tv 9 11 Anniversary Coverage MSNBC September 11, 2011 11:00am-12:00pm EDT
bowling green. i was heading to work in battery park at the ritz carlton. and i come out, and i heard a boom, looked up, and there was a big ball of fire. i'm now looking north at the world trade center and it is the left twin tower as i'm looking north. i'm in battery park right now, and you can hear the fire engines and the emergency crews behind me. and it is unbelievable. when the fire first started, it was -- hello? >> go ahead. we can hear you. >> it was something like i have never seen before. and i used to work in news. i have never seen any fire like this in the air. and the pieces of the building were flying down. it looks like it's like the top -- i can't even tell you -- maybe 20 floors. 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 didn't even know that. honestly, i was walking up. and i looked up and saw the big boom and fire. i've got to tell you we were saul saying around here that it was very interesting that if it was a bomb it would be so high up. so perhaps it was a plane. we have no talk of a plane, however. i have to tell you, there is still things flying in the air. i mean, it -- it's mind boggling. and 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 has 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 trade center center, and i called over there to see, you know, if he was ok. 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 -- it's only -- it's probably about a five-minute walk from here to the world trade center. but the smoke is incredible. 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 of 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 at the building. so in other words, you're south of the building. is that right? >> yes, i am. correct. >> because we're looking at a picture that is looking at the north side of the building. and it appears that is where the largest hole is. and as you mentioned correctly towards the top of the building and on the north side. and then on 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 would abouting. -- of that building. >> jennifer you can tell us what you heard? describe it for us? >> absolutely. when i walked out of the subway i looked up at the twin towers, because 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, what was unbelievable was the amount of fire. it was a big ball of fire. that just went up. and i looked around at people, and we were all horrified. i am stuttering because i'm in such shock. i have never seen anything like it. it's just 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 united states governor has his new york city office there. >> and given the time that had has happened, it's only probably
appropriate to surmise that people might have been in the building. >> we have seen stories in the past where small planes have hit buildings, 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. again, we haven't talked to anyone who is close to the base of the building, so we don't know what kind of debris or wreckage -- go ahead, jennifer. >> i'm just talking with a police officer right here, and he said yes, he heard it was a plane. >> does he have any kind of information about what kind of plane it was or can he tell us any more details? >> i'm going to put you on hold for one moment, ago? >> just to recap 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 westernmost 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 are burning right now in the world trade center. >> tall buildings are a problem here in new york. back in the '40s a plane hit the empire state building. in the '60s met life building. >> we have information now that it was a small commuter plane. and we'll let people know as soon as we can what it was. and who might have been hurt as a result of this terrible terrible incident. we'll be talking to more witnesses coming up in just a few minutes. >> we are 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 sayis a gaping hole on the north side of the building. that's the building you can see on 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 is speculation or cause for concern that 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? but either way extensive damage has been done to this building. >> it also looks like there's smoke coming out of the east side of the building on that shot we just saw. >> obviously horrified commuters were absolutely
devastated when they heard this explosion. we talked with somebody a moment ago that about that jennifer oversteen. and also another eyewitness, elliott walker who is actually a producer here on "the today show." elliott, can you tell me? >> yes, katie. >> tell me where you are and what you saw. >> i live in the area. i returned 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. and 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 three or four floors. the air is filled with hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper that are just sort of floating like confetti. the air is swarmed with emergency vehicles. and sirens. obviously, we are 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 any evidence, elliott, of people being taken out of the building? are you saying that emergency vehicles are there, understandably so. but of course the major concern is human loss. i mean, do you know if there were many people in the -- >> oh, another one just hit! something else just hit! a very large plane flew directly over my building, and there's been another collision. can you see it?
