tv 60 Minutes CBS September 11, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
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>> the most important information is identifying khalid sheik mohammed as the mastermind of 9/11. >> logan: ali soufan has never shown his face on tv, but tonight, he tells "60 minutes" about interrogating and outwitting some of bin laden's lieutenants. >> and i said, "well, i know that al qaeda did that. someone told me." he said, "who told you?" i said, "you did." he totally collapsed. >> logan: he collapsed? >> he put his hands like this on his face and went down. and he starts shaking. he knew what he did. >> logan: he knew that he... >> he just gave up bin laden, he just gave up al qaeda on 9/11. >> he comes in, his hands are cupped. and he's got bones in his hands. and he goes up to the medical examiner and he puts the bones in front of him and he goes, "this is my son." >> pelley: it was after hearing story after story like this that dr. benjamin luft decided to compile the world trade center
oral history project-- unedited, unvarnished reality as experienced by the responders to ground zero. >> it was crazy. >> it was almost like taking a civics class as to what is important about being a citizen. what is important about being a human being. what is important to being an american. >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bob simon. >> i'm morley safer. >> i'm lara logan. >> i'm scott pelley. those stories tonight on this special 9/11 edition of "60 minutes." [ male announcer ] do you have questions about medicare? with over 30 years of medicare experience, unitedhealthcare medicare solutions can help. just give us a call. the annual enrollment period to switch your medicare coverage is earlier this year, from october 15th to december 7th, so now is a great time to review your situation. call now or visit us online to get this free answer guide
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>> logan: tonight, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we bring you the story of someone who has never shown his face on television before, and for good reason. ali soufan was one of the fbi's secret weapons in its fight against al qaeda. a lebanese-american, fluent in arabic, he interrogated al qaeda prisoners at secret locations all over the world. soufan was known for his ability to outwit terrorists. and he's telling his story in a new book, "the black banners," parts of which have been blacked out because the cia says they contain classified information. on the day of the september 11 attacks, ali soufan was thousands of miles away from ground zero, but in a unique position to help find those responsible. what was your first thought? >> ali soufan: it was al qaeda. absolutely, i had no doubt in my mind. i had no doubt in my mind. two planes at the same time, hitting the world trade center.
>> logan: on 9/11, fbi agent ali soufan was in yemen, where his new york-based team had been investigating the deadly al qaeda attack a year earlier on the u.s.s. "cole." soufan and his team were preparing to fly back to new york when fbi headquarters ordered him and his partner to stay put. and at this point, every fiber of your being is screaming, "i've got to get back to new york"? >> soufan: that's exactly what i said. i said, you know, "new york is under attack, america under attack. we can investigate the "cole" some other time." and the answer was, "no, ali, it's not about the "cole." it's... it's actually about what happened here." and i was feeling like a knife gone in my heart. i... i felt, "what did we miss? what did we miss?" >> logan: soufan wondered whether he and his team had missed some hint of the 9/11 plot as they investigated the earlier attack on the "cole," and his mission in yemen now
took on a new urgency. there were already a number of al qaeda operatives in custody in yemen, and for the fbi, ali soufan was the right man to question them about 9/11. he had been investigating al qaeda for four years, and knew a lot about its operatives and its ideology. he was fluent in arabic, a muslim himself, and at 30 years old, starting to make a name for himself as one of the bureau's best interrogators of islamic extremists. what makes a good interviewer or interrogator? >> soufan: knowledge and empathy. i think these are the two things. you need to connect with people on a human level, regardless if they don't like you, if they want to kill you. >> logan: is it hard to have empathy with someone who's just killed, or helped to kill, thousands of americans? >> soufan: oh, absolutely. i was with one guy who's telling me he want to slaughter me like a sheep. >> logan: what did you say to
him? >> soufan: i kind of, like, politely put him in his place. >> logan: i would like to understand what "politely put him in his place" means. >> soufan: we had a fruit next to us and there's a knife to cut the fruit. i gave him the knife. i said, "go ahead and do it now." he looked at me. i said, "i thought so. so sit down and shut your mouth and let's talk." >> logan: are they trying to turn the situation around? are they trying to turn it on you? >> soufan: well, you know what? there is something that they don't expect when they are... they are being interrogated by americans. they don't expect a person comes with them. they have, like, tea, they have coffee-- sit down, talk, trying to know each other, trying to build a rapport. and that scares them, that shakes them. because they were trained that we are so evil, and we torture and we kill. and that is the reason of the rage against us. so they tell you a lot of stuff to piss you off, and then they can say, "see? he is evil." so in my case, i try to deprive them from that. >> logan: do you think the fact that you were a muslim gave you
