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America Remembers 9/11 Victims; California Building Evacuated for Noxious Fumes; Rockets Interrupt Moment of Silence in Afghanistan
Aired September 11, 2006 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, HOST: Hello, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen, live at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Kyra Phillips is off today.
Hurricane Florence battering Bermuda. Powerful winds and pounding surf slammed the island as tourists hunker down. Where will Flo go next? We have live coverage from CNN NEWSROOM.
Afghanistan attack. Rocket fire interrupts a moment of silence. U.S. soldiers run for cover. Our Anderson Cooper is thereon the front lines of the war on terror as the war remembers the victims of 9/11.
Five years ago screams of sirens, fear, disbelief. Today, somber moments of silence.
President Bush began this September 11 anniversary shoulder to shoulder with New York firefighters and police officers. No words equal to the images of the battered fire truck door, just a symbol of lives lost in the service of others.
The bells will start to ring. Then a remembrance at the World Trade Center site. Families clutched photos and fought back tears as they marked the moment the terrorists first struck, and just a short moment ago bells tolled and a wreath was placed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. And still to come today, prayers at the Pentagon.
Ahead from the NEWSROOM, live reports from Washington, Shanksville, and New York. That's where we begin, as we did five years ago.
Ground Zero. It used to be a common noun describing a point of origin. But now Ground Zero is a place, for many a most sacred place, especially every time the calendar arrives at September 11.
CNN's Allan Chernoff is there as New York remembers.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Betty.
Church bells are continuing to ring here at Ground Zero, even though the formal ceremony ended 35 minutes ago, but certainly a very touching annual ceremony this morning. The names of all 2,749 people who were killed that day five years ago read, a real reminder of such a horrific event, of course. Right now, the pit remains open. Loved ones are still going in, but they still are remembering very much the names read. And certainly among those who were really just so moving, Margaret Cruz, who spoke about her partner Patricia McAneney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET CRUZ, PARTNER KILLED ON 9/11: There is a poem that says, "So bitter pain that none shall find. What plague is greater than the grief of mine." No day has been the same without you. But the memories of your smile and laughter will hold me and all who loved you for years to come. I love you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHERNOFF: Truly this is a day that brings the pain back to the surface. Most of all for the loved ones, but also for New Yorkers and the entire country -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Such a difficult day. Allan Chernoff, thank you for that.
Well, throughout the day, we are looking at the time line of events on 9/11. It was during this 1 p.m. hour Eastern Time in 2001 we heard from President Bush. He told America the U.S. military was on high alert worldwide.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make no mistake. The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Mr. Bush went on to ask for prayers for all those dead and wounded, and shortly after this speech, he left Louisiana and headed for Nebraska.
The 9/11 hijackers did not intend to strike Shanksville, Pennsylvania, a rural spot that few Americans who live beyond Johnston or Pittsburgh have ever heard of. Today the name Shanksville stands as a testament to sacrifice and to courage.
CNN's Bob Franken is there -- Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Bush is still here. He's about to leave after paying homage here. Had a wreath laying ceremony in that field in back of us, which is the site where United Flight 93 went down when the passengers on board decided that they were going to take this away from the hijackers and disrupt their plans to fly into Washington, either into the White House or the Capitol, causing this huge crash here in an area in back of me which was a reclaimed strip mine, which has been covered over again.
The president laid a wreath at the -- at the site this morning. He then had a lengthy meeting with the families of those who were aboard United Flight 93, families that are still holding on to a fierce pride, even after five years of sadness.
The president, as I said, is leaving. He's going back to Washington. There will by ceremonies at the Pentagon also.
Here in Shanksville this is a story not only of tragedy but of triumph, of course. The people on board, we now know from all the records that have been accumulated, had decided that this could not be, that they had to, in their last act, do something which will be regarded forever as heroic.
In the United States, this is just really off the beaten path, but Betty, it's become a place where more than 100,000 people a year are coming to look at a makeshift memorial that has been set up just off to my left there. It's really nothing more than a chain-link fence, but people by the thousands have brought their little items that they bring in homage to the heroism of the 40 people aboard United Flight 43 (sic). All those are removed and taken to a museum.