>> yes. we just saw a plane circling the building. 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. i just heard another very loud bang and a very large plane that might have been a dc 9 or 747. i think it may have hit the trade center again. >> i didn't get the impression that it was that big of a plane. >> it looked big from here. >> i did see a plane go by a second ago though, and it now has impacted the building. i'm trying to see if it's the different tower. >> i think it may have been. i believe the first one was world trade center one. and it looks on the television that it may have been the second building that was hit. >> this is the piece of tape. and we may 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 oversteen. jennifer, did you see this happen? >> hello? >> jennifer did you just see this happen? >> matt, i -- i have never seen -- it looks like a movie. i saw a large plane, like a jet,
going 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 fast. it went past the ritz carlton that's being built, battery park, and almost hit it and then went in. >> this is so shocking. of course to everybody watching. >> i have never seen anything like it. it literally flew itself into world trade center. >> obviously now we move from what would -- there it is right there. >> again, i'm looking from south to north. and it went into 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 just 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. >> and now you have to move from talk about a possible accident to talk about being something deliberate that has happened here. we are 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 have just seen is just about the most striking videotape we have ever seen. >> what are the odds of two planes hitting the twin towers? >> elliott are you still there? >> yes. i'm still here katie. >> what can you see from your perspective? >> i can't see anything personally. >> it is completely impossible to understand why this is happening and to figure out what the -- what in the world is going on. >> i think we have to be grateful they hit before 9:00 a.m. but it's now after 9:00 a.m. and i'm wondering how many people were in the offices. >> hopefully they were evacuated following the first incident.
it was a very short period of time from where we first learned about this, probably about 8:50 eastern time. the second incident occurred about 9:05 a.m. and so obviously that would be a short amount of time to get people out of the building. ollie echeart is another witness on the ground. can you hear me? >> yes, hello. >> please tell me what you're seeing. >> well, i live in lower manhattan. i face the north tower the north side, where the first plane crashed into the building. and right now it'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's just masses and masses of people walking north uptown of manhattan. i was happening to look on the first tower. and i actually saw people waving where the first plane crashed through. and then it was unbelievable
seeing this 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. local stations because the antennas are on the world trade center. their backup tower is on the empire state building. but communication -- television communication in new york city is probably pretty much knocked off the air. >> we are look at the picture here where it appears because of the angle i think that the towers are leaning. and i don't think that that is actually the case because after the first impact it looked as if the left hand -- the right hand tower was leaning. and now somebody is saying -- a witness is saying they are leaning 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. and the hole that's resulted from the two planes. >> to george shea right now who also has witnessed both or within of the collisions.
can you hear us? >> i can hear you. >> what did you see? >> i was in a car driving up, just out of the battery tunnel, driving north on west street, with an enormous explosion happened. and i think it was larger than a construction explosion. i looked out the window, and what appeared to be an enormous tire smashing into the ground. and i believe it hit the car to the right of me. and it was just so scary. and there was also a ton of debris falling. and 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, george? >> a man next to me was actually 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. and i can't verify that. all i can say is that a lot of debris was falling. it's very confusing because everybody i think immediately assumed that a bomb had exploded.
and that's what 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 it, and i looked up. when i looked up, i saw debris falling and a tire, a very large tire. >> well of course, this is as we have said completely shocking video. and shocking turn of events. and we've been talking here that the first incident one might surmise that it was some kind of accident. and 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. >> you know keep in mind we were in an area where there are three major airports. you have newark, kennedy, and
laguardia 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. >> well, the small airplane, you can understand almost. but a jumbo jet, a large jet completely unbelievable. >> let's rerack that video if we could down in the control room, where we actually saw the jet flying into the building. that 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 actually. to see this plane come into the picture, that is a big plane. >> there it is. >> and i mean it's hard to imagine it's a 737 we're now being told. and flying directly into the mid
section of the -- what would be the eastern tower of the world trade center. >> i'm wondering if jennifer oversteen is still on the phone. do we still have jennifer on the phone? she's actually not on the phone because she was near a police officer. at least we could have perhaps gotten more information from that officer. needless to say, it's pandemonium i am sure down there. and we gathered that from even the eyewitnesss with whom we spoke and how terrifying this was for them to see. and you can only imagine as you get closer to the twin towers, a new york landmark how -- what the scene must be like there. >> you know, you talked about the buildg looking like they are buckling. they are designed to have a two degree sway in either direction because of the height of the building and to be able to deal with wind and stress. but something like that is more than it's probably designed for. >> we want to go now out to jane who i understand is a television producer here in new york. can you hear me? >> yes, i can hear you. i am down here near the world trade center.