an advantage in some cases and in some ways? >> soufan: no. but the fact that maybe i understood the culture, the fact that i genuinely, as a person, have an interest in these kind of things, that probably helped me. >> logan: there has been times where you've got into really deep, religious... >> soufan: right. >> logan: ...arguments with some pretty high-level bad guys. >> soufan: well, it happened frequently, yeah. >> logan: did you win those arguments? >> soufan: well, i don't know if i convinced them. but i know, towards the end, i have my confession and that what's i care about. ( laughter ) >> logan: just one week after 9/11, soufan and his partner found themselves face to face with osama bin laden's bodyguard, abu jandal. he'd been caught and imprisoned in yemen nearly seven months before 9/11, but now that bin laden had attacked on u.s. soil, it was important to see if abu jandal could help the fbi build a case against those responsible. >> soufan: he walked, sat in his chair, and literally moved the chair towards the two yemeni
interrogators that's there. and he said, "i don't acknowledge them. i don't acknowledge their existence." >> logan: and why is he doing that? >> soufan: he hate us. he hate americans. >> logan: so how did you get him to open up? >> soufan: well, it was a process. we were able to build a rapport with him. and he talked a lot about, you know, revolutions and the history of revolutions. so i start telling him about the american revolution, too. and we got him a book in arabic about george washington and the american revolution that he actually stayed all night reading. he was fascinated by it. but he's practicing typical counter-interrogation techniques, where he gives you what he thinks you know so you will think he's cooperating. >> logan: soufan says when abu jandal looked at a book of photos of known al qaeda members, he identified very few and kept passing over the photo of this man, marwan al shehhi,
one of the 9/11 hijackers. soufan knew abu jandal had cared for el shehhi years ago when he was very sick. so the fact that he was not identifying him immediately was a signal to you that he was not being honest? >> soufan: exactly. so i said to him, "so you want to tell me you don't know this guy? kandahar, december 1999, ramadan. he got very sick. you were nursing him and putting soup on his lips, so he won't get dehydrated." i took the book. i said, "let me make it very clear to you. you don't know how many people in the book works for me. you don't know how many people in the book we caught and they're cooperating. and that is the card that i have to know if you're cooperating or not. why don't you look at the book again?" he identified almost everyone in the book. >> logan: among those abu jandal identified as al qaeda members
were seven of the terrorists who flew planes into the world trade center and the pentagon. abu jandal didn't know they had been involved in the 9/11 plot because he'd been in prison, and he insisted that al qaeda was not behind the attack. he didn't believe it? >> soufan: he was very adamant that bin laden didn't do it. >> logan: so what happens then? >> soufan: i said, "well, i know that al qaeda did that. someone told me." he said, "who told you?" i said, "you did." and he gets so mad. "you're putting words in my mouth. i never said al qaeda did that." i said, "do you know who flew the planes into the world trade center and the pentagon?" and i took the seven photos that he identified and put it in front of him. i said, "those, my friend, are not my sources; those are the people who flew the planes." he totally collapsed. >> logan: he collapsed? >> soufan: he put his hands like this on his face and went down. and he starts shaking. he knew what he did. >> logan: he knew that he... >> soufan: he just gave up bin laden, he just gave up al qaeda on 9/11. and after that, the level of cooperation was very different.
we ended up spending days and days with him. >> logan: abu jandal provided nearly 100 pages of information, according to soufan's fbi report, including intricate details about al qaeda's "training facilities," "communications" and "weaponry." it was quite an achievement for someone who might best be described as an accidental fbi agent. soufan grew up in lebanon during that country's brutal civil war, and he moved with his family to the u.s. when he was 17. he was a frat boy at mansfield university in pennsylvania, planning a career in academia, when a college administrator suggested he apply for a job with the fbi. >> soufan: when he said that, i was like... as if he was telling me, "you're going to be, like, in the circus, or you're going to be, you know, a racecar driver." i mean, "fbi? what are you talking about," you know? people were laughing. my friends... >> logan: your frat brothers. >> soufan: yeah, were laughing. i'm like, "they will send you back the application."
