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9/11: The World Remembers; Hurricane Florence

Aired September 11, 2006 - 06:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Six a.m. Eastern, September 11, 2001, the nation just waking up to what seemed like a normal morning, no hint of what was to come. But in fact, 19 terrorists had already set in motion a plan that would change our world forever. Five years later, we remember.


And good morning and welcome, everybody, I'm Soledad O'Brien.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Miles O'Brien, welcome to a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING. Today, five years after 9/11, CNN is revisiting the key events of that day as they happened and looking at how our world has changed.

S. O'BRIEN: At this hour five years ago, America was a nation at peace, no one could have guessed what was about to happen, what was in fact already happening. This morning, we're going to walk through the events of September 11 highlighting the definitive moments exactly when they occurred five years ago.

M. O'BRIEN: It was during this hour five years ago 19 hijackers had already set their plan in motion, arriving at their respective airports and preparing to carry out the worst terrorist attack the world has ever seen.

S. O'BRIEN: The first moment in the timeline begins right now. At 6:00 a.m. on September 11, 2001, terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta and his accomplice, Abdul Aziz al-Omari, board a flight in Portland, Maine. A computerized screening system identified Atta as a passenger who should be given greater scrutiny. At the time that only meant his bags were not loaded on the plane until he boarded.

Colgan Air Flight 5930 would take them to Boston's Logan International Airport. No one knows for certain why Atta and Omari drove to Portland from Boston on September 10 only to return to Boston on this flight.

AMERICAN MORNING's Dan Lothian is live for us in Logan Airport this morning.

Good morning, -- Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Good morning, Soledad. We are inside Terminal B in front of the American Airlines counters. We are going live this morning using broadband technology. That's because after 9/11 the airport severely restricted where you can go live from using conventional equipment and that usually means outside.

Now, as you mentioned, for two of the terrorists, the day began in Portland, Maine, and they encountered a ticket agent who felt that something just wasn't right.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): At Portland International Jetport in Maine, behind the US Air counter, veteran ticket agent Michael Tuohey has just processed two of the last passengers to get on a Boston-bound flight. It lifts off at 6:05 a.m. The men, who appear to be Arabs, are gone, but not forgotten.

MICHAEL TUOHEY, US AIR TICKET AGENT: My thought at that time was, man, if this guy doesn't look like an Arab terrorist nobody does. And I -- those are the exact thought, you know, and I gave myself a little PC slap.

LOTHIAN: But suspicion alone doesn't keep Abdul Aziz al-Omari and Mohamed Atta from beginning the first leg of their flight to terror.

TUOHEY: Your gut told you that this guy was a terrorist and you couldn't do anything about it.


LOTHIAN: There was nothing that he could do because there was no security alert. And remember this was pre-9/11 -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Dan Lothian for us this morning.

We're going to continue to check in with Dan and all of our correspondents across the States today -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: We're talking about just the first steps in a, frankly, brilliant plan that was perfectly designed to exploit our freedom, the vulnerabilities in our security and the holes in our imagination.

We'll return to the timeline shortly, but first a look at some other stories that are making news right now.

Carol Costello is in the newsroom with that.

Hello, -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, Miles, and good morning to all of you.

President Bush addresses the nation tonight from the White House, but not before a day of solemn remembrances.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is traveling with the president. She joins us live now from Ground Zero.

Good morning, -- Suzanne.


Of course President Bush is going to be spending the morning with firefighters from Fort Pitt Firehouse. He's going to be sharing a breakfast with them, as well as some moments of silence at 8:46 and 9:03 when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers.

And then, of course, he is going to be traveling on to Shanksville, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon where they'll be replaying ceremonies later in the afternoon before he makes a prime time address to the nation from the Oval Office.

It was just yesterday the president and the first lady were here at Ground Zero. That is where they laid wreaths at what is called the Footprints of the North and the South Towers, those reflecting pools where the buildings once stood.

He then participated in a prayer service in St. Paul's Chapel. Very important place for many New Yorkers, firefighters, volunteers and police who gathered there as a refuge in the days and months that followed the September 11 attack.

