Security Council staff, Roger Cressey.
Good evening, Roger.
ROGER CRESSEY, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let's start with the thread of a lead, Gerbuzi. Do we know who he is? What does his name popping up first suggest about where the investigation might be going?
CRESSEY: Well, he's affiliated with an Moroccan Islamic combatant group, which, in a very loose way, is an al Qaeda affiliate. He's either the leader or the deputy leader.
The Moroccans convicted him and sentenced him to 20 years in prison, convicted him in absentia for his role in the Casablanca attacks in 2003. He is a suspect as well in the Madrid bombing. And what we don't know is whether or not he's in custody right now, or he is at large.
But either way, he's clearly someone the British want to track down.
OLBERMANN: About the methodology here and the prospect that there were suicide bombers involved. If timing devices have been found, that reduces the likelihood that there were suicide bombers, substantially, almost totally, perhaps, right?
CRESSEY: That's absolutely right, Keith. The intelligence community doesn't have any evidence right now leading to suicide bombers there. They're downplaying that. And frankly, given what we've seen in Israel, you can determine pretty quickly after a bus bombing whether or not there was a suicide bomber involved.
So the fact that the metropolitan police has not put forth any information yet leads me to believe that it was all either remote-detonated or on timers.
OLBERMANN: So if there were not suicide bombers, there are therefore witnesses, leads, informants, security video upon security video. Even the bus driver lived. He wasn't seriously injured. He was at the police station within an hour helping the police, as the British like to say, helping the authorities with their investigations.
Assess the chances of catching the terrorists here.
CRESSEY: Well, the question is, can we find the people who are responsible? I think it's pretty good, because you have a volume of information that the Brits will go through now. They're going to cross-check that with information we have and information from the Europeans as well. And hopefully, that will build a picture.
And then they can use their closed-circuit TV footage as well as personal interviews, as well as an examination of these detonators to see how they were made, where the parts came from, and hopefully get something there that turns into a lead.
OLBERMANN: Roger, this is a question that is not meant to diminish in any way what happened today, to victims, to families, to ordinary people. It doesn't matter if 200 people were killed or just two people were killed.
But in term of diagnosing this, attributing it, other than the sequencing, the timing, the methodology, in that respect, does it still smack of any of the sophistication of al Qaeda? You've got four bombs in rush hour in a major, densely populated city, and you get less than 10 fatalities per explosion.
CRESSEY: If there's any silver lining in all the tragedy today, it is that the fatality toll could be, could have been much greater. Think back to the Madrid bombings. Had all the bombings and bombs gone off at Achoa (ph) station when they're intended, there would have been probably 1,000 dead. I'm sure that's what the terrorists were looking to do today.
You know, we've been throwing around the word “sophisticated” a lot today, and I think it's—we're losing sight of the real issue. It was coordinated, it was a very capable attack, and obviously it hit its intended target. If you want to define that as sophisticated, I think you can.
But we shouldn't get too wrapped up in that.
OLBERMANN: Let me play you something back here from what the new homeland security director, Michael Chertoff, said today at his news conference, about why we have raised our threat level, even though there is apparently an absence of any specific threat here.
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MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We feel that at least in the short term, we should raise the level here, because, obviously, we're concerned about the possibility of a copycat attack.
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OLBERMANN: Definition of terms, Roger, and help me understand what the secretary meant there by copycats.
CRESSEY: I think he means a lone individual, motivated by what happened in London, and decides to build a bomb at home and then throw it on a subway or on a bus. That's the only thing that makes sense to me.
OLBERMANN: All right, last one, let's talk Z's. All day the if-then has been, every time there's been a tape from Zawahiri of al Qaeda, then there's been a terror attack. There was a Zawahiri tape three weeks ago. Could this be connected to that? Could this instead be that idea that we heard several months ago, about Zarqawi in Iraq, leaving Iraq and spreading out to Europe?
CRESSEY: Keith, this is a very important question. The CIA and the rest of our intelligence community, as well as the Europeans, were very worried about the reach of Zarqawi's group out of Iraq. So there's a possible scenario here where individuals who wanted to go to Iraq to fight the jihad there instead are told, No, no, instead of going to Iraq, conduct an attack inside England. That will give you greater credibility, and that will suit the cause much more.
That's going to be a fundamental question that we need to get to the bottom of.
OLBERMANN: That's why they're checking those videotapes even as we speak.
MSNBC counterterrorism analyst Roger Cressey, as always, sir, our great thanks.
