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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

America's New War: Leaders, Survivors, and Victims

Aired October 5, 2001 - 21:00   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Can tragedy transform a city, a nation, a world? We'll talk about loss and recovery, hurt and hope.

Joining us, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York. With her, New York's senior senator, Democrat Chuck Schumer. And her majesty Queen Noor of Jordan.

We'll also talk with World Trade Center survivor Manu Dhingra; he walked down more than 80 flights after being badly burned. John Sherry didn't make it home on September 11; his brother Robert shares his story and some remarkable photos from ground zero. And Lisa Beamer, her husband Todd one of the heroes of United Flight 93; her strength has inspired everybody. Another inspiration: Michael Hingson, blind since birth, climbed down more than 70 World Trade Center floors with his guide dog Roselle.

And later, Liza Minnelli with a musical tribute to New York, New York.

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We were in Washington the first two nights of this week, and the past three in New York. And tonight, a very special show. Three distinguished guests who'll be with us all the way, and then victims, survivors and others will be coming by, and we'll be talking to all of them.

Senator Clinton, we'll start with you. Have we come to grips with it? Has it settled in?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Oh, Larry, I don't think it ever can settle in. I don't think that this incomprehensible tragedy will ever be something that will settle in, and that we can settle ourselves with.

But, there has been so much done to try to help the survivors and the families, and to begin the rebuilding effort that there's a lot of work to do. And I think in some way that's helping all of us keep going forward.

KING: But a piece missing, right Senator Schumer?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: No question. We're never going to be the same; we're never going to be whole again -- New Yorkers, Americans too.

This is -- I think every one of us in a certain way feels violated. Our country felt safe and impregnable, and now we don't anymore.

KING: And how does Queen Noor feel? Queen of another country, but an American by birth.

HER MAJESTY QUEEN NOOR OF JORDAN: Well, I was in Brooklyn today, where my family emigrated over 100 years ago, and I went to see the Arab-American community there, who have not only suffered the grief and loss of the World Trade Center disaster, and rescue workers and policemen and others of Arab-American origin who passed away, but who also had stories of hope and faith to share. Jewish, Christian, Muslim Americans coming together to help one another through this very difficult time.

So I was agonized by their fear and insecurity -- the backlash. On the other hand, I think some of what we're talking about today -- some of that hope, and what will take us forward is evident in the way people have come together.

KING: Senator Clinton, are people -- are all people aware of help they can get?

CLINTON: No.

KING: New York is always -- I grew up here, I know New York helps.

CLINTON: New York does help. But we're finding that a lot of people still don't know where to go for help, or what help is available. I met today with a group of small business owners downtown in Tribeca who have opened up for business again, but no one is coming. They don't know whether they'll be able to keep their doors open. They need help right away.

We got them together with the SBA and the FEMA. You know, Chuck and I have been working very hard to make sure that the federal government and the city and the state are all coordinated so that whatever help is needed, we're going to try to provide it either through existing programs, or making programs to fit this particular situation, which is unprecedented in our country's history.

KING: Are you satisfied with what the United States government is doing?

SCHUMER: Oh, yes. The response that we have gotten from our colleagues, from one end to the other of this country has been amazing. The president has just been incredible.

I will never forget the moment -- never -- when we were in Oval Office, Hillary and I, and I made the pitch to him. I told him why New York needed an additional $20 billion, a huge sum. It was the day after the tragedy, we were all still emotional about it. And I said, Mr. President, we need an extra $20 billion. He said, New York needs an extra $20 billion? I was certain he'd say, well, let's study it, or let's start off with two or three. But he rose right to the occasion. He said New York needs an extra $20 billion, you got it.

I was so overwhelmed, I think there were tears in both of our eyes. I got up, and I was about -- we were both seated -- we were all seated -- I was about to hug him. Then I realize he was president, so I patted him on the shoulder. Don't hug a president.

CLINTON: But you know the president calls Chuck Ellis, because that's his middle name, which -- he was named for Ellis Island.

KING: He calls everybody by a different. What does he call you? Aha?

CLINTON: Aha, senator.

KING: You lived for a long time in a country where -- in an area of the world where terrorism was kind of commonplace. Any advice you can give to people who are now living with that?

NOOR: Yes, I have lived for a long time in a region that has been afflicted by -- and I think that is why the people of the region feel so strongly about what happened here, and share, and are also trying to reach out, and hoping and praying that this coming period will be one in which we can work together based on lessons learned from tragic experiences that highlight the importance of our working together, of our building coalitions of all sorts across the spectrum of cultures and faiths and all backgrounds.

KING: The purpose tonight is to bring together people who have been victims who survived, who have lost and have our three distinguished guests mingle and talk with them as millions of Americans do.

And we have one bit of news just in; I'd like you to comment. We have learned -- CNN has learned that known and suspected members of terrorist cells have been monitored in recent days in activities that mirror those taken by suspected hijackers preceding September 11. The sources stress there's no evidence of a specific threat, but in the words of one, the intelligence data adds to a sense of unease that something else might be going on.

