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Transcript: U.S. Northern Command commander

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(CNN) -- Though terrorism isn't suspected in the New York incident, U.S. Northern Command decided to scramble jets over several cities as a precautionary measure.

Kyra Phillips, CNN anchor: U.S. Northern Command, NORAD commander Adm. Timothy Keating made that call. He's on the line with us -- on the phone with us right now, actually.

Admiral, thanks for calling in .Tell us why you made the call to scramble the jets.

Adm. Tim Keating, commander, U.S. Northern Command: It was through open source reporting, Kyra, I had CNN on in our outer office, excuse me, and saw your initial report and immediately directed fighters airborne -- you'll appreciate, we'd rather not say how many or over what cities. But a large number of flights are airborne along with airborne early-warning systems as we speak, and have been up there for over half and hour, 45 minutes.

Phillips: And sir, just to give our viewers an understanding about why you decided to do this. Ever since 9/11, there has been additional training, additional attention paid to how the United States can prevent another 9/11. A very important part of your mission at Northern Command and NORAD is to have these jets available and on alert, so if indeed a plane is hijacked or becomes a threat, in any way, to U.S. citizens, you have the ability to scramble those jets, and, if the president tells you to do so, those jets can take out an aircraft within seconds. So, just so people understand why you have these capabilities, it's all obviously to prevent another 9/11.

Phillips: So we're wondering, as we hear that you made the decision to scramble jets, do Americans need to be concerned right now about airspace, about flying, about aircraft that are in the air right now? Or is this just something you decided to do just in case?

Keating: Very much just in case, Kyra. We've been in contact with all of our intelligence partners, coalition partners around the world, every manner of intelligence agency, and there are no, repeat, no indications that there is anything underfoot beyond this one airplane or helicopter, whatever, light civil that flew into this apartment building in New York City.

But you're exactly right, we reserve the right to exercise our capabilities, which is what we have done here.

Phillips: And tell me, as you're monitoring the skies right now, I know that you're very active over there at Northern Command, NORAD, are you tracking all aircraft at this point just to make sure nothing else looks suspicious or of concern?

Keating: Precisely.

Phillips: And you were not tracking this aircraft, right, that went into -- OK. We're getting word that New York Fire Department's reporting one fatality right now. We're getting word that there's one fatality.

So admiral, you at no time were tracking this small airplane that crashed into this building? It was not of concern to you, correct?

Keating: I'd put it a little bit different, Kyra, that the FAA's job is to track the airplanes, and we can read their feed here at our headquarters, and we do that 7-24-365. It is very likely that post analysis will indicate this airplane was on a flight plan and may have been on a flight plan, and may have been in contact with the FAA, and for some reason, lost it.

So we had no indication, no indication, that this was a flight of interest, is the term we use.


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An apartment burns after a small plane slammed into the Belaire Condominiums near the East River in New York on Wednesday afternoon.

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