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tv   Garrett Graff The Only Plane in the Sky  CSPAN  November 9, 2019 1:10pm-2:27pm EST

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induction extraordinary national assets in them. i say they're trying to build a capability is space which have implications globally. afterwards airs saturday at 10:00 p.m. and sundays at 9:00 p.m. eastern and specific enough to be on c-span two. all previous afterwards are as hot as and watch online booktv .org. but to be .org. >> so before i introduce our lecture tonight, monday of you are aware of my review is to to government positions at the beginning betting on and it uses u.s. central command and you know that i've taken a great interest type programs here at the museum and at the library and however tonight, so little different. i normally ask veterans to please stay on up and take about. but tonight, you make a little
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change. unlike anybody it was a first responder somebody was a police officer, a fireman, and emt, paramedic, please stay on up. thank you very much for what you do in keeping a safe every single day and thank you for the mission you do every single day for us. now in tonight his program is absolute pleasure to have garrett back with us here in the last time he was here, you spoke about the government his doomsday plan from his last book, even rock. the story of the u.s. government secret plan to save itself where the rest of us die. [laughter] and tonight we are welcoming back to the museum to discuss another various sovereign topic. the terror attacks of 911.
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he's collected in 363 account told through the voices of the people who are experienced in his new book, the only plane in the sky. scruff is in a distinguished magazine journalist best-selling historian and a regular tv commentator has brought more than a dozen years covering politics and technology and national security. it is also the author of a number of books including the first campaign globalization and the web in the race for the white house which examine the role of technology in the presidential race. edit the threat matrix. inside robert mueller's fbi, which traces the history of fbi counterterrorism efforts. another recent book as i already mentioned, co-authored with john holland, examines the rise of cyber threats across america. today, he serves as the director of the aspen institute of cybersecurity and technology program. and is contributed to wired, long reads and cnn. it is written for publications
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from esquire to the new york times and is served as the editor of the tool of washington's most percent is magazines and the washingtonian, and political magazines which he helped lead through its first national magazine award in the industry his highest honor. on this book, author and historian michael, has said, eric graff has deftly use world history to take us into one of the most horrific and consequential moments in american history. in a book that we particularly are important for the street are young to remember 911. it is true challenges the historians to record record history so the next next generation can understand these momentous events. i will also add that the only plane in the sky, is currently setting on the number four on the new york times were combined print and the number, on the hardcover fiction list.
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and it is an absolute great pleasure to once again, welcome mr. gary graff, back to the ford museum. [applause] >> evening everyone. thanks for coming out and it's a pleasure to be back here in grand rapids. for those of you came to my talk pleasure a nuclear war, thanks for coming out for another uplifting night of this discussion of american history. so this book is joe laid out his oral history of 911. it is 911 told through the voices of those who lived it. 480 americans morning tonight his coast-to-coast. in a give a little bit grounding in the work before i start
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talking about it i wanted to start by reading one of the short chapters of the book. it is 64 sort of finely place chapters in chronological across the country and this is the chapter that takes place in side air traffic control and u.s. military from about 825 tuesday morning september the 11th until about 850 that morning. peter, air traffic controller, national new hampshire. when american airlines flight 11 team, the pilot said boston center, this is american 11. climbing to flight loophole two and three and zero. i called him monday monday times. american 11 how do you hear american 11 this is boston center do you hear me. i am calling and calling and i'm
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like, my we've god they must be up there drinking dunkin' donuts coffee. honestly that was what i was thinking. and then there's these transmissions. the first transmission from the aircraft is garbled. i don't understand it and then there was a second one, a voice. i remember him staying, nobody move please. going back to the airport. i will never forget that feeling of the back of my neck, it was like the adrenaline are something. i felt fear and i'm like oh my we've god, the plane is hijacked. airs fair air faa, boston center. i came in about 825 in the morning, and as soon as i walked in the front door, someone came to me and said there was a hijacked going on. we worked hijacked in the past, and they were usually uneventful. peter zaleski, i yield the supervisor, john get over here. the plane is been hijacked. absolutely.
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i go, his middle eastern voices. positive. i could tell that second time. i was used to working each of there, and saudi and turkish, all of it. and definitely middle eastern voices. school bins, the pilot on american 11, mohammed ought to come the lead terrorist, stated something about warplanes. that they had more flames. it was definitely plural. that's when things really started to ramp up. then, faa a command center in virginia. i was a national operations manager on 911. that is position located in the washington area that is over our parking authority over the nations. that was my charge in the safe and efficient operation of the nations there see. carl bob barr, commander of northeast air defense. road new york, there is a huddle of people around one of the radar scopes. i saw that huddle and thought
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there's gotta be something wrong. major general larry arnold, first air force, kendall air force base georgia. with a major north american air defense exercise that morning. the command post exercise. there is a team of people who introduce scenarios that you had to react to and respond to. as we were winding up the exercise, my executive officer handed me a slip of paper. it said, bob and, there's a hijacking in the boston center. then climbing. my experience with hijacking and protocol was that we cooperate. lieutenant don, commander northeast air vents. at mindset was the 1970s vintage hijacked. we didn't have a huge concern is aircraft was going to crash. major general art larry arnold, is about, ahead and scramble the fighters. major jim mcgreevy, at the scene pilot air force base, cape cod
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in massachusetts. the scribble order was issued. on the just, i started up and i realized we didn't have any weapons. they killed our jets with and even though we are wind means we didn't have any weapons, we took off. lieutenant colonel tim duffy, f-15 pilot of the air force base. when we took off, i lift it in full afterburner, the whole time. we were supersonic going down to long island and my wingmen, as major then nash, he called and said hate duck duck you are super, i said yeah, i know don't worry about it. i just wanted to get there. and more won it would take them 16 minutes to get to new york. as 10 miles a minute lieutenant colonel mission commander northeast air defense. almost simultaneously we brought it for surveillance technicians to the scopes. staff sergeant larry thorton northeast air defense.
