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Interviews with David Dimarco, Michael Bloomberg

Aired September 11, 2004 - 08:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: Good morning from the CNN Center. This is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It is September 11th. Three years after the worst terrorist attacks on American soil took nearly 3,000 innocent lives.
Good morning. It is 8:00 a.m. here in Atlanta, 5:00 a.m. on the West Coast. I'm Betty Nguyen.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: And I'm Drew Griffin. Thanks for being with us.

Let's get right to the news. People in the Keys boarding up their homes, getting out. Hurricane Ivan churning now just south of Jamaica. The Category 4 storm packing 150 miles-per-hour. winds. Forecasters say Ivan's most likely path to bring it over the Keys late Sunday or early Monday.

In Iraq this morning, he was the first military intelligence agent charged in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Army specialist Armin Cruz pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and mistreating prisoners. A military judge sentenced him to eight months of confinement. Cruz also agreed to testify against others accused in that scandal.

Back here at home, there is another plaintiff in a lawsuit accusing Saudi Arabia of liability in the 9/11 attacks. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has joined the suit. A Saudi official cites the 9/11 Commission's report, which says the country did not give support to Al Qaeda in the attacks.

NGUYEN: We are following two major stories this hour. As a furious storm brews in the Caribbean, quiet tributes around the world are marking a somber milestone. Ivan eyes Jamaica and other island nations threatening to unleash its wrath on Florida. Meanwhile, though, mourners in New York, Washington and worldwide remember those lost in the terrorist attacks.

GRIFFIN: Three years ago during this hour, terrorists crashed a hijacked plane into the World Trade Center's North Tower. It was a wake-up call. The beginning of a new reality. Today, America is remembers that. CNN's Alina Cho joining us live from ground zero -- Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Drew, good morning to you.

That ceremony marking the third anniversary of the attacks will get underway at 8:40 a.m. Eastern Time. That is about 40 minutes from now. Family members have begun to arrive. Police officers, several here as well, and many dignitaries, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is joining us now.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us.


CHO: Three years later, how has the city recovered emotionally and economically from the attacks?

BLOOMBERG: Economically, the city is doing much better. Real estate is being built, and people are moving here, not moving away, and companies are starting to expand. We're creating jobs.

I think the emotional thing is a little bit harder. You don't forget 2,800 people, and we are fighting the war that started on the streets here, around the world. Every day in the newspapers you read about young men and women who are giving their lives to get back at the terrorists, who found our freedom so threatening they killed 2,800 people here in New York City.

CHO: We had a successful Republican National Convention recently. There was, of course, the threat of a terrorist attack. But Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has said that the terrorists will try to disrupt the elections. So that threat is there. We are, of course, on code orange.

How do you assure New Yorkers, Americans, the world, really, that this won't happen again here?

BLOOMBERG: I don't think you can. I think we live in a dangerous world. We live in a different world than we did before. What we have to do is make sure that we strike back at terrorists and rebuild any damage that they cause. If you don't do that, it gives them impetus to strike again.

The best ways to make sure that our children have a future is to stand up and not appease those who would take away everything that you and I find -- we took for granted before, and now all of a sudden we can't take for granted.

CHO: We look forward to watching you in the next few minutes. Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us.

Again, Drew, the ceremony gets under way at 8:40 a.m. Eastern. There will be four moments of silence and the reading's off 2,749 names by the parents and grandparents of the victims. Of course, we'll be watching all of that live, and we'll bring it to you when it happens.

GRIFFIN: Alina, thanks to you and the mayor this morning on his busy schedule.

President and Mrs. Bush are attending a prayer and 9/11 Remembrance service at St. John's Episcopal Church, this is near the White House. At 8:46 Mr. Bush will lead a moment of silence at the White House. That is the exact moment terrorists crashed the first hijacked plane in the World Trade Center's North Tower.

A program note as well. Tune in to CNN's "On The Story" this morning at 10 Eastern, we'll have a special look back at that day, 9/11, 2001.

NGUYEN: Now to our other major story today. Three major hurricanes in one month. Folks in Florida are hoping to avoid that startling statistic. Hurricane Ivan is expected to make landfall early next week, somewhere in the state.