There's going to be a permanent memorial that is built after fundraising is completed. It will take several years for that, but in the meantime people come by the thousands at this makeshift memorial to pay their respects -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Well, it's a site where a lot of sacrifice was made. And I know a lot of people looking forward to that memorial.
Bob Franken, thank you for that.
A commandeered jet hits the Pentagon. Maybe not since the British burned the White House in the War of 1812 had an enemy struck so directly at a symbol of American power, of America itself. Yet the Pentagon is much more than a symbol, and unlike Ground Zero in New York, has long since been fully restored.
CNN's Barbara Starr joins me with today's commemorations and grim reminders that some things, well, they haven't changed -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, it was five years ago. Of course, we all stood on this spot and watched behind as the Pentagon burned, as the dead and the wounded were tended to, 184 Americans losing their lives here on this site.
And as you say, one year after the attack, U.S. military headquarters was rebuilt fully, the damage repaired, people back in their offices. That was the symbol that the construction workers wanted to send to the terrorists when they attacked this building.
Today a very somber day, a number of ceremonies here remembering those two died. Earlier today Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gathering with the families of those who perished to remember them and to remember the U.S. military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The highest tribute we can pay to them is to commit ourselves to doing everything possible to fight the extremists, wherever they are, to making every effort to stay united as a country, and to give our truly outstanding men and women in uniform all that they need to succeed. And I must add to always give our troops the benefit of the doubt. They deserve it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: And, Betty, speaking of U.S. troops, let me share with you at this hour on this day right now, Lance Corporal Colin Wolfe is being buried just over that hill at Arlington National Cemetery. He is being laid to rest by his parents, his family, and his friends.
Lance Corporal Colin Wolfe was a United States Marine, 18 years old, Betty. He died a few days ago in combat in Iraq, and it will take your breath away when you realize 18-year-old Colin Wolf was a 13-year-old little boy on the morning of September 11, who told his parents he wanted to be a Marine -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Goodness. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, thank you for sharing that.
Well, events marking the 9/11 anniversary will culminate tonight with a speech of President George W. Bush, and CNN will have live coverage of the president's prime time address. It is scheduled for 9 Eastern, 6 Pacific.
We do have a developing story to tell you about today. I want to take you to some pictures out of Los Angeles, where a hazardous material situation has come up.
Paramedics are treating 10 people for respiratory or other problems after noxious fumes reportedly came from the ventilation system of a three-story office building. This is in Van Nuys, California.
You can see right there the emergency crews who are on the scene. Van Nuys, California, excuse me. And we are going to be hearing from the Los Angeles Fire Department. They are there, as you see right there, working the situation that's under way.
Again, hazardous materials teams are on the scene, as well. We don't know exactly what the fumes are, but we know that paramedics have treated at least 10 people for respiratory or other problems after these fumes came from a ventilation system in a three-story building in Van Nuys, California.
Of course, we'll stay on top of it, and as soon as we get word from the Los Angeles Fire Department, we'll bring that to you, as well.
In the meantime, coming up we want to show you a reminder that Afghanistan is still very much a war zone. Our reporters under fire as the U.S. military commemorates the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
And just a bit later Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the war on terror and a new message from al Qaeda's No. 2. That is ahead.
You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
NGUYEN: This just in. Some breaking news out of Long Beach, California. You're getting a bit of a city view here, but there's the scene right there. This is at a rental car facility near the Long Beach airport.
We understand from officials there that a suspicious package was found in a rental car that was returned to that rental car agency. But because of the proximity of the rental car location to the airport, no passengers are being allowed in the airport right now.
And we have learned from affiliate KABC, which is bringing you these live pictures right now, that the device, that suspicious package found in the rental car, has been detonated.
Now the Long Beach police, the airport security and bomb squad all have been on the scene, and we understand that flights out of Long Beach are currently shut down, due to what you're seeing right there, the fact that a suspicious package was found. And according to KABC, our affiliate there in California, this device has been detonated.
So far no passengers being allowed into the airport right now. Now just a few aircraft are coming into the airport, and those will be allowed to land, but we understand no flights are taking off right now.