What do you make of this?

SCHUMER: Well, you know, as we all know that bin Laden and al Qaeda and other terrorist groups didn't just have these 19 people, or even the 30 or 40 who supported them, but there are many more.

The one bit of good news which this sort of shows is, since September 11, the intelligence organizations around the world, even from countries that didn't cooperate with us at all before, who weren't friendly to us before, have really opened up. And if you talk to our top intelligence officials the amount of information that they are getting now compared to before September 11 is enormous.

And that may well help us thwart future attempts to do such dastardly things.

KING: So this information is a plus, in a sense?

CLINTON: Well, I think we have to recognize the reality of potential future attacks. And we're taking every action that we can possibly take to protect ourselves and to be vigilant.

I'm very supportive of the president and the administration seeking additional authority to conduct the surveillance that's needed in order to keep track of anyone who might possibly be connected to a terrorist network.

Having said that, I think that we all have to recognize, we can't live in fear. We cannot let the terrorists terrorize us; that is their objective. But we have to be vigilant, we have to look out for one another, we have to be much more aware of our surroundings than Americans have ever had to be before.

SCHUMER: But still on the -- you know, we had this horrible incident -- we are still a safe place in this country. And Hillary is exactly right. If we just hide under our desks or our tables, if people who were going to buy that car on September 10 and need that car, should go buy it. We have to move on with our lives. We'll never be the same, as we talked about earlier, but we can't sit in fear. Then they'll win.

KING: Tragically, your majesty, though, it often works, doesn't it -- terror. It does create fear; it does create unease; it does create what it intends to.

NOOR: Well, I wanted to add -- and this will answer that question, as well -- to the previous points, that one of the great opportunities provided is this cooperation, this international, now, coalition of sharing of information, of planning, looking ahead and trying to identify strategies for dealing with this kind of extremism and these kinds of incidents, and to do it together.

So I think that, in fact, instead of dividing, these actions have, in fact, begun to bring people together across national boundaries, across cultural boundaries. And the opposite of what was intended is going to be achieved if we continue to work in that direction.

KING: But if you don't, it does achieve, right?

NOOR: That's why we must sustain the effort of working together throughout the globe, not just to address what happened in the United States, but to see that as an attack against humanity, against all of us in the world.

KING: We're going to begin our series of dramatic guests, and have our panel question them as well. And we'll be right back; don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Do you feel a sense of pride as a New Yorker as to how all the people here have handled this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we all already knew that. Everybody in New York knew that we would pull together. We always pull together. You see snowstorms, hurricanes, it doesn't matter, you know. People will just jump out in the street and help you push your car out of a snowdrift. It's always been like that. And I was very happy to be a New Yorker every day of this, because everybody pulled together even more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE, with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Queen Noor of Jordan. Joining us now is Manu Dhingra, 27-year-old security trader, first of the surviving World Trade Center burn victims to come home from the Weill Cornell burn center. Thank you for coming, Manu. How are you, by the way?

MANU DHINGRA, WTC BURN VICTIM: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) spirits up, so everything is getting back to normal a little bit. Trying to...

KING: What happened to you? How did this happen?

DHINGRA: Luckily or unluckily, I was a little late to work that day. Going up to my office, just got even off the elevator and made a right turn in the tower one.

KING: What floor?

DHINGRA: On the 83rd floor. And that's when the first plane actually hit. And I guess, the fire found its way down the shafts and the elevator doors just exploded, and I was just caught in a ball of fire.

KING: You were in a ball of fire?

DHINGRA: Yes.

KING: So you were burning?

DHINGRA: I was -- I mean, I thought I was dead. But it lasted a few seconds. I guess if I was on the elevator door, it would have been pretty much over. But it lasted a few seconds, and after it was over, I just noticed my arms were peeling, my face, my back, legs. I just found some energy to run into my office and ask for help, but nobody was going to come up that high. And everybody started evacuating by that time, so my coworkers kind of forced me to walk down with them all the stairs.

KING: And you put the fire out?

DHINGRA: The fire had kind of like gone by itself. I was wearing like cotton clothes -- it was -- all my clothes were ripped all they way. KING: Were you in pain?

DHINGRA: Oh, I was in so much pain.

KING: How did you get down 83 floors?

DHINGRA: I wanted to sit down a lot. I was very dehydrated at the time, but everybody was very calm on the stairwell, because nobody knew at that time the buildings were going to collapse. So they let all the injured people through, and somebody was nice enough to give me water to get down the stairs. And I finally made it down, I got an ambulance, and didn't walk for two and a half weeks after that.

SCHUMER: Did most of the people up that high get down in your building?

DHINGRA: Everybody up until I guess where the plane hit, I think it was in the '90s, early '90s, got OK. Everybody after that didn't make it, I don't think.

KING: Where did you suffer the worst burns?

DHINGRA: My arms and my back. Back, they waited out to see if I needed surgery on, but they decided that it was healing on its own. The arms, they had to graft, they took skin from my legs to kind of graft the arms.