Now of course the White House and the president are engaged in a very delicate balancing act here, saying this is a time for remembrance and for reflection, that they do not want to appear to politicize this event.

President Bush speaking about his own personal feelings yesterday after meeting with firefighters and touring the visitor's site here.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, that I'm never going to forget the lessons of that day. And we spent time in there looking at some of the horrific scenes inside this fantastic place of healing. And it just reminded me that there is still an enemy out there that would like to inflict the same kind of damage again.


MALVEAUX: And, Carol, of course the White House emphasizing this is not a time for partisanship or for politics. But clearly leading up to these events and to this day, this very painful day, the White House, the president has been engaged in a highly-political public relations campaign to try to convince the American people that, yes, they are safer five years down the road, that they learned lessons from September 11 and that ultimately the war on terror and the war in Iraq is justified -- Carol. COSTELLO: Suzanne Malveaux reporting live from Ground Zero this morning.

Of course CNN will have live coverage for you of the president's address. That begins tonight at 9:00 Eastern.

Maybe we should have expected it, a new warning from Osama bin Laden's top deputy. In a videotaped statement on Islamist Web sites, Ayman al-Zawahiri warns that -- quote -- "New events are on the way." The tape appears to be recent with references to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is paying tribute to the United States. He shared a message of solidarity today and spoke of America's sacrifices in liberating and rebuilding Afghanistan. Karzai said it's regrettable that it took 9/11 for the world to recognize the threat posed by terrorism.

The former president of Iran is condemning Osama bin Laden. In a speech last night at Harvard University, Mohammad Khatami described the 9/11 attacks as barbarous, but he defended Hezbollah, describing the group's actions as resistance against Israeli colonialism.

In Iraq today, a suicide bomber wearing a vest with explosives detonated a bomb on board a bus in northern Baghdad. At least 10 Iraqi Army recruits are dead, 3 civilians wounded. The attack took place just outside of an Iraqi Army recruiting center.

Saddam Hussein back in court this morning for the first time in almost three weeks. It's still his second trial. In this one, he's charged in connection with the death of tens of thousands of Kurds in the 1980s.

The space shuttle Atlantis is expected to dock at the International Space Station in just about 40 minutes. Just a short time ago, the shuttle made a pitch maneuver in preparation for docking. The Atlantis crew will deliver equipment to help complete the construction of the space station. After many delays, Atlantis took off in fine fashion on Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A bit of relief for drivers, and I'm sure you have noticed this, gas prices are going down. According to the Lundberg Survey, the national average is now $2.66 a gallon for self-serve regular. That is 21 cents less than two weeks ago and a drop of 35 cents over the past year. Lower demand and a drop in crude oil prices are helping.

Some relief for firefighters in Nevada, they've nearly contained the last of two wildfires burning about 300 miles east of Reno. Cooler weather and less wind are helping, but officials warn that fire season is far from over. Wildfires have been burning in the region for over three months.

Hurricane Florence now heading toward Bermuda.

Severe weather expert Chad Myers is at the CNN Center with the latest.

There you go, -- Chad.


Yes, very close to Bermuda now. Here's the storm. The U.S. East Coast will see significant wave action from this storm, but that's it, no real wind action with it. But if you're in six-to-eight footers there with a little bit of a rip current and a tidal problem there, you could see some flooding.

The big problem is look how close this storm is really right to Bermuda. This storm is rolling right over Bermuda at this hour and it will continue to move on up toward the north Atlantic. Winds right now are about 80 miles per hour, gusts to about 100.

But the storm really is a little bit off the island. There's the eye. Now this is from the Bermuda Weather Service. There is the center of the island and the eye itself is more than 100 kilometers off to the west and that's going to be helpful. We're not going to get the storm surge in Bermuda that you would get if you had this eyewall right over Bermuda or if the eye was much, much closer to you, close enough to do some damage. We did have a wind gust out there, one of the reporting stations, to 77 miles per hour.

Now look at this, another storm down here. That is going to get into the storm name today, Gordon. Right now it's just Tropical Depression Number Seven. And so far another storm that gets way too close to Bermuda for good. A 60-mile-per-hour storm.


Back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Chad.