We're still waiting to hear exactly what was that device. And according to KABC it was detonated. So as soon as we get more information on that, we'll let you know. But at this point, no injuries have been reported.
Now, let's take you to another place in California, Van Nuys. You're looking at a scene right there. You see many fire trucks, the L.A. Fire Department on the scene, as well as the hazardous materials teams.
What we understand is that 10 people have been treated for respiratory or other problems after noxious fumes have come from a ventilation system. So that's what we know.
But let's get some more right now from the Los Angeles Fire Department. We have a spokesperson on the line.
Can you tell us exactly what has happened there today?
BRIAN HUMPHREY, LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPARTMENT: Betty, good morning. Brian Humphrey here from the Los Angeles Fire Department. The good news, indeed, coming from this location, about 30 miles northwest of the previous Long Beach location here in the city of Los Angeles, L.A. firefighters, including our hazardous materials experts, have gone into a three-story AT&T telephone company switching office where they discovered approximately 10 persons who had become ill after being exposed to what they described as noxious fumes.
Now the people had the presence of mind, again, to leave the building on their own. They self evacuated. And these 10 persons have been evaluated, only one being transported to the hospital at this time.
NGUYEN: Well, do you know where it came from? Because what we understand is that it was culminating from the ventilation system.
HUMPHREY: That was what the people verbalized. They thought it was coming, but they didn't actually see any vapors or fumes, so the LAFD HAZMAT experts are going through the building in a systematic fashion, utilizing very sophisticated sensing devices to try to determine what it is.
Now we're very appreciative that these people called, and because people are very wary today here and also in Long Beach, we do remind people that if they have any suspicions any day of the year never hesitate to call 911 to get the experts on the scene as quickly as possible.
NGUYEN: Of course, and we're looking at live pictures right now, this business park. This is a three-story building. You call it an AT&T switching office. And because there are buildings in and around, people parking in and around this building, is there any worry that these fumes may have spread to other areas?
HUMPHREY: No, the good news is the incident appears to be isolated inside this one three-story concrete building. The firefighters do not sense any vapors outside the building, and now they're going through every square foot of this three-story building to find out exactly what may be causing this concern.
And as you see in this live shot, courtesy of your L.A. affiliate, KCTV, many of the people are safely upwind and uphill from the event. We're waiting clearance from firefighters to return to this ascension (ph) facility.
NGUYEN: All right. So 10 people treated, one transported. Brian Humphrey from the L.A. Fire Department. Brian, thank you so much for that information.
HUMPHREY: You're welcome.
NGUYEN: Now, to the worldwide commemorations for the 9/11 anniversary. I want you to take a look at this video from a U.S. military service in Afghanistan. Our Anderson Cooper was there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm here at a forward operating base very close to the Pakistan border. I can't tell you the exact location -- we're actually now just getting some fire. Some rockets have been fired. They were about to have a moment of silence here in commemoration of 9/11. We've got to get to a bunker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Serious situation there. And that happened this morning. A rocket attack on a U.S. foreign base in Afghanistan as CNN's Anderson Cooper was reporting on American troops preparing to commemorate 9/11. Well, they quickly returned fire and were eventually able to hold that ceremony.
Five years after 9/11 Afghanistan continues to be a hot zone in the war on terror. The Taliban and al Qaeda are still attacking and trying to build their strength in the region.
CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Afghanistan. He was at the U.S. foreign base and heard the incoming rounds as troops tried to remember 9/11.
Bring us up to speed, Nic.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, there were six rockets fired, 107 millimeter rockets. This is a normal occurrence for this particular base. They've seen an increase of attacks here recently.
The rockets were fired from a number of locations. It's not clear exactly who fired them, but the commanders say that their enemies in this area are the Taliban, who they see crossing the border from Pakistan. They are al Qaeda and associated groups. They say there are Arabs, are Chechens and are Uzbeks in this area, who they associate with al Qaeda, and that's who they're fighting in this particular border area.
Indeed, in the last few minutes we've been able to hear some 105 millimeter Howitzer rounds from another base landing in the hills around here on an operation.