KING: People are amazing, aren't they, Hillary in times of...

CLINTON: Well, it is amazing, and it's a real tribute to your spirit and courage to keep going. And the people around you, who I understand kind of helped keep you going, and kept urging you on.

DHINGRA: I think -- I think at a time when you realize that, you know, you should be dead, and you are not dead, then I think anybody in that situation would be in -- do the same thing and try to find a way to survive.

CLINTON: When did your family find out? How were you able to reach people?

DHINGRA: I was able to like give my phone number to my friends and made sure that they contacted my parents, because that was the most important thing to me, that even more than being OK, is that they know that I got out at that time.

KING: Before the queen might have a question, let me -- earlier this week, we went to New York's Weill Cornell burn center, a division of New York hospital. It's the biggest and busiest facility of its kind in the United States. It's treating some of the victims of the world tragedy as we speak.

One of them we met with was Persar Nandan (ph). He just stepped into an elevator when a plane hit his building. Listen to his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PERSAR NANDAN, WTC BURN VICTIM: So everything (UNINTELLIGIBLE) normal (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Before (UNINTELLIGIBLE) moved, I heard a boom, and then, debris started falling on us, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) started to fall us on, and sparks. We were all on fire.

KING: How did you get out?

NANDAN: Well, that's the point I'm coming to. So we were, all the ladies were screaming and everything, and I came to a point, like this is it. But I saw a lady, a tall, big (UNINTELLIGIBLE) lady, and I don't know how she got her fingers between the doors, and she pries open it like that.

KING: Elevator doors?

NANDAN: Yeah, the elevator doors. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but I was all on fire. As soon as I got out of the elevator, I tried to get the fire out of my head and my hands, my shirt was ablaze too. But I couldn't get it out. So I rolled on the mats (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But I finally got the fire out of me, and I looked and I saw nobody.

KING: You were all alone.

NANDAN: They were all gone, and there was smoke, smoke. So I took some time to come to my senses. Then, when I looked, I saw a hand in a door. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and the person went down, so I said there is the best way. I headed toward it, I opened the door and I saw a stairway, and I started to get down.

KING: How was he treated, doctor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, when he first got here, he was actually having trouble with breathing and he was on the respirator. And he was -- so he was treated to maintain the function of his lungs, and then we took him into what we call the tank room, and cleaned up his wounds, took off the dead tissue and so forth, and put him in a white cream that we use, an antibiotic cream.

KING: Were you in a lot of pain?

NANDAN: Yes, I was. My whole skin was ablaze, blazing fire. A lot of pain, a lot of pain.

KING: You were conscious?

NANDAN: I was, I was conscious.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Queen Noor, you were going to have something to say to Manu or ask him?

NOOR: I understand you are going to the hospital on a daily basis now. Has this experience motivated you to reach out perhaps more than usual to help others? DHINGRA: Well, I thank God, Larry. You went to the hospital, you saw -- I mean, a lot of those people, some of them are a lot worse off than me, but they are fighting, and they are going to be OK. And I just want to like, I got out before them, I just want to make sure to see them get out and get on with their lives also.

KING: I think all of us, one of our big fears is burning, don't you think?

SCHUMER: Sure.

KING: The thought of horror.

CLINTON: And you were saying, we were watching the video, that people on the first floor were burned so badly. That's something that I hadn't ever read reported from the tragedy, because the fireball went down the elevator shaft.

DHINGRA: It found any kind of shaft it could to get through.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHUMER: The evacuation was orderly?

DHINGRA: It was because nobody had any idea that the building was going to collapse. So everybody was very nice. I mean, they helped me.

KING: You didn't think it was going to implode, so you...

DHINGRA: Right. I mean, nobody knew.

KING: Did you know a plane had hit?

DHINGRA: No, I thought it was just -- I mean, I thought it was a bomb. I mean, honestly, those were my first instincts about this.

NOOR: How do you look at the rest of your life?

DHINGRA: In a different way, of course. You know, nothing ever will ever be the same.

But I just would like to make one comment, if I could. I'm in an individual of Indian descent, and a lot of the people I worked with in my office were Middle Eastern and Asian descent, and these people who committed this terrible crime did not discriminate. And recently in this country, there have been some crimes committed against certain groups, and I just wanted to comment, that if we have one thing in common, and that is that we are all American first, and we shouldn't just rush to judgment about certain things.

SCHUMER: And you know, that is so important for people to understand, the overwhelming majority of Arab-Americans, Muslim Americans, hated this crime, just as everybody else did.

DHINGRA: And if it wasn't for some of my friends who are of Middle Eastern descent I wouldn't be here, because they helped me down the stairs.

SCHUMER: And you know, it is un-American to discriminate against someone because of their religion. That's what the terrorists do, that's not what we do.

NOOR: Thank you so much for contributing that, it's terribly important.

KING: What saved you? Getting to the hospital fast enough?

DHINGRA: Yeah, that was, that was -- I mean, once I knew that I was like alive, I just wanted to get help as much as quickly as possible, and just to feel safe. You know, and luckily I found an ambulance, and took me to the Cornell medical center. And the doctors there are amazing.