CRESSEY: Pleasure, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So far, the big picture. But also tonight, the true little picture, the horror underground as captured by survivors and the video capability of their cell phones.
And if there really is a war on terror, if we're fighting them in Afghanistan and Iraq so we don't to have fight them on our streets, why are we fighting them on our streets today?
And wherever we fight, can we win?
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: There were no jets seemingly vanishing into skyscrapers, no skyscrapers cascading to the ground in collapse.
But otherwise, the scenes of London on this 7/7 were remarkably evocative of New York on 9/11, with one addition. In New York, who lived and who died was decided, in nearly all cases, the moments the planes hit the buildings.
In London, there are people sleeping safely in their beds at this hour who could instead have easily been killed. They may have missed death by virtue of not going in the last door of one subway car, but going in the first door of the next subway car. Survivors.
Our correspondent is Ron Allen.
RON ALLEN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moments after a bomb explodes, a passenger struggles to tape the carnage with a cell phone. Hundreds of commuters and tourists trapped in darkness, gasping for air, panicked.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bang! (INAUDIBLE) thought we were on fire, the smell, the smoke. You couldn't breathe. You couldn't see anything. It was horrible. (INAUDIBLE).
ALLEN: They broke the windows with shoes, umbrellas, bare hands to let in oxygen, to open jammed doors.
Angelo Power, a lawyer, was headed to work.
ANGELO POWER, SURVIVOR: And then people started saying their prayers, as it were, last messages to the loved ones. People then became more and more agitated, thinking they were going to die.
ALLEN: The London Underground, the world's oldest and deepest subway, coils under the capital some 250 miles long. Three million passengers are aboard each day. During World War II, the tubes sheltered thousands during the London blitz.
Today, for the most part, it was an efficient, well-planned evacuation. However, some remained underground for up to two hours. Others, paralyzed by fear, whether to jump onto the tracks, unsure if the rails were still electrified. Eventually, rescuers led them on a grim walk through the tunnels to safety.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then they took us off the train and made us back all the way back past it all. Dead bodies on the tracks, train blown open.
ALLEN (on camera): Tonight, there's an eerie silence around many of London's tube stops, especially here at King's Cross, where at least 21 people died. And as remarkable as it may seem, London rail officials say they expect to have some trains rolling for the morning commute.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We listened to a bang, dark, a ball of fire came in, and then just everyone started shouting.
ALLEN (voice-over): It was her first ride ever on the tube, the transit lifeline of the capital that Londoners always knew was vulnerable, a fear that today so horribly came true.
Ron Allen, NBC News, London.
OLBERMANN: There were Americans there, of course. We will hear from one of them later, a Mr. Giuliani.
Now we hear of Americans injured. Two sisters from Tennessee were first reported missing, but they've been located, several hours after that initial report, at a London hospital. Emily and Kathleen Benton from Knoxville, Tennessee, college students, 20 and 21 years old, respectively. They were on vacation traveling on their own, according to their father.
How close to which subway bombing they were, not clear. But Emily Burton is now out of surgery, bones broken, some skin missing from her feet. Kathleen Benton suffered shrapnel wounds to her back, neck, and one of her legs. Doctors expect both of them to have full recoveries.
So the question rings through London and through Tennessee and through the Western world, are we safe anywhere?
Plus, Rudy Giuliani, nearly killed in New York on its blackest day, was outside one of the London subway stations when it was attacked this morning. We will hear from him.
COUNTDOWN's special coverage of the attack on London continues in a moment.
OLBERMANN: This is COUNTDOWN's continuing coverage of the attacks on London.
World leaders rallied behind Tony Blair in Scotland at the G8, pledging their resolve in the war against terror. But is it a war? And if so, can it ever be won?
Plus, more than a million people commuted on London's Underground this morning. All but 37 of them are here to have stories of survival yet to tell.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was in the front carriage, and people were severely injured there. But I've heard, and I don't know if it's right, that people were even worse further back.
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OLBERMANN: And the New York City subway today, 7-7 began with a scheduled terror drill. It ended up with the whole system, the whole mass transit system of the country, on orange alert.
COUNTDOWN continues next.
OLBERMANN: Continuing our coverage now of the terror attack in London and its effect here. Nine days ago, speaking of terrorists and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Bush told this nation, quoting, “There is only one course of action against them, to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home.” Last October, he had said that the goals of the conflicts around the gulf—we're quoting again—“so we do not to have face them in the streets of our own cities.”