Now, the troops did come back and hold that memorial service. There was a minute of silence. People did stop. The bagpipes were played afterwards. And certainly I got the feeling from some of the soldiers here that this really showed the insurgents, whoever it was in the hills firing those rockets, that they weren't going to be put off from what they were doing and that they would have that minute of quiet remembrance and thought for those that died this day five years ago, Betty.
NGUYEN: Well, Nic, while it's not known exactly at this point who's behind that attack, let me ask you: five years after 9/11, how is it that the Taliban is having this resurgence? What is sparking this? And how are they getting the power to do it?
ROBERTSON: Well, part of getting the power is getting the money to have the power. Power in this part of Afghanistan really comes at the end of a gun. They are making money, we're told, out of the growth in the opium poppy here.
It's estimated that the amount of money that comes into Afghanistan for opium poppies is about $3 billion a year. It is more than half the GDP of Afghanistan. And the Taliban are believed to get some of that money.
So they get money so that they can buy weapons. They're able to intimidate the local population. People in villages find that their schools have been closed by the Taliban. They're told not to help the coalition troops here, not to help the Afghan government. And the Taliban have been able to operate and regroup in some parts outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and grow in numbers and sell their message. And that's why they're resurging back here right now.
Their aim is to overthrow the government of Hamid -- President Hamid Karzai and install the Taliban again in Kabul where they were ousted from five years ago. That is very, very unlikely at this stage, but they're using techniques like suicide car bombs. They were barely doing that last year and not even the year before. They're using roadside bombs. That's another new technique, Betty.
NGUYEN: CNN's Nic Robertson in Afghanistan. Nic, thank you for that.
Embattled at home, British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrapped up a trip to the Middle East in Lebanon. He appeared with the Lebanese prime minister at a news conference today. Earlier stops included Israel and the West Bank.
Angry protesters greeted Blair in Beirut, accusing him of siding with Israel during that country's month-long war against Hezbollah. Blair defends his position, saying a quick peace likely would have collapsed.
Well, many things changed after 9/11, including how the government deals with potential threats. Coming up, inside the command center designed to keep the country's skies safe.
And Attorney General Alberto Gonzales joins us for a look at America's progress in the war on terror. You want to stay with us.
NGUYEN: Five years ago today at this time New York Stock Exchange officials told employees that it was safe for them to leave the building and that they should walk east away from the World Trade Center.
CNN's Susan Lisovicz joins us today from the New York Stock Exchange to recount that day.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Betty.
That's right. New York Stock Exchange officials came to that conclusion after talking to Mayor Giuliani. So at this hour the New York Stock Exchange ended its lock-down, and employees were finally free to leave Lower Manhattan. Yes, advised to walk east or northwest away from the World Trade Center. Many employees had fled right after the second plane hit. This building is only three blocks away from the World Trade Center, and so this building literally shook when the second plane hit the South Tower.
And it's a very personal event for all of the traders here, because literally everyone lost someone on that day. The New York Stock Exchange observed a moment of silence.
This morning, the opening bell was rung by the downtown Hospital of New York, which received 1,500 patients in the minutes after the plane struck, despite having lost telephone service, electricity, phone service, computer records, you name it. It was the best and worst of times down here.
And it was a great moment, actually, Betty, when the people returned to work, in what was a war zone, nearly a week later. The market had not been closed for that long since the Great Depression.
Traders came to work seeing horrible sights, seeing a tremendous amount of military type security, horrible smells. A lot of traders were wearing masks when they were doing their business.
And historic losses. The New York Stock Exchange, for the Dow Industrials, it was the greatest point loss in one single day, on September 17 of 2001. The -- as you see for the three major averages, historic losses, tremendous volume, but a lot of the folks here believed it was their duty to return to work, brush themselves up, and get America back to business -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Yes, they did. Well, what about Lower Manhattan? I mean, has it rebounded from the attacks?
LISOVICZ: Yes and no. The U.S. economy was technically in a recession at that point, so already we were starting to see increased commercial vacancies. The Downtown Alliance of New York tells me that the vacancy for commercial buildings at that time was about seven percent. It quickly doubled after September 11. Now it's about down to about 10 percent. So it's still far from perfect.