KING: You still have pain?

DHINGRA: A lot of discomfort, but, you know, medication helps to sleep at night.

NOOR: And you think you were in the same ambulance as the gentleman we just saw on television?

DHINGRA: I think so, I think I was.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Let me get a break...

(CROSSTALK)

DHINGRA: About a year, about a year I should be like fully healed. Yes, hopefully.

KING: Manu, you stay, and when we come back we will be joined by Robert Sherry. He lost his brother John. He has got quite a story to tell and amazing pictures, too. We will be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How has this changed you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In every conceivable way. I can't express the depression I have been in since then, along with everybody else. I mean, it has been a very difficult time. And how do you solve it? How do you find somebody who's done something like this?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining us now at our bureau in New York is Robert Sherry. Robert lost his brother John at the World Trade Center. John worked on the 84th floor of the Number 2 building.

What were the circumstances -- how did you know -- find out about this? ROBERT SHERRY, LOST BROTHER AT WTC: The morning of the tragedy I had stayed home, was going to get into work a little late. And I was on the phone with a customer. A customer had informed me that the -- one of the towers had been hit. At that point I dropped the phone, and I said, my brother is in that building. I called his office and got no answer.

KING: You turn on the TV?

SHERRY: Yeah, I turned on the TV. Called his office, got no answer. Called my mom, and I forgot which building it was in. I knew he was on the 84th floor, he worked for Euro Brokers.

I started to panic. I didn't know where to go, who to call, obviously, with this happening. I just kept calling his phone. At this time I had seen the most horrific act of terrorism that anyone could ever imagine, with the second plane coming in and hitting the building.

KING: You watched that live?

SHERRY: I watched it live. It's like, you know, seeing somebody hurt your family, kill your family; and it really hurt.

My brother was planning a vacation with his wife, and he sent her off the night before to Scotland with the two boys, James and John. She never felt right about it. And they had never been apart for any length of time. And Missy (ph), John's wife, had also been watching CNN in Scotland and called my brother.

My brother's a very relaxed person. They call him all-star on his desk.

KING: There you see his picture.

SHERRY: Five years ago.

They called him an all-star at his desk, all people from Euro Brokers.

KING: Liked him.

SHERRY: He never panicked, and his job was extremely stressful, as all bond brokers, screaming all day on the phone, get the job done, feed their families, go home.

KING: Were you close?

SHERRY: Extremely close.

KING: Are your parents living?

SHERRY: My parents are.

KING: How are they handling this?

SHERRY: Today was a tough day. I think the toughest part for everybody is closure.

KING: You went to ground zero.

SHERRY: I went to ground zero yesterday.

KING: What was that like for you?

SHERRY: It was a war zone. Two months ago, sitting in the house watching TV, terrorist acts can happen anywhere in the world and it never affected us. My 8-year-old son said to me, dad, where is that? And I just was oblivious to it -- didn't pay attention to it. And I said thank God we're Americans, we live here, that will never happen here.

KING: You took pictures of that, right? We're going to show some of the pictures you took.

SHERRY: I did. You know, my nephews need something to remember my brother by, and this may not be it but...

KING: You haven't been there, have you?

DHINGRA: No, I haven't.

KING: With all the rest -- have you been there?

NOOR: I have not been there.

KING: Of course, Chuck and I was (sic) there the other day, and the sense was loss tremendous. But you -- did you feel -- you were standing where your brother was.

SHERRY: I was with my -- two of my four sisters, and it was complete silence for a good hour and a half. We just stood there.

NOOR: How is your brother's wife, and how are his children doing?

SHERRY: My sister-in-law is an extremely strong person. She's got a shell of armor. And she's given me a tremendous amount of hope at first. The strength for her children, the support from the town we live in -- Rockville Centre, small town on Long Island -- got hit pretty hard.

KING: Twenty people in that town were killed. The town has raised money. Also some 300 businesses and individuals are pledging to give victims' families free services, right?

SHERRY: That's correct; from plumbers, electricians, gardeners.

KING: You're on a program called Friends of Rockville Centre, right?

SHERRY: Yes. A close friend of mine, my brother's and family, Bill Hogan (ph), Greg Diverna (ph), quite a few other people in Rockville Centre -- Mayor Murray had decided, let's do something for the families. And they raised over -- $100,000 dollars was committed to...

KING: This is for both, and the panel can jump in: Are you angry?

DHINGRA: I'm not angry at all, I'm just -- it does not help me anyway, because I'm just trying to get better. And it just will get in the way of anything.

SHERRY: I feel the same exact way. I'm not angry; I want peace. People tell me you're at different stages; I know where I'm at. Maybe that stage will come. Just the outpouring of support from people, making me feel good.

KING: Senators, what...

CLINTON: I was in Rockville and went to the high school, South Side,

SHERRY: Where I graduated from.

CLINTON: Did you graduate...

SHERRY: Yes.