>> logan: a little bit of a challenge. >> soufan: i was like, "okay. we'll see about that." >> logan: in 1997, after getting a master's degree in international relations, he joined the fbi's new york office as a rookie counter-terrorism agent, and he was little more than three years on the job when he was made the case agent for the fbi's investigation of the attack on the u.s.s. "cole." in march 2002, the u.s. captured its first high-value terrorist operative, abu zubaydah, after a fire-fight in pakistan. ali soufan and his partner were called in to assist in the cia interrogation at a secret location in thailand. abu zubaydah was severely wounded but still able to communicate. from u.s. intelligence files, soufan had learned a lot about abu zubaydah, and he told us he put that knowledge to good use right way. >> soufan: when i first met him, i asked him his name, and he gave me a fake name.
>> logan: "dawud." >> soufan: a different name-- "dawud." and i said to him, "what if i call you 'hani'?" and the look on his face was like... you know? like... you know, like, you know, "that's it. it's over." and he just looked at me and he... just shook his head. he was shocked. "hani" is the name that his mother called him as a child. so he knew that i know everything about him. >> logan: why do you think that mattered so much? >> soufan: it kind of told him that you cannot play games with us. we know who you are. >> logan: and what do you think is the most important information that came out of that? >> soufan: the most important information is identifying khalid sheikh mohammed as a mastermind of 9/11. >> logan: at the time, khalid sheikh mohammed, or "ksm", was on the fbi's most wanted list for other terrorist plots. u.s. intelligence suspected he was involved in 9/11, but the fbi didn't have any evidence of that.
ali soufan and his partner, steve gaudin, meant to show abu zubaydah a photo of someone else on the most wanted list, but they showed abu zubaydah this photo of k.s.m. by mistake. >> soufan: he looks at me and he says, "don't play games with me, brother. don't play games with me. you know who this guy. this is... this is mukhtar. this is mastermind of the plane operations." >> logan: of 9/11? >> soufan: that's what al qaeda call 9/11, "the plane operations." >> logan: mukhtar? that's... >> soufan: mukhtar. >> logan: ...the name he uses? >> soufan: that was the alias for ksm. >> logan: did you know that? >> soufan: no. i had no idea. the only thing i knew at the time, i'm looking for a "mukhtar." so, when he said "mukhtar," it kind of, like, clicked. so i looked at it and i said, "oh, steve, you gave me the wrong photo." and i gave it to steve, so he will know who the mastermind of 9/11 is. >> logan: you're playing it very cool, but what's going through your head, really? >> soufan: "holy ( bleep )! k.s.m. is an al qaeda guy, the one in 9/11?"
>> logan: it was an accident? >> soufan: totally. totally. >> logan: soufan says he believes abu zubaydah didn't mean to divulge important information, and was trying to give up as little as possible. was he well versed in >> logan: ...counter- intelligence? >> soufan: yes. he's... he's definitely well versed in counter-intelligence. counter-interrogation. he is a smart... he is, i can actually say, borderline genius. you know, i... i hear a lot of people saying he's an idiot. he's... no, he's... he's probably one of the smartest people i interrogated. >> logan: soufan thought he and his partner were making progress, but he says everything abruptly changed after ten days when he was told to stop talking to abu zubaydah. >> soufan: the c.t.c. team, the counter-terrorism center team, arrived. >> logan: of the cia. >> soufan: of the cia. so we told them, from our perspective, that he has been cooperating.
