tv 911 As It Happened MSNBC September 11, 2014 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
that was the seminal moment for me. we have a breaking news story to tell you about. apparently a plane has just crashed in to the world trade center here in new york city. it happened just a few moments ago, apparently. we have very little information available at this point in time, but on the phone we do have jennifer oversteen who
apparently witnessed this event. jennifer, can you hear me? >> hello? >> hi, jennifer? >> hi, katie. >> hi. can you please tell me what you saw and give me any information about what's going on there? >> yes. i have to -- it's -- it's quite terrifying. i'm in shock right now. i came out of the subway at bowling green, heading to work in battery park, at the ritz-carlton hotel, and i came out and it's -- i saw a -- i heard a boom, looked up, there was a big ball of fire. i'm looking north at the world trade center and it is the last twin tower. if i'm looking north. i'm looking north in battery park right now. you can hear the fire engines and emergency crews behind me, and it is unbelievable. when the fire first burst it was -- hello? >> go ahead. we can hear you. >> i have never seen -- before -- and -- as you know i used to work in news. i've never seen any fire like this in the air. and the pieces of the building were flying down. it looks like it's the -- it's like the top -- i can't even
tell you, maybe 20 floors, and intense smoke. it's horrible. i can't even describe it. >> do you have any idea what kind of plane it was? >> i'm sorry? >> do you have any idea what hit the world trade center? >> what it was? >> yeah. what kind of plane? we're getting reports that an airplane hit the building. >> i -- i didn't even know that. honestly, i was walking up and looked up and saw a big boom and fire. you know, i got to tell you, we were all saying around here it was very interesting it would be a bomb and it would be so high up. so perhaps it was a plane. we have no talk of a plane. vie to tell you, there is something flying in the air. i mean -- it's mind-boggling. it's horrifying. >> jennifer, it's matt lauer, i'd like to ask you, while you were close to the building, or have you, since the explosion, seen anyone who's been injured, being taken out of the building? are there ambulances dealing with people on the sidewalk around the building?
>> no. i have not. i have not gotten that close. i have to tell you, my father works in the world financial center. i first called there to see, because it's next door, to see if he was okay. i couldn't get through, and i'm far away right now. i thought it might be a little dangerous to get too close. i saw lots of debris coming down, and right now i'm in battery park. i don't know, you know -- if it's only -- it probably -- a five-minute walk from here to the world trade center, but the smoke is incredible. i mean, i can't see the top of the tower. it's starting to cover the top of the second tower. >> in fact, we're looking at pictures right now, jennifer, with a huge gaping hole on the side the building and billowing smoke. >> i'm right now -- yeah. i see major fire. i definitely see fire. >> jennifer, you said you're looking north of the building. in other words, you're south of the building, is that right? >> correct. >> because we're looking at a picture that is looking at the north side of the building. >> i'm on the exact opposite side. >> and it appears that is where the largest hole is and, again,
as you mentioned correctly, towards the top of the building but on the north side. then on the, what i think is the west side of the building, we can also see some holes there that could have been from damage once the impact occurred. again, we've been told that this is a plane. we don't have confirmation on that, but there is an enormous hole in the north side of that building. >> jennifer, can you tell us a little more what you heard when you heard this explosion, describe it for us? >> absolutely. when i walked out of the subway, i looked at the twin towers, because, i mean, i just always look up there, and right when i looked up, there was a boom. it wasn't -- it wasn't that loud. like, it wasn't huge. however, it was unbelievable with the amount of fire. it was a big ball of fire. that just went up. and -- i looked around at people. we were all horrified. i'm stuttering, because i'm in such shock. i've never seen anything like it. it's horrible. >> and, of course, this is real
cause for concern, because the world trade center is one of the busiest office buildings here in new york with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of workers who -- >> the governor has his office there. >> city office there. >> several thousand. >> and of course given the time this has happened, it's only probably appropriate to surmise that people might have been in the building. >> and you know, we've seen stories in the past where planes have hit buildings, small planes, and it would be hard to imagine that a small plane could create that kind of hole in a building like the world trade center and create the damage on the other side of the building from the sheer impact. small planes tend to crumple and then fall down the building. again, we haven't talked to anyone close to the base of the building. we don't know what kind of debris or wreckage -- yes, go ahead, jennifer. >> i'm talking with a police officer who said, yes, he heard it was a plane. >> does he have any information what kind of plane it was? can he tell us any more details? >> i'm going to put you on hold one moment. okay?