But, of course, it would help greatly if the towers were rebuilt. Because you remember, not only were there thousands of people who worked in those buildings, there were hundreds of businesses that served the people who worked in those buildings. So it would really make a big difference here in Lower Manhattan -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Doing a lot of reflecting today, but let's talk about what's happening on Wall Street today. How's it faring?
NGUYEN: Thank you, Susan.
Well, on this date in 2001, Alberto Gonzales was a longtime friend and aide to President Bush who had risen to the role of White House counsel. It's a role like so many others in the top ranks of government, whose focus, priorities, responsibilities would never be the same.
For the past year and a half, Gonzales has been the nation's attorney general, immersed even deeper in the war on terror. Today he talks about the past and the present with our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena.
KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Betty. Thank you.
And joining us now from the Justice Department, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Thanks, General, for being with us.
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Hi, Kelli.
ARENA: On this 9/11 anniversary, we hear from al Qaeda, from al Qaeda's No. 2 man, Zawahiri, threatening new events. Sir, have you seen any evidence to suggest that there's an attack being planned? Does this latest message disturb you?
GONZALES: Well, we see attack -- we see attack plans all the time. We see -- we hear messages all the time, and this is part of the way al Qaeda works. They want us to worry about their plans.
And obviously we take all communications, all intelligence seriously. We have an obligation to run down every lead, every tip, to ensure that we're doing everything we can to protect America from another attack.
We obviously are safer today, Kelli, than we were five years ago, but we know from these kinds of messages that we just -- we saw most recently that we still have a very determined, a very patient enemy. And those of us in government, we have an obligation to ensure that we're doing everything we can do to protect America.
ARENA: In your opinion, is al Qaeda capable of another 9/11- style spectacular attack?
GONZALES: There's no question in my mind that they are capable. They obviously are weaker, because of the steps taken by this government to protect America. They're more dispersed. They've lost their home base. But there's no question in my mind that they still remain a very dangerous threat to America, and it's something that we're very focused on.
ARENA: You know, when you look at this tape, it's very technically sophisticated, and it follows several others. In fact, sir, Al Qaeda's releasing more messages than it ever has. Is the fact that they're able to get these messages out a sign that this organization has regrouped, is getting stronger?
GONZALES: I wouldn't say that they're getting stronger, but obviously they have found a means to communicate, and they're using propaganda as part of -- as an additional weapon against the United States and its allies, and so it's something that we have to expect and we have to counter.
And believe me, we are working very, very hard to track down leaders like bin Laden, working with the Congress to get additional tools, legislation, for example, on the terrorist surveillance program, legislation for procedures for military commissions, working with the Congress to get these additional tools that would allow us to better protect America.
ARENA: You mentioned a lot of things I want to talk about, one, bin Laden. We haven't seen him on camera in more than two years. Why do you think that is?
GONZALES: You'd have to ask folks probably in the intelligence community. They probably have a better idea than I as to why he hasn't made himself available. We continue to believe that he remains a very important priority, a very important target for the American government, and it's not a question of if we are going to get him; it's a question simply of when are we going to get bin Laden.
ARENA: And the fact that we haven't gotten him, do you view that as one of the biggest failures in this war on terror so far?
GONZALES: I wouldn't call it a failure, per se. Again, bin Laden is hiding in probably an area of the world that it's tough to find someone who wants to remain hidden. He's probably supported by people in that area of the world. And so, again, he remains simply one front in the war on terror. There are other challenges that we have to also focus on.
Even if we were to capture bin Laden, that would not end this war on terror, and so while he remains very, very important in this effort. There are other things that we ought to be focused on as well, and so we'll continue to attack every front on this war on terror.
ARENA: You mentioned military tribunals as well. Some of the men who were allegedly responsible for planning the 9/11 attacks, as you know, have just been transferred from secret CIA prisons over to Guantanamo Bay to face military tribunals. Now the administration believes that those individuals should not have access to classified information during those hearings, but as you know, sir, several leading Republicans and even military lawyers say that any fair trial would allow them to see that evidence. Do you see any room here for a compromise?