Londoners, still steadying shattered nerves and inventorying family and friends, may be questioning the logic of those statements right now. So, too, might Americans. Though it might be lowered again within a few days, the terror threat level raised here for the first time in roughly a year to orange, and just for major metropolitan systems that run on and below the streets of our own cities.
Are we safe anywhere? London has decades of counterterrorism experience, and safety and rescue measures were significantly upgraded there 18 years ago, after a hellish fire at the King's Cross station, the very same station that today's second bombed train had just left An escalator fire killed 31 people in that station alone in 1987. Ventilation for nearly the entire subway system was redesigned. That might have saved countless lives today in London, especially in regards to smoke inhalation.
Lost in the terror today, the fact that the emergency services personnel could report within exactly four hours of the first bombing that all survivors had been safely evacuated.
How well would we do here? An attack on New York's subway system, or Marta in Atlanta, or the Main Street light rail line in Houston or at an Amtrak station or any one of the hundreds of suburban commuter rail stations ringing almost every city of any size in this country.
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CHERTOFF: Currently, the United States has no specific credible information suggesting an imminent attack here in the United States. However, we know the tactics and methods of terrorists. I think our priority here is to get to the bottom of this, make sure we understand what the dimensions of this set of acts are, who perpetrated them, determine whether there are any lessons in intelligence that we're going to gain from this, and then move forward.
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OLBERMANN: In a moment, we'll be joined by the police chief of Miami, Florida, John Timoney, and by the investigative author Gerald Posner. First, the American response in America. Our correspondent is Tom Costello.
TOM COSTELLO, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Commuters heading to work in Washington this morning found heavily armed police and bomb-sniffing dogs already in the subways.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely thought about driving, and I was definitely suspicious of everyone that was on the Metro.
COSTELLO: Security stepped up nationwide—in Boston, in Chicago, San Francisco, on Amtrak trains, and in Los Angeles, where the chief of police offered a sobering assessment.
CHIEF WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's not a matter of if, it's just a matter of when, in terms of terrorism attacks. That's the reality of the world that we live in.
COSTELLO: In New York, with thousands of extra police on duty, Mayor Bloomberg called for the public's vigilance.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG ®, NEW YORK CITY: If you see something that you don't think is normal, pick up the phone. There's an awful lot of commuters, a lot more than we could ever have police departments.
COSTELLO: Mass transit is a vulnerable economic artery in the U.S. Thirty-two million people use it every day. But the public transportation industry says while $18 billion has been spent on aviation security since 9/11, less than $250 million has been earmarked for rail and transit security.
ADMIRAL JAMES LOV, FORMER TSA ADMINISTRATOR: There's no doubt that we have, as we always do as a nation, reacted to the reality of 9/11 here in the country as an aviation incident. And there are other vulnerabilities to be dealt with.
COSTELLO: Thirteen billion dollars have been given to local communities to spend as they see fit, but some lawmakers say that's not good enough.
REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We are going to have to exponentially increase rail security, to give the cities and towns across our country the security which they need.
COSTELLO: Cities have erected some defenses. These blast-resistant garbage cans recently bought for Washington. But a GAO report in March, 2004, noted that, ultimately, the open access and high ridership of mass transit systems make them both vulnerable to attack and difficult to secure.
(on camera): Simply put, there's no way to defend every train, bus and subway station in America, which is why, experts say, infiltrating terror groups to prevent an attack is the best way to safeguard the nation's transit system.
Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington.
OLBERMANN: And to this same point, just in from Washington, a briefing by the Department of Homeland Security and the office of the director of national intelligence, and it does not add much to what we know even about events in this country. Those two offices will release a bulletin to federal, state and local officials later this evening to outline strategic concerns that have been raised in the light of the attacks on the London subway and bus system. The bulletin that Homeland will release will not mention any specific intelligence about attacks or possible threats here in this country because they do not exist.
Joining me now, Chief John Timoney of the police department of Miami, Florida, formerly the chief of Philadelphia's police force, as well as deputy commissioner in New York City. Chief Timoney, thank you for your time. Good evening to you.
CHIEF JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Two assessments from you first, if you'd be so kind. About sequence, consequential attacks. On 9/11, the north tower of the Trade Center was hit. Everybody in the south tower was told stay put. Then it was hit. In Madrid, there was a sequence of bombs going off along the commuter rail route. This morning in London, 8:51, first blast between the Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations, and apparently, nobody said, There may be other ones. Shut the system down. Get everybody out that you can.