we just got information that k.s.m. is the mastermind of 9/11. they said, "well, yeah, but there's a belief that there's a lot more information, and he's not giving it up yet." so it ended up that there's a plan already decided in washington that was basically to strategically diminish his "ability to resist," as... as the term was used. we knew that we're going down on a path that's a dangerous path, a path that we haven't been on before. so we had to pull out from the interrogation, and we had to start witnessing something that was really surprising, some technique that we never thought that we will see us doing. >> logan: the new techniques ali soufan is talking about included nudity, sleep-deprivation, and loud music.
it was the beginning of the tough and controversial methods that would ultimately include water-boarding and become known as "enhanced interrogation techniques." what ali soufan witnessed, and what he did about it, when we come back. >> cbs money watch pup date sponsored by: >> mitchell: good evening. from ground zero, a new study in "newsweek" says the cost of america's wars and homeland security since 9/11 top there $3 trillion. bank of america may announce as early as tomorrow that it's cutting some 40,000 jobs and gas prices went up four cents last week to an average of $3.66 a gallon. i'm russ mitchell, cbs news.
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a very public debate about whether the u.s. was torturing terrorism suspects. the videotapes of those interrogations have reportedly been destroyed, and hardly anyone who participated in them has spoken publicly. nor has enough information been made public to determine if the techniques were successful. but in april of 2002, fbi agent ali soufan witnessed the beginning of the use of these techniques on the u.s.'s first high-value terrorist detainee, abu zubaydah. soufan says he was making good progress with abu zubaydah through traditional methods of questioning. but he was told that a cia contractor, hired for his interrogation expertise, would be taking control. soufan then watched on a closed circuit monitor as a very different approach was used. >> soufan: the plan at the time was to go in and tell abu zubaydah one question.
tell him, "tell me what i want to know." and if abu zubaydah said, "what do you want to know?" or ask any questions about that, the person is to walk out. and say, "you know," and walk out. and then, they have a continuum of techniques like... you know, it started with, like, nudity. and then, you have noise and you have sleep deprivation. and it goes from one stage to another, until he decides to cooperate. >> logan: this individual, why were they put in charge? >> soufan: i don't know. supposedly, he's an expert in the field. so i ask him, "do you know anything about islamic fundamentalism?" he said, "no." "have you ever interrogated anybody?" "no." he basically said, no, he knows human nature. >> logan: and how does abu zubaydah react to this? >> soufan: he basically stopped cooperating. >> logan: the information dried up? >> soufan: yes, totally. >> logan: soufan says that, after several days with nothing from abu zubaydah, he and his partner and a cia interrogator were allowed to start talking to
him once again. and they obtained information that led the cia and the fbi to capture this man, jose padilla, the american citizen accused of plotting to set off a "dirty bomb" in the u.s. so your feeling is, at this point, that your technique has... has started to work again? >> soufan: we... we're back. yeah, no, we're back. and... and more information starts coming. and then, suddenly, out of the blue, they said, "wait a second. you guys are going to be out, because we believe he's not cooperating anymore," which was really shocking for us to hear. >> logan: so what did you do? >> soufan: what can we do? we're watching time pass by with nobody talking to a detainee, day after day. >> logan: no one even spoke to him? >> soufan: no, they go in. they say, "tell me what i want to know." he says, "what do you want to know?" and you walk out, period.
that's it. that's the whole interrogation "plan," if you want to call it. >> logan: so there's something that happens. it escalates to a point where you decide, that's it, you're leaving. what is it? >> soufan: there was a confinement box. >> logan: that sounds like a coffin. >> soufan: uh... "confinement box," and i came one day, and i saw it in the facility. and i thought, at the time, "we had the guy cooperating. so what's going on?" i mean, that box was not made overnight. there's something going on and we don't know about. >> logan: what was the box for? >> soufan: i don't know. i mean, definitely, it's... it's for... for abu zubaydah. >> logan: but that was not the kind of technique that you were prepared to stick around for? >> soufan: no. i just felt that, literally, "we're playing games, and i really cannot be part of this." >> logan: soufan claims he wasn't the only person that felt that way. >> soufan: at least one of the cia guys said, "you know what?