>> just to the recap, if you're just joining us. you're looking at dramatic pictures of new york's world trade center in lower manhattan where a short time ago we are told that a plane crashed into the upper floors of the western most tower. you can see a gaping hole. that is on the north side of the building and you can see residual damage on the west side of that building and obviously fires burning right now in the world trade center. >> tall building have a real problem here in new york. back in the '40s a plane hit the empire state building. in the '60s, a helicopter crashed on the top of what was the pan am building, now the metlife building. >> right now we're getting information it was a small commuter plane and, of course, we'll let people know as soon as we have more information as to what actually caused this and, of course, on everybody's mind, who might have been hurt. as a result of this terrible, terrible incident. we're going to be talking to more eyewitnesses coming up, in just a few minutes.
we're back at 9:00 eastern time on this tuesday morning. and we're back with dramatic pictures of an accident that has happened just a short time ago. you're looking at the world trade center in lower manhattan where just a few minutes ago we're told that a plane, some reports are that it was a small commuter plane, crashed into the upper floors of one of the twin towers. you can see fire and flames or smoke billowing from that tower. there is a gaping hole on the north side of the building. that's the side you're seeing to the left-hand side of your screen right now. and other damage to the west side of that building which is to the right side of your screen. this, of course, happened just before the morning commute, before people were heading into
their offices and while i'm sure some people were already at work, immediately there's speculation or cause for concern this is the world trade center that was the center of a terrorist bombing some years ago. so the questions have to be asked, was this purely an accident or could this have been an intentional act. either way, extensive damage has been done to this building. >> it also looks like there is smoke coming out of the east side of the building on that shot we saw. looks like white smoke billowing out of the east side of the building. >> obviously horrified commuters were absolutely devastated when they heard this explosion. we talked with somebody a moment ago about that. jennifer oversteen, and, also, another eyewitness, elliott walker, who is actually a producer here on "the today show." can you hear me? >> yes. >> tell me where you are and what you saw. >> well, i live in this area, i returning to my apartment. but i was walking down the sidewalk delivering my young daughter to school, and we heard a very loud sound, the kind of sound you hear when a plane is, you know, going fast past you.
followed by an enormous crash. and an immediate explosion. i don't think we could feel shock waves but we sort of felt like we did. and we were in a position where we could see the trade center almost immediately between the other buildings. and an enormous fireball that must have been 300 feet across was visible immediately. a secondary explosion, i think, and then plumes of smoke. there must have been a three-block cloud of white smoke. now, from where i was on the street a moment ago, you can, in fact, see smoke leaving the building on three sides. it seems to be coming out on at least four or five floors. the air is filled with hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper that are sort of floating like confetti. the area is swarmed with emergency vehicles and sirens. obviously we're very sensitive to this kind of thing in this neighborhood.
>> elliott, of course because of the incident that occurred in the early 1990s, have you seen evidence, elliott, of people being taken out of the building? you say emergency vehicles are there. understandably so. but of course a major concern is human loss. do you know if there were many people in the building? >> oh, another one just hit! something else hit. another large plane hit. there's been another collision. can you see it? >> oh, my. >> something else. it looked like a 747. >> we just saw a plane circling the building, a second ago on the shot right before that. >> i think there may have been another impact. can you tell? i just heard another very loud bang and a very large plane that might have been a dc-9 or 747 flew past my window. i think it may have hit the trade center again. >> to be honest, elliott, i didn't get the impression it was that big a plane. >> it looked big from here. >> i did see a plane go by a second ago. it has now impacted the building.