At the lower part of your screen you may be noticing some names either -- these are the names of those we lost five years ago, 2,973 of them. All throughout this day on CNN we'll be sharing those names with you.

AMERICAN MORNING's coverage of the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks continues in just a moment. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back to our special coverage of the 9/11 anniversary, the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

CNN correspondents are positioned around the country this morning. Alina Cho is live for us at Ground Zero to bring us memorial events from there. Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon with a look at memorials from that location. Bob Franken is in Shanksville, Pennsylvania this morning, the site of the crash of United Flight 93. Memorials are planned there, as well. And John Zarrella is live for us in Sarasota, Florida. That's where President Bush was on the morning of September 11, 2001. He was visiting an elementary school when he was given the grim news of the attacks.

Five years ago, in just about two-and-a-half hours, the first plane flew in to the north tower of the World Trade Center. It was American Airlines Flight 11. The terrorists began hitting their marks. The site is now known to all as Ground Zero.

AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho is there.

Good morning, -- Alina.

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

For so many people, too many people, in fact, today is an especially painful day. What you hear time and time again from so many of the families is that there is never any closure. And yet today many of them will come down here to Ground Zero to try to find some degree of comfort.

In fact, the families will begin arriving here in about an hour from now. The ceremony will begin at 8:40 a.m. Eastern Time. There will be four moments of silence, twice for each time the towers were struck, twice for each time the towers fell.

Among the speakers today, the mayor of New York, the governors of New York and New Jersey and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was such a source of strength through all of this five years ago.

Sadly, we have become all too familiar with the reading of the names. That will be the case today. The spouses, partners and significant others will read all 2,749 World Trade Center victims' names today -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Alina, thanks.

The attack on the Pentagon would still be more than three-and-a- half hours away, so at this time, Pentagon employees were just coming in to work with no clue of the events that would change their lives forever.

CNN's Barbara Starr was there then that day and now as well.

Barbara, good morning.


Well, that is correct. The five years ago today, at this point, everyone was getting dressed and coming to work at the Pentagon for what was supposed to be just another day. The weather was beautiful, of course, here on the East Coast that morning. And that's mainly what people were talking about what a nice day it was going to be. Of course, just a couple of hours later, the world changed. Here at the Pentagon, 184 people lost their lives.

And it's very interesting, I think, the Pentagon press corps, of course, we were all inside the building when the plane hit. We became part of that story on that day. People ask me a lot where I was, what happened, what I saw. What I remember the most, and I think I honestly will remember to the day I die, is a Pentagon police officer suddenly running down the hallway, yelling at the top of his lungs, get out, get out, get out, we've been hit. And with those words it was very clear the U.S. military was at war -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us this morning.

Barbara, thanks -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: The first Americans to go on the offensive against al Qaeda did not wear uniforms, they were passengers on board United Flight 93, a 757 bound for San Francisco from Newark. That plane departed 25 minutes late at 8:42. That delay likely saved the White House or the U.S. Capitol from destruction.

AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken is in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a heroic passenger revolt ended at 580 miles an hour -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you can see behind me, Miles, the tributes. They're almost impromptu tributes that have come up over the years. A very rough-hewn celebration of the American spirit here in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, really off the beaten track, and yet they expect as many as 175,000 people to come here this year to mark the spot.

It's just down the field a little bit, about a quarter of a mile away, where the plane crashed into the earth, almost vaporizing, going into what had been an abandoned strip mine that had been covered over. It is covered over once again. There is going to be a memorial that is going to be constructed there after the financing is raised.

President Bush is going to be here, his second stop of the day. He's going to participate in a wreath laying service down at the site and then meet with the families around the noon hour before going back to Washington and continuing a commemoration of the terrible attack on the United States and of course the heroism here at Shanksville, Pennsylvania -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Bob.

On this morning five years ago, the president woke up in Florida. He was there to talk about education and read a story, "The Pet Goat," to some kids at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota. It was in the midst of this photo opportunity that the president got the word and began a circuitous, tense trip to Washington.

John Zarrella is in Sarasota, -- John.