that's not worth it. i'm not going to do this." he left. he left the location... >> logan: another cia agent on the ground? >> soufan: yeah. actually, he left before me. and then... and then we finally reported to headquarters that, you know, "this is what's happening," as i called it in the d.o.j.-- department of justice inspector general-- report, "borderline torture." and-- fbi headquarters said, "you know... you know we don't do that, just..." and, eventually, after that, they pulled all fbi agents from high-value detainees interrogations. >> logan: soufan never saw abu zubaydah again, and only occasionally saw these techniques being used after that, but he claims that when president george bush addressed the nation in 2006, the american people were being misled. >> president george bush: we knew that zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives, but he stopped talking. it became clear that he had
received training on how to resist interrogation. and so the cia used an alternative set of procedures. >> soufan: i think somebody told the president some fake information, some false information. zubaydah did not stop talking; introducing the techniques made him stop talking. >> logan: soufan argues that terrorists like abu zubaydah have been trained to expect extremely brutal treatment in middle eastern prisons, which is one reason he believes enhanced interrogation techniques are not effective. >> soufan: if you look at them from an american perspective, you will say, "wow, that's torture." but really, that's like saying hello in some jail in the middle east. i mean, the... literally, this is not the torture that these guys are expecting. so why do we start going on a path that eventually we're going to hit a glass ceiling? and when you hit the glass ceiling, what do you do? >> logan: what do you do? >> soufan: the detainee calls
your bluff. you cannot go back and say, "i'm going to build a rapport." that's why you keep repeating the glass ceiling again and again and again and again. abu zubaydah was water-boarded 83 times; khalid sheikh mohammed, 183 times. what does that tell you? does that tell you the technique is working? >> logan: a number of people in the cia and the intelligence community told us that abu zubaydah did give up information after he was water-boarded, which they say helped save american lives, and that, all moral questions aside, the enhanced interrogation program yielded significant intelligence, including information that contributed to the killing of osama bin laden. at least two former directors of the cia, george tenet and michael hayden, say that enhanced interrogation techniques do work. >> soufan: sure, sure. >> logan: they have access to more intelligence than you. >> soufan: absolutely. >> logan: if you don't know everything, how can you be so
sure that they don't work? >> soufan: because i am privy to a lot of information that also i'm not telling you here. >> logan: but is it possible for you to know all the information, everything that may or may not have been gained from these techniques? >> soufan: i'm not claiming that i know everything. i know what i know. >> logan: the one thing that has caused ali soufan more anguish than anything else is the thought that the events of 9/11 might have been prevented-- if, he says, the cia had shared certain information with him and his fbi team. while they were investigating the attack on the u.s.s. "cole" in november 2000, soufan's team learned that this al qaeda operative had met with other terrorists in asia and received a large sum of money. soufan says he asked the cia if it knew what this operative was up to. you made three formal requests to the cia... >> soufan: there was three
formal requests. >> logan: ...through the fbi chain? >> soufan: right. >> logan: and time and again, the cia tell you what? >> soufan: they don't know anything. >> logan: but soufan says he later learned the cia knew, eight months before 9/11, that this same operative had met in malaysia with two terrorism suspects who would later hijack the plane that crashed into the pentagon. and the cia also knew that those two suspects were heading to the u.s. >> soufan: the agency knew that these al qaeda operatives in southeast asia flew to america, or they have visas to come to the united states, and somebody decided, "let's not share the information." >> logan: and if it had been shared with you, what then? >> soufan: i try not to think about that. i try not to think about... about what could have happened. maybe... maybe thousands of american lives will be spared, maybe. >> logan: the cia told us any suggestion it purposely refused to share critical information on the 9/11 plots with the fbi is "baseless" and "these
allegations diminish the hard work and dedication of countless cia officers." ali soufan left the fbi six years ago and, today, he runs a security consulting company based in new york. he told us he hasn't been to ground zero since the first anniversary of 9/11, and there's a reason for that. >> soufan: maybe i'm one of these people who didn't get over it. >> logan: can you tell me why? >> soufan: you know, maybe part of me feels guilty. maybe part of me feels some sort of responsibility of what happened. >> logan: but you did your best. you gave your all. why would you feel guilty? >> soufan: if you want to be truthful with yourself, very difficult what you feel... and not to kind of like feel that, you know, "maybe i could've done something." >> logan: is that why it's hard for you to go to ground zero? >> soufan: yeah. actually, i went there once, on the... the first anniversary,
