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AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Interview with Alice Hoglan, Deena Burnett

Aired April 19, 2002 - 08:23   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: They knew that the listening would be painful. But for the relatives of those who died September 11 in United Flight 93, hearing is believing. Family members gathered yesterday at a New Jersey hotel to listen, to listen to the cockpit recording of the flight's final 30 minutes before the hijacked airliner crashed in Pennsylvania.

Alice Hoglan's son Mark Bingham and Deena Burnett's husband Tom are believed to have been among the group of passengers who rushed the cabin and fought the hijackers.

And Alice and Deena are joining us this morning.

Welcome.

ALICE HOGLAN, MOTHER OF FLIGHT 93 VICTIM: Thank you.

DEENA BURNETT, WIDOW OF FLIGHT 93 VICTIM: Thank you very much.

ZAHN: I know you must be wiped out after what you went through yesterday.

HOGLAN: We are. I'd say we are.

ZAHN: And I know you have very specific instructions about what you're allowed to talk about and what you're not.

HOGLAN: That's true.

BURNETT: Yes.

ZAHN: What did the government tell you?

HOGLAN: David Novak is the U.S. attorney who's spearheading the prosecution of the alleged 20th hijacker, who is alleged to have been intended to be on board Flight 93, Zacarias Moussaoui. And he is the one who made it possible for us to listen to the cockpit voice recording. He credits Deena. He credits our support of the effort. I credit the press for making it possible for us to listen.

But it was David Novak that talked the FBI into letting us listen. And he did it on condition that we would be cautioned and exhorted not to reveal specific information that the cockpit voice recorder has on it... ZAHN: Because it could compromise a future prosecution?

HOGLAN: That's what his, yes. That's what his concern is.

ZAHN: Does that make sense to you?

BURNETT: It does in a sense. He asked us not to reveal whether or not we recognized certain voices on the recording, and that really does not make sense to me. I'm not sure how that can jeopardize the case. But we are honoring his wishes.

ZAHN: So what is it you can share with us about what you learned about the final 30 minutes of this flight?

BURNETT: I'd like to say, first of all, we went in with very low expectations and walked out with much more than we had expected. Many questions were answered. It did raise a few additional questions, but not many. There were voices on the recording that were absolutely very clear and crisp. There were other voices that were very muffled and not identifiable.

There was both Arabic and English, and there were both men and women's voices. And the one thing that was absolutely obvious is that it was a united effort and both men and women were involved in storming the cockpit. And it was absolutely a wonderful feeling for us to sit there and know that each person on the plane had a specific task and they performed it well and that the spirit of America was best represented on Flight 93 that day.

ZAHN: I guess that is what is so extraordinary to me, because it appears as though that plan together -- had to come together so quickly.

HOGLAN: That's true. It's really regrettable that there wasn't a microphone mounted in the back of the plane because that's where Tom Burnett, Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick, possibly Richard Guadagno, Lou Nacke, Todd Beamer and the others who were involved, possibly Andy Garcia, Alan Beaven and Loren Grancolis (ph), the flight attendants involved. What we really needed was a microphone in the back of the airplane so that we could hear them discussing what Deena had told Tom over the phone, what Liz had told Jeremy Glick over the phone and what the other passengers had learned, that the World Trade Center had already been attacked, that it was very likely that Flight 93 was intended to be a weapon against a specific target on the ground.

ZAHN: So there was no question in your mind based on listening to these tapes that based on the voices you heard, everybody knew they were doomed.

HOGLAN: No question at all.

BURNETT: Absolutely.

HOGLAN: Deena told Tom what had happened to the World Trade Center and Tom, what did Tom say? BURNETT: Oh, he turned around and said oh my god, it's a suicide mission, and he shared the information with the other passengers. And I could hear him specifically talking to another gentleman, which I later realized that gentleman was Mark Bingham. And everything that Alice and I had thought previously was confirmed yesterday about Mark and Tom's involvement. And it was a very rewarding thing for us to be able to listen to the recording.

ZAHN: And, Alice, I know you made a number of calls that you now are convinced your son never heard...

HOGLAN: That's true.

ZAHN: ... where you were relaying to him the same information.

HOGLAN: That's true. My brother Vaughn (ph) suggested, as soon as we were disconnected from Mark, Vaughn said call him back, tell him that it's a suicide mission, tell him that he needs to do whatever he can to take control of the plane. So I did. The fortunate thing is that he didn't need that information because Deena and the others had relayed that information and they were able to use it to take control back of their lives, a degree of control, and to do what they needed to do to thwart the hijackers. And we're very grateful for that. The cockpit voice recorder confirms that.

ZAHN: I know you said some of your questions were answered and some of them weren't.

HOGLAN: That's right.

ZAHN: Now that you've gone through this haunting experience of reliving the last minutes, 30 minutes of this flight, what is the question that will continue to pain you?

BURNETT: You know, I think the most obvious question for me right now is where was the fourth hijacker? All reports from the airplane indicated there were only three hijackers, but as early as the evening of September 11 and the morning of September 12, the FBI and United Airlines were reporting four hijackers. And, in fact, there was DNA from the flight showing there were, indeed, four hijackers. And yet we don't have a seating chart to know where they were seated. It's difficult to find where they were placed on the plane.

And so my suspicion has always been that there was one as a jump seat rider and that is something that the cockpit recorder did not reveal because it only showed the last 31 minutes of the flight. So we didn't know who was originally in the cockpit.

Had the recording been possibly an hour, we would have had that question answered, but because of the length of it, we did not.

ZAHN: What will it be like for you all to live with the searing images and just the harshness of some of the language you heard on this cockpit recorder? HOGLAN: For me it's going to be difficult. It was really painful and ugly and violent at times. Even though it was muffled, there was an awful lot of distracting noise, we could still make out that there were really some horrible things happening. And that will haunt me. But I'm glad that Deena made it possible for us to listen. I would certainly take the opportunity again and I'm very glad we had the chance.

ZAHN: And you feel the same way?

BURNETT: Absolutely. I don't regret having listened to it. I found peace and comfort that I didn't expect to find. I did not think that any of the sounds would be haunting and yet I did lie awake last night for an hour or two thinking about what I had heard. I don't think that will always remain with me, but I was surprised that I spent so much time thinking about it last night.

ZAHN: You have shown amazing grace and amazing bravery, both of you.

HOGLAN: Thank you.

ZAHN: Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

BURNETT: Thank you.

ZAHN: Alice Hoglan and Deena Burnett, the best to you and your families.

HOGLAN: Thank you very much.

BURNETT: Thank you.

HOGLAN: Thank you.

ZAHN: Good luck.

HOGLAN: Thank you.

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