And "get going" is the message to residents in the Florida Keys, as people there leave under a mandatory evacuation. Some residents are boarding up homes and businesses in an effort to ride out this storm. Governor Jeb Bush has already declared a state of emergency.

GRIFFIN: If you're just waking up and checking in to Ivan, there's been a little change overnight. Rob Marciano has those details, and more, from weather center. Rob?


Yes. The change for the better in Jamaica in that the eye wall has not passed over that island nation. That is good news. It has remained just to the south. You see it here, last 24 hours. There is a well-defined eye about to head right there and kind of makes a scoot to the west and south. That's good news.

Category 4 storm with winds of 150 miles an hour. There's some high terrain over Jamaica. And if the eye wall did pass over that, it probably would knock it down in strength. But it looks like it will remain as a Category 4, if not bump up to a Category 5. Winds extend out to about 45 miles. Not nearly as wide as Frances was, and that's good news as well, because probably you're not seeing -- not the entire island is seeing 100 m.p.h. winds there, although they're definitely getting battered this morning as it heads off to the west- northwest.

Latest stats for you, west-northwesterly movement at 10. Category 4 status, actually now it is about 60 miles away from Montego Bay and will continue this track. Again, it may be getting to Category 5 status through the Cayman Islands and then the western tip of Cuba later tonight and early Monday morning, probably going right over Havana possibly as a Category 5.

Then it gets into the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Not sure what it's going to do at this point. By early Tuesday morning or Tuesday afternoon, we could see landfall in the panhandle. Maybe across the western shorelines where they saw Charley; maybe as far west as the mouth of the Mississippi River. We'll watch for that as this thing continues its trek off towards the north.

Guys, there was one other time, I just read, I can not remember the date, what year it was, but there was one other year where Florida was hit by three hurricanes but they weren't major hurricanes. They were only Category 1 and Category 2 storms. So, it has been extraordinary, no doubt about that. We would love it if it didn't hit Florida at all, we'll just have to wait and see. Back to you in the studio.

NGUYEN: All right. Thank you, Rob.

We want to continue talking about Ivan, because though it's weakened slightly, forecasters say Ivan is still no doubt a very dangerous Category 4 hurricane, and could gain strength over the next 24 hours.

Right now, it is spinning furiously in the Caribbean. Already hard-hit, Jamaica. Our Karl Penhaul is in the country's capital and joins us live via video phone. Karl?


As Hurricane Ivan has been pounding Kingston and the southern coast of Jamaica throughout the night, these storms really have been devastating. We've seen electricity pylons down. Trees are strewn around the roads of the capital, and police tell me that one -- so far, one woman, is missing, presumed drowned after storm tides rose around her home in a neighborhood of Kingston.

Police, though, say it's too early to get a full picture of what's going on around the island, because power is down across most of the island and communications are only sporadic. They say with first light now, they'll be able to start putting a preliminary picture together.

They also say in addition to that woman who is missing, feared drowned, that many other people are reported injured. Injured by flying debris as they went out their homes to try and batten down, to try to keep their house together.

We here at the hotel where we fell back to from an ocean-side position where we earlier in the day had to barricade ourselves in a bathroom. The strongest part of our hotel room. And across, throughout the night, we were hearing windows shattering and debris flying around outside.

This morning, the picture, a little behind me, yes, branches are down, but the hotel compound was a little protective from the wind. Outside these gate, the picture is much, much worse. Police are talking about widespread flooding across the southern coast. Some of the major highways heading east from the capital have also been washed out by this storm.

But it's only later in the day we're going to start to get a full reading on whether people have died, whether people have been injured and also the extent of material damage, Betty.

NGUYEN: Gee, looking behind you, Karl, we see debris everywhere. Karl Penhaul in Jamaica this morning. Thank you for that report -- Drew. GRIFFIN: Live coverage of the anniversary of 9/11 this morning. Live pictures from New York City, ground zero, in one-half hour from now, they'll begin the ceremony marking the terrible events of this day. CNN will be carrying events from New York City to Washington to Shakesville, Pennsylvania, site of the plane crashes.