i'm trying to see if it's a different tower. it is. it's the other tower. >> i think it may have been. i think the first was world trade center one. it looks like on the television it may have been the second. >> this is a piece of tape, and we may actually see another plane enter the picture here in a second. >> i wonder if there are air traffic control problems. >> let's go back to jennifer who we were talking to a second ago. jennifer, did you see this happen? >> hello? >> did you see this happen, jennifer? >> matt, i never have seen -- it looks like a movie. i saw a large plane, like a jet, go immediately headed directly into the world trade center. it just flew into it, into the other tower coming from south to north. i watched the plane fly into the world trade center. it was a jet. it was a very large plane. it was going south. it went past what's being built in battery park, almost hit it and then went in. >> this is so shocking. of course to everybody watching. >> i've never seen anything like it. it literally flew itself into world trade center.
>> obviously now we move from what appears -- there it is right there. >> again, i'm looking from -- from south to north. it appeared to be the one on the right. >> that appeared to be at least a 727. we saw it a second ago. here comes the videotape that we showed you. you will see what appears to be a large plane. it could be a 727, right there, maybe even bigger. flying right into the side of the world trade center. >> it was at least a 727. it was a jet. i couldn't believe my eyes, watching it right above me. >> now you have to move from talk about a possible accident to talk about something deliberate that has happened here. we're going to immediately check with air traffic control in the area to find out if they had contact with either of these planes before the accident. but what we've just seen is about the most shocking videotape i've ever seen. >> the scene here is incredible. people are out of their office
completely impossible to understand why this is happening and to figure out what in the world is going on. ollie everheart -- >> hopefully they were evacuated following the first incident. and we can only hope that it was a very short period of time from when we first learned about this was probably about 8:50 eastern
time, the second incident occurred about 9:05. and so obviously that would be a short amount of time to get people out of the building. ollie everheart is another witness who is on the ground. ollie, can you hear me? >> yes. hello. please tell me what you're seeing. >> i live in lower manhattan. i face the north tower where the first plane crashed into the building. and right now, there's a lot of chaos on the ground, a lot of emergency vehicles. everyone from the world financial center has exited and is walking north up to battery park north. there is just mass and mass of people walking north uptown of manhattan. i happened to look on the first tower and i actually saw people waving where the first plane crashed through and then it was unbelievable seeing the second jet come crashing into the second tower.
what is going on? >> and unfortunately here in new york, many of our stations cannot see this, because the local stations, antennas are on the world trade center. their backup tower on the empire state building but communication, television communication in new york city is probably pretty much knocked off the air. >> i just want to say something here. we're looking at a picture where it appears, because of the angle, i think, that the towers are leaning. i don't think that is actually the case because after the first impact, it looked as if it was :jz7 we're getting a witness saying they are leaning actually right now, which will give you an idea of the type of impact we're talking about. >> and that perhaps they are buckling under the force of the collision or the hole that's resulted from these two planes. >> we're going to george shea right now, who also witnessed both or one of these collisions. george, can you hear us? >> i can hear you. >> what did you see? >> i was in a car driving up, just gotten out of the battery
tunnel driving north on west street when enormous explosion happened. and i think it was larger than a construction explosion. i looked out the window and what appeared to be enormous tire smashed into the ground and i believe it hit the car to the right of me. it was just so scary. and there was also a ton of debris fall. i jumped out of the car and i ran south, away from the building because i thought there would be further explosions. >> and have you seen anyone injured on the ground? >> a man next to me was hit by a piece of debris on his arm, and they said that someone had been badly hurt in a car ahead of me. i'm not certain if it was the car next to me. i can't verify that. all i can say is a lot of debris was falling. it was very confusing because everybody, i think, immediately assumed that a bomb had exploded and that sort of -- you know, had people thinking that further bombs may explode. there was sort of a rush away. >> did you see, george, the
second plane, that jet, fly into the other twin tower? >> i heard two explosions, however. there was a first explosion that was louder, and then a second explosion. and but i did not -- i could not see that. i looked up. when i looked up i saw debris falling and the tire as i said, a very large tire. >> of course this is, as we've said, completely shocking video. shocking turn of events. we've been talking here that the first incident, one might surmise that it was some kind of accident, then to have a second, what appeared to be 727 jet of course, the question of terrorist activity has to surface and the question of whether this was an intentional terrorist act of some kind. >> keep in mind we're in an area where there are three major airports, you have newark airport, kennedy airport, and la guardia airport, all within several miles of the world trade center.