CLINTON: And I met with a couple of the students who had lost their parents, and one of the teachers -- a young teacher who had just gotten married and lost her husband. And I met with about 100 of the students.

I was so impressed with those young people. You know, the thoughtfulness and concerned questions that they posed to me, it was something that, you know, just impressed me and made me very proud, because I know how hard-hit the community was. But the way that people are supporting each other and handling it, and using their energy to be positive, not to be filled with, you know, the kind of anger that could eat away at your insides and turn you against each other, is very important to see.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHUMER: ... that is -- Rockville Centre is a great place. I always march every year in the St. Patrick's Day parade there. And it is a place where people come together naturally.

But what this incident -- this horrible, horrible thing has done, is it's brought us all together in communities. Our neighborhood -- we lost 11 firefighters in the Brooklyn neighborhood I live in. Every night there are still people there and bringing food and consoling the firefighters who are left.

You know, some -- out of this awful tragedy, some good has happened. And the good is...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... about New York? NOOR: Well, there's that, and I was going to say, also, do your communities now feel a little more connected to the rest of the world? Tragically, in this way to, as you put it earlier, what is affecting other people's lives...

KING: You have a bond, right?

(CROSSTALK)

SHERRY: Absolutely. I would never look...

(CROSSTALK)

NOOR: ... perhaps a little more interested in understanding more about what's going on in the rest of the world?

SHERRY: Absolutely.

KING: Robert, good luck.

SHERRY: Thank you very much.

KING: And Manu, good luck.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: When we come back, two people who have been on this show quite a bit, Lisa Beamer whose husband helped send a plane down in Pennsylvania, and helped save lives in Washington, and Michael Hingson, blind since birth. He'll be here with his dog. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What's business been like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it took a huge nose dive at first. At first, it was like -- but, and then, when people started petering in, it was like group therapy, everybody wants to tell their story, everybody wants to say where they were and wants to tell you how decimated things are. And it really, you know, I did the best I could with that, I asked them how they felt and all that, but...

KING: Bartenders have to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yeah, that's pretty good.

KING: Psychology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, but yeah. There was a guy who came in once and he said he had 19 funerals to go to. And I -- I know. I -- I was just shocked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Tomorrow night, scenes from around New York, from ground zero, from the burn center, from just ordinary people on a special edition of "LARRY KING WEEKEND." Sunday night, Shimon Peres, foreign minister of Israel will be with us, Bob Woodward of the "Washington Post."

Tonight, we are spending the evening with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrats of New York, and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, and victims. We are now joined by Lisa Beamer, the husband of Todd Beamer, one of the heroes of United flight 93. You have all seen Lisa on this program many times, and you saw her in a special box the night the president delivered his speech in Congress. She is expecting their third child in January.

And Michael Hingson, blind since birth, he was guided down from the 78th floor of the World Trade Tower by his dog Roselle and a colleague, and Michael, like Lisa, has also been on this program before.

How do you hold up, Lisa? I mean, every time I see you, you look like -- how do you do this? You look radiant.

LISA BEAMER, HUSBAND WAS FLIGHT 93 HERO: Well, I have said before, there is a lot of times when I don't look radiant throughout the day. You know, I'm an emotional person like everybody else, and I'm suffering, grieving, like every human being, but I do have that bigger picture perspective that my faith in God gives me that lets me know that God knew that Todd was going to get on that plane that day, and he let him get on it anyway, knowing what that was going to mean for Todd and knowing what it was going to mean for our family.

And he has a plan -- he had a plan for Todd that resulted in good, and has a plan for me that's going to result in good.

KING: The fact that he was a hero, does that surprise you?

BEAMER: No. I actually didn't know what his role in that plane was for three days. And a lot of people asked me what I thought he did, and I said I thought that he acted, and I said I thought he remained calm, and I thought he maintained his faith, and I thought he had his family in his mind. And when I heard the results of that telephone call with the GT operator, all of those things were confirmed.

KING: The operator called -- you didn't speak to him, but the operator -- he reached the GT operator and told her everything that happened, right?

BEAMER: That's right. Right.

KING: Almost blow-by-blow, right?

BEAMER: Yes, she gave me a 15-minute phone call, that things that she talked to in about for the last 15 minutes of the flight before he got up and took action, so I have a really detailed account of what happened. KING: Before our guests have questions, Michael, those who don't know or may not have seen you, you walked down 78 floors. What kind of work did you do?

MICHAEL HINGSON, BLIND SURVIVOR OF WTC: I worked for -- and I still work for a company called Quantum ATL. I have managed the sales organization for channel sales in New York and New Jersey.

KING: Do you work with Braille?

HINGSON: Some. And talking computers.

KING: And...

HINGSON: And a lot of customers

KING: And you have been blind since birth, right?

HINGSON: Yes.

KING: OK. And Roselle and you went down 78 floors.

HINGSON: Yes.

KING: What did you hear, what did you think was happening? You can't see, what did you think and feel?