Ever since September 11, U.S. authorities have said it's not a matter of if there will be another attack on Americans, but when. This week, new signs Al Qaeda is flexing its muscle. CNN's Kelli Arena reports, that is raising concerns.


KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. officials say the new al Qaeda tape could serve as a trigger for another terrorist attack, but the level of concern was already very high before the tape was released.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We continue to worry, as you know, about this election period, this window.

ARENA: Much of the concern is focused on the potential for an attack modeled after the train bombings in Madrid. Some suggest it altered the outcome of the Spanish election.

Counter-terrorism officials say intelligence continues to suggest a plot against the United States is underway, but cite no specifics.

TOM RIDGE, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: There was a consistent, credible reporting stream that talked about disruption of our democratic process.

ARENA: Government officials say the concern about an al Qaeda attack is as great as it was in the days following September 11, despite an aggressive assault. The U.S. and its allies, particularly Pakistan, say they have taken into custody or killed three-quarters of al Qaeda's leadership and hundreds of operatives.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It's harder for them to travel between countries, it's harder for them to communicate with each other, it's harder for them to raise money, it's harder for them to do everything.

ARENA: Even so, U.S. officials say al Qaeda's central command is still functioning.

BRUCE HOFFMAN, RAND CORPORATION: So what we see, I believe, is that al Qaeda still retains some ability at least to plan, to order the surveillance and reconnaissance of potential targets.

ARENA: Intelligence officials say there is evidence Osama bin Laden is still involved in planning, but, beyond that, the new command structure is unclear.

For example, Pakistani officials are currently searching for Abu Farad al Libbi (ph), who is described as an operational planner. Some say he is among the most of the senior operatives. Others aren't so sure.

Even more complicated, untangling the web of affiliates.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, ACTING DIRECTOR, CIA: As we are in a tactical phase of terrorism, we are quite aware that we're taking down terrorist networks, but that new ones are popping up in their place.

ARENA (on camera) As for where this leaves the United States, more than one official put it this way -- the U.S. is safer, but it's not safe. Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


GRIFFIN: The autobiography of September 11th told by the people who were part of history on that horrific day in Lower Manhattan.

NGUYEN: Now their stories, "Tower Stories", are preserved in time for future generations. I'll talk to the author, next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He used the right words, he expressed the right outrage and he was going after the right target. But that lasted about two months.


GRIFFIN: How did America lose its support in some parts of Europe where the sentiment was so strong, 36 months ago. We're going to take a look into that ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.



ARRON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: The lessons of 9/11, for civilians and first responders can be stated simply.

In the new age of terror, they, we, are the primary targets. The losses America suffered that day demonstrated both the gravity of terrorist threat and the commensurate need to prepare ourselves to meet it. A rededication to preparedness is perhaps the best way to honor the memories of those we lost that day.


NGUYEN: On this date, exactly three years ago, a singular horrifying moment transformed countless anonymous lives. "Tower Stories" is an oral history of the 9/11 attacks in Lower Manhattan, as told by ordinary people who responded in the most extraordinary ways. Their stories are unforgettable.

Writer Damon DiMarco's own unique response to the tragedy was to seek out those testimonies and compile them into a historic document. He joins us to talk about some of those people.

Good morning to you .


NGUYEN: I'm doing well. Before we talk about the people in your book, let's talk about you and why you dedicated a year and a half after the attacks to tell these stories.

DIMARCO: Well, there were so many things that could be done after the attack, but as a writer, my specialty is words. And so I couldn't go down to ground zero and dig, I couldn't pull bodies out. My service was to compile the accounts of people who did extraordinary things.

NGUYEN: And you talk about a woman in your book named Nicole Brown. Why her story?

DIMARCO: It's actually Nicole Blackman. But Nicole did -- Nicole started out, she's a native New Yorker, and she started out making sandwiches for people who were rescue workers heading down the Westside highway, which of course was the conduit, at that time, for rescue workers going down to ground zero.