you know, it's very unusual for a plane to get into this area without being completely tracked or identified by air traffic control. so you would have to imagine that, a, if this plane were headed right for the world trade center there must have been someone trying to talk or communicate with that pilot, and for it to fly right into the side of the building -- >> the smaller plane, you can understand almost. but a jumbo jet, a large jet, completely -- >> let's rerack that video if we could in the control room where we actually saw the jet flying into the building. which was unbelievable. >> elliott walker said it was a big plane. i was looking in the distance and saw a small plane which might have been a helicopter -- to see this plane come into the picture. >> there it is. >> that is a big plane. and i mean, it's hard to imagine, it's a 737 we're now being told. flying directly into the midsection of the -- the eastern tower of the world trade center.
>> needless to say, it's pandemonium, i am sure, down there, and we gathered that from the eyewitnesses with whom we spoke and how terrifying this was for them to see. you can only imagine as you get closer to the twin towers, that a new york landmark, how -- what the scene must be like there. >> you talked about the building looking like they've buckled. they're designed to have a two-degree sway in either direction because of the height of the building, being able to deal with the wind and stress, but something like that, probably, more than it was designed. we want to go out to jane derenowski who is a television producer here in new york. jane, can you hear me? >> yes, i can hear you. i'm down here near the world trade center. i was walking down sixth avenue this morning at 8:42 a.m. a group of us saw a plane veer through the building then saw a huge cloud of smoke and then fire came out of one of the towers here.
it's near the upper floor, as you can probably see with your chopper shots, and then about ten minutes ago, a second explosion in the second tower. lower down. that was not affected by the plane. so i'm not quite sure what happened there. right now there's a huge gaping hole in one of the towers, and the other building is on fire. the scene down here is incredible. people are out of their office buildings, watching, crying, taking pictures. i've never seen anything like it down here. >> we want to mention when the impact hit the first tower, you would hope that people who were in the second tower were beginning to evacuate. especially if air traffic control had some indication this was deliberate, you'd hope that they were starting to get people out of the other tower before the second plane hit that tower. >> if you tried to go up, we've been upstairs in the world -- in the towers, in the restaurant there, to try to get down. >> the elevators would have been jammed. no question. if there was an indication this was deliberate in the first case, you would hope that they
now back to "9/11 as it happened." >> reporter: we've got another eyewitness we'd like to speak with. dan deedrick. tell me where you are and what you're seeing or what you saw. >> okay. what i saw was one plane coming in low from the north. down over seventh avenue. it crashed into the top or the middle of one of the towers. ten minutes later i saw another plane crash into the other side of the tower at a lower level. it looked to be a small, you know, commercial plane, the first plane that i saw. it crashed into the top of the tower. and there was a huge fireball and there was a gaping hole in the side of the tower. as we were waiting outside and looking at it, another plane came in low, i believe from the other side, and hit the sort of the middle of the other tower.hnk
i saw both planes, two separate planes crash into each tower. >> dan, again, the size of the planes, tell me about that. >> i would say that the plane was a midsize, looked to be a commercial airline. i don't know. i thought perhaps, you know, a commercial airline. a midsize, you know, not a jumbo jet. >> this, of course, is unconfirmed, but we are getting information from an employee of united airlines, and again we want to emphasize this is unconfirmed, but there is speculation that an american airlines plane was hijacked and crashed purposely, on purpose, into the world trade center, and that the second plane was another plane perhaps hijacked, then flown into the second tower. we want to remind people the world trade center bombing that took place on february 26th back in 1993, the product of a terrorist attack, the result of