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there it was so congested the hijacked play was incredibly difficult to find. we were looking for little - marks. in a pile of clutter on a two-dimensional scope. master sergeant joe mccain, northeast air defense. we picked up a search track going on the hudson valley straightened from the north towards new york. the plane was fast and hit it in the usual direction with no transponder. we watch that track until it faded over new york city. lieutenant general, tech, commander of air force base, louisiana. we are in the midst of the state annual exercise called global or guardian they loaded all bombers with suffering and with the icbm took another hundred percent. it was routine we did in every year. the captain came in and said sir we have an aircraft that is hit the world trade center. you have to start by staying, i
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have an exercise in court that way doesn't get confused with the real world. they pointed me to the tv screens in the command center. you see smoke pouring out of the building like everyone else in aviation that day, i said hell in a clear and a million days, critically hit the world center. this bug grew out of an article that i wrote for political magazine in 2015 for the 15th anniversary of 911. it was oral history of being aboard air force one and the president bush. and when out and i interviewed 28 of the people who were with present that day from the air force one to the fighter pilots in the colonies then to the white house chief of staff and karl rove are brother senior aide aboard the plane. the security and stenographer aboard the plane.
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he published, as he said in 2016, and i was astounded by the readers feedback. the day that it published, dozens and then ultimately scores and finally hundreds of letters from readers of people cheering their own stories of 911 in their own reactions. in two of those reactions stood out to me. two of them i sort of just couldn't get over mine the first was from a mother, a veteran who had two children seven and nine, she said that she had printed out the article and set it hillside. so that one day when her children were old enough to read it, she could sit them down and explain to them, one moment had lift them to go off to work. in the second was another letter from another veteran a younger guy, an army veteran. as in middle school on 911
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eighth and three tours, two in afghanistan, one in iraq. and he said, that he had never really understood the nations trauma on 911. until he is seen that article and seeing the days through president bush's eyes. and i just get past this idea that we were passing a world shaped by 911 on now to a generation who has no emotional connection or memories of it. and it is always hard to know when a particle if it shifts from memory to history but i say you could make an argument that it is probably for 911 this year. this is the first year of college students arriving on campuses across the country. born after 911.
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but this year for the first time, american servicemen and women, being deployed to fight in the war older than they are. and this year in march, marks the beginning of the time when the first recruits, new york city fire department, born after the attacks, could apply to join the fire service. and so michael with turning that article into this book which shares the same title, the only plane in the sky. referring to the end of 911. when president bush lift of the air of course of course based off of omaha nebraska and flew back to washington at about 415 that afternoon. after all of the commercial flames in the country have been grounded. and during that final leg of the flight, he was effectively the only plane looked at the sky and the north america.
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the goal was not to capture the history of 911 but the goal was to capture what america experienced on 911. it is we do begin to go back to that day. and you look at the memories that america has of that day, for those of us who are old enough to remember in experiencing it. historic 911 is actually pretty different than the story that we tell in our history books. there we go back and wait till about 911 you try to be explained elevenths someone, we tell this very neat and clean history of that dave. the attack started at 846 with the crash of american 11, into the north tower. and it ended at 1029 with the collapse of the second tower.
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102 minutes later. but if you remember 911, that is not the day the you remember. and that's not the story that any of us lived that day. we did not know when the attacks began. we didn't know when the attacks were over. and we didn't know what came next. fear of the trauma and the chaos in the confusion of that day, is the true story of 911. because when we tried to hand the set of memories off to a new generation, to the quarter of the american population, that no longer has any memory of 911, a quarter of the country now does not have a memory of 911. the facts of the day don't account for what country did after 911.
