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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Bush Arrives in Britain

Aired November 19, 2003 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Becky, what kind of paper is the "Daily Mirror?"
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've been showing you the "Daily Mirror" for some weeks past now. Let me just let you take a look at this. This is a tabloid newspaper in the U.K. Its competitive paper, of course, is "The Sun." And "The Sun" was the newspaper which President Bush gave a world exclusive interview to just a couple of days ago, owned by the News Corporation, which, of course, includes the Fox organization. And there was some talk that the interview was given in thanks for effectively Fox's support of President Bush during the war in Iraq.

So there's been quite a competition between the two newspapers, "The Sun" very supportive of President Bush's visit, state visit here to the U.K.

COSTELLO: Becky, let's pause for just as second. The president -- the president and Mrs. Bush have arrived at the ceremony. Let's just pause to see what's happening here and if he'll say anything, which we don't expect him to.

It's kind of an eerie sound to hear those explosions in the background as we look at this scene, isn't it?

DAVID CLINCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: It is. Not unusual in London, of course, to have gun salutes like this. So I doubt anybody there will be particularly perturbed. But given the level of security and the sensitivity to demonstrations and terrorism and all of those issues, it is a somewhat disturbing sound to hear these guns in the background.

But an amazing sight. And if you take away from all of the controversy and the demonstrations and everything else, what you're witnessing here -- and this, again, goes back to the question of a state visit -- this visit was arranged in the immediate aftermath of the major conflict in Iraq, at which point the United States and its major ally, Britain, were reveling in what appeared to be at the time a relatively easy military victory. The United States led that military action and Britain was, at the time, planning to welcome President Bush as the conquering hero, if you want to put it that way.

Now, things have changed a little bit, but nevertheless, one of the things that we are seeing here is a circle that goes all the way back to 9/11. While President Bush is there in Britain, one of the most important things, from his point of view, that he will be doing is meeting families, British families of victims from September the 11th. If you follow that circle all the way back, no other country really lost more people or was hit harder in one, some ways, by the attacks on September the 11th than Britain. And that, if nothing else, that reaffirmed and strengthened the special relationship, as it's called, between the United States and Britain.

And regardless, I think regardless of all of these demonstrations and issues about the war in Iraq and everything else, that is the thing that connects the two countries now more than anything else. And as we saw in a poll just the day before yesterday, a significant portion of the British public welcomes this visit and recognizes that special relationship.

COSTELLO: And still likes the American citizenry as a whole.

On the phone with us right now, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne, I know the president isn't going to say anything at this ceremony, but he is later, right?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He certainly is, Carol. And he is going to be doing it before a friendly audience, an audience that was invited, instead of the parliament, to prevent hecklers from interrupting his speech, as we had seen in Australia. But what he's going to talk about is simply defending the U.S. invasion and reconstruction of Iraq. And he will liken it to the reconstruction...

COSTELLO: Suzanne, may I interrupt you so we can listen to the national anthem?

(VIDEO FOOTAGE OF THE CEREMONY)

COSTELLO: All right, Suzanne, the president looked very emotional during the playing of the national anthem.

Did he look emotional to you, too?

MALVEAUX: Well, it's an emotional time for the president and the first lady. As you know, this really is coming full circle. The president certainly hoping to bring about some of the compassion from the British, who had such a close tie after September 11 to the United States. You may recall it was just two days after the terrorist attacks that the queen, in an extraordinary, unprecedented move, ordered that the, in the change of the guard, that that ceremony be interrupted so that the band could play "The Star Spangled Banner" along with the traditional "God Save The Queen."

Obviously...

COSTELLO: And I'm sure it was very moving to many Americans back here who are watching.

You know, President Bush is expected to say later that war is never the first choice.

Will that be well received by the British people?

And what about the preemptive strike that the president has been talking about?

MALVEAUX: Well, certainly there are a lot of skeptics among the British. And as you know, they're planning to have just massive protests, particularly tomorrow. But the president is going to argue, he's going to liken that this is like the reconstruction and rebuilding of Europe after two world wars. He's going to talk about Europe's own history and the price of inaction and as he calls it, appeasing some of the dictators. And he's also going to remind Europeans about the work that was involved in setting post-war Germany on the path to democracy.

But he will make the argument that it is in the interests of the British people, as well, to be involved in this reconstruction effort inside of Iraq, as well as in this war on terror.

COSTELLO: And he's going to talk a lot, too, about turning power over to the Iraqis quicker.

