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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

September 11 Port Authority Transcripts Released

Aired August 28, 2003 - 19:01   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: We begin with the release of raw emotional transcripts and notes from the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
A short time ago the Port Authority, a bi-state agency that had its headquarters in the Twin Towers turned them over after being ordered to do so by the courts.

Our Maria Hinojosa has seen some of this dramatic material and has spoken to families of World Trade Center victims.

Maria, what's in the transcripts?

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a lot of very painful material.

There are 2,000 pages of these accounts, Anderson. This is just a sliver of it. Just pain -- plain pieces of white paper containing pained accounts of what happened September 11 through the voices of the people paid to secure the World Trade Center, the employees of the Port Authority.

They were released just two hours ago to the public, the result of a lawsuit by "The New York Times."

Some of the accounts are too painful to read: the last words of Port Authority police trying to rescue civilians; the frantic calls of people trapped inside the buildings trying to get help.

They represent 260 hours of radio and telephone transmissions and hundreds of handwritten and typed notes of survivors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LIM, PORT AUTHORITY POLICE OFFICER: I haven't read the transcripts that are coming out. I haven't read any of them and I don't really have a desire to read them. And I know what I did that day, I know what my fellow officers did that day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HINOJOSA: Now, many family members had opposed the release of these documents, but today they got advanced copies in hopes that they would not read them for the first time in the media. Many said they found out things they really didn't want to know.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LAURIE TIETJEN, SISTER OF VICTIM: You have a thought in your head about what you think happened that day and, you know, in my case how my brother died that day. And it's sort of something that you can live with, you can sleep at night with. And then you have, you know, as I refer to it as my worst nightmare and these transcripts were beyond my worst nightmare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HINOJOSA: Now let me give you a sense, Anderson, of what these transcripts look like.

There's a lot of police jargon, some very calm exchanges, in fact, from officers who are very much focused on a rescue operation, and then there are a lot of disturbing human moments like this one. And this.

"The whole building is coming down on me."

"The building is starting -- it's coming down on my right."

Someone responds, "Honey, the detectives need question about the attack. Calm down.

"Because I'm wondering."

Then there's an inaudible.

"Debris is coming down from the side of the building."

"Four nine 76. Some kind of explosion in building two.

Someone else responding, "Roger, B staircase."

"Another plane just hit the building. Move the command post to liberty."

Now, of course, that command post never got a chance to move because, as we all know, the buildings collapsed soon thereafter.

These next two days, Anderson, are going to be very difficult for a lot of these families, seeing these transcripts just two weeks away from the second year of the September 11 tragedy -- Anderson.

COOPER: Maria, very briefly, are the names of people identified, or is it just described as female voice, male voice.

HINOJOSA: Most of them are not identified. But you have to remember, Anderson, there are a lot of notes here, thousands of notes that were asked from the Port Authority employees to write up their notes after September 11. And in those cases you're seeing a lot of very dramatic stuff that people had never thought were ever going to be in the hands of the public.

COOPER: So sad. Maria Hinojosa, thank you very much.

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