i was walking down 6th avenue this morning at 8:42 a.m. a group of us saw a plane veer through the buildings and then we saw a huge cloud of smoke. and then fire came out of one of the towers. it's near the upper floor, as you can probably see with your chopper shots. and then about 10 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. but 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 have never seen anything like it down here. >> jane, you said you saw the first plane. can you get a glimpse of what kind of plane it was? we were told it was a small commuter plane. >> well, it wasn't a cessna or anything like that. it was a large airplane, a mid size plane. and we could hear it very well.
and walking down the street, a couple of us looked at each other like what's happening? and then it veered drastically on its side through the buildings and went into the upper floors of the world trade center tower. >> we just 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 that 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. >> but if you tried to go up, you know, we've been upstairs in the towers you know in the restaurant up there, to try to get down -- >> i mean the elevators would have been jammed no question. but you would hope that they would immediately begin evacuation in the second tower. >> we have got another eyewitness we would like to speak with. dan is on the phone. dan, tell me where you are and what you're seeing or what you saw. >> what i saw was one plane
coming in low from the north down over 7th avenue. it crashed into the top or the middle of one of the towers. 10 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 sort of the middle of the other tower. 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 mid size, looked to be a commercial airline.
i don't know. i thought perhaps, you know, a commercial airline. a mid size. 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 is the second plane was another plane perhaps hijacked was then flown into the second tower. dan, tell me about people on the ground. are you at a vantage point where you can see what's happening on the ground? >> i am further up in the west village. i'm not on the ground near the base of the towers. >> where were you when it actually happened? >> i was walking down 7th avenue, south. at about oh charles street which is about 15 or 20 blocks north of the towers.
>> well, obviously, this was a shocking thing for you to witness on this tuesday morning. you know, with some wires just came out and said in 1945, an army air corps b-25, a twin engine bomber, crashed into the 79th floor of the empire state building. that occurred in dense fog. this was a crystal clear day in manhattan. so it is completely unclear how there would be any kind of problems with visibility. dan, thank you so much for talking with us. hopefully you can stay on the phone and we can check back in with you at another point in time. we really appreciate it. >> you're welcome. >> we want to also report -- remind people that the world trade center bombing that took place on february 26 back in 1993 a 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 home in
virginia watching it in disbelief. and now it feels a bit like deja vu. and of course this is so much more bizarre. >> no question. and to keep in mind that killed six people, injured 1,000, and the explosion happened in the garage in the basement. this was a direct hit on the midsection or upper section of the tower so the potential for injuries and death much larger and of course also the people on the planes. >> of course if they were hijacked and en route to a different destination. this story continues to unfold. bob kerr is joining us now. 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 looked 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 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 town. he is 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 are hoping to hear from them as soon as possible. but, katie the reaction here to the pictures you are 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 just standing around television monitors looking at this. and 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 now. mik, are you hearing any more information from there? >> well, 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, you know, 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 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. now, 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 war planes in the air, there's always a danger that they could misidentify a pilot's intention. 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? >> 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. >> all right jim miklaszewski. thanks. and of course the coordination that took place to have two planes hit the towers within 18 minutes of one another. let's go back to the white house now. bob kur is still standing by. what can you tell us? >> well, matt it's interesting to listen to jim miklaszewski there. and of course the president has the authority to scramble military forces. and this is a case obviously in which retaliation, if indeed it proves to be a terrorist incident, will be contemplated. but the usual course of events is it's an investigation. you know, unless someone steps forward and claims responsibility, the white house and other arms of the u.s. government will say we have to determine who is responsible for this attack, try to pinpoint it, and then the u.s. usually says someone is going to be made to pay. but that is a big if if we can determine exactly the origin of this terrorist attack. and so there are some implications to that.