We are here outside of Emma E. Booker Elementary School. And that's exactly right, the president had overnighted here in Sarasota, got up very early in the morning, and the first order of business for President Bush was to get in a morning jog. He jogged several miles before coming back to his lodging, and spoke very briefly, smiling, and chatting with the reporters. Didn't want to say too much about his planned remarks here on education.

But by the time the president got here to Emma Booker Elementary School, the first of the planes had already struck the World Trade Center. And he was in the classroom behind me, Classroom 301, where the lights have just come on. He was in front of Kay Daniels' second grade elementary school class, and they were reading from a book and a story called "The Pet Goat." The president was informed by Andrew Card, his Chief of Staff, at just about 9:05 a.m. that the second plane had hit the second tower -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: John Zarrella, thank you very much.

Deep beneath the Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs, Colorado, the U.S. and Canadian military was on duty, as always. Part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command or NORAD. NORAD was conceived to protect North America from the threat of Soviet bombers and nuclear missiles. On this morning, they were in the midst of an exercise focussed on Russia.

A CNN exclusive now, Jonathan Freed, the first reporter to broadcast live from the new NORAD Command Center near to Cheyenne Mountain at Peterson Air Force Base, -- Jonathan.


That's right, five years ago today, this facility did not exist. It has been built to deal with the new reality, the outgrowth of the world situation that we're facing today post-September 11.

Let me tell you a little bit about it. This facility here deals with NORAD and NORTHCOM. Now NORAD is an acronym that we have come to know so well over the decades dealing with air and space defense of North America.

NORTHCOM is relatively newer, and some people may be less familiar with it. It was created a number of years ago dealing with land and sea defense. And the two commands are highly integrated here and they come together in this new operation center.

Now CNN had a chance to talk to the Canadian forces general who was on duty in the bunker in the mountain not too far from here five years ago, that is Lieutenant General Rick Findley, to talk to him about what he remembers of that morning.


LT. GEN. RICK FINDLEY, NORAD DEPUTY COMMANDER: We were already stood up as a battle staff in NORAD here in Cheyenne Mountain and all of our air defense regions and air defense sectors. And the reason we were doing that is we had a major exercise that we run every fall and that was the right time to run that.

At the same time, our friends in Russia had moved bombers into Arctic operating bases. So we were moving some fighters into our Arctic operating bases to let them know that we knew. So we were almost finishing a twelve-hour shift and we were ready to go home. We were ready for the next shift to arrive so we could do a handover. It usually takes about a half-hour to get everyone up to speed.

And we got our first indications from the Federal Aviation Administration, potential hijacking. And I knew what to do, and so did everybody else on the battle staff. And I just kind of asked the question, OK, folks, open up our checklist, follow our NORAD instruction, which included, at that time, to ask in either Ottawa or Washington is it OK if we use NORAD fighters to escort a potential hijacked aircraft?


FREED: And, Miles, again, CNN has been given the honor of being the first news organization to broadcast live from this new NORAD, NORTHCOM Command Center -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Jonathan Freed, thank you very much -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, we'll take you live to the New York Stock Exchange with a look at the massive impact the 9/11 attacks had on the financial world.

First, though, listen to Lieutenant James Morris, a search and rescue firefighter from Fairfax County in Virginia. He was the guy who helped unfurl that oversized American flag on top of the damaged Pentagon on September 12. But on September 11, he was focussed on his younger brother, Seth Morris, a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald located on the 104th floor on the north tower of the World Trade Center.


LT. JAMES MORRIS, SEARCH & RESCUE FIREFIGHTER: On the morning of September 11, I was -- the family had all gone off to school and work. And I was on my computer answering some e-mails and when the phone rang. And it was my father and he asked me if I had the TV on. And I replied I did. And he's like, are you watching it? And I said well, no. And he said well watch it. And he was very upset.

And when I turned, I saw one of the World Trade Centers burning. And my younger brother, Seth, worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. And my initial thought was, where is he? And dad said, well he's at work.



M. O'BRIEN: It's hard to overstate the ripples of this day five years ago on the business world.

Andy Serwer joining us from the New York Stock Exchange with more.

Hello, -- Andy.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Good morning to you, Miles. The stock exchange is only several hundred yards away from Ground Zero, and trading begins in a little bit more than three hours. Obviously it's going to be a very emotional morning.