MALVEAUX: Yes, he is. He's going to talk about some of the more detailed aspects of that, that there's a transitional provisional government, certainly, that they hope to have in place by June and that the coalition authority will be dissolved at that time. Of course, it's no secret that the U.S. will have a very significant presence inside of Iraq, as well as British troops, who are there in significant numbers.

COSTELLO: We want to go back to the ceremony for just a bit and ask this of you, David.

There are supposedly tens of thousands of demonstrators that are going to take to the streets soon. Most of them will be in Trafalgar Square. But you were telling me earlier that people can walk up near this area.

CLINCH: Right. There's a distinction between where people are allowed to go and where we're going to see the tens of thousands, perhaps a hundred thousand plus, organized demonstrations. Those organized demonstrations have been agreed with the police, effectively, to go only in certain routes and to take place only in certain locations.

Now, it remains to be seen whether that actually is the case, whether others may try to break away. There are a number of disparate groups who may have different reasons for demonstrating and some may be going beyond demonstrating. But the formal, if you want to call it that, demonstrations, will take place no closer than Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. That's...

COSTELLO: And how far away is that?

CLINCH: It's a mile or so up the mall. Not too far away. You can perfectly -- you can see Buckingham Palace down the mall from Trafalgar Square. It'll be close enough for you to be able to get a sense of the sound from Buckingham Palace but not close enough to see out the window. When President Bush retires into the palace with the queen after the ceremony, he'll have his lunch before going on to the speech later on.

He will perhaps at some point get a sense of those demonstrations, but they will not be right outside the window.

COSTELLO: It's interesting to me that all of these groups are going to protest pretty much at the same time. I was trying to liken it to something that happened recently in the United States, maybe the World Bank protests in Washington, where those protests took place over days and were not very organized.

CLINCH: Yes, well, the key point that we're hearing consistently from these protesters, and, again, very many disparate groups -- environmentalists groups, anti-war groups, anti-American groups, all sorts of different groups -- the key thing that we've heard is that the demonstrations, if you want to put it this way, have been talked up so much that if they end up being small and not organized and all over the place, everybody will say they were ineffective.

And so what they effectively agreed to was let's have it all in one place in order to give the impression of a massive demonstration. We will see how massive that demonstration is. But what we do know is that the route and the location of those demonstrations will not allow them to interfere directly with the itinerary of the president.

COSTELLO: Suzanne, where will the president be going after this ceremony?

Suzanne, where will the president be going after this ceremony?

MALVEAUX: The president is going to be making a speech not far from here. And he is also going to be meeting with families of the British victims of September 11 at the American embassy this afternoon, a very important and significant acknowledgement of the connection between, of course, England and the United States.

Interestingly enough, the president, as well, is going to be having private meetings this afternoon with the leader of the opposition Conservative Party, Sir Michael Howard. And what is going to be very interesting what comes out of another meeting. He's going to be meeting with the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy. Of course, you know, the Liberal Democrats very much against the war with Iraq.

COSTELLO: All right, we know you have to break away right now, Suzanne Malveaux, to get to work, to gather more information for the rest of the day here on CNN, so we're going to let you go.

Thanks very much for joining us early on DAYBREAK.

Do we still have Becky Anderson around?

ANDERSON: Yes, you do.

COSTELLO: Becky, you were showing us that paper the "Daily Mirror" and we were talking about the security breach where a "Daily Mirror" reporter posed as a footman and actually got inside Buckingham Palace.

ANDERSON: That's right.

COSTELLO: And actually went into the Belgian Suite, where President and Mrs. Bush are staying, took some pictures and could have stayed on had he wanted to.

ANDERSON: I mean Piers Morgan, who is the editor of the "Daily Mirror" this maybe, must be delighted with the sort of coverage he's getting out of here. Ryan Perry is the journalist who got into the palace in August this year.

Now, apparently they’ve been advertising for staff on the Internet. And the "Daily Mirror" noticed that and they put in an application for this journalist with fake I.D. and effectively fake references for this chap to work in the palace starting in September.

Now, interesting, I mean this is the most incredible breach of security if, indeed, this is true and this really happened. Apparently one of his references was for his local pub, where he worked some five months ago as a bottle washer. That's at least what it said on his reference.

When the palace rang that pub, apparently the person on the reference wasn't there. So somebody called down to the end of the bar and says, "Does anybody know this chap called Ryan Perry?" One of the drinkers said, "Yes, I remember him. He was a nice chap." And that was it. That was the...