GONZALES: I believe that for the good of the country we need to find a compromise to this particular issue, and, again, we think it would be the rare circumstance where the defendant would not have actual access to classified information. We are prepared to make classified information available to their cleared counsel, so that the lawyer would have access information to the information. We're prepared to give to the defendant summaries of that classified information, so that the defendant could talk with cleared counsel about that particular piece of evidence.
So there are things that we can do, we believe, that would ensure the defendant would nonetheless receive a fair trial. In those extraordinary circumstances, where we're talking about classified information, the most sensitive information for the national security of our country, we would not want to share that with a terrorist while we're still at war.
ARENA: So do you think the fact that these people are being held in military custody is a statement that we cannot handle these types of cases in our court system?
GONZALES: I think that the prosecution, the successful prosecution of these types of individuals, where we may have to use evidence that might compromise sensitive sources and methods, where we may have to pull people off the battlefield during a time of war who are potential witnesses, I think it presents different kinds of challenges for us in our criminal courts, and I believe that this commander in chief, like other commander in chiefs before him, should have as a tool to bring to justice terrorists the use of military commissions, and that's why the president has proposed a set of procedures in the legislation he's proposed to the Congress, that would give him the tools to bring certain individuals to justice.
ARENA: All right. Well, I thank you for your time on this 9/11 anniversary. It's good to see you.
GONZALES: Good to see you.
ARENA: All right, Betty, back to you.
NGUYEN: All right, Kelli, thank you for that.
And we do continue to receive I-Reports from across the country marking the fifth anniversary of September 11th. Let me show you a picture from Stephen Kosloff. It shows the lingering debris cloud after the Twin Towers fell. Stephen says he took the picture from a bike path, and that people walking along were very eerily quiet.
Daniel Daly sent us this image of last year's memorial for the World Trade Center. Look at that, you can see the moon coming in between the lights representing where the Twin Towers once stood.
And here's a moving tribute to all September 11th victims. Ron Gorman is bringing his "Light a Candle in September" memorial bus to New York today. The bus is covered inside and out with the names and faces of all fallen victims, and if you have photos or videos such as this send it to us at CNN.com/i-report, and stay tuned to CNN as we observe this fifth anniversary of September 11th, with distinctive contributions from our viewers.
CNN NEWSROOM continues in just a moment. You are watching the most trusted name in news.
NGUYEN: Deter, detect, defend. That is the mission of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, but on September 11th, it found itself facing an enemy and a plan of attack unlike never before, and there were more tense moments just today.
CNN's Jonathan Freed is at the NORAD NorthCom Command Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
And, Jonathan, talk to us about what happened today.
JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Betty, what I can tell you is that earlier today there was a question about what was going on with the United Airlines flight that had departed Atlanta for San Francisco.
I'll tell you very briefly, the end of all of this is that so far there's been no indication that anything unusual has been involved, but before the flight left Atlanta, a backpack was found in the cargo hold. It was checked baggage, but it didn't belong to any name that was on the passenger manifest for that flight, so that bag was removed. In and of itself, not necessarily something that was considered a problem.
But when the plane was airborne, Betty, a flight attendant spotted a BlackBerry device, one of these handheld, e-mail, cell phone type-devices that didn't belong to anybody on the aircraft. And there have been concerns that these wireless handheld devices could be used by terrorists to trigger explosives and that kind of thing.
So there was a basic meeting of minds among the airline, the crew, flying the airliner that the best thing would be to divert to Dallas, which is what happened, and then everybody was put through a regular security screening and allowed to travel on their way.
Now Betty here at NORAD NorthCom, let me give you a tour of this room here and show you what is really the centerpiece of this facility. And if you look up here, it's what we're calling the big board. And NORAD and NorthCom -- NORAD of course dealing with air and space, but since September 11th, the NorthCom element has been added.