If that was your transit system in Miami, would you not close it down the moment you suspected that the first blast was not an accident?
TIMONEY: Well, that depends. I remember the World Trade Center, the first plane hit, most of us thought it was an accident. It wasn't until the second one hit that we knew right away it was terrorism. Similarly, you know, I watched some TV today, some commuter folks, some riders saying the first blast, initially, they thought it was a power failure, some kind of an explosion, not suspecting terrorism. But clearly, once the second one came, that kind of confirmed it.
And so how fast did the authorities react? There will be an investigation, obviously, a follow-up investigation, with a timeline to see who knew what, when. When did they confirm or suspect it was terrorism, and how fast did they shut down the system? That's number one.
But number two, you know, what a police officer may do versus what a
trained engineer may do are two entirely different things. The police
instinct is to cut it down right away. The train engineer may say it's
safer to bring the trains that are moving into a nearby station and have
people debark onto the platforms, as opposed to going out on the railroad -
· on the rails themselves.
OLBERMANN: So all right, even if the big decision-making can legitimately be questioned here—and there'll be plenty of time, as you suggest, to do that later—if four bombs at rush hour in London killed 37 people, seriously injured about 45, in the aftermath, there must have been brilliance and heroism on the part of the police and the medical teams.
TIMONEY: Oh, it's extraordinary. There are rumors that at least two unexploded bombs have been found. That would not surprise me. One was found in Madrid. Often, it seems—for example, in Atlanta, an unexploded bomb was there. That was exploded intentionally when rescue workers responded. So that's always the possibility. And so you've got to give fair dues to the rescue workers there. They went in there, managed a chaotic situation, no sign of panic, and managed to get out, literally, tens of thousands of people uninjured.
OLBERMANN: Just to clarify that one point, Chief. The Homeland Security briefing that I mentioned just before we introduced you—they insisted again that there were no unexploded bombs found in London...
TIMONEY: OK. Very good.
OLBERMANN: ... based on what the British were saying, and we presume there'd be no reason to say—they would love to have two unexploded bombs because it would be the fingerprints of the bombers.
TIMONEY: Right. Exactly.
OLBERMANN: The question of this happening here—just in New York, subways, buses, carry about seven million riders per weekday on average.
OLBERMANN: Is it practical to think that law enforcement can prevent something like this from happening in any major American city? I mean, as Senator Clinton rather brazenly, considering she said it today, pointed out, the president's new budget calls for a cut of $50 million in funding for rail and transit security. Why on earth would we want to do that?
TIMONEY: Well, maybe they want to take a second look. But what I can tell you, there's no better department than the NYPD when it comes to subway coverage, for a whole variety of reasons. But mainly, they've got a lot of personnel, about 3,000 officers, dedicated just to the subway system. And so in New York—I was just in London two weeks ago on the very lines that the explosion happened today. There wasn't any real police presence. In the New York City subway system, whether it's on the platform or in the subway cars, you'll always see police officers.
OLBERMANN: Yes. You cannot take a trip—and I take two a week, at least, and you cannot take a trip on the New York City subway system without seeing at least one policeman, and never in the same place, which is also a great thing.
OLBERMANN: Miami police chief John Timoney, thank you for your insight and your time tonight, sir.
TIMONEY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The reaction from world leaders currently convening just a short distance away, in Gleneagles, Scotland, was, of course, swift. After condolences, came the condemnation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We are united in our resolve to confront and defeat this terrorism that is not an attack on one nation but on all nations.
GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On the one hand, we have people here who are working to alleviate poverty. And on the other hand, you got people killing innocent people.
JACQUES CHIRAC, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): It is totally
· it's a totally inhumane act aimed at civilians who have been struck down, who have been injured mentally, physically, by what I would qualify as savages.
PAUL MARTIN, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: With this barbaric attack, we are reminded there are those to whom life means nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: It was perhaps, though, the comments of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, which best expressed what must be weighing on the minds of many. Quoting him, “We are doing too little to unite our efforts in the most effective way in the battle against terrorism.”
So the question, is the war on terror winnable? Gerald Posner is an investigative journalist, the author of “Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11,” his latest book, “Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Saudi-U.S. Connection.” Good evening to you, sir.
GERALD POSNER, AUTHOR/JOURNALIST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: How did this so-called war on terror change today, if at all?
POSNER: It didn't change to those of us who have been following it, but maybe it's a reminder to the many people in the public who get lackadaisical sometimes about the war on terror. They hear about the casualties in Iraq every day, but they forget that this is really a war targeting civilians in major locations like London and here in the States.
And it is a war that we are not winning. Despite all the great hoopla that you hear from the White House and you hear occasionally from Western leaders, there are still tens of millions of dollars flowing from friendly Arab countries to extremists, to terrorist groups. We are unable to get them to cooperate with us. There are terrorists who have been let go and acquitted in trials in Africa recently that don't even make page 32 of a newspaper over here.
And time and time again, we have failed to do what Tom Costello said in the beginning of your—to your lead-in to this segment. And that is, we have failed to have Western intelligence and police penetrate these groups. You know, we eventually brought down the Mafia. We've brought down the big drug cartels. We infiltrated the IRA because we got people inside. We've been unable since 9/11 to get inside of these terrorist groups, and as a result, they operate often off the radar, and then they come up occasionally and strike, as they did in London today. They'll there be in the future, despite how many bombs we drop in Iraq.
OLBERMANN: And to backstop your idea there, your conclusion about winning or not winning, the British lowered their threat warning level last month, and there was not—there has not been any indication—in fact, the Australian prime minister, I believe it was, has said today that it—his major concern about what happened in London was that there was no, quote, unquote, “chatter.” Have we dispensed with the idea that chatter is going to precede attacks?
POSNER: Well, you know, chatter is great. If you happen to get chatter right before an attack and you respond to it, it's fantastic because then it goes hand in hand. But how many times here in the last four years did we get chatter, raised the warning level in the United States under Homeland Security because we thought something was imminent, and then the time passed without anything happening? So I think that, you know, you can't necessarily look at a quiet period as being one in which an attack's not going to take place.
And the British have been very aggressive on this. You know, the British have gone after—they've arrested more al Qaeda sympathizers and in-kind sympathizers than any country except for Spain, who arrested so many after their 3/11 attack. But still, it shows today that at least a group of them were able to do long-range planning and hit in one of the most secure mass transit systems in the heart of the capital, at a time when security was high because of the G8 conference, because of the Live 8 conference, because of all of the people coming into London. So you did have high security running.
But at the same time, Britain has a problem. They allow some of the most radical Islamicists, some of the most radical jihadists in all of Europe preach openly on the streets. Just two weeks ago, they had a pro-terror rally in London in which the signs were held up by people with masks over their face, afraid to be identified by cameras or photographers, saying, Let's bomb New York, let's bomb LA, let's bomb Washington, and death to Bush.
So you know, the British know they have a problem on their hands. They have the mosque that sent the shoe bomber to us. They have the mosque in which many of the most radical elements of Islam and fundamentalism exist in Europe. And today was an example that they're flourishing still in London.
OLBERMANN: Gerald, last question. Presuming it's al Qaeda or al Qaeda-inspired, there was something subtle today. That last bombed train, when it was hit, it was under the area of the Edgeware Road, which is now considered to be at the center of London's Middle Eastern population. It would be akin, I guess, to a terror attack in the Iraqi section of Detroit or in Michigan. Can the fact that the terrorists endangered what at least are nominally their own people—can that somehow be used against terrorists and terrorism?
POSNER: I think we will try to do it, but it's very difficult to do, Keith. I was somewhat surprised. I've been to that area of London multiple times. It is a large Arab community. But what it shows to me is they're willing to spill Arab blood, as well as Western blood. They have no concern for human life.
OLBERMANN: Investigative journalist and author Gerald Poser, as always, sir great. Thanks for joining us.
In an irony of timing, as the first bomb exploded at Liverpool Street station, the man who led New York through 9/11 was standing right outside on 7/7. Rudy Giuliani shares his experience of today's terror attack. COUNTDOWN's special coverage continues next.
OLBERMANN: There are coincidences in everyday life that defy logic, intuition and even statistical chance. There's no reason there should not be such coincidences within the realm of terror attacks, too. The man who had been the FBI's foremost authority on al Qaeda was forced out of the bureau, and on September 10, 2001, started a new post as chief of security at the World Trade Center. John O'Neill died there on the morning of his second day on that job.
And yes, it seems impossible, but standing on Liverpool Street in London this morning at the time the first London underground bomb went off was the mayor of New York on 9/11, Rudy Giuliani. He went on British television and joined us here on MSNBC not long after.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI ®, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: We were right near Liverpool station when the first bombing took place. And then, as we heard more and more about it, it just reminded us very much of September 11 and what the people of New York went through. There's obviously a great deal of concern and worry about the people that are lost and the families that are going to be affected by this. Your hearts really go out to them.
But the people of London are very calm, and they seem very measured and very determined. And they remind me very, very much of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, who they must have inherited this from, this sense of strength, because, you know, they had to live through the Battle of Britain, which is far worse than anything we've had to face.
From everything I could see today, the emergency services in London responded properly. They responded quickly, professionally, and minimized damage as much as they could.
It seemed to me that the emergency services here in London were prepared for this. I don't mean, you know, prepared for the exact day, but prepared for something like this happening. I think they expected this to happen.
Honestly, there isn't too much more that you can do. There are some more things that can be done, but the reality is that in a city that is as large as London or New York or Washington or Paris or—you just can't have perfect security. I mean, it just never is going to exist.
Tomorrow morning is a work day here in London. I'm sure the people of London are going to get on the trains, they're going to get on the buses, they're going to come to work. They're going to do exactly what their forebears did when they had to deal with far more bombings every single night. And that's part of the way in which you fight back against terrorism because this is a psychological war as much as it is an actual war. And part of the psychology is to create chaos. the people of London resisted that today.
There is a certain question I have in my mind: You know, Why was I so close both times? Only God can answer questions like that, I guess.
OLBERMANN: Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, witness, survivor to two of the worst terrorist attacks in history.
Coming up: Londoners, Britons, humans still struggling for understanding tonight after the morning commute that turned into morning carnage. We will recap 7/7. That's next. This is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: As the top of the hour nears, let's recap 7/7 in London. Words first, then pictures. The confirmed death toll to this hour in London is 37, with another 700 injured, but reportedly only 45 of those critically or even seriously. As to Friday's commute, police now say to Londoners, If you think you'll have trouble getting to work, don't add to the chaos. Stay home.
Britain's foreign secretary says the attack has all the hallmarks of al Qaeda. In this country, no one is saying that that's a certainty, American officials also telling NBC News that their British counterparts have found timing devices. They're not saying how many or if they were in the subways or on the bus, but their discovery suggests at least some of the four explosions were not caused by so-called suicide bombers.
“The Wall Street Journal” reports that the British have asked European police agencies for information on a Moroccan who is or has been living in England in connection with the attacks. His name is Mohammed Gerbuzi (ph).
And in this country, with attacks on first the metropolitan Madrid commuter rail system last year and now London's underground today, the Department of Homeland Security has raised the terror alert warning level to high, and that's orange, for all American mass transit.
But those are just words. In London it is still about shock. For people there, this is the equivalent of what it was like for us very early on the morning of September 12, 2001.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news. Multiple explosions in downtown London this morning, including at least one on board a double-decker bus. Police say there are multiple fatalities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you see in front of me a red double-decker
bus, the front half of which has been totally blown away. There are
paramedics on the scene. There are members of the public. There are
police all over. They're trying to tend to the walking wounded. There's -
· bus seats have been thrown out of the bus and onto the street. There are cars all around the bus which have all been damaged.
BLAIR: We condemn utterly these barbaric attacks. We send our profound condolences to the victims and their families.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One minute, you're minding your own business. Bang! And we thought we were on fire. The smell, the smoke—you couldn't breathe. You couldn't see anything. It was horrible!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People started saying prayers, praying to God, panicking, breaking the carriage windows with their bare hands.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was just trying to stop—stop the cuts from flowing blood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was on the train underground, and there was a huge bang, flash, and then the train came to a grinding halt and it filled with acrid smoke and dust. But amazingly, there was no panic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was following along behind the bus when suddenly, there was a loud explosion. There was a muffled thud. A lot of smoke and some dust. And I saw what looked like the side of the bus or the top of the bus being flung against the building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I met this woman called Caroline, who is probably in her mid-20s. She—all her hair was burned. She was crying. She just kept asking me, Is my face burned? Is my face burned? And I just kept reassuring her that it was just blood and just dirt and that she was fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) smoke, people panicking. And then people started to calm down. People wanted to get to the back of the train, away from the danger are, but there was nowhere for them to go. Then they took us off the train and made us walk all the way back past it all. Dead bodies on the tracks, the train blown open.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An uneasy calm pervades this city more than 12 hours after the first bombs went off.
BLAIR: When they try to intimidate us, we will not be intimidated. When they seek to change our country or our way of life by these methods, we will not be changed. When they try to divide our people or weaken our resolve, we will not be divided and our resolve will hold firm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That's COUNTDOWN's special coverage of the attacks on London. Tucker Carlson is next. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.
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