COSTELLO: Wait a minute.

ANDERSON: ... effectively, the reference check.

COSTELLO: Wait a minute, the royals called a pub to get a reference for someone who was going to work inside a palace?

ANDERSON: That's, that is the story. That's the story, at least, that "The Mirror" are telling us this morning.

Now, what normally happens after the palace have done their reference checks and their security checks is that the checks then go on to the metropolitan police, the department that actually deals with the palace. Now, somehow this chap got through that check, as well, and ends up working in the palace for two months, from September this year.

And as David had suggested earlier on today, he would this morning -- he actually resigned last night -- but he would this morning have been serving breakfast to President Bush's aides, effectively to Condoleezza Rice and to Colin Powell. This, of course, follows the breach of security at Prince William's 21st birthday party, when a comedian dressed as Osama bin Laden was actually able to breach the walls and security checks at Windsor Castle and become part of that party. And remember me telling you just yesterday that a 61- year-old grandmother yesterday scaled the gates at Buckingham Palace and hung on for two hours with an upside down flag saying, "George Bush, you're not welcome here," being watched, effectively, by the police, who couldn't get her down.

So security is tantamount during this three and a half day visit. And the metropolitan police, who aren't commenting on any of these events, must be quite embarrassed about what's happened to date.

Let me just follow on from something that Suzanne Malveaux was just suggesting, as well, and this comes back to the issue of security. President Bush is, indeed, meeting some of the families, some of the bereaved families who lost some of their sons and daughters in Iraq. But not outside in a garden party, which was originally what was organized. Nothing now that President Bush does, aside from what we've just seen, will be conducted outside. And that's been something which has been changed over the last 24 hours.

COSTELLO: And Becky...

ANDERSON: He will now meet those families...

COSTELLO: Becky, is that...

ANDERSON: ... inside the embassy.

COSTELLO: Becky, is that...

ANDERSON: Sorry.

COSTELLO: I'm sorry to keep interrupting you.

Is that because of security or more from a public relations standpoint?

ANDERSON: Yes. No, no, this is, this, we're being told, is as a result of security. No, not necessarily because there has been a heightened security alert over the last 24 hours. The U.K., of course, is on its second highest security stance at present. But just because it was deemed that it was an insecure environment for President Bush to be meeting these families outside in what effectively was a garden party.

So you can see that the security is, as we've been saying, unprecedented here. High alerts and the police will do their absolute utmost to keep any of these demonstrators, protesters and anybody else away from President Bush and his wife during their visit here.

CLINCH: Yes, just taking up on what Becky is saying there...

COSTELLO: Go ahead.

CLINCH: I think that what we're looking at is three levels of concern. There's the sort of tabloidy interest in somebody getting into Buckingham Palace, which is a concern and a security concern. But it's as much a tabloid story as anything else.

Then there's, separately, the concern over demonstrations, which are, again, related to various disparate groups who are demonstrating. And then thirdly, and really more, most importantly, is the sort of nighttime scenario of a terrorist attack. And that's the primary concern.

And all of these things, you could laugh at this "Daily Mirror" story, but if this is really a security breach, what does it say about the threat of a terrorist security breach?

COSTELLO: Well, you know, the other part of that that I'm wondering about, this guy worked in the palace, for, what, three months? But he's going to get to serve breakfast to the president of the United States?

CLINCH: Well, I think Becky is more correct in saying that he would have been, he says, at least, serving breakfast to some of the aides of the president. He's not necessarily claiming he would have served the president himself, but certainly he would have been close enough. And that's the key here, again. It's sort of amusing in some ways, but the serious concerns from the point of view of the police -- and this goes back to the whole question of the U.S. Secret Service, we've been told repeatedly over the last few weeks, was pushing for the highest possible security surrounding this visit.

The metropolitan police assured them that they had things under control and while there is heightened security, there are some things which the Secret Service is apparently still not happy about. They're certainly not going to be happy about reading this in the tabloids this morning.

COSTELLO: No. I know at one point they wanted a helicopter to hover over Buckingham Palace, but the queen said no way.

CLINCH: Again, reports in the newspapers on that. We do know officially that they were asking for even higher, even greater security than has been granted. But the metropolitan police convinced that they have this under control.

But, again, the distinction between having the demonstrations under control and what level of security is required or can ever really effectively counter a terrorist attack.

