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Americans Mark Solemn Anniversary Of 9/11 Attacks; Pentagon Chief: Whatever Comes, America Will Always Lead; Former President Bush: "It Is Our Continuing Duty" To Confront Extremists At Home As Much As Abroad; Widow Remembers Husband Who Fought Hijackers On Flight 93; Taliban Back In Control Of Afghanistan After U.S. Exit; January 6 Riot Defendants Plead Guilty, Including Man Who Threatened Pelosi. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 11, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: In New York, hundreds gathered to mark this solemn day, children placing flowers for loved ones they never got to meet, men and women holding each other tight mourning those who they lost.
Three Presidents and First Ladies together attending the memorial ceremony in lower Manhattan. Tolling bells and moments of silence marking the times the planes hit the two towers, and when each fell.
And at the Pentagon, a large American flag was draped down the side of the building ahead of each victim's name being read there.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jay Joseph Ferguson, Amelia V. Fields.
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WHITFIELD: In Shanksville, Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed into a field, the President and the First Lady laid a wreath and memory of the everyday heroes who took down that plane that terrorists were using to target the Nations' Capitol. Vice President Kamala Harris and former President George W. Bush were also there to commemorate those lost.
CNN is at each of those commemoration sites today and with us right now, Laura Jarrett at the 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan, Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, and Paula Reid in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Laura, let me begin with you in Lower Manhattan where the tributes to the fallen have been especially emotional in New York today.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Fred, the grief and the pain are still so raw, even some 20 years later. So many of the families coming here today to pay tribute to their loved one in person.
When last year they weren't able to come in person, of course, because of COVID-19, but today, they came, they hugged, they had tears, they shared memories of their loved ones trying to bring them to life, not just as victims who were killed but as people who lived full lives.
Talking about their stories with smiles, with laughter, but also a fair amount of pain saying that they felt like they could relive, it just as fresh as it had happened just the day before. Take a listen to just a few of their stories from earlier today in Manhattan.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My uncle, firefighter Christopher Michael Mozzillo. I know you're with us every day watching over us. And even though I never met you in person, I still miss you a lot. Mom always tells me all the crazy fun things you did, and I'm sure if you were here, I'd probably be doing them with you. Thank you for being the best guardian angel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My brother, Jimmy Ostrovsky (PH). Jim, Jimmy O, Jimmy, we missed you. Your kind blue eyes, your dimples, your sense of humor but most importantly, your warming caring ways that left a loving footprint in all of our hearts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came here, yes, with tears, but also a really happy heart to say that over the last 20 years, I have learned to live out loud just the way my brother taught me.
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JARRETT: And Fred, one of the things that are so striking, listening to these stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things is just the simple acts of kindness and bravery that so many of these people showed in the face of sheer terror.
You can just imagine a father describing what his daughter, a flight attendant, went through as those planes hit the Twin Towers, just in the back with me here.
And Fred, you know, this ceremony -- this service has gone on for some five hours. Just also a temporal reminder, if you will, of the loss of life here. Some almost nearly 3000 people who perished that day, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Yes, it's an extraordinary number, extraordinary experience, so many times over. Thank you so much. Let's go to Oren now at the Pentagon. Tell us about this very personal ceremony taking place there.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the Pentagon, it has not only been a solemn day, it has been a solemn few days leading up to this moment. The weight of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 really felt throughout the building as everyone paused many times to reflect on what this meant, especially with the end of the war in Afghanistan.
It was the same feeling, that heavy burdened feeling, a feeling of pain in many cases that was felt right after the terrorist bombing in Kabul that killed 13 service members, 11 Marines, a sailor, and a soldier. That would be the last U.S. troops to die in Afghanistan. That feeling that there is a burden here of remembrance of burden here to never forget. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said it is the solemn duty to remember, and he acknowledges that many here may be conflicted. His words, you did your duty, your service mattered, your sacrifice was, your sacrifice was not in vain. That to some 800,000 U.S. service members who served in Afghanistan.
LIEBERMANN: Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin talked about the obligation of the Pentagon, that to protect the United States, and though it has fundamentally changed in what it does and where its focus is, he said this about that core obligation.