This morning we want to bring you some of today's headlines, as well as tell you about some of the stories that relate back to that day five years ago.

First of all, in the headlines this morning, Ford, the new CEO, Alan Mulally, is going to be getting an $18.5 million pay package. Also reports of more massive job cuts there.

OPEC is meeting in Vienna, and obviously they're talking all about the price of a barrel of oil, which has come down sharply over the past several days, now at $66.25 a barrel.

What about the prices of gasoline and oil, though, as we compare them to five years ago. The price of gasoline, as we've noted earlier today, is down about 20 cents to $2.66 a gallon, but that compares to $1.66 five years ago.

Oil prices, $66 we told you, but that compares to $23 five years ago. That's taking a big burden on our economy.

Gold prices, always a sign of the times gold is, only $2.71 an ounce back then, now up to $6.17 an ounce. That shows really a reflection of the trouble and concern that there is around the globe.

And then finally, when we turn to stock prices, this is where we really get an indication of the resiliency of our nation's economy, the markets recovered so well over the past five years. The Dow now at 11,392, back then, 9,605. Up 38 percent in those five years.

Of course we did take a big plunge the following week after 9/11 and through that fall. But, over the intervening period, we recovered quite nicely. And so that is a sign that the economy of the United States has recovered a bit.

Miles, back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Andy, where were you this morning?

SERWER: This morning I was taking -- five years ago, I was talking my daughters to school. And I remember hearing about the planes crashing as I was walking across Central Park, and then I looked down Sixth Avenue and I could see the first tower on fire.

M. O'BRIEN: Andy Serwer, at the stock exchange, thank you.

SERWER: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: CNN's timeline of the events of 9/11 five years ago today continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: September 11th, 2001, most of America awoke to a beautiful, clear day. In fact, it was perfect weather for flying, with miles and miles of visibility.

It seemed like such a hopeful dawn. Would soon explode into a day that would change all our lives forever. Five years ago, while we slept, the terrorists were already in motion with a cunningly simple plan for the deadly attacks.

Welcome back to a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING.

I'm Miles O'Brien.


On this, the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we are following moment to moment the events as they occurred on that terrible day. We're going to bring you live coverage from across the country, as well.

M. O'BRIEN: We're following the timeline of terror all this morning, the events of that fateful morning as they happened. During this half hour five years ago two of the hijacking teams began checking in for their flights in Boston. Their goal, turn those planes into guided missiles aimed at the World Trade Center towers.

S. O'BRIEN: The timeline of terror September 11th, five years ago at this moment, terrorist ring leader Mohamed Atta and his accomplice, Abdul Aziz al Omari, were on board Colgan Air Flight 5930. They boarded the plane in Portland, Maine. They were bound for Logan Airport in Boston. They would land 15 minutes from now.

On any other Tuesday morning, Michael Lomonaco would have been at the top of the north tower of the World Trade Center preparing for the day as executive chef of Windows on the World. A twist of fate saved his life. He joins us this morning.

It's nice to see you and have a chance to talk again. It's been a long time.


S. O'BRIEN: It was in some ways a typical day, and in other ways you decided not to go to work. Your eyeglasses had broken and that really is what saved your life.

LOMONACO: It's, you know, just my reading glasses. I needed to have a lens changed. I called my doctor the day before, he couldn't fit me in the next few days.

And, you know, that morning I was early for work. It was -- it was an election day. It was a, you know, primary day.

S. O'BRIEN: The lines were short. LOMONACO: Exactly. No traffic. It was a light day in getting to work. And I got to work earlier than I anticipated and I thought, "Let me get this out of the way right now."

S. O'BRIEN: Do you look back at that constantly and say, if the traffic had been heavier, if the LensCrafters guy couldn't take you, if the voting had gone on longer, if the guy who checked your glasses at LensCrafters had been a little faster, you would be where many of your employees were on the top floor?

LOMONACO: It's -- it -- there's actually not a day that goes by that somehow I'm not reminded of that. And, you know, a lot of it is really feeling lucky. Feeling really fortunate, because I can see so clearly having my hand on the door to walk through the lobby of tower two, when I turned and I said, "Let me go and run this errand."