HINGSON: You didn't need to see. There was a pretty loud sort of explosion, we felt as much as heard, the building swayed a significant amount. So we knew that something was wrong. We smelled smoke fairly quickly, and then once we left the office we started to smelling jet fumes, so we knew there was an airplane involved. We didn't know it was a terrorist situation. We never knew about the second airplane hitting until we were down and out, and actually after the building collapsed.

KING: Was Roselle calm?

HINGSON: Roselle was calm. It's a team effort, and so as long as I stayed calm, that helped Roselle, and as long as Roselle wasn't panicking that because something was coming at us and about to run us over or crush us, then I was able to stay calm. So we fed off each other.

KING: What do you make of Lisa and her husband?

HINGSON: Oh. There is no words that can describe it. Lisa is very incredible, and her husband certainly did a very brave thing, that I'm not sure that all of us would be able to do. But we all have choices, and he made what certainly is a very heroic choice.

KING: And Lisa what do you think of Michael and Roselle?

BEAMER: Well, I have been impressed with them. I met them a couple of times in person now, and I am not a huge dog person, but I'm impressed by this dog. KING: Anybody want to ask of either person, Hillary?

CLINTON: You know, one of the things that has struck me throughout this whole terrible time that we have all gone through is that those of you who were directly affected have really inspired so many other people. You know, Lisa's faith and her love and her, you know, absolute conviction that her husband was meant to be where he was and he did what he was called to do, I think has helped so many people.

And Michael's courage, which, you know, it takes -- it takes courage to lead an active life and to pursue your interests and to, you know, work in the World Trade Center being blind from birth, and that in itself is a real statement, and then to, you know, being led to safety along with Roselle. And I would be really interested in hearing from each of you how you would say to someone who came to you with just the kind of grief that so many are suffering, saying, you know, how could this happen, why did this happen? What can be done about it?

Because what I worry about, Larry, is I have studied a lot of these other tragedies and disasters, and we have a lot of people who are just beginning to feel what happened. They have been running on adrenaline and willpower. Do you have any words, Lisa, as to how we can help each other?

BEAMER: The why question is a big one. And ultimately, my faith tells me why is because evil exists in this world, and things like this unfortunately will happen again, but the reason that God allows them to happen in my mind is because good will come out of them, and we have certainly seen just in the stories here tonight good results, we have seen it in our country, how we have pulled together, renewed patriotism, renewed love for each other, which we, you know, have not had in many years. So, you know, there is a lot of good that has already come out of this.

KING: But you never doubted your faith?

BEAMER: Never.

KING: And show people that -- Michael, what about you? Do you believe?

HINGSON: Absolutely. I think, even to carry what Lisa said further, God gave us all choices, gave us all the ability to choice, he gave us free will. And we have the right to choose how we act and how we behave. The people that did this made their choice, and they will have to live with the consequences, as we all do.

But I think that by choosing to react and tell our stories and to continue to be positive, because that's the kind of people that we are, is the most important thing that we can do.

KING: Our panel are of three different faiths. You're Jewish, and...

NOOR: Muslim.

KING: In the Muslim faith, feel exactly the same?

NOOR: I was going to say that, again, one of the important aspects of this tragedy as we go forward is the fact that it has focused attention on our faith, and because of the immediate initial media reaction and assumptions, the stereotypical assumptions that were made about those responsible, it has caused a lot of examination, a lot of discussion, and it has brought Jews, Christians, Muslims and other faiths together, because they are all bound by the same values and principles.

And among the children of Abraham, we are worshiping one God, we value the sanctity of life, tolerance, compassion, and most importantly, accountability before God, and perhaps more important than that, peace. It is the central tenet and responsibility of every child of Abraham.

KING: And the Jewish viewpoint?

SCHUMER: I think it's the same. I mean, as Queen Noor said, we are Abrahamic faiths, all descended from Abraham, and you know, I think Lisa said it right, God works in ways that many of us can't understand.

But ultimately, there has to be a reason, and what I'm impressed with as I meet people who have been through what you have both been through, people who have been much closer to it than all of us is in a certain sense, there is -- peace might not be the right word, but there is sort of an understanding and a calmness that many of us who were a little further away it from it...

KING: Don't have.

SCHUMER: Don't have, and I think we could learn a lot from all of you, and the other people that I have talked to. In the fire houses, where they have lost so many, there is a certain sanctity and a certain calmness that you don't have in other places, despite the sadness.

KING: Let me get a break, and we'll include some of your phone calls for the senators, for her majesty and for Lisa and Michael. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How long you been with the fire department?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-one years. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 1970, you know, I figured only three months to go, I never dreamed. It's funny, when I first came on, an old-timer said to me, "kid, the worst thing you will ever have is a plane crash." I didn't know in the last three months I would have a plane crash in the World Trade Center.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Michael, do you consider yourself lucky or blessed, or what?

HINGSON: Blessed. I guess I don't regard luck as having a lot to do with it, I certainly think blessed. But I think everybody was blessed who was there, no matter what happened to them or no matter what they are doing now. My faith, and I believe the faiths of all of us here, as Lisa said, and as Her Majesty Queen Noor said, we all have jobs to do, no matter what it is going forward, no matter where we are.