a terrorist attack that killed six people and injured more than 1,000. of course, that happened on a friday afternoon. i think, matt, you and al were working that day. >> we were. >> i know i was at nome virginia watching it, in disbelief.qi)wh now it feels a bit like deja vu. of course, this is so much more bizarre. >> no question. keep in mind that killed six people, injured 1,000 and the explosion happened in a garage in the basement. this was a direct hit on the mid-section or upper section of the tower. so the potential for injuries and death are much larger. of course, also people on the planes. >> exactly. if they were hijacked and they were en route to a different destination, of course, the story continues to unfold. bob kerr joins us. bob, where are you and what can you tell us? >> katie, good morning. i'm on the north lawn at the white house, and the first thing we look for here in light of what's happened is whether there is any unusual activity out here, whether there's an unusual police or secret service
presence, people on the roof, that sort of thing. we don't see that as we speak. i did try to call the national security office here. as you know, the president is out of up to, he's in florida. we're told he has been informed of this. i can tell you that the white house national security staff that remains here is in a senior level meeting, and we're hoping to hear from them as soon as possible. but katie, the reaction here to the pictures you're seeing and to the initial pictures when they came up, even in what's called the lower press office here at the white house, was one of shock. i mean, people are standing around television monitors looking at this. when i say people, i don't mean just the reporters. i mean the people who are actually in the office who work here at the white house. >> so very little information is coming out of the white house at this juncture. but needless to say, if the speculation is true about some kind of terrorist event, this will be a major, major crisis
for the bush administration. jim miklaszewski is at the pentagon. mik, are you hearing more information from there? >> reporter: according to u.s. intelligence officials, katie, there appeared, at least to their knowledge, to be no specific threat involving hijacking airliners or any attacks on buildings in the new york area. u.s. intelligence officials report this morning that there are -- they constantly are & hearing about threats, possible terrorist threats, against american targets worldwide. but as far as they know this morning they had no early indications that anything of this nature could have occurred. pentagon officials are already calling this a terrorist attack. they say that they -- they have not yet ordered the scrambling of any military jets. if national guard were to be
scrambled in that area, that would be at the order of the governor. of course the president does have the authority to scramble american military forces in defense. but there's a problem here. what now do you defend against exactly? if you put warplanes in the air, there's always a danger that they could misidentify a pilot'sj intentions, although i believe, according to officials here, in the area are now off limits and restricted. but so far the u.s. military and pentagon officials are scrambling to get as much information as they possibly can, to determine what course of action, if any, the u.s. military would take. >> but, mik, they are describing this as a terrorist attack right now. >> reporter: there are some officials here in the pentagon who are calling this an obvious
terrorist attack based on very preliminary information. the information that intelligence officials are getting in terms of a possible hijacked plane, and of course the very horrifying video of the plane veering into the tower itself is a clear indication to everyone here that this is not an accident. primary concern right now is protecting the american public in the new york area right now against any possible further attacks by the air. they have no indications there will be, but there is some concern that since this appeared to be such a highly coordinated attack, that there may be other terrorist attacks that could be planned either in new york or elsewhere. this is absolutely the worst case scenario for the counterterrorist planners, because apparently according to intelligence officials, there were no firm indications prior to this that anything like this could have happened, but in