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and that we do look at the world that we created, if you look at the way the 911 shaped our geopolitics internationally and or domestic politics here at home you can't explain the world that we are handing off to future generations simply by explaining the facts of 911 because the decisions that our country make the decisions that are leaders made, work driven by the history of 911, they were driven by the emotion of 911. there were driven by those that fear that trauma by that chaos, and that confusion. and so this book is, an attempt to capture that sweep of the d day. not as we understood 911 later, but as we understood 911 while
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it unfolded. and so to compile the book, is the mix of original interviews that i did and then, archive oral histories done by institutions like the 911 museum. that's in new york, the 911 new york center. depending on historian that the capitol hill historian in the arlington kennel hut libraries in the national memorial park service. the compiled in janesville. and found with the researcher whose work with me on this book, we found about 5000 of those original oral histories archived around the country. ultimately it boiled down to about 2000 that i it's been a year working with two end up telling the story to tell within this book. and there certain themes and
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some big observations that sort of grow out of looking at 911 on a national loophole like that. but i want to spend some time talking about tonight. in the first is just how different our country was on the morning of september 11th that we sorted now see flippantly and in passing, 911 changed everything. but we forget just how much actually 911 changed. in a capture that, actually have to look at what to me is the most fascinating moment of 911 rid which is the 17 minutes between the first crash and the second crash. 846 in the morning, 29 oh three. what enfolds during the 17 minutes, is that the country at large, in new york specifically, watches that first crash and
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shrugs and you bubbly if you watch tv that morning, you probably remember going through this precise thought process. the tv was life and gate 49, the morning. three minutes after the first crash. and for 14 minutes, america watched the first crash. now that everyone in the room watched in same thing that i did. which is, some combo of must be a small plane, must be a weird aviation accident pilot had a heart attack, air traffic control having that day. flames having some sort of mechanical problems. and that was the reaction to the whole country. from the whole country. . . .
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>> the continue on into lower manhattan, the dock and every single commuter on the boat gets off and walks into work in lower manhattan. the walk off the boat, through papers and envelopes fluttering down from the impact. there's not a single person on the ferry who says, it's just kind of seems like it's going to be a weird day. i'm going to work from home for the rest of the day. he brian gunderson, the chief of staff to day care army that -- dick army that morning were appear office has a tv in the reception area. walks past it on the way into
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the morning staff meeting at 9:00. the looks at it and he says, i thought it was like -- going to be like a bad school shooting. the type of thing that dominates than news but doesn't fundamentally affect anyone's day. president bush and condi rice, the national security adviser that morning, condi rice calls the president. they talk about the crash. talk about how strange the crash is. condi rice goes on into their 9:00 meeting and president bush walks into the classroom at the elementary school in florida to read to the school children. robert mueller, the fbi director, was in his second week on the job. he was the way that the fbi was bringing him up to speed. started tuesday, september 4,
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2001, and every morning at 8:00 a.m., he was being briefed on the biggest cases the fbi was working. 8:00 a.m., tuesday, september 11th, he sits down for his first briefing on the investigation of al qaeda and the bombing of the uss cole. 49 minutes later, someone enters and tells him a plane crashed into the world trade center. bob mueller, director of the fbi, sitting in a briefing on al qaeda, has the same reacts as lieutenant general tom czech, as i read you. looks out the window of the director roz conference room on the 7th floor of the hoover building at the blue sky that covered the east coast and said how on earth dade plan hit the world trade center today? which then they good back to their meeting. of course at 9:03, we realize something very different is unfolding. we realize that we are under
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attack. and the day begins to unfold dramatically differently. in one thing that sort of comes through from there is just how much the nation improvised its response to 9/11. just how much the country was unprepared for that day, and we saw sort of people at all levels making incredible decisions under incredibly difficult circumstances. and so i sent out a lot of time in the book following some of the stories you probably don't remember or may have never known in the first place from that day. because one of the things that turns out that happened on 9/11 is that there were all these things that had they happened on any other day of the year, would have been among the most dramatic things individually that had ever happened in modern
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american history but on 9/11, we're not even among the ten or 12 most interesting things that happened that day. accomplish there are two of them that i spend a good chunk of time in the book talking about. the first being the maritime evacuation of lower manhattan. which was the -- as it turns out the largest maritime evacuation in world history, larger than the evacuation of the british from dunkirk. it and was put together that morning by this incredible makeshift armada of pleasure yachts, some of them literally stolen from the marinas of lower manhattan. ferry boats, tug boats, fishing vessels, and all sorts of civilian watercraft, piloted by civilians, pulling up and doing everything they could to get people off of lower manhattan.