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that day, so few had survived. as it turned out, dr. luft's casualties were coming, but they would arrive much later. although nearly 3,000 people were killed at the world trade center, 70,000 others responded to ground zero and worked for months amid toxic smoke and dust. dr. luft helped start a clinic to treat the chronic illnesses and psychological trauma suffered by the 9/11 responders. over time, luft discovered something that he never expected-- he began to hear their stories; honest, raw, irreplaceable stories. and almost two years ago, he began to record the definitive history of ground zero, remembering 9/11 in the words of the people who lived it. >> dr. benjamin luft: the problem that came up was that our society began to look at the responders in terms of their disease. they became an issue in terms of their liability. and my feeling was that that's
not who the responders were. let's find out who they are as human beings-- what their motivation was, what values they had, what sacrifices they made, how they were able to renew themselves. it was almost take... like taking a civics class as to what is important about being a citizen. what is important about being a human being? what is important to being an american? >> stacey goodman: i worked at the makeshift morgue. we took in all the bodies, you know? saying, "i'm sorry for your loss" was very difficult, because that almost got to be like rote, you know? >> pelley: stacey goodman, a police detective, is one of the voices dr. luft recorded in what is now called the world trade center oral history project. >> goodman: at one point, this
senior... i think he was a retired fireman, he comes in. his hands are cupped. and he's got bones in his hands. and he goes up to the medical examiner and he puts the bones in front of him and he goes, "this is my son." what do you say to that? ( sniffs ) >> pelley: no one could possibly know 9/11 the way these people do. we asked several of the responders to give us a sense of the hours of testimony that they've put into dr. luft's project. >> carol paukner: the debris and the people rushing out at us, i couldn't even make it to tower one. i made it to the base of tower two. >> pelley: carol paukner was a cop, on the scene before the towers fell. >> paukner: this big, brawly fbi guy had his shield around his neck. and, you know, i looked up at him and he's telling... there was about six officers there
with me, and he's like, "if you want to live, you... you might as well leave now." he said, "we're all going to die." and i'm like, "i can't... we can't leave. i'm... i'm not leaving." and the officers that i were there with, "we're not leaving, either." and we continued to evacuate and do our jobs but, you know, we were all like, "wow, we're going to die," you know? >> pelley: paukner was trapped when the first tower collapsed. that's her, on the left, after she pulled herself out of the wreckage. she's with a fellow cop and a woman that they rescued. >> richard doerler: i was one of the guys who was able to pull someone out alive. >> pelley: so few were saved, but police sergeant richard doerler helped pull out one rare survivor, a fellow cop named john mcloughlin. >> doerler: they were giving... john was... giving john mcloughlin morphine because the... the plan was that, if we couldn't extricate him, they were going to cut his legs off. john screamed in pain while we
pulled him, initially, so we let him rest. and we simultaneously pulled again and we broke him free and pulled him out. >> luft: want you take some nice deep breaths. >> pelley: benjamin luft is a medical doctor who volunteered to help create a clinic for the 9/11 responders at stony brook university medical center, part of the state university of new york. more than 6,000 responders enrolled in his world trade center health program. one study shows that nearly a third of those who worked at ground zero have asthma, 42% suffer with sinusitis, nearly 40% have gastro-esophageal reflux disease, known as "gerd"; and many have reactive airways dysfunction syndrome that the patients just call "rads." >> luft: when you're a physician
and you see patients, you tend to reduce them to their symptoms and signs, to their medical conditions. and that's how you think of them. >> pelley: luft listened to their stories in the examining room for eight years when he realized that his patients were the authors of one of the most dramatic chapters of american history. >> luft: your story of what happened on 9/11. >> she became hysterical. she got a cell phone call that her... that the trade center was hit with a plane. >> pelley: with his own money, a few donations, and a small, mostly volunteer staff, luft started his interviews. so far, he's recorded 137. >> paukner: when the building imploded down, it blew me out of the building, and i was able to hold onto the doorway with my left arm. >> christine famiglietti: the first thing i found was an entire body, burned into rebar. >> bill fischer: they... they put a line around our waist.