terms of scrambling the u.s. military, it would be for protection for the time being, and not necessarily even thinking right now about any kind of retaliation. >> david gregory is now on the phone. >> he's following the president. >> that's right. david? >> katie, the president is about to begin an education event which is obviously being cancelled. the event will go forward insofar as the president will come out and make a statement about this. he was made aware en route from his hotel to this school here in sarasota where he was going to talk about education. he'll make a statement. then we're told by white house officials he will quickly depart for washington. >> we should mention the new york area airports have all been closed. the lincoln tunnel has been closed here in new york. while getting ready to listen to the president, back to jim miklaszewski at the pentagon. can you shed any light for us on
what kind of things are in place in the event of an attack of this nature? >> reporter: well, katie, it's very difficult for the u.s. military to respond to this kind of thing, you know, right now, because it's unclear exactly who's behind it, and if there are any other potential attacks or incidents like this, because this has obviously not been officially declared a terrorist attack, but all the experts who are looking at these pictures say there's no doubt about it, this was a coordinated terrorist attack. but who and why is very much unclear right now. and the problem with trying to put planes in the air to try to prevent any further attacks is -- these are, after all, open air spaces, for the most part. and it's difficult for the u.s. military to simply scramble jets
and put them in the air. according to officials here, then do what? this area, of course, according to officials here, is obviously going to be declared off limits in terms of any air traffic. but right now officials here at the pentagon are simply scrambling to find out first, what happened, and what potential reaction the u.s. military could provide in terms of protection. possible further protection against any further potential attack. >> and, mik, it's important to note that, if the planes were hijacked, carrying passengers, there isn't much that military officials could have done. you can't shoot down a plane like that for risk of the people on board, plus for the injuries you could cause on the ground in a place like manhattan. >> reporter: that's exactly right. and the president, as we said earlier, does in fact have the authority to scramble the military to put them up in some
kind of force protection mode. the governor has the air national guard at his disposal. he can do that. but again, officials are pretty much wondering exactly what to do in terms of protection, and how. again, to the counterterrorism officials, this is absolutely the worst case scenario, because right now there seems to be not much, not much they can do in terms of the aftermath. >> we're scrambling for information. i want to read this reuters wire. two planes crashed into the towers of the world trade center on tuesday morning causing huge explosions and killing at least six people. cnbc said there were at least 1,000 injured. both towers of the lower manhattan landmark where thousands of people work were the scenes of a bombing in 1993. the fbi told the associated press that it was, quote, foul play and not an accident. a person who answered the phone that was reported by abc, a person who answered the phone on
the trading floor at inner dealer broker located near the top of the world trade center cantor fitzgerald, said, we're -- blanking -- dying when asked what was happening and hung up. there was screaming and yelling in the background and a follow-up call was not answered. nick fulton, an eyewitness, said before the first explosion he saw a plane fly over his apartment in the is soho district of lower manhattan. jamie gangel is on the phone our national correspondent, with more information. jamie, what can you tell us? >> reporter: katie, i've just spoken to top u.s. officials with the access to latest intelligence, and they said, quote, that this was clearly terrorist-related, no question about it. they said that they couldn't give any further details now, not because they didn't want to share it but because they just don't know yet. they're at the earliest stages. >> do they know, jamie, for example, if a plane was, in fact, hijacked? >> reporter: they would not
answer that, and i think that it's -- i think that, they are just getting the earliest details. and they're afraid of putting out misinformation. but they said, you know, that it was clearly terrorist related. >> today we've had a national tragedy. two airplanes have crashed into the world trade center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.
center in the new york city, where two planes have crashed into the towers. one shortly before 9:00 eastern time, one shortly after 9:00 eastern time. and as you can see, the tower on the left was hit just above the midsection point. they are both 110 floors high. 1,300 feet above the ground. the tower on the right was hit more probably two-thirds to three-quarters of the way up the tower. you can see fire, fires burning in both towers. we actually saw a videotape -- we watched the second tape or the second plane hit the building. you'll watch it enter from the right portion of the screen. and then make contact with the left-hand tower in what is shocking video. and here it comes right there. you can see the impact on one side of the building, and the residual damage coming out of another side of the building. and one can only imagine that that one occurred shortly after 9:00 in the morning, how many
people were in the building at the time of the impact. and it's a large plane, we're told it was either a 737 -- some reports said that the first was a 757. >> some kind of airbus, that's what the united worker told us. that apparently that it was an american airlines plane that had been hijacked from boston to los angeles. b][%[t_q ust getting initial reports of that. again, we must tell you that we're trying to get as much information, but it is trickling in at a very slow pace. so, all of this is unconfirmed. and, of course, speculation of a terrorist attack is unconfirmed, although that is what some pentagon officials are saying. let's go to president bush right now. >> unfortunately, we'll be going back to washington after my remarks. secretary rod pace and the lieutenant governor will take the podium and discuss education. i do want to thank the folks here at the booker elementary school for their hospitality. today we've had an national
tragedy. two airplanes have crashed into the world trade center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country. i have spoken to the vice president, to the governor of new york, to the director of the fbi, and have ordered that the full resources of the federal government go to help the victims and their families, and to conduct a full-scale investigation, to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act. terrorism against our nation will not stand. and now if you join me in a moment of silence. may god bless the victims, their families and america. thank you very much. >> we're going to go to andrea
mitchell now who has more information on this tragedy. andrea? >> reporter: matt and katie, i've spoken to a top u.s. official who says early reports to our intelligence community and to other officials within the administration are that this was a hijacked american airlines plane en route from boston to los angeles. one of the two planes, they say, was apparently a hijacked american airlines plane. they cautioned that early reports still need further confirmation, but this is at least what the u.s. government is being told by american airlines officials, apparently. they are assuming and informed the president that this is a terrorist attack. >> and, andrea, no information as to in what term of the flight this flight was taken over, how vp much warning that air traffic controllers may have had that someone hostile was at the controls of this plane? >> reporter: exactly right. they had no other information, just that one of two plane was hijacked from boston en route to los angeles, presumably after it
had already been in the air and en route because i was told en route to los angeles. so probably hijacked after it had taken off. as you know, those are very short flights. those are usually 737s or 757s on that route, but this clearly, according to the u.s. government, a terror attack, as you heard the president say. now, one of the things, matt and katie, understand there was no specific threat that the u.s. government is aware of. no specific terror alert, other than the worldwide caution that had been re-issued in recent days because of the strife in the middle east, because of concerns over terrorists. of course, the best known is osama bin laden but no alert coming from his organization, and as far as they know, as of this morning, as of this minute, he is in afghanistan. >> we should mention, andrea, it appears that this was a well-coordinated bombing or terrorist act, because of the fact that two planes were used, both substantial in size, and the fact that they both hit the
world trade center within 18 minutes of one another, obviously a lot of planning went into this attack. let's go nbc's jim miklaszewski at the pentagon. mik, what can you tell us? >> reporter: to add to what andrea mitchell just said, senior military officials here at the pentagon are saying they are getting information that the american airlines flight 11, after it left boston apparently, was hijacked, and was diverted, apparently, the early information was, was being diverted to jfk for some reason. and then, obviously, nobody knows exactly who was at the controls of the plane. but it broke off its route to los angeles and was headed toward jfk. that was the initial information that officials had received. when obviously it did not go to jfk but veered off and headed toward the world trade center. again, no indication as to who !=[
may be responsible or who was at the controls of that plane when it rammed into the world trade center. >> katie, i don't want to alarm anybody right now, but apparently it -- it felt, just a few moments ago, like there was an explosion of some kind here at the pentagon. shopping online is as easy as it gets. wouldn't it be great if hiring plumbers, carpenters and even piano tuners were just as simple? thanks to angie's list now it is. we've made hiring anyone from a handyman to a dog walker as simple as a few clicks. buy their services directly at angieslist.com no more calling around. no more hassles. start shopping from a list of top-rated providers today. angie's list is revolutionizing local service again. visit angieslist.com today.
right now we want to talk with larry johnson, a terrorism expert and the former deputy director of the state department office on counterterrorism. mr. johnson, can you please put this in to some kind of perspective for us and give us your insight on what might have happened here? >> first we need to be cautious before jumping to conclusions that it's necessarily terrorism. i mean i would be inclined, based on preliminary reports that that's the case, but there's always the possibility you may find out after the fact this was a suicide pact that for some reason had nothing to do with politics. that said, this is a first. this is a very rare event. it's unlikely to be repeated but, president bush put his finger on it, we have to fine who did this, in any any country, any nation in the world that is in any way involved or responsible, if it turns out to be terrorism, will require a
response from the united states. the united states has got to be willing to pay that price. >> mr. johnson obviously we were completely stunned when about 25 minutes after the first explosion, after the first plane crashed into one of the twin towers, another very large plane did the same thing. we've been talking with our correspondents all morning about, if another incident could happen on the heels of these two, what kind of measures are in place to prepare for something else that could conceivably happen? >> one of the steps already being taken -- i was at national airport getting ready to fly to la guardia when this occurred. they have shut down traffic going in and out of the city. you're talking about a disruption economically for the nation with the air traffic not going in. and people are going to err on the side of caution. >> people have been saying,
particularly jim miklaszewski and andrea mitchell, no warning attached to this event. generally speaking, do we get some kind of, or do u.s. officials, government agencies, get some kind of warning from a particular group, or is this pretty -- i mean, fairly typical in terms of an event happening without any foreshadowing? >> no, katie, this unfortunately is typical. it's only in the movies you get the advanced warning. if you look at every major terrorist incident against the united states, whether you're talking pan am 103, the world trade center, the "u.s.s. cole" bombing, the bombing in saudi arabia, rarely do you get notice. >> sorry to interrupt you. we have new information from the pentagon. >> reporter: katie, i don't want to alarm anybody right now, apparently it felt just a few moments ago like there was an explosion of some kind here at the pentagon. we're on the e-ring of the
pentagon, we have a window that faces out toward the potomac, toward the kennedy center. we haven't been able to see or hear anything after the initial blast. i just stepped out in the hallway. security guards were herding people out of the building and i saw just a moment ago as i looked outside, a number of construction workers who have been working here have taken flight. they are running as far away from the building as they can right now. i hear no sirens going off in the building, i see no smoke. but the building shook for just a couple of seconds, the windows rattled - security personnel are doing what they can momentarily to clear this part of the building. i have no idea whether it was part of the construction work, whether it was an accident or what is going on. we're going to try to find out those details and get them to you as soon as possible. but interestingly enough, one intelligence official here in
the building said, when he saw what appeared to be the coordinated attack on the world trade center, his advice was to stay away from the outside of the building today just in case. again, nobody has any indications of exactly what happened. but it appears that there has been some kind of -- it felt like a small blast of some kind. again, the windows shook. the building shook, the windows rattled. and people if i'm looking out the window now, and the construction workers are still keeping a good -- i'm sorry? the construction workers are still keeping a distance. that's all i can see and i see no other extracurricular security activity right outside. but to get more information, i'm going to have to break away and walk down the hallway and see what it is exactly that happened here just a few moments ago. >> mik, see what you can find out. please be careful and let us
know what's going on there. meanwhile, we're going to go back to david gregory who is in florida where president bush was earlier this morning. he was going to a school to talk with kids. david, what can you tell us? >> reporter: a little bit more about how this unfolded and what the president's going to do next. the president declared that this is an apparent terrorist attack and he offered a prayer for the families promised to hunt down in his words, people responsible for this. he will now travel back to washington, and aides are telling us now he will immediately convene a national security meeting to see what steps are taken next. >> david, i'm sore troy interrupt you. but we're looking at live pictures of the pentagon where there is billowing smoke. jim miklaszewski reported that he heard an explosion. and now we are looking at an aerial picture of the pentagon mik, can you talk to us? >> reporter: officially, nobody noses exactly what happened. i think the picture is pretty clear.
according to one u.s. army officer who went running past me at a full trot, he says that it appears that a bomb was detonated at the heliport. the heliport is a helicopter landing area next to the pentagon adjacent to the e-ring. the offices nearest the heliport area are u.s. army reserve officers and army receiver offices are located there. but as you can see, it appears to be a pretty significant blast. to give you some perspective, we are almost on the opposite side of the building, the world's largest office building, and as i have reported to you, we could feel the building shake and the windows rattle. as i was in the hallway just a