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500,000 people evacuated from lower manhattan by boat that morning. led by organized by a single young lieutenant in the us coast guard named michael day, who ends up with the pilots from the sandy hook benevolent's pilots association coordinating a rescue effort on lower manhattan, and simply puts out a radio call saying, all available boats, anyone who can come, come to lower manhattan. and they fill that day with just this incredible armada, and lieutenant day says in his oral history, i broke more laws that day than i have enforced in totality of the rest of a
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30-year coast guard career. the second sort of incredible hurricane leann effort that day was led by a man in the excerpt that i read to you, ben, the effort by the faa and air traffic control to put 4500 planes on the ground that were in the air at 9:42 that morning, after the crash at the pentagon. ben, the imagine operations manager for the faa, was in his first day on the job, as the national operations manager at the faa. and in his first 90 minutes gives two orders that no american has ever given before or since. shortly after the second crash at 9:03 he institutes a nationwide ground stop. the no plane that is not in the air will be allowed to take off across the country. and then at 9:42, the order to
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land all planes at the closest available airport, regardless of destination, and regardless of whether the airport is in any way prepared for all of the airplanes about to land at it. and it becomes this incredible story of an industry sort of behind the scenes operating without any protocols without any protest ours, that responses instain obviously to an unfolding national tragedy that unfolds as they believe that there are still hijacked planes in the air. . one of the things we forget when we talk about the sort of neat and clean version of the 9/11 history, is how much confusion and how long the confusion ripped over the course of that morning. that as late as early afternoon,
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the u.s. government believed that there might still be as many as a dozen further hijacked planes in the air. but as minute as we now talk about these as the attacks on new york and the pentagon and shankesville, the fear that day was coast to coast. the prudential center in boston was a vac wait. the sears tower in chicago was evacuated. the skyscrapers of los angeles were evacuated. in florida, disney closed. the first time in and only time that disney hayes ever closed because of a hostile act. they evacuated the park, assuming that it was a target, assuming all of these sky rises across the country were further targets. at the white house during that hour, they assumed that there
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are more hijacked planes coming toward washington. they know at least one, united airlines flight 93, and you see the success secret service agents to evacuate, take off you shoes and run. the capitol similarly they evacuate and tell people to run. and the -- at the white house, they rush vice president cheney into the bunker under the north lawn and secret service man their posts, assuming they're about to die as one of the inpound planes hits the white house. the supervisor in the joint operation center at the white house stands up and shouts, after impact, anyone who survives go to the alternate command center and we'll pick up there.
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at air caravel control in virginia, during this time, ben says, land every plane now. they put 750 planes hone ground in the first ten minutes. incredible nationwide effort, and we're only familiar with, like, one really tiny bit of this story, which is the 38 planes that end up in gander, new found land. the transatlantic flights diverted to canadian destinations, 7,000 people dropped into gander, into a town of 9,000. that are then housed there with zero minutes notice, for four days, until the planes begin to return to the united states on friday night and saturday. and this is sort of the types of things, the stories you find
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sort of buried amid the parts of 9/11 that we actually are quite familiar with, the twin towers, the pentagon, and shankesville. and the extent to which america improvises a response with no plan and no procedures, and that sort of part of what makes that so interesting to me is that over the course of the day, when you look at 9/11 at the national level, the day that a school child had that day was just as confusing and confounding as the day that ben shiny had at the faa and just as confusing and confounding as president bush had, and that sort of this -- there was this national shared experience and emotion of that day that is really sort of
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fascinating to go back. when you begin to look at it at the national level you have a better understanding why this day has such resonance with us as a country because we all had the same day. whether we actually had nothing do with it or not. and that the sights of 9/11 are so indel by printed in our minds the blue sky, the planes, the crashes, the smoke. and that was the day that sort of all of america had. i open the book actually with the tale of frank culbertson on 9/11 was the one american off the planet earth, the nasa astronaut, aboard the international space station, and he talks about how looking down from the international space station that day he watched the day and the attacks unfold. on the first pass, he actually
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watched the dust cloud of the second collapse over lower manhattan. on the next pass, 90 minutes later, he could see the gash in the side of the pentagon. and on the next pass, he saw the empty skies, the contrails of the planes disappearing. and that two passes later, he remembers seeing the one contrail left over north america, the only plane in the sky, president bush heading back to washington from the air force base. and as strong as the sights of 9/11 are, one of the thing is sort of spend a lot of time in the book talking about because some of the memories that i found most fascinating as i was going through the oral histories, was that while most are us remember the sights, 9/11 for those who lived it was a
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full 360-degree sensory experience. so it's the sounds of 9/11. it's what 9/11 tasted like. what 9/11 smelled like. what 9/11 felt like to the touch. when you go back and look at the oral histories of the volunteer firefighters who go to shankesville, every single one of them talks about the smell of the crash site and how that is the memory they will never forget. when you talk to the first responders and the survivors of the collapse of the towers, they talk about the taste of the dust in their mouths, and it was like having a wool sock in your mouth, or like having a mouthful of bisqickc and when our outcome