COSTELLO: Got you.

Becky, let's talk about the demonstrators for just a second.

Have you been able to talk with any of them? Because everybody says we're expecting tens of thousands to demonstrate, but do you think the number might be smaller than that?

ANDERSON: No. What we believe and what we've heard, and we've had a number of our reporters, of course, working on reports surrounding these demonstrators, demonstrators associated with the Muslim faith here in the U.K., Stop The War protesters, etc., it's expected there will be some 100,000 demonstrators on the streets of London in quite an organized march tomorrow, Thursday. That is as President Bush, of course, is meeting Tony Blair, the prime minister here, at Number 10 Downing Street. And don't forget, that's only a meeting of 150 minutes, two and a half hours.

And lots of suggestions that that's not really long enough to discuss all of the things that need to be discussed, primarily, at least actually so far as Iraq is concerned. Then the issue of the detainees, the British detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and, of course, the issue of trade, as well.

But 100,000 demonstrators expected in this fairly organized march tomorrow, Thursday, which will go up Whitehall. They were hoping to get the route that they asked for and, in fact, they have, indeed, been given full access to the route, which goes past the houses of parliament up through Whitehall. So, as I say, a fairly organized march. Most people on this march, most of the organizers of this march are hoping, in fact, that there will be no trouble, that this will be a very, very organized but effective march.

Now, there are always anarchists and a number of other sort of, some of the anti-globalization protesters we have seen in the past who are looking for something a little bit more radical, perhaps a little bit more, a little bit noisier and even, dare I say, a little bit more violent.

Now, we don't know very much about what those groups are doing. Effectively, they've been organizing themselves, not using the Internet this time, which is what they had used in the past, e-mail, because that has been infiltrated by the security forces. But certainly using mobile phones.

And they'll have organized themselves in their fairly sort of disparate way. We know very little about what their plans are. But, as I say, for the other sort of 100,000 planned protesters, it should be fairly organized.

COSTELLO: Let's talk a little bit about what this visit means for Tony Blair politically. Opinion polls in Britain are, have been way down for him.

Will this help him, hurt him?

CLINCH: Well, they have been down to a certain extent. There is an interesting sort of variance in what's happening right now in regards specifically to Iraq in relation to Prime Minister Blair and his public versus President Bush and his public. And it's not completely definitive, but it's a pattern that's emerging.

As attacks on the U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq have been increasing over the last few weeks, support for the war in Britain, to a certain degree, has been going up. The sort of, you know, our boys are over there, we need to protect them attitude has been kicking in, a very common traditional attitude in Britain when British forces are out there in harm's way.

The same thing actually we've seen in the last couple of days in Italy after, you know, their shock and horror and after months and months of opposition to the war, they're sort of coming together and a sense that they need to stay in there. Whereas President Bush is facing an issue of his public, again, not definitive, but to a certain degree support falling away for the war in Iraq.

So I think in some ways what they're trying to do, especially regarding, again, the war in Iraq, is get on the same page and give the impression that they are all, Britain and the United States, Italy and beyond, all in this together and that they need to have their political ducks in a row and military ducks in a row, especially now that we have this redefined timetable heading towards June, when they will hand over to an Iraqi political force.

COSTELLO: Yes. And, you know, a lot of people, I don't know a lot of people, but there has been that sentiment that President Bush should have put this visit off until things kind of calm down in the world as to the world's reaction in Iraq. But if this proves to be a triumphant visit, this can only be good for both President Bush and Tony Blair.

CLINCH: Well, again, going back to the fact that -- this probably could not have been put off, for no other reason than because of protocol. Again, it was arranged by the palace and once they arrange something, they don't want to change it. And, again, I think going back to what Suzanne was talking about, when we talk a lot about big picture versus little picture, the president and the prime minister have both, from the very beginning of the war on terror and the war in Iraq, tried to put all of this in the broadest, biggest possible picture, harkening back to WWII and beyond.

Liberation and freedom is the rallying call. And think that's, again, what you're going to hear today from President Bush and from Prime Minister Blair, this rallying call in regard to Iraq and the free world in general that these are things worth fighting for and that they are the leaders in that fight.

COSTELLO: All right, and, of course, the president due to speak at 1:30 Eastern time. That's our time.

This looks like it's wrapping up. And President Bush has gone back into Buckingham Palace. So we're going to throw to a break.

We'll be back with much more news.

You stay right there.

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