It's an integrated command, Betty. And NorthCom deals with land and sea. And just by what they are viewing up here on the big board gives you a sense of the scope of what they're looking at here. Up here we have Hurricane Florence that they're tracking. Up here we have the Shanksville, Pennsylvania area, which is a restricted flight area right now because President Bush has been there today. Next to it they're always keeping an eye on the Washington airspace. Down here we have what's called the tripod complex wildfire which is in Washington State. And over here we're keeping an eye on various ships at sea.
So it's really a very broad reaching integrated command keeping an eye on all possible movements and something that -- anything that could threaten north America. Now the big question, Betty, is what was going on here at NORAD, not in this specific facility, but a few miles away in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex where they were five years ago at around this time of the day? And let's listen to the general who was in charge of that facility at that time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LT. GEN. RICK FINDLEY, NORAD DEPUTY COMMANDER: As you can appreciate, there was a lot of activity that needed to get accomplished on that particular day. Phones were ringing, people had to communicate loudly, but what I really want to stress is the resolve of both Canada and the United States, those who serve those two continues working together here as a binational command.
It's quiet resolve, I called it. People had initiative to exact the levels of authority, took action, didn't wait for direction, and coordinated a massive response to the attacks on 11 September.
It was a day figuring out who was who now in air traffic system. No longer could we just trust that somebody was saying no, no, all the hijacked aircraft were gone. We had some other aircraft that didn't want to comply with air traffic control inspections naturally, didn't understand what was occurring so we had a day of dealing with each and every possible tract of interest that might be an enemy, an adversary if you like. And we also wanted to make sure our response was immediate and that we had enough of it everywhere that we needed it if something else occurred.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FREED: So Betty, five years later, we find ourself in the new joint command center for NORAD and NorthCom, a room filled with people quietly doing their jobs, sitting in front of desks that are labelled everything from biosurveillance to surgeon to ballistic missile defense. A very large team of people. They are here 24 hours a day and they are keeping watch for us -- Betty.
NGUYEN: We were looking at just the pictures there momentarily of the president and Mrs. Bush leaving Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were in Shanksville for that memorial service. I just wanted to mention that to our viewers.
But let me ask you this. As we look back though Jonathan, we do want to look forward. And what are some of the major things, if any -- it seems like things were under control, but it was such a chaotic day. Did NORAD make any changes because of September 11th?
FREED: The biggest change that's happened in the last five years has been sort of the reinventing and retasking of this command center. NORAD is the acronym, Betty, that everybody's been familiar with through the decades, through the Cold War.
And when you picture that NORAD command center, it's buried deep in the mountain, a few miles away from here. But about a year ago they opened this joint facility here, and the NorthCom command was an outgrowth of the needs that became evident following September 11th. And NORAD was always focused on air and space, but it became clear that in today's world with today's threats and what is posing the United States and North America, that there needed to be more diversity here so you have the NorthCom element, which folds in land and sea -- Betty.
NGUYEN: All right, CNN's Jonathan Freed, thank you. And as we continue to follow the timeline of 9/11, at 1:44 that day, Pentagon officials deployed U.S. Navy ships at exactly this time. The vessels would guard the East Coast from possible further attacks.
Well first came the gut reaction. Something about these guys just isn't right, but then guilt for judging two unknown men by their appearance. Michael Tuohey's ultimate decision haunts him five years later. CNN's Dan Lothian with the story.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Tuohey, now a retired US Air ticket agent, can't forget the feeling when he heard about the second plane attack. It was around 9:05 a.m.
MICHAEL TUOHEY, TICKET AGENT: I was right. This guy was a terrorist. My mind shot immediately back to that look in his face and the feeling of contempt and anger.
LOTHIAN: It was 9/11 mastermind Mohamed Atta. Tuohey had checked Atta and terrorist Abdul Aziz al Omari onto a connecting flight from Portland, Maine, to Boston. The agent was suspicious at the time, but it was only a gut feeling. They would help to hijack the American Airlines flight, haunting Tuohey for years.
TUOHEY: I'm saying, "Mike, you looked this devil right in the eye." I mean, "He was straight -- standing in front of you. You didn't recognize him. You did, but you didn't."
NGUYEN: And time moves on, but have we? We're taking America's post 9/11 pulse coming up next here in the NEWSROOM.