>> let's go back to jim miklaszewski. bob, thank you, at the pentagon. mik, have you more information? >> bob is exactly right, katie. but what the primary concern is 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.
>> all right. david gregory is now on the phone from sarasota, florida, where the president is. >> the president is about to begin an education event, that will be cancelled. we expect the president momentarily to 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 that he will quickly depart for washington. >> we should mention, david that new york city airports or area airports have all been closed. the lincoln tunnel has been closed here in new york. while we're getting ready to listen to the president, let's go back to jim miklaszewski at the pentagon. jim, you talk about counterterrorist measures that are in place. can you shed any light for us on what kind of things are in place in the event of an attack of this nature?
>> well, katie it's very difficult to -- 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 is 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 then 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, and then 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 attacks. >> and, mik, it's important to note that if these 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 onboard. plus, for the injuries you could cause on the ground in a place like manhattan. go ahead. >> 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 protection mode. the governor has the air national guard at his diz posal. we can do that. but again officials are pretty
much wondering what to do in terms of protection and how. again, to the counterterrorism officials, this is absolutely the worst-case scenario because they are -- right now there seems to be not much they can do in terms of the aftermath. >> mik we are scrambling for information here. i want to read this rueters wire that says two planes crashed into the towers of the world trade center on tuesday morning causing huge explosions and killing at least six people. cnbc tv 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 that answered on the phone on the trading floor at cantor fitzgerald located near the top of the world trade center said we are 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 fullon an eye witness said just before the first explosion he saw a plane fly over his apartment in the soho district of lower manhattan. jamie is on the phone with more information. what can you tell us? >> katie i have 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 it share it but because they just don't know yet. they are at the earliest stages. >> do they know, jamie for example if a plane was in fact hijacked? >> they would not answer that. and i think that it's because -- i think that they just are getting the earliest details out and they are afraid of putting out misinformation.
but they said you know, that it was clearly terrorist related. >> all right, jamie. thanks. we're looking again at both towers of the world trade center in 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 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up the tower. but you can see fire is burning in both towers. we actually saw a videotape -- we watched 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. and 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 that the first plane was a 757. >> some kind of airbus. that was what the united worker told us that apparently that it was an american airlines plane that had been hijacked. from boston to los angeles. but we are just getting initial reports of that. and, again, we must tell you that we are 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 pace and the lieutenant governor will take the podium to discuss education. i do want to thank the folks here at booker elementary school for their hospitality. today we have had a 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. >> that of course was president bush, who is in florida in long boat key. he was speaking at an elementary school. he had planned to be talking about literacy. obviously, he had to change. he mentioned that this is an apparent terrorist attack. he is traveling back to washington. he said that he had spoken to the governor of new york as well as the vice president. and that all of the resources will be brought to bear by the federal government to determine who did this and who was responsible for this terrible terrible event. and then of course it was followed by a moment of silence for the victims. >> we're going to go to andrea mitchell now, who has more information on this tragedy. andrea? >> matt and katie, have i spoken to a top u.s. official who says that early reports to our intelligence community and 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 caution 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 obviously have informed the president, that this is a terror attack. >> andrea we have no information as to in what term of the flight this plane was taken over how much warning that air traffic controllers may have had that someone hostile was at the controls of this plane? >> exactly right. they have no other information. just that at least one of the two planes 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 is a terror attack. as you heard the president say. now, one of the things matt and katie we should understand is that 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 reissued 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 it morning, as of it minute, he is in afghanistan. >> but as we should mention, andrea, it appears that this was a well coordinated bombing or terrorist act because of the fact 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 plans went into this attack. let's go to jim miklaszewski at the pentagon now.