It was 8:15 in the morning. And that's -- that's early for me, because I work days and nights, too. I mean as a chef I'm...

S. O'BRIEN: There all the time.

LOMONACO: Exactly, 10:00, 11:00 at night. So that was pretty early.

S. O'BRIEN: You were in the LensCrafters when you felt the impact of the first plane hit.

LOMONACO: I did. And I thought...

S. O'BRIEN: What did it sound like? What did it feel like?

LOMONACO: It was -- I felt a jolt more than a sound. There was really no sound that I could detect.

The LensCrafters was in the concourse level, which was sort of subterranean in a way. And the subway lines run right beneath it. That's -- at first I thought that can't be the subway, that's just something strange. And then it was really a minute or so later when they began to evacuate the concourse level.

I was five minutes away from being finished in that shop. And they nearly -- you know, they were nearly done with me. They just were taking my -- my frames, and they were going to change the lenses because one lens was damaged. So, I was almost out of there, as you say.

S. O'BRIEN: You went out. How long until you understood exactly what had happened? Because you made your way out, and even then under the building you really couldn't tell what was going on, on your floor above you.

LOMONACO: In fact, that's -- you know, I think one of the primary aspects of the experience of being there at Ground Zero was not knowing what was happening. When they were clearing the concourse level, there were hundreds of people who were going to the street. They were coming up from the subways into the concourse level. They were clearing people who were workers who were trying to go to work, and weren't letting them go to the towers.

So there were a mass of people going out onto the street. But before I actually walked out the door onto Liberty Street, right where Fire Company 10 is, I could see Fire Company 10, I could see they had a ladder out on the street, you know, that they had a truck out there. There were firemen looking up and I could see debris.

The sky was just littered with debris. Some of it was enormous debris.

S. O'BRIEN: Pieces of the aircraft?

LOMONACO: That's what they looked like to me. And as large as a car. So I knew it was something really, really horrible.

S. O'BRIEN: We're going to ask you to stick around so we can talk more about your memories of that terrible, terrible day.

Michael Lomonaco, nice to see you, as always. Thank you.

LOMONACO: It's good to be here.

M. O'BRIEN: And all this morning on your screen we will be carrying the names of the dead, 2,973 of them, which will be carried all throughout our day on CNN.

CNN's special timeline coverage of the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks will continue in a moment.


M. O'BRIEN: Now about 6:39. Five years ago Atta and Omari would land at Logan Airport, about six minutes from now. A little more than two hours from now, 8:46, the 767 they and three others commandeered would plow into the north tower of the World Trade Center. It was just the beginning.

Today at the site of those twin towers, now known as Ground Zero, a solemn remembrance of all that we lost.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Alina Cho is there -- Alina.

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

Today is a day to remember the victims and remember what happened five years ago. And yet there has been so much talk and so much debate over the rebuilding effort here.

Just last week, the developer, Larry Silverstein, unveiled plans for three huge office buildings known as Towers 2, 3 and 4. Combined, there will be 6.2 million square feet of office space.

Then there is the symbolic Freedom Tower which will stand 1,776 feet tall. Once it is built, it will be the tallest building in America. There will be a state-of-the-art transportation hub. There will be a performing arts center. And then, of course, there will be the memorial and the museum, which is set to open in 2009.

The office buildings, provided there are no delays, are set to be completed in 2011 or 2012. The Freedom Tower initially was to open in 2008. There have been delays. That will now open, provided there are no more delays, in 2011.

Now, let's talk a little bit about those delays. There's been a lot of plans drafted, torn apart and redrafted, primarily because of security concerns.

Then there's the debate over the memorial. Many people have heard about this, about the listing of the names. The architect wants the listing to be random. The families of the victims, many of them, want the names to be listed by work affiliation, by tower, by floor. They want the ages of the victims listed, as well.

Let's talk a little bit about the progress, because there have been progress here in this construction site behind me. They have begun to lay the foundation for the Freedom Tower. And five years from now, the area behind me will look far different than it does today.

One thing we should mention is that the families are beginning to arrive here. The ceremony will begin at 8:40 a.m. Eastern Time.

And Miles, we will have much more on that in the next half hour.