NGUYEN: Well, as they say, time marches on: 1,826 days have elapsed since the 9/11 attacks. But how much emotional ground have we covered since that traumatic day? CNN's Bill Schneider has more on America's measured response, and I guess Bill, the first thing we want to talk about is how Americans have started to heal. Have they started to heal?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well they say time heals all wounds, but in this case they're wrong. The number of Americans who say they felt angry in 2002, one year after the September 11th attacks was 68 percent, just over two-thirds.
Now that number has gone up. Five years after the attacks, nearly three-quarters say they feel angry about it. So the answer is no, those wounds have not healed, and they may have gotten worse.
NGUYEN: They feel angry. They're also more fearful, aren't they?
SCHNEIDER: They're fearful. The number of Americans who say they're afraid has gone up . Of course, what contributes to that are things like news about the terrorist arrests from London last month, where Americans heard that the terrorist plotters are continuing to work against the United States.
NGUYEN: So if Americans are angrier and they're more fearful, will they ever get back to normal?
SCHNEIDER: That concern is greater than ever. A year after the attacks, a majority of Americans, 54 percent, say they suspected that the country will never get back to normal after 9/11. That number has actually gone up. Now 70 percent believe the country will never return to normal. So, again, there's even more anxiety and more concern now than there was one year after the attacks.
NGUYEN: And looking at all of it, the question is, who are Americans blaming for this?
SCHNEIDER: Well, of course, we're in a very partisan and a very polarized political environment. That wasn't the case immediately after 9/11. For a year, the country was united. Even a majority of Democrats supported President Bush. A year after the attacks, 32 percent say they blame President Bush a great deal or a moderate amount for the attacks. But that number has now gone up to 45 percent.
Why? Well, President Bush's popularity has declined, more people are willing to criticize a president they no longer like. But also there were congressional investigations that uncovered some damaging information about briefings that the president received even a month before the 9/11 attacks. But is, indeed, a more partisan era. And so the willingness to blame the President Bush has gone up, as well as the willingness to blame President Clinton.
As you know, that's the subject of a controversy involving an ABC television movie. But if you see here, 41 percent of Americans say they think the Clinton administration deserves at least some blame. Not quite as high as President Bush, but Americans are willing to blame, really -- a lot of Americans, not most -- are willing to blame either President Bush or President Clinton.
NGUYEN: OK, that's Americans on the whole, but when we look at the 9/11 generation, the generation for which 9/11 was a defining moment, do the numbers vary there?
SCHNEIDER: They do. And the 9/11 generation is much more inclined to blame President Bush than to blame President Clinton.
SCHNEIDER: Fifty-five percent of them say they blame the Bush administration for the 9/11 attacks. Only 30 percent blame the Clinton administration. That's a very big difference, and it doesn't appear in any other generation. Why? Well, in part because they have fewer recollections, fewer vivid recollections of the Clinton years since many of them were children or just beginning to come of age. I'm talking about Americans now who are under 30 years old. And also because of Iraq. A lot of them -- while there is no draft anymore, a lot of the people they know are fighting. They are -- they feel -- a lot of younger people feel threatened by the war in Iraq. There's a lot of anti-war sentiment among the young. And that may be contributing to their willingness to criticize the Bush administration.
NGUYEN: Bill Schneider, senior political analyst. Interesting numbers for us today. Bill, thank you.
SCHNEIDER: Sure, Betty.
NGUYEN: Hurricane Florence bashes Bermuda. Powerful winds and pounding surf slam the island, as tourists hunker down. Where will Flo go next? We have live coverage from the CNN NEWSROOM, straight ahead.
NGUYEN: OK, so it's not a direct hit, but parts of Hurricane Florence have been pounding Bermuda all day. Troops were even put on alert, and thousands of people on the island just 640 miles East of the U.S. coast lost power as this storm closed in.
NGUYEN: Five years ago, an aid whispered to President Bush, "America is under attack." But it didn't happen at the White House. Coming up, a visit to the Florida school that became a part of history on 9/11. It's marking the anniversary in its own way.
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