mik, what can you tell us? >> 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 from -- 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. but 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, matt. >> mik, thank you. we'll obviously be talking with you throughout the morning. but right now we want to talk with larry johnson, a terrorism expert. the former deputy director of the state department's office on counterterrorism. mr. johnson, can you please put us this into some kind of perspective for us? and give us your insight on what might have happened here? >> well, you know, first, we need to be cautious before jumping to the conclusion that it is necessarily terrorism. i mean, i would be inclined based upon the preliminary reports we've seen to say that that's the case. but there's always the possibility that you may find out after the fact that this was some suicide pact for some reason that had nothing to do with politics. that said, this is a first. back in 1992 there was a -- excuse me -- 1993 there was a lufthansa plane hijacked from germany, and it ended up landing in new york. and one of the concerns at that time was the possibility of that
plane under the control of a hijacker flying it into one of the buildings. so, you know, my concern now is that there's always, you know we ignore terrorism -- you know we talk a lot about it. but we ignore taking very practical steps on security fronts until something like this happens. and then the pendulum swings out to an extreme and the next thing you'll hear is people talking about putting surface-to-air missiles on top of buildings to prevent this kind of thing. this is a very rare event. it's unlikely to be repeated. but, and i think president bush put his finger on it, we have to find who did this and any country, any nation in the world that is in any way involved and responsible, if it turns out to be terrorism, will require a response from the united states. and the united states has got to be willing to pay that price. >> mr. johnson, obviously we are completely stunned when about 25 minutes after the first explosion or after the first plane crashed into one of the
twin towers, another very large plane did the same thing. >> right. >> and we have been talking with our correspondents all morning about sort of 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? >> well, i think one of those steps has already been taken. i was at national airport getting ready to fly to laguardia when this occurred. they have shut down air traffic going in and out of the cities. apart from shutting down the air traffic, you're talking about an enormous disruption economically for the nation right now with the air traffic not going in. and people are going to err on the side of caution. i think across the board you're going to look at major hubs in the united states where there are large buildings. chicago, atlanta, los angeles, and they're going to be extra measures taken. one possibility is you could start putting up air cover. and require that planes stay
within a particular area and do not approach any closer. and if they approach, you would go to the extremes of having the u.s. air force intercept. >> larry, i wanted to ask you you know, all morning correspondents have also been saying particularly bob kur and jim miklaszewski, there was no -- and andrea mitchell -- that there was no warning attached to this event. >> right. >> generally speaking, do we get some kind of -- or do u.s. officials or 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 is unfortunately typical. it's only in the movies that you get the advanced warnings. you look at every major terrorist incident against the united states, whether it's pan am 103, the world trade center, the uss cole bombing, the bombing in tehran, saudi arabia, and rarely do you get a notice. >> i'm sorry to interrupt you. but jim miklaszewski has new information at the pentagon. i hope you'll stand by and
continue to talk with us. mik? >> katie i don't want to alarm anybody. but 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 i can now. i hear no sirens going off. i see no smoke. but the building shook for just a couple of seconds. the windows rattled. and security personnel are doing what they can momentarily to clear this part of the building. again, i have no idea whether it was part of the construction
work whether it was an accident or what it going on. we are going to try to find 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. now 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 -- oh, i'm sorry. the construction workers are still keeping a distance. that's all i can see. and i see no other extra curricular 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 long boat key, florida, where president bush was earlier this morning for an event on literacy. he was going to a school to talk with kids. david, what can you tell us? >> a little bit more about how all of this unfolded is what the president is going to do next. the president declared this an apparent terrorist act. he offered a prayer for the families promised to hunt down in his words the people responsible for this. he will now travel back to washington and aides are tellsing us now he will convene a national security meeting -- >> david, sorry to interrupt you. we are looking at live pictures of the pentagon where there is billowing smoke. jim miklaszewski just reported