M. O'BRIEN: Alina Cho at Ground Zero.

Thank you very much.

We'll continue our special coverage of the fifth anniversary of 9/11. But first, some of the other stories making news right now.

Carol Costello in the newsroom with that -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Miles.

Good morning to all of you.

There is a new warning from Osama bin Laden's top deputy. In a videotaped statement on an Islamist Web site, Ayman al-Zawahiri warns that "New events are on the way." The tape appears to be recent, with references to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

In Iraq today, a suicide bomber wearing a vest with explosives detonated a bomb on board a bus in northern Baghdad. At least 10 Iraqi army recruits are dead, three civilians wounded. The attack took place just outside of an Iraqi army recruiting center.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair paying a visit to Beirut right now. He's there to show support for the Lebanese prime minister and a U.N.-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah. Hundreds of Lebanese are protesting Blair's visit. They're angry over his perceived backing of Israel during the Mideast conflict.

A memorial in Kentucky for victims of the Comair jet crash. Hundreds attended Sunday's service for the 49 people who died last month in Lexington. The only survivor in the hospital, but doing better. Investigators looking into construction and staffing as possible factors in the crash.

Thousands are expected at today's funeral of a New York State trooper killed in the line of duty. A memorial held this weekend. The 32-year-old trooper was shot while on a manhunt for Ralph "Bucky" Phillips. Phillips was caught Friday night after -- five months after escaping.

The shuttle Atlantis is just minutes away from docking at the International Space Station. The Atlantis crew will deliver equipment to help complete construction of the space station. Actually, it will flip over, attach itself to the International Space Station, and then those aboard the space station will take pictures of the underbelly to see if there's any damage after the liftoff there.

As you know, after many delays Atlantis lifted off in fine fashion on Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Severe weather. Expert Chad Myers is busy once again, this time tracking Hurricane Florence.

And people in Bermuda are probably pretty nervous this morning, Chad.



MYERS: Back to you guys in New York.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Chad. Thanks.

On this day five years ago a critical event happened right at this time. At 6:45 a.m., on September 11th, 2001, terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al Omari landed at Logan Airport in Boston. After their arrival, they and three other hijackers would check in and then prepare to board American Airlines Flight 11, a plan that was scheduled to -- a plane, rather, that was scheduled to land in Los Angeles.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Dan Lothian live in Boston for us this morning.

Good morning, Dan.


That's right, they would have been arriving here around now five years ago. It was roughly 45 minutes or so door to door. They arrived at the US Air terminal, which is right across the driveway from where I'm standing. And then Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al Omari would have had to have walked across that driveway into this part of the terminal to check in at the American Airlines counter where they picked up their first class tickets.

We don't have a lot of information about what they did between the time that they checked in and the time that they started boarding, but we do know that Atta at least received one phone call from a colleague who was in another part of the airport -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Dan Lothian in Boston for us this morning.

AMERICAN MORNING'S special coverage of the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks will continue in just a moment.

First, though, listen to Peter Totten (ph). He worked on the 91st floor of the south tower. A mechanical engineer for a big company who always got to work early.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Typically, I would get in around 25 after 6:00, 6:30, get started with the day's work, the things I missed from the day before. Get a head start on what I needed to do. And then typically around 8:00 -- I'm a tea drinker, so around 8:00, I'd have my tea and English muffin, something of the sort.

I had the corner office on the southeast corner, so I was about as far as you could be from the north tower. So I didn't see what had happened. But, seconds later, the sky was just full of a snowstorm of paper. And, you know, we're about 1,000 feet up, and everywhere you looked there was just paper, and it was -- it was that moment of, OK, something is not right, we need to get everybody out of here.



M. O'BRIEN: The 9/11 attacks aimed squarely at the symbols of our freedom and our prosperity. One symbol of that prosperity, of course, the New York Stock Exchange.

Our Andy Serwer is there this morning -- Andy.

ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "FORTUNE": Good morning to you, Miles.

We want to tell you about a few stories that were making headlines five years ago that relate to things that are happening now to an extent.

First of all, Hewlett-Packard and Compaq had recently announced their giant merger early in September of 2001. And, of course, that set into motion all sorts of events.