The command structure down there at the time was unexpected, and disorganized. No one knew how to deal with the tragedy. So Nicole found herself bouncing from one rescue site to the next and gradually gaining a fair amount of prestige and leadership. Within three months running the Stuyvesant High School Relief Center.

And this is indicative of how people get caught up in volunteerism and really serve a need in times of crisis.

NGUYEN: I want to read an excerpt from a man you call Homicide Detective Y.


NGUYEN: This is in your book. You say, "When you see homicides you see accidents, all kinds of different deaths, which I have seen. It didn't prepare me to see the destruction of bodies from the World Trade Center. What happened with those people, it lives with me every day."

Very haunting. What did you learn from detective Y?

DIMARCO: Well, Detective Y is a seasoned veteran of the New York Police Department. He has been a homicide detective for approximately 20 years. His entire worldview, like so many of ours, was blown away on that day and in the days afterwards.

For me, it was a real challenge to begin to assimilate what I believe is the new world picture of where America fits in, where New York fits in. Where we all, as human beings, fit into a world where we are in fact more vulnerable than we thought we were. NGUYEN: I also want to read an excerpt from a professor who you spoke with in this book, talking about that world perspective. He says, "There was once a wonderful relationship with America and the Middle East, that at some historical conjunction turned bloody and tragic. The demonization of Osama bin Laden is actually a distortion of truth. It is packagable. The truth goes deeper than that."

What kind of truth did you find from him?

DIMARCO: Well, I think the simple truth is that America, no matter how critical you can be of us, is still the greatest experiment in human freedom that we have ever experienced on this planet.

We need to keep that in mind. That is not, however, a license to forgive ourselves of places in our own conduct that we could begin to reinvestigate. Certainly I think right now what 9/11 has taught us, A, we are vulnerable, B, the position we occupy in the world is not as highly esteemed as we perhaps thought it was.

And, C, that in the future we need to re-evaluate our own conduct in regions such as the Middle East and perhaps focus on how America could bring the light of the democracy into the world, rather than the light of, say, economic interest.

NGUYEN: On this day, how are you planning to remember 9/11?

DIMARCO: I plan to reflect quite a bit.

At this point, I would also like to say there are some wonderful charities out there. And I encourage people to investigate them. The charity that "Tower Stories" is dedicated to, is Secret Smiles, New York. It was founded by Kristine Irvine Ryan (ph), who perished in the Towers -- in the North Tower, on the morning of September 11, three years ago -- and her best friend Meredith Hasseth (ph).

Meredith and Kristine's husband, Brian (ph), have continued their charity work. If you want to know more about this really extraordinary charity I urge you to go to

NGUYEN: All right, Damon DiMarco, author of "Tower Stories: The Autobiography of September 11, 2001". We thank you for your time.

DIMARCO: Thank you for letting me join you.


GRIFFIN: Well, America went from widespread support in Western Europe after September 11th to something much less now. How did it happen? We'll try to explain that next.

NGUYEN: And later, four days after his surgery, former President Clinton is out of the hospital and in his own home.


GRIFFIN: In 16 minutes, they will begin anniversary ceremonies at ground zero here live in New York City. CNN will be carrying those moments as they happen this morning on September 11th.

The attacks, one of those tragic events that united leaders around the world in solidarity and sympathy with U.S. Then, politic, policy, triggered a great divide. CNN's Jim Bitterman has that story.


JIM BITTERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Thirty-six months ago, all Europe stood at America's side. There were memorials in France, candlelight vigils in Italy.

We are all Americans today, an editorial writer declared. And in the following days and months, European leaders came to personally visit ground zero and express their support. Germany helped organize the post-war government for Afghanistan. And sent troops to help on the ground. So, too, did France. And both still have troop there's today, helping fight the war against terrorists.

So what changed things between America and some of its European friends?


BITTERMAN: The nasty feud over America's other war, analysts here say, alienated some, who at the beginning had no problem with President Bush's war on terror.

HEISBOURG: He used the right words. He expressed the right outrage and was going after the right target, but that lasted about two months. He should have stuck -- he should have stuck to that note. And he would not have lost his friends and partners on the way.