that he heard an explosion. and right now we are looking at an aerial view of the pentagon. mik, can you talk to us? >> officially, nobody knows 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 said that it appears that a bomb was detonated at the heliport a landing area just adjacent to the e-ring. the offices nearest the heliport area are u.s. army reserve officers and the army reserve 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 reported to you, we
could feel the building shake and the windows rattle. and as i was in the hallway just a few moments ago, i could smell an acrid kind of smoke, the kind almost what you would smell when a fluorescent light goes bad. that kind of smell. and authorities are clearing the building. i don't know if you can hear the sirens outside right now. but it appears that in what i think people here in the building are already describing as a highly sophisticated, coordinated attack not only against the world trade center but against the pentagon and u.s. military right here in washington. >> tell me again i worked at the pentagon as well. and it is a huge building. and i mean, it's miles and miles of offices. at what location did this seem to have detonated? >> it's at the heliport which
is as you sit in the pentagon, have you the potomac river and washington, d.c., on one side. and the heliport is almost on exactly the opposite side of the building, along one of the highways. easily accessible. they've increased security here significantly at the pentagon within the past couple of years that area -- >> i want to mention to you, mik, we're hearing unconfirmed reports that this was the result of a plane crashing in the area as well. >> reporter: i have no idea, katie. all i know is that people who were in the building who came running from that part of the building thought it was a bomb of some kind. according to chris brown, my colleague, who just came in it appears that whatever it was, and perhaps it was a plane, katie, if those are the initial reports, crashed into -- or the damage is on the roof of the
building at the heliport side of the pentagon, which is just opposite of the potomac river, as i just said. >> we're looking at the white house, mik, because we are learning that there have been some evacuations from the white house. i'm assuming everyone is being evacuated from the pentagon? >> reporter: well nobody has given us the official word yet but i think that's probably a safe bet. thank goodness that was a helicopter that just flew by. i'm just a little nervous right now when you hear aircraft go past. but they have, in fact, evacuated that portion of the building. usually they have sirens that go off in the building, alerting you to the fact that it's time to get out. i haven't heard those yet. but just judging by the pictures it's clear that that part of the building that is not damaged at least has been evacuated.
like i said, in the hallway it was pandamonium. >> you're at your offices in the pentagon? >> reporter: i'm in the office but i'm in the opposite side of where this crash occurred. >> why don't you see if you can gather some more information. please again, be careful, mik, and we're going to matt who's talking with jamie. >> kate y thank you very much. i'm joined by tom brokaw. we'll recap what's been going on all morning on the east coast and washington, d.c. but we want to go to "today's" national correspondent jamie with some more information. >> reporter: matt, i just want to tell you that u.s. intelligence sources are confirming the reports that one of the planes was a hijacked flight, an american flight from boston to los angeles. they are also now looking into what's going on at the pentagon. they don't have any details but they have now put government buildings around the city of washington on a heightened state
of alert. i think part of that is happening formally but obviously people are seeing what's going on. and some people are leaving buildings as well simply because of the concern following these latest reports from the pentagon. >> jamie, thank you very much. again, joined by tom brokaw and katie is back with us too. it's 9:47 eastern time. try to recap what's gone on so far this morning. and the news it is terrible. just before 9:00 -- >> at 8:42 actually. >> a plane crashed into the right hand tower of the world trade center, about three-quarters of the way up. you can see the smoke billowing from that point of the building. about 18 or 20 minutes later a second plane a large plane, we saw it actually on tape, hit the left hand tower of the world trade center about halfway up. an enormous fire ball on several sides of the building. people trying to be evacuated. there's the tape of the second