And I'm here and I'm telling the story, because I believe that I'm being led to do that, clearly, by the focus of attention, but just because it happened.

KING: Lisa, how are you going to handle raising children? Your father is a hero they are never going to know.

BEAMER: Yeah. That's the a hard piece, the baby coming is a hard piece. But I have -- I have taken some positive steps already and just trying to get them some normalcy in their lives.

KING: How old are the other two?

BEAMER: David is 3 1/2 and Andrew is 1 1/2, and this baby is due in January.

KING: Three and a half, asks for his daddy?

BEAMER: He knows what happened, he knows his daddy won't be back. My little guy does still call for him and looks at pictures and wants to talk about him, but I have a lot of people who will be able to tell him a lot of great stories, and certainly all the events surrounding this will be a great legacy for him to look to.

KING: Let me get a call. Memphis, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Hi. My question is for Hillary. I'm wondering what is the government doing and what can you help maybe to get them to do to improve the intelligence gathering in the country so that we can all go on with our lives and not live in fear?

CLINTON: That's a really good question, and you know, we are working on a bill right now in the Congress, the anti-terrorism bill that the president has put forth. We think that will add to the kind of tools that our intelligence gathering and our law enforcement authorities need. We are doing a lot to reach out and gather intelligence from around the world.

That's one of the really important parts of the coalition that the president is putting together, is so for the first me we can get the intelligence that some of the other countries have.

KING: Sent up a satellite today, right? Military satellite, not announcing what orbit it's in. SCHUMER: Right. We are -- I mean, we have had to learn from our mistakes. And the one thing I guess I would say to the nice lady from Memphis is, we know a lot more today than we did before September 11, we are a lot better, I think, even though it has only been three weeks in collecting and gathering intelligence. And it's still going to be a long road. We ignored this problem, terrorism, too long.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHUMER: Yes, yes, I helped work and bring some of the compromises together, so that we can still keep our basic freedoms but give law enforcement the tools they need.

KING: Do we -- we all think of this -- your husband was so beloved, what he would be saying now?

NOOR: His faith was indestructible, and in spite of everything that he faced in his life, and he would be grieving as much as any over those who lost their lives and those whose lives have been affected forever but he would also be looking to see where we could go from here, how we learn from this experience.

KING: Always looking ahead.

NOOR: How we can pull together -- for him, that was absolutely -- absolutely necessary to the resolution of any problem. And he would have celebrated the birth of your baby in January, as we all will as a new beginning, a new life.

KING: Tampa, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hi, how are you? The question I would like to ask is, how can we as Americans ask the young men and women of this country to fight for us, and at the same time for us to be so afraid to fly? If we are asking people to give their lives for us, how can we possibly not get on a plane and show our resolve? Because we cannot show the terrorists that we are afraid, and this is what's happening. And if these young men and women are willing to give up their lives for us, we have to stand strong for them.

KING: Never heard it put that way. Senator Schumer.

SCHUMER: Yeah, you know, people are afraid of flying, of course, when a horrible thing like this happens, they are. To be honest with you, the first two weeks after the incident when I had to commute between New York City and Brooklyn where I live and Washington, D.C., I took the train. And then, the president said, let's go back to life as normal, let's not be afraid.

So I took the plane. And I was a little scared. But I will tell you, I tell this to everyone who is listening, the security is so much tighter. At the gate were U.S. marshals, were U.S. customs, police officers, with the dogs who sniff for anything dangerous. And after I flew the first time, and everything, thank God, worked out OK, I wasn't afraid and I have flown two or three more times. I hope other people do that. KING: Have you flown?

CLINTON: I have flown quite a bit. In fact, you and I were on the same plane from Washington. We sat together, and had a chance to catch up early this morning.

KING: Was it crowded or not?

NOOR: No, it wasn't terribly crowded, the airport wasn't, but it is resuming. It's only the second day of operation at Reagan National.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Have you flown, Lisa?

BEAMER: Not on a commercial airliner yet, but I will.

KING: You will? You are not afraid?

BEAMER: I'm not afraid. It's more getting on the plane and kind of reliving what Todd went through, that would be difficult for me.

KING: Did you fly, Michael?

HINGSON: I would, and I will be very soon. I have reservations and I have got some trips planned that I need to make. Absolutely. I agree with what the gentleman said, we can't give into what has occurred and we can't allow them to dictate to us how we behave.

SCHUMER: Then they win.

HINGSON: Then they win, absolutely.

SCHUMER: Their goal is to terrorize us. Their goal is to make us afraid. It wasn't just the 6,000 people they killed, they want us to change our way of life, they want to us to cower, they want us to fight with each other. And by both being much more united, by being strong, and by resuming our lives, we beat them.

HINGSON: Terrorism never wins in a long run, and it's not only us, it's the countries, I'm sure of their own faith that they are trying to intimidate, and it just doesn't work in the long run.