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GEN. LLOYD AUSTIN (RET.), SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It is our responsibility to remember, and it is our duty to defend democracy. We cannot know what the next 20 years will bring. We cannot know what new dangers they will carry. We cannot foresee what Churchill once called the original -- originality of malice but we do know that America will always lead.
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LIEBERMANN: There was a moment of silence right about at 9:37 in the morning, 20 years after the attack depending on to the minute. As we paused at that moment, it's worth going back and thinking back about what happened here at the Pentagon on that day.
Back then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, whose role in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will certainly be debated for years, if not longer than that. On that day, he made a critical decision.
First, he made a decision to help at the site of the attack. When his security pulled him away, he made a decision the Pentagon would not shut down. It would remain open, it would remain functioning in a sense, it would be a survivor of the attack and the repairs, the renovations completed in one year.
Another incredible moment that talks about how much of that moment shaped U.S. foreign policy in the Pentagon. From that moment on, the acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at that moment, Richard Myers was in a morning meeting on Capitol Hill. He had taken with him as an Army Captain, an Intern in the Pentagon, and they rushed back to the Pentagon after the attack.
20 years later, that Army Captain would become Major General Chris Donahue, the Commander of the 82nd airborne, the last U.S. service member on the ground in Afghanistan just a few days ago.
WHITFIELD: Oren Liebermann, thank you so much at the Pentagon, appreciate that. Just ahead of this day, 9/11, President Biden said he would make appearances at all of the three terror sites. The President is still in Pennsylvania as we understand Arlette Saenz at the White House for us. Arlette, tell us more about -- all right, it looks like the President is still in the Shanksville area of Pennsylvania, and is expected to make his way to the Pentagon as well. Arlette Saenz is with us now. Arlette?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. Well, President Biden was visiting the site at Shanksville, Pennsylvania laying a wreath as he paid tribute. One of the three stops the President will be making over the course of the day today to commemorate the attacks of September 11, 2001. The President started his day a bit earlier in New York City at Ground Zero, accompanied also by former President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
But just moments ago, he and his wife were walking the grounds therein Shanksville to pay their respects, to meet with some of the families, and they laid a wreath in honor of -- in front of the name of one man in particular.
His name was Jeremy Glick, he was 31 years old, and he was on that United Flight 93. He was one of the men who overtook the hijackers who had intended to crash that plane into the U.S. Capitol.
But instead, with the bravery of those passengers and the crew members on Flight 93, they were able to overcome them, and ultimately, that Flight crashed in the fields near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. A real moment of patriotism and bravery. Really, there are so many people on that flight sacrificing their lives.
And the President has actually traveled to Shanksville, Pennsylvania on other occasions as well. Back in 2012, I had the opportunity to fly with him there as he visited and paid tribute. He also went back in 2020 as a presidential candidate, he was there laying a wreath on the exact same day just hours apart from former President Trump.
So, this is a site that the Biden family is familiar with in the past. In 2012, he had stopped at a local fire station. As he was making that visit, he did so again in 2020. We will see whether that might be on his agenda for today.
But the President will be rounding out his attributes and moments of commemoration when he travels to the Pentagon where another plane had crashed on September 11. The President and his wife, they will also be joined by Vice President Harris, as well as, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff to lay a wreath on the grounds there at the Pentagon.
SAENZ: And this was just 20 years ago today when President Biden was then a senator, the Senator from Delaware who was chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was up on Capitol Hill as these attacks were playing out. And that United Flight 93, the one that he is there, commemorating and honoring the lives lost in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, that was one that hijackers had hoped would get to the Capitol but ultimately, with the heroism and bravery of those passengers and the crew, that did not happen. So, we will see the President over the course of the next few hours. The White House said it was important to him to visit all three sites on September 11, and he'll be traveling at home to Wilmington, Delaware a bit later in the day.
WHITFIELD: All right, Arlette Saenz, thank you so much for that update. And of course, we'll continue to keep eyes on the President's whereabouts as he continues to talk with all of those directly affected from 20 years ago.
9/11 remembrance memorials continue across the country. In fact