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taught be team 'oarrived in lower manhattan over the course of the work this ironworkers and rescue workers who flooded in to try to find their colleagues, what they talk about this the dust. and what it ike lyingtake walk through issues of cot nobodiy, flurry, fresh fallen snow across lower man had tan. and then -- lower manhattan and then what everybody talks about coast-to-coast and some of you in this room, many of you, probably remember this. is the profound silence of the afternoon of 9/11. that after the towers fell and schools let out and businesses let out across the country, the planes were grounded. just our silent america was and that was true for people in lower manhattan and true -- i
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quote a person in fargo, north dakota, tack talking about how he remembers going out that afternoon and how silent the skies were and it was this moment where the aviation noise of daily life, we remember -- we don't realize how much we hear that until it's gone. the other thing that really comes through in looking at 9/11, at a national level, is the incredibly huge role that random luck or fate played on that day. the way they incredibly minor life decisions, the types of decisions we each make a thousand times a day, without ever imagining the alternate futures we could be unlocking, that day literally meant the difference between life and death. the chef at windows on the world, the restaurant atop the
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north tower, he would have normally been in his kitchen at 8:30 that morning he was in his kitchen every day at 8:00 30. except that day he stopped in the basement of the world trade center in the shopping concourse to buy a new pair of glasses. at lens crafters. and amidst the last elevator to the top of the tower. 72 of his colleagues died and he didn't. joseph watt was a computer salesman who was supposed to be at a conference at windows on the world that morning and was having breakfast that morning the mariott hotel sandwiched between the two 2009 towers and at breakfast one of his colleagues gifted him a new tie, she had been on vacation the week before, had seen a tie she thought he would like and bought it for him. he was so touched by the gesture that he said, i'm going to go
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put this tie on. going back to my room and change my shirt and throw this tie on. you guy goes on ahead to the conference. his colleagues died and he didn't. monica on september 10th was the unluckiest person at canter fitzgerald. he was laid off in the north tower on the 108th floor. on the afternoon of tuesday, september 10th. she gathered up her belongings in a box and said goodbye to all of her colleagues and left. she was home in time to watch general hospital. the next day, all of her colleagues were killed. she started back at work at canter fitzgerald the following week as the firm trade to rebuild and get bakken its feet, and the thing was since the
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entire hr department has been wiped out on tuesday morning, no one had ever even taken her off payroll. that plays out over the course of the entire country, over the course of that day. the number of people who switched their flights on to one of the hijacked planes, or switched their flights off of the hijacked planes at the last minute. people stopped for blueberry muffins and end up living that day, because they decided they were hungry on the way into work. the new york giants game went late monday night, september 10th, it was in denver it was played mountain time. and there are hundreds of people who lived on 9/11 because they just stayed up and watched the end of a football game and went into work at 9:00 instead of 8:00. and you sort after see this play out in ways big and small. ben, his first day on the job at
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the faa. and then in the pentagon, we follow two women, sheila and louise, as they start their first day at the pentagon, on september 11th. accomplish they're sitting in their office doing what you do in the first hour of your first day at work, filling out your personnel forms. and one of them collects the forms at about 9:30 and walks over to the fantastic machine -- this is 2001, actually had to fax something and walk up to the machine, load the dodge inside, enters in the number, hit this start button the building explodes and she is standing there, zinged, on fire, wondering what she did to the fax machine. and that she and her colleagues that day, many of her colleagues
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died. she and sheila have both end up surviving that day, getting out, in part because of the incredible efforts of some of her colleagues. this is where you sort of see these incredible stories of the human response to 9/11. of course we are familiar with the firefighters and the police officers and the emts and the paramedics who go into the towers and up the towers in new york. in the pentagon, it's a story of military officers who run out of a burning building, realize they're colleagues are still trapped inside and turn around and run back in, and end up saving every life that morning that gets saved. every single person who survived the pentagon was pulled from the pentagon in the first 30 minutes. and so but for sort of the work
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of the military officers, sort of rushing right into that building, the death toll that day would have been much higher. and this becomes sort of a story, again, you'd see play out in lots of different waded. john abruiseo, a quad quadra me judge work on the 64th floor of the north tower with the port authority. 12 of hit colleagues that day north all of whom we knew, team up to carry him down all 64 floors to escape the tower. and he survives that day because they did. and because they made clear to him that he wasn't going to be left behind. and of course they didn't fully understand at that point that they were risk,ing their own lives because moët people didn't understand the towers could
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actually collapse. we had been through there is in 1993 with the first bombing and people thought, this was going to be the same thing. would involve evacuation and then the firefighters thought it might even take a couple of days to put the fires out but did not initially understand that the buildings were in danger of falling. and this confusion and lack of understanding about what we were living through that day, just becomes the universal theme through that day, and of course it was hindered in many ways by the communications technology available at the time. we think of 9/11 as part of our modern world, in i think many ways you can target 9/11 is the beginning of our modern world, probably as clear a dividing line as we have between the 20th century and the 21st.