KING: Elmira, New York, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I'm concerned about the railroads, the freight trains and stuff, the safety because of they go by major stay in, and stuff, and they carry hazardous waste and gasoline.

CLINTON: Well, I'm glad you raised the railroads, because Chuck and I have been working very hard to increase security on our railroads, and that is both for passengers as well as for freight.

KING: I didn't see any on Amtrak the other day. CLINTON: Well, we've got a lot of work do, you know. We have never invested in rail transportation the way we need to in this country, and now I think many of us understand that we've got to have a comprehensive system of transportation, which has to include rail.

But our rail transportation has to be safer. We need more security, we need to take a hard look at, you know, where they -- where our train tracks are, and protect against any possible problems.

SCHUMER: We don't have to change our whole way of life, but we are and we can keep our freedoms and our basic lifestyle, we're going to have to make adjustments. The trains so far are wide open; and we're probably going to have to go through security gates before you get on a train, the way we do with airplanes now, and make certain changes.

But we can all do that. All we have to do is keep our resolve. And at first it's a little onerous. You know, when they first put up those gates at the planes people didn't like it, now nobody minds.

KING: Don't think about it.

Before -- in a while, before all say good night Liza Minnelli is going to be joining us and we're going to hear her sing "New York, New York," a song every American worships now.

And you were telling me that an Arab-American wrote that song.

NOOR: Yes, that's something that I've been pointing out lately because, as mentioned at the outset, Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans have been double victims of these tragedies; first in losing so many of their loved ones, and second in being targeted.

And the Arab-Americans that have served this country have served at every state -- level of government, and in the armed forces. And since my family came over in late 1800s, and so many others with them, the contribution of Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans to this country has been as profound as any group.

And for New York, one of the most wonderful stories is that Paul Anka, an Arab-American, wrote the lyrics to "New York, New York." And I think that, perhaps...

SCHUMER: And a lot of other good songs, too.

NOOR: But that speaks, I think, not only to New Yorkers, but to people in this country, and outside -- that people of different cultures, different faiths, different ethnic backgrounds are one family.

KING: Is government going on, by the way?

CLINTON: Oh, absolutely.

(CROSSTALK) SCHUMER: Less partisanship, more unity. you know, we consult with each other much more. The idea of waking up in the morning and going to the floor of the Senate or House to beat up on the other party, that seems to be gone.

It's much more fulfilling to be in government now, with the unity of purpose that we have, and the compromises we're all making, meeting each other halfway, than it was before.

KING: Lisa, when your baby is born, what are you going to name him?

BEAMER: I don't know if it's a boy or girl yet, so I'll have to wait to find out.

KING: But you'll let us know?

BEAMER: I will.

KING: We're going to put him or her on this show.

BEAMER: OK.

KING: Michael, you continue to have good health and good faith.

HINGSON: I'll do it.

KING: And Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chuck Schumer, thank you so much. And Queen Noor, your majesty, what can we say? I hope this program helped.

NOOR: I think it has probably helped a lot of people.

But I would like to just add one final thing, which I think is what everyone has said: Instead of living with fear, which is so easy after a tragedy like this, each of us must spend every moment thinking of what responsibility we have to contribute; what we can do, what we can accomplish together.

KING: Thank you all so much.

Liza Minnelli will close things out for us, and she'll be right back with me after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We close it out with the great Liza Minnelli who, did want to correct on the writers of "New York, New York."

LIZA MINNELLI: Yes, all I wanted to say is the princess is so lovely, and I think she's thinking of the song "My Way." "New York, New York" was written by Canternebb (ph).

KING: But "My Way" is a great American song.

MINNELLI: Oh, it's a great American song, too. KING: Written by Paul Anka, an Arab American.

Where were you on September 11?

MINNELLI: I was at home.

KING: Here?

MINNELLI: Yes, here in New York; I'm a New Yorker. And Sam Harris called me and he said, quickly turn on the television, they've bombed the city. And I said what? He didn't know what part yet because it was still so confusing. And I turned on the television and I thought, OK, the world's gone mad, you know.

And I immediately tried to call my sister in California, like everybody did, they tried to check on people. And then you just get up and go and do whatever you can do, whether it's go down there and pick up rubble or it's sing "New York, New York."

KING: You know, you've always been one of our favorites. And of course your song has now become symbolic of all of this. You sang it at Shea Stadium that historic Friday night; there will never be a night to capture that again...

MINNELLI: Thank you, Larry.

KING: ... let's resume play. And all I can do is thank you for bringing us a song that all America now takes to heart.

MINNELLI: You're welcome.

KING: You're a special lady.

MINNELLI: Thank you very much. Thank you.

KING: We'll be back, but before we do that, let's hear Liza Minnelli at Shea Stadium with "New York, New York."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The saga goes on with new stories every day, and memorable stories that don't go away. Tomorrow: stories from ground zero, when we were there the other day, and from the burn unit at New York Hospital, and everyday New Yorkers at work.

And Sunday night, Shimon Peres and Bob Woodward, a live edition.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


 
 
 
 


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