The merger didn't go so well. It led to the ouster of Carly Fiorina. And then, of course, there were leaks from the board. An investigation ensued by the Hewlett-Packard board, and that's led to this major brouhaha that has been surrounding Hewlett-Packard over the past couple days. And, in fact, Hewlett-Packard's board is meeting to discuss the fate of chairman Patricia Dunn, who authorized the investigation.

Also five years ago, Jack Welch stepped down as CEO of General Electric. Of course, he led a storied career there, and that stock did very, very well over time. Jeffrey Immelt succeeded him, and though he gets high marks for leadership, GE's stock has not fared quite as well.

Then finally kind of a feature story we were looking at five years ago about pay phones and the demise of pay phones, and how they were going the way of the buggy whip. Well, it turns out that pay phones were very, very important in 9/11, because after the towers collapsed, cell phone coverage was next to nil, and people used payphones throughout New York City to get in touch with their loved ones, and also police and rescue people ended up using pay phones, as well.

So there you have it from here -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Andy Serwer, thank you very much.

The timeline continues with the events of 9/11 five years ago today on AMERICAN MORNING.

Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: It is now 6:55, and as we speak, five years ago at Boston's Logan Airport, 10 men filled with hatred for America were making their way to their seats on the two airplanes they would use to bring down the World Trade Center towers.

Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al Omari, joined by three others boarding American Airlines Flight 11, the 767 laden with fuel to the long trip to Los Angeles. But the flight would only last 48 minutes.

These are the final images coming up of Atta and al Omari. They breezed through security at Terminal B. None of the security supervisors recall anything suspicious.

And at the same time, in the neighboring Terminal C, another five-man hijacking team led by Marwan al-Shehhi making their way to United Flight 175, another 767 fueled for a trip to L.A. Shehhi called Atta at 6:45. Their call lasted six minutes. It was their final conversation.

When Atta and Shehhi's teams passed through security on that morning there was, of course, no TSA. The task was left to a patchwork of private security companies hired by the airlines. And they operated under two assumptions the hijackers were able to exploit: that guns were the primary threat, and that a hijacker would not be bent on suicide. Matter of fact, that was the mindset of the entire system from the checkpoints to the military's primary air defense.

We have two live reports for you now, CNN's Jonathan Freed, an exclusive report from the new NORAD Command Center in Colorado, and AMERICAN MORNING'S Dan Lothian at Logan Airport.

We begin with Dan.

LOTHIAN: Good morning, Miles.

Well, it is so true what you've been saying, that there weren't a lot of the security alerts that we've become so accustomed to now. And many times people will sit back and say, well, why didn't people notice anything or do anything? Well, you have to remember that it was a different time. And this was the unexpected that caught a lot of people off guard.

As you were mentioning, this is where Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al Omari, along with three others, began the walk to their flight. They would have been entering here in Terminal B behind me, where it's now an express deli. It has been changed, but that used to be the entrance where you would go through and enter into security to head to that flight.

They would be joined by three others, and eventually board American Airlines Flight 11. And then across from me, the terminal across from me where United is based, that is where five other terrorists were getting on to United Flight 175. Of course, both of those planes went into the twin towers -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Dan.

And let's go to Jonathan Freed now, who is at Peterson Air Force Base, not far away from Cheyenne Mountain, where NORAD was based five years ago -- Jonathan.


That's right, and five years ago at this time, in that mountain just a few miles away from here, a crew not unlike this one was busy dealing with an exercise. But it was a particular type of exercise because it was aimed at sending a message to the Russians.

At this time five years ago, the mission of NORAD still decidedly outward looking. Whereas today, since 9/11, with the addition of NORTHCOM, it also has to be inward looking, as well.

What was going on, Miles, is the Russians had moved some bombers to a more forward base in the Arctic. And around this time of the year it was not uncommon for our forces to engage in a particular type of exercise. And what we were doing was moving our fighters closer to those bombers in order to send Russia a message, and that's when people looked up and saw what was happening in New York -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Jonathan Freed at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

Thank you.

CNN's coverage of the timeline of events of September 11, 2001, continues into the 7:00 Eastern hour.

Stay with us.



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