plane hitting right there, even as people were trying to get out of the first building. we have confirmed reports now that there was one plane hijacked american airlines flight from boston to los angeles and that's apparently one of the planes used in this crash. >> matt, there's a report on dubai television that in fact, the group claiming responsibility is democratic front fort liberation of palestine. this comes, ironically on a day when the israeli foreign minister perez is to meet. the united states vacated that meeting. there hasn't been one specific incident -- >> and the israelis vacated that meeting as well. >> but there has not been one specific incident. it's also worth pointing out terrorism always has two prongs to it. the physical threat and now the psychological threat. this does seem to be surreal, but, in fact, it is real when you have an explosion of
undetermined other beginrigin at the pentagon, the twin trade towers here in new york two deliberate attacks on those towers today. and we do not know for sure who is responsible. >> and the capitol by the way, the u.s. capitol has been evacuated. there have been evacuations taking place at the white house. needless to say, many people in the pentagon have left that building as well. >> and by the way, this building in midtown new york they have asked a lot of people at 30 rockefeller plaza to leave. it's another high rise capital building. in new york i came down the length of manhattan. a lot of people were simply unaware of what had happened. as you tune in the radio, then they begined to get it. it's election day here in new york. >> primary day. >> and what we have is something that most americans thought could never occur. >> as larry johnson, a terrorist expert i just spoke with a few moments ago, the former deputy director of the state department
office counterterrorism claimed this is a first. that he had never heard or seen anything like it. he talked about back in 1993 a german plane being hijacked. there were fears when it was flown to new york that it might be crashed into something. >> we have this as a major development. the federal aviation administration has shut down all air traffic nationwide. this country has been immobilized by these terrorist attacks in terms of air travel today. we don't know where it goes from here. we'll just ask that you stay with us so that as we get hard information, we can share that with you. there's going to be a lot of speculation. the president has described this apparently as a terrorist attack. the fbi has confirmed that an american airlines flight boston to los angeles was hijacked. it's believed that was the first plane that went into the twin trade towers. >> let's go to former director of the fbi here in new york. mr. calstrom, i'm sure you've never seen anything like this. do you have any information that might be helpful to us?
>> well, not particular information on this tragedy, but certainly what an incredible tragedy. you know all of us in law enforcement and prior law enforcement have talked for years and the public has seen the hatred in the world. they've seen the bombing of the world trade center. they saw the conspiracy to blow up tunnels in united nations back in the '90s the bombing at "uss cole" and bombings of our embassy in africa. we've known for some time this hatred exists. now it looks like that it's culminated in this absolutely horrendous incredible act against the united states. >> jim as someone -- i'm sorry. as someone who has investigated some of these crimes in the past, and we think back to 1993, the world trade center bombing and what it took in terms of coordination and planning to pull off that one bomb in the world trade center can you even speculate as to what it might take to coordinate this, what we
think so far, is a three-pronged attack this morning? >> matt, it obviously took a lot of coordination. there's a lot of groups in the world that have the ability to coordinate these types of attacks. as you know and most people should know the united states is an open society. i mean, we've talked for years about the downside of having our borders basically open. on any given day people fly into our airports undocumented and turned into the population. they're not certainly all terrorism but they're not terrorists, i mean we live in a free society. i'm not espousing we change that -- >> right. >> it's very, very difficult for the fbi and law enforcement to keep track of this when we live in the society we live in. >> if you can stand by for just a moment because jim miklaszewski at the pentagon has more information for us. >> reporter: katie, my colleague, chris brown here at the pentagon, encountered some of those who survived whatever it was. whether it was a bomb or an
airplane crashing into the pentagon. one of the survivors who was reportedly injured had various lacerations, was on the second floor of the d-ring. that is one ring inside the outer ring of the pentagon. when suddenly there was this horrific blast. he said that the second floor buckled upward and then the third floor above him actually collapsed downward. the scene on the other side of the building, as it's being described to us there are people being removed on stretchers security forces are evacuating the building right now. and according to the officials here at the pentagon, they still don't know exactly what it was, but as you reported katie, eyewitnesss reported, in fact, it was a plane that crashed into the pentagon. >> mik any idea -- i wasn't quite sure if you said this about the number of people who might have been hurt or worse in this? >> reporter: no idea