BITTERMAN: The war in Iraq was too much for many, who, according to one recent poll believed the Bush administration exaggerates the terrorist threat. And according to another poll, believed the war in Iraq has increased the threat from terrorism.

For Europeans, there is a distinct disconnect between hunting the 9/11 terrorists and declaring war on Iraq.

PETER HEINE, HUMBOLDT UNIVERSITY: The argument to go to Afghanistan was -- was stronger than to go to Iraq. It was clear there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but it was clear that Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan.

BITTERMAN: Those who stuck by Washington for both wars did so at considerable political risk. Spain's government went down to defeat in part because of its support for the war in Iraq. Just days after that support, it made the country a target for terrorists.

Britain's Tony Blair has faced several tough showdowns in parliament over the issue. And in Italy, Prime Minister Burleson defied public opinion to support the U.S. president. Observers say it was as much a case of deals as ideals. FRANCO PAVONCELLO, JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY: Subcontracts, obviously, have been given to countries that had some sympathetic eye towards the military effort there. I would imagine that there was some kind of economic advantage.

BITTERMAN (on camera): So, three years after the attacks on the U.S., some of the European governments friendly with America remain so. But others, while just as committed to the war on terrorism will not stand with the U.S. for the war in Iraq. Jim Bitterman, CNN, Paris.


NGUYEN: Now, usually at this time we air "House Call" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, but on this third anniversary of the September 11th attacks, this is a special expanded edition of CNN SATURDAY MORNING. "House Call" will be back tomorrow at its usual time. That's 8:30 Eastern.

Meanwhile, we are about 10 minutes from the commemoration at New York's ground zero. We will go there when CNN SATURDAY MORNING continues.


GRIFFIN: You're look at live pictures: lower Manhattan, Ground Zero. Ten minutes from now, New York and the nation will pause to remember what happened at this site three years ago on this morning.

Welcome back to you. I'm Drew Griffin.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen at CNN global headquarters in Atlanta.

First, the news.

A prayer service in about 10 minutes, and a moment of silence. That's how President Bush is marking 9/11 at the White House. The president will also deliver his radio address, live, with families of victims looking on. It is only the second time Mr. Bush has spoken live on a weekly broadcast.

Senator John Kerry is also taking a break from the campaign trail to mark the day. Kerry's going to a memorial service in Boston, where two of the planes that were hijacked on 9/11 originated. Kerry yesterday met privately with some 9/11 widows.

Former President Bill Clinton isn't taking his recovery lying down. Clinton is back home in Westchester County, New York, after leaving the hospital where he had heart bypass surgery just a few days earlier. A spokesman said Clinton is already taking short walks at home.

Overseas now. U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Jenkins is back in the hands of the U.S. military. Jenkins is accused to defecting to North Korea nearly four decades ago. He surrendered at a U.S. Army base in Japan to face charges that include desertion and aiding the enemy.

GRIFFIN: Live pictures this morning. Ground Zero, New York City; the White House lawn. Both places will have moments of silence this morning marking the moments when the planes crashed on September 11, 2001.

In New York City, a reading of the victims' names. That is how the city will mark this day.

Alina Cho is at Ground Zero -- Alina.

CHO: Drew, good morning to you.

Most, if not all of the family members and the dignitaries have arrived by now. As you mentioned a bit earlier, the ceremony will start about 10 minutes from now.

Earlier I spoke with New York Governor George Pataki. I began by asking him what his message was three years later.


GOV. GEORGE PATAKI, NEW YORK: Well, I think, to the family members, the most important thing is we're never going to forget. September 11's never just going to become a day. The 2,700 isn't going to become a number of the people we lost. We're going to honor the memory of each individual.

And that's why every name will be read today. That's why parents and grandparents will be reading those names, and that's why the centerpiece of what we do here will be the memorial, where we'll be able to tell the stories of each of those heroes who lost their life on September 11.

And to America, we want to first say thank you. Because we wouldn't have been able to come through it without the outpouring of help from people in every corner of this great country.