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but the technology that we had in 2001 was the comparative stone age. president bush's traveling party that day had some of the most cutting edge technology available then. they had two-way pagers and the really fancy two-way pagers where, when you got a page you could send one of 14 different preprogrammed responses to the page. so that's the way the president that morning ends up learning of the crash for the first time, the traveling party, first learns of the first crash by page per on the drive to the elementary school. and then over the course of much of the rest of the day his i hidden aboard air force one, roush into the air, off to first barksesdale air force base and
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then offet air force base in part because of offett was the only time outside washington, dc that you could host a video telephone conference if your we the president. now the president travels with a brief case that can plug into any ether netjack in the world and host the exact same video conference. so that morning aboard air force one there was no e-mail, no cable, no satellite tv, and so the president of the united states was relying on rabbit ears antennas to pick up local tv coverage as tear force one is playing round the southern united states, and the tv coverage would fade in as they got closer to an urban area and then fade out as they flew past it. so you sort of left over the course of the day with this incredible realization that for
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most of the day, the president of the united states actually knew less about what was transpiring in the country below than the average american sitting at home watching cnn. and it's sort of these types of observations, these types of emotions and senses and scenes i think end up being so critical to understanding 9/11, not as the way that we tell it in history, but in the way that we actually live it. because the confusion of that day is the thing we sort of most remember as individuals standing around. and that, again, this is true if you are the president, if you are school child or you are one of these first responders. one of the other to me sort of breathtaking quotes in the book is denice miller, the police
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sergeant in indian lake, pennsylvania, one of the small communities around shankesville who is one of the first police officers on the scene of flight 93. and she talks about how she is arriving at the crash scene and she knows four facts about the day. she knows that two planes have hit the world trade center. the plane has hit the pentagon. and this plane has crashed in this field. and so some is standing there in this abandoned coal mine that was the crash scene in shankesville, pennsylvania, assuming that the terrorists meant to crash the plane into this particular field, which is not a bad assumption if the only four facts you have is that the other two planes hit the world trade center and the other hit the pentagon and then there's
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this one. so she's standing there, scared, because she doesn't know what is buried under the field that the government has, that the terrorists are trying to blow up. and she also knows that there were two planes that hit the world trade center so she is standing there scared, looking into the sky, looking for the other planes that are coming to crash into that field. because again, this was all she knew at the time and this -- for much of that day, none of us understood why united airlines flight 93 crashed. didn't really understand that day whether it had crashed or whether it has hat -- had been t down, and the story of the shootdown order ends up being its own fascinating window into that day.
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vice president cheney is rushed into that bunker under the north lawn of the white house, built by harry truman, never used for its intended purpose on any day before or since, but for that morning becomes the nation's command center, and vice president cheney is hidden around in there, again, with very limited technology. the technology in that day was in the bunker was so limited that he couldn't actually turn the volume up on both the video teleconference and the tv so he is sitting there sort of all day trying to decide, aim listening to the video teleconference or the tv because i can't do both. and shortly after 10:00 a.m., commander anthony barnes, the director of the bunker that day,
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navy officer, aviator, comes to him and says, we need authority to shoot down any further hijacked airliners. commander barnes had never spoken publicly before he talked to me, and he told me in the book sort therefore the story of that conversation, where he understood the momentous nose of what he was asking and he gets permission from cheney and then goes back and asks cheney, repeatedly, again, and again, for permission to shoot down the hijacked airliners. he wants to be incredibly clear that there is no ambiguity on either the vice president's end or the end of the pentagon about what their orders are, and finally vice president cleany gets angry at him and say, yes, i've already told you, shoot down the hijacked airliners. and then that order ends up
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getting transmitted to the fighter pilots who are being rushed into the skies that day, again part of this improfilessed response. we weren't prepared. not planning -- did not have any plans or procedures for an attack that came from within our borders. so, at andrews air force base in -- outside d.c., heather penney and mark sackville or the two fighter employed scramble into the area. both planes without any weapons at all, and they understand as they are racing out to their planes on the tarmac, that they're being sent up on a kamikaze mission, if they encounter a hijacked airliner, the one weapon that they have is their own fighter jet. and they understand that if they are successful that day, neither one of them will return to base.
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and so they are shouting back and forth across the tarmac as they load themes into the planes, you aim for the cockpit, i'll aim for the tale and rush into the -- the tail and rush into the sky and you have to realize the confusion everybody is dealing with that day, and there's sort of become these huge gaps in the story of the day and the difference between the impact that people actually have and the experience that they are having. what none of the people involved in this understand is that it's all over. vice president cheney give this shootdown order at 10:12 that morning. the best the 9/11 commission can untangle, he gave the order somewhere between 10:12 and 10 $18 that morning the fighter loyalties don't get into the sky, their fighters don't take
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off until 1030, and of course, united airlines flight 93 crashed at 10:03 in shankesville. they don't know that. they don't know that there are no further hijacked planes in the sky, and that the whole thing is over before the fighter jets even get there. and yet that sort of for much of that morning, we didn't really know what we had done, we didn't really understand whether the attacks were still unfolding, and it wasn't until about 4:00 that afternoon eastern time that the last plane was grounded, u.s. airways flight from madrid, actually was the last plane -- the last commercial plane grounded that day. then ultimately the country realizes that it's actually all over. but then of course what we don't know is what is coming the next day. what is coming on 9/12, what is