i'm like, "i'm going in this way, snaking around on my belly around," says, "there's no way you can pull me out." and the guy just looked at me. it wasn't to pull us out; it was just to find us if we died. >> where we expected to see two tall buildings, we just saw a skeleton. the most powerful nation in the world. how could this happen? >> luft: there's no clearer rendition of what happened on 9/11 than there are in these histories. >> pelley: who are these people? >> luft: so, of course, we have the firemen and the policemen and the e.m.s. workers. and then, we have the volunteer firemen. and then, you have the ironworkers and the construction workers and the laborers. on 9/11, all americans responded, from all walks of life. >> i was a senior in high school. i realized i had to go down there. i don't know how i'm going to help; i don't know what i can do.
>> my whole family is cops. i'm the 13th in my family being a new york city police officer. >> i am a licensed massage therapist. i just felt like i had to be down there helping these people, knowing what i do for a living can help these people. >> i work for the n.y.c. highway dept. i.... you know, roadwork, construction, stuff like that. i never trained for anything like this. and i learned quick, though. >> pelley: we spent a few hours with some of the responders at stony brook university. and as we listened, we realized that, for them, today, sunday, isn't the tenth anniversary of something that happened; it's the tenth year of something that never ends. in a sense, it's always 9/11. john gallagher is a former new york city fire captain suffering with pulmonary fibrosis, scarring of the lungs that only gets worse. >> john gallagher: the world trade center is still claiming lives. people have had their lives
shortened. people have lost their fathers, their... their mothers to cancers, to lung diseases, anything that you can imagine, blood-borne diseases. people are still dying. >> pelley: show of hands. how many of you have been living through medical problems as a result of the work that you did in those days? almost all of you. bill, give me a sense of what you've been working through, health-wise. >> fischer: i have asthma, i have nodules on both lungs, sinusitis, rhinitis. >> pelley: bill fischer was a new york city cop, now retired. >> fischer: i... i never smoked, i don't drink. i'm... i go the gym as often as i can, and it's not as much as i would like to anymore. i literally have a bucket of about 20 medicines, a plastic bucket that i have to take something during the day.
>> pelley: this is bill fischer. he worked at ground zero for four months. and like thousands of others, he was covered in dust that contained carcinogens, asbestos, and toxins too numerous to list. ken george was there, too. he helped recover human remains. ken, what... what has your health experience been? >> ken george: oh, i got a list. >> pelley: everybody's got a list, it sounds like. >> george: it started with the 9/11 cough i had, which led me to have rads-- restricted airway disease-- which means i can't get enough oxygen in or out. like these people said, the sinuses, i have all that. so it's just started snowballing out of control, you know what i mean? and who knows if, five years down the line, if i'm going to wind up with cancer, you know. i just want to make sure i'm... my family's taken care of, if anything happens, you know? i just don't want them to be out on the street. >> luft: any pain? >> pelley: paying their medical
bills has been a struggle. funding for the world trade center health program was never certain until this year, when congress guaranteed coverage. but that guarantee lasts only the next five years; the illnesses and the mental trauma are likely to last a lifetime. >> tyree bacon: one thing nobody's mentioned, but we all have it-- it's like luggage and we have it forever-- is the post-traumatic stress. >> paukner: yep. >> pelley: tyree bacon was a senior court officer who worked ten blocks from the world trade center. he reached the towers before they collapsed. >> bacon: those of us who wear uniforms make a living out of the worst ten minutes of everybody's lives. 9/11 was a hell of a lot longer than ten minutes long. post-traumatic stress is something that i have a issue with. spent a month after being caught in the collapse, waking up on the floor, trying to feel my... my way out of my own bedroom. that went on for over a month. >> pelley: this is tyree bacon, in the oral history project, remembering a woman who grabbed him by the shirt as one of the towers fell. >> bacon: and i told her, i
said, "sweetheart, don't worry, i promise we're getting out of here." i flat-out lied to her. i thought we were going to die where we were. if i didn't have her, i probably would've curled up in a fetal position and just waited to die. >> luft: when that responder went down to ground zero, they were experiencing traumatic events in rapid succession: buildings falling, girders falling, tripping, you know, people jumping out of buildings, seeing tremendous amounts of carnage. >> pelley: the fires. >> luft: the fires. now, it's not occurring over a ten-second period of time; it's occurring over weeks and months. and the same person is experiencing it over and over and over again. >> paukner: the jumpers, i think, were the worst, you know? to actually see them jump and... and pulverize just in front of you, you know?