And we understand the obligation we have, not just to those heroes but to the world to show that we're coming back, stronger, and more united than ever, and that we're not going to let this get us down. We're going to move beyond it and show -- show the world what freedom means and what confidence we have in our future.

CHO: I know you get quite emotional when you talk about this, and you've also been heavily involved in the rebuilding. You mentioned the memorial. The last time we saw each other was on July 4 at the cornerstone laying ceremony for the Freedom Tower. You will be the first tenant in that tower when it is built.

Give us a status report on the rebuilding process.

PATAKI: Well, we did lay the cornerstone on July 4. And behind me you can see Seven World Trade Center going up, and that was the last building that came down on September 11, and it's the first to go up. And at Ground Zero itself, the footprints will be preserved as voids, as part of the memorial design. And we're taking interim steps, like within a few weeks we'll have a tribute center where families can gather and their stories can be told right around the corner of this site.

And the progress is -- is tremendous, but we have to be respectful. We have to be respectful of the families, respectful of the footprints, and recognize that 2,700 people died here, and this really is sacred ground.


CHO: You're looking live now at Ground Zero, the World Trade Center site where they will begin the rebuilding sometime soon on that Freedom Tower and the memorial.

There you see a reflecting pool at the lowest point of the World Trade Center site. That is seven stories below street level. Family members during the name reading will be able to go down, lay flowers at that reflecting pool.

There will also be four moments of silence twice to mark the times the two planes hit the two towers. Twice to mark the times that each tower fell. And, of course, there will be the reading of all 2,749 names by the parents and the grandparents of the victims.

Again, the ceremony, Drew, set to get underway less than 10 minutes from now.

GRIFFIN: Alina, we will be joining you as we watch and remember on this day. Thanks.

NGUYEN: Now to the Caribbean.

Hurricane Ivan whipping up waves of damage and destruction. In Jamaica, the storm downed trees, flooded streets and swept away houses. The eye of the storm bypassed the island nation, sparing it the worst of its wrath.

Meanwhile, though, folks in the Florida Keys want to avoid three major hurricanes in one month. Ivan is expected to make landfall early next week somewhere in the Sunshine State. We don't know just yet.

Residents are leaving under a mandatory evacuation, nonetheless. Some are boarding up homes and businesses in an effort to ride out the storm. Governor Jeb Bush has already declared a state of emergency. He'll hold a briefing in the next hour.

GRIFFIN: Florida may not be the only target that Ivan is bearing down on. Rob Marciano has that and more in the weather center -- Rob.


NGUYEN: All right. Thank you. GRIFFIN: Families of September 11 victims will be reading names of their loved ones in lower Manhattan. We're going to take you there live when that ceremony begins.


NGUYEN: As the nation pauses to remember on this September 11, I want to give you a live picture now at the World Trade Center, where people have come to gather and reflect on what happened there some three years ago today.

There will be many ceremonies throughout the day, but beginning this morning in New York City, there are also ceremonies in Washington, D.C., and moments of silence at both places. That will take place at 8:46 this morning.

And after that, there will be the reading of the names of all 2,749 people killed in the attacks. Pairs of parents and grandparents will be reading those names.

As you see on your screen on the left-hand side is a reflecting pool. Family members will go there to lay wreaths and flowers in remembrance. And many are coming this morning bearing pictures of their loved ones lost on September 11 some three years ago today.

GRIFFIN: We're expecting the ceremony in New York to begin at any moment at this hour. The relatives have all joined other dignitaries: the governor, Pataki, the mayor, Bloomberg. And as you can see, the representatives of the police and fire department now moving forward as the ceremony begins.


GRIFFIN: The bagpipers and drummers are taking the flag of the World Trade Center to the site where the ceremony will begin this morning. The tattered flag that we saw bring so many fallen firefighters out of Ground Zero on the hours and days after the event.

NGUYEN: And after this, the Young People's Chorus will sing the "Star Spangled Banner" and the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, will introduce the first moment of silence.

There are going to be two moments of silence: one when the plains hit and then another when the buildings collapsed, this morning, and we will bring all of this to you live as this ceremony at Ground Zero begins.


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