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coming in october. and i think if you had asked president bush on 9/12, and told him sort of the following two true facts, i don't know which he would have found more surprising. that in the next 18 years al qaeda would never successfully attack the u.s. homeland again, or that four of the 18th anniversary of 9/11 his successor would invite the taliban to camp david. that sort of both of those facts would seem completely inconceivable to him, on the morning of 9/12. and that support -- sort of trying to go back and capture that confusion, that fear, i think is the story that we need to make sure that we remember as we talk about 9/11 going forward, and try to hand off to
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a new generation the world that we created out of that emotion. leave it there, and i can take a couple of questions. and dive a little deeper into any of this as you all would like. [applause] >> we have microphone over here if anyone has a question. >> just a chance for the mic to run over. i'll repeat. >> awesome presentation, and very emotional. you talk about the luck and the fate that people experienced. how about your conversations that i think you had with some
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of the folks, for example, at logan, that interacted with the terrorists. >> yeah. so, this is -- the question was a section in the book that deals with -- that follows the ticket clerks who check in the hijackers on the morning of 9/11 , and the hijackers check in newark, dulles, in boston, and for reasons that are sort of still unclear to us all these years later two of them, including mow ham ma atta check in portland they can this early horning commuter jet into boston before picking up the hijacked plane. and some ways it is -- one the
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characters -- they're all real people but one of the people in the book tacks about this. it was a new york city fire fighter talking about he was evacuating the north tower, he felt he could hear the spooky music playing that sort of the spooky music that plays just before the monster arrives in the movie, or sort of the thing jumps out from behind the door. and sort of one of the things that becomes so clear in this book is you sort of go back and look at this, i is all of these moments where you sort of want to reach through the pages and scream like, don't get on the plane, or don't do that. and one of the most poignant is
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actually the story of the ticket clerks that morning, because they talk about how they actually went to extra effort to get the hijackers on the plane; that -- they did their jobs. the hijackers were running late. mohammad atta was running late, and that they see these passengers come in, they have first class tickets, and they're like, okay, we can still get you onboard, and he says in the book, mr. atta, you must go now, you will miss your plane. and it's sort of becomes this moment where you sort of think about how different the world would be and the way that things would have unfolded in alternate futures and alternate universes, and he talks about how -- one over thing is do try to capture
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in the book throughout is 9/11 is not over for the people who lived it. for us as a country this is still something we are wrestling with. and the clerk talks about how he really sort of suffered this mental anguish afterwards, and how he just sort of didn't feel like there was any room for him in the grief of 9/11, and he would sort of try to go to these support groups and then he would be like, well, you're saying you lost a family member, what do i say? i let the hijackers on the plane and he sort of has this thing where every time someone says, i lost my husband, or i lost my
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mother, he hears, you killed my husband, you killed my mother. and that 9/11 is still something that we are sort of struggling with, thinking about in the mental anguish and the ptsd that has unfurled through it, and will, one of the port authority police officers, one of the two -- only -- only two people rescued from underneath the towers. will jiminez and his sergeant, john mcclavulin stars of he movie world trade center with nicholas cage, and will talks how he -- for him, the day that he beats ptsd will be the day he is put to in the ground and that for him, he understands that sort of this is something he is
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going live with for his entire life and i don't actually mean -- he is one of the most inspirational people i've met in the course of this. he was trapped under the towers until 11:00 that night, and the three other officers who were with his port authority team all killed in the collapse around him, and he and john mcclavulin lived and he talks about how he goes around and talks to school kids and inmates and addicts now, and he talks about this experience, and he says, i had 220 stories of the world trade center fall on top of me. but we all in hour lives have our world trade centers that fall on us. and that for some of us it's loss of a family member forks some of us it's the loss of a
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job or thinking that we can't even make it through the mid-terminex week. -- mid term next week and it's all pout how you handle the world trade center when it falls on you that is what ended up mattering but when i say we're still living with 9/11, we are of course still also seeing the unfolding of the deaths thereafter. this summer we actually marked -- dan, one of the main characters in the book, and was the highest ranking new york city fire official to survive that day, the morning after 9/11 he becomes chief of department for fdny and now is actually the fire commissioners this summer he announced the death of the 200th firefighter from world
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trade center related injuries and diseases. so, for a department that saw 343 people die that day, they've now lost two-thirds of that number in the years since. down here. >> during your research, did you come across the type of flying instructions that the hijackerred received? i heard that they were concerned about flying but very little interest in landing. did that come out in your research, the type of instruction they took? maybe we should have picked up on. >> yeah. this particular book sort of doesn't deal with that because it's very tyingly focused on 9/11 itself. my previous work, i've sort of covered some of that in my fbi
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research and writing before. and again you sort of when we look back with the hindsight available afterwards, there were multiple opportunities that we could have had as a country to disrupt those attacks. one of the reason wisdom actually know on 9/11 that it's an al qaeda attack that quickly is that two of the hijackers on the manifest are people we know are al qaeda, and that the cia had actually known were inside the united states and had never told the fbi. and the fbi had been fighting to get access that summer to those two names and the cia wouldn't turn them over. so, there's sort of a lot of those types of things that do unfold.