that was just horrible. >> pelley: there was a sound... >> paukner: yeah. >> pelley: ...that that made. >> paukner: that was, first... i didn't know what that sound was, at first. and then, you go to see what that sound was, and you realize that it was a person that had just jumped. if it's that bad up there that you have to jump, you know? a lot we couldn't see. >> luft: almost invariably, people come to us afterwards and say, "you know, doc, this is the first time that i've been able to talk about this. this is the first time that i can tell others what really happened on 9/11." >> gallagher: in the three months that i was there, we found very, very few victims. we found pieces, but not bodies. that was the first time i ever spoke of my experiences at 9/11. i found it therapeutic. >> pelley: how many years was it
that you didn't talk about 9/11? >> gallagher: seven years. >> pelley: why? >> gallagher: i didn't want to replay it and i didn't want to... you know, i lived it. i didn't want to relive it. >> christine famiglietti: i didn't think it was a such a great idea, because i think a lot of us buried that day. >> pelley: christine famiglietti was a new york city cop, now retired. >> famiglietti: to really bring it up and hash it up and discuss in depth was a little... i was a little fearful of that. in the long run, i was glad i did it. >> bacon: that's how i've gotten through my ptsd is by talking about it. and sometimes it's difficult, sometimes it's not, but it's helped me a great deal talking about it; you know, helps me sleep at night. >> pelley: i think a lot of folks at home would like to know, after ten years, would you consider... in terms of their mental health, would you consider a lot of these patients to be better? >> luft: i do believe that they are better from the point of
view of moving on with their lives and be... having become much more adaptable. but i don't think they ever let it... leave it behind. it's a constant part of their life. i think that that's true for any great event that occurs, but especially true for this event, which was etched into their consciousness. >> pelley: dr. luft's interviews are now a documentary, and also a book called "we're not leaving," the memorable quote from officer carol paukner to that fbi agent who had urged her to run. the profits will go to scholarships and job training for the responders and their families. john feal was a demolition expert who helped move the wreckage. >> john feal: these men and women to the left and right of me and behind me, they're the best of the best of what america offered ten years ago. we can't change history, and through their eyes, they're telling america what they seen, what they did, and what they're going through ten years later. and... and that is priceless.
>> pelley: now, the library of congress is looking into adding the interviews to its permanent collection, to be kept for all time so that generations can hear the unedited, unvarnished reality as experienced by the people who were there. >> fischer: one thing i want to say, the real heroes out of this stuff are dead. >> paukner: thank you. absolutely. >> familglietti: absolutely. >> fischer: they're not here. nobody here is... is a hero. we just did what everybody else did. the... the true heroes are people who went into those buildings and they never made it out. >> go to 60minutesovertime.com to watch dr. luft's extraordinary interviews with these responders.
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>> pelley: i'm scott pelley. we'll be back next week with another edition of "60 minutes." just ahead on cbs, robert de niro hosts "9/11: ten years later," an update of the award- winning film which, with the only cameras inside the world trade center during the attacks, remains one of the most important historic records of the tragedy and the heroism of that day. [ grunts ] we are! got it. [ male announcer ] don't be the last to know. get it faster with 4g. it's the network of possibilities.
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