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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Interview with MSNBC

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
July 04, 2002 9:00 AM EDT

(Interview with Rick Sanchez on MSNBC.)

Sanchez: And welcome back everyone, John Elliott and Rick Sanchez. Interesting information on this day, with all of us celebrating, but some of us being a little concerned about doing so.

We've been telling you about the extraordinary security measures for example being in put in place around the country for Independence Day. There's air, there are boat patrols, National Guardsmen anti-terrorism teams, even radiation detectors that are being set up. So I spoke to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and asked if this is going to be the new norm.

Wolfowitz: Well, we shouldn't pretend it's just a normal Fourth of July as again as the president has said, we've got to be vigilant. There are a lot of people working very hard out there to keep us safe. There are men and women risking their lives in Afghanistan. This pin that I'm wearing symbolizes something very important: it's the flag of the District of Columbia, along with the flag of the United States and in hundreds and thousands of communities around this country, we have firefighters, policemen, emergency workers of all kinds who not just on this day but everyday are taking special measures and not infrequently risking their lives to keep us safe. So it's a special time. It's a time to enjoy yourselves to celebrate, but also to be serious and to pay tribute to those people who are on the front line.

Sanchez: You know, you say that we should all be on alert, but at the same time, we wonder sometimes how alert we can be and what we should do. Have there been any specific, credible terrorist threats in the past, let's say, 24 or 48 hours that we should know about?

Wolfowitz: Depends on what you mean by credible. There is a lot of information that confirms the fact that around the world these evil people are still out there plotting. If you mean something as specific as to say we expect something in a specific location and a specific time, no, and I think that's one of the reasons why vigilance, alertness -- the passengers on that flight who caught Richard Reid before he could blow up the airplane are example of people who had no idea they would be facing a terrorist, but when they saw him, they were quick, they were alert, they stopped something that would have been a tragedy.

Sanchez: Sounds like your saying this sense of vigilance is what we should have, but not just on the Fourth of July, but really on all days. We should be looking around to see what's going on around us.

Wolfowitz: Absolutely. And to think that it's just the Fourth of July would be a huge mistake. We're on a heightened state of alert; we'll continue it until we see that these terrorists have really stopped their plotting.

Sanchez: And he takes this seriously. That's the Lincoln Memorial behind him. He wanted to be there. He said I want to be there on this day to tell Americans there's no reason why they shouldn't go out and celebrate.

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