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of course, one of the things -- when you're talking to sort of people who have no memory of life before 9/11, that is sort of equally confounding to them, right? is the idea, like, in 2001 you could carry knives onboard. that sort of -- people were like how the did the planes be hijackerred the huge hijack erred carried knives on board and today we're like why would you be allowed to contrary a knife on the plane if can't even bring my water bottle on the plane anymore and that falls into the category of the thing wiz forget just how much 9/11 changed but you saw nat excerpt we nuss -- just never considered a plane as a missile before. and so for the air traffic controllerred that morning, they're concerned because it's a
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hijacking but they're going through their standard protocols and saying, all right, well, let's clear the traffic and the planes will fly wherever the plane wants to fly and then land and de'll negotiate with. the and send spezza to the plains and the hossages get off and everyone's day goes on. and that it's just sort of that mindset that is so hard to capture today because of course, what makes flight 93 different than the first three is it was 45 minutes late. thank god for airport congestion in musician this one thing that's always constant in american life. and so the plane takes off from newark 45 minutes later than it's supposed to, which means that when the passengers onboard start calling down to the ground to say that they are -- their plane has been hijacked, they --
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their family members are telling them bowled the twin towers and the pentagon and they realize what has happened, and they realize that they need to take the plane back or they're going to become the next missile. a question back up in here. >> can you described what happened on 9/11 very artfully and very eloquently. i just can't help think back to pearl harbor when the last time we were attacked, and wonder if you could reflect on that and how that it impacted the country is a similar to what 9/11 did. >> yeah, i -- i think it is true that when you look at american history, there are sort of three moments that sort of each
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generation subsequently has burned into them. pearl harbor, the kennedy assassination, and 9/11. and that when you look back and those of you in the audience of certain vintage may remember this, in the years after pearl harbor, like, pearl harbor day was a real thing. it was not quite a national holiday but it was a day that was marked and observed and it was the type of thing like you didn't schedule super fun things to take place on dem 7th in the -- december 7th in the say way today we don't -- we try to avoid large celebratory events on 9/11. and that memory -- sort of becomes replaced for the sneaks generation with the kennedy assassination. and to me it's sort of one of
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the most -- one of the weirdest realization is i have the book. i have a one-year-old daughter and that for her, 9/11 will be as removed historically as the kennedy assassination was to me, someone born in 1981. and that sort of just to me, like, i'm ahistory buff and like the kennedy assassination could not be more ancient history and i write about it as real history, like i covered the 50th anniversary of the kennedy assassination, and the idea that sort of for my daughter, 9/11 will be sort of as weirdly removed to her, as unimaginable to me because i can tell you every day -- every
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minute of that day as an unfolded for me and i have this incredibly boring story but eating breakfast in college, and that is sort of one thing -- when you talk to -- maybe some of your parents in the room who are alive for pearl harbor remember that one of the thing its remember about people telling stories about parents or grandparents talking about pearl harbor day is they sort of talk about it still in the present tense, that they sort of talk about it as i was here, i was doing this, we did that. and that in many way we tell our own 9/11 stories in this generation, i think. >> one more question, please. >> last question. >> down here. >> in you research there were several army veterans involved. did the name rick come up.
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>> yes. >> port authority security at the towers? >> yeah. rick -- so, you might be conflating two different people, both of whom i devote a couple of of pages to in the book. rick was this sort of incredible -- actually both people are incredible larger than life characters. rick former british bar paratroop irturned vietnam vet who what's director of security for morgan stanley, and morgan stanley one of the firms that gets sort of religion about evacuation planning after the '93 bombing in the twin towers. and he leads this incredible evacuation of morgan stanley from the south tower before -- in the opening minutes of the
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first attack, and ultimately saves hundreds of lives of morgan tanly employees, andle ultimately loses his own life as he and two of his other security personnel stay in the building to go floor-by-floor make sure everyone had evacuated. then there was john o'neill, who is probably name familiar to those of you who have read or watched the looming tower series, who was the fbi's lead al qaeda investigator and had led the hunt for osama bin laden through the kenya and tanzania an embassy bombings, the uss cole bombing in 2000 and coming one if the i fate and luck. in august 2001, retires from the fbi and starts an early september september as the director of security for the
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world trade center. and dies in the tower in the south tower, during its collapse that morning. and there's sort of -- was actually -- on thursday i was speaking at the 9/11 museum in new york, and was talking with the last person who saw john o'neill alive, and who was another fbi agent, and it's sort of this incredibly sort of just tragic story of this guy who really more than anyone in the u.s. government is ringing the alarm bell of al qaeda, is not listened to, retires in frustration from the fbi in
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august 2001, and thinks he is throwing in the fight, and then osama bin laden comes to him two weeks later. thank you all for coming. i'll be out in the lobby -- >> one more question. we have a change for today. sorry for the last minute but because we have the 3d exhibit we have some changes, one unfortunately there will be no cookies and coffee tonight. >> sorry. >> and also, we are going to have the book signing table here on the stage. and so please go get -- go buy your books books and kawhi -- qp in line on the side and, again, it was brilliant. really was. [applause]
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>> the new c-span online store now has boost booktv products go to to check this couple. see what is now for booktv and all the c-span products. [inaudible conversations] >> good evening, everyone. thank you for joining us tonight. my name is kate and on behalf have harvard book store i'm delighted to welcome you to this evening event with gina rippon, discussing the book, gender and our brains how knew under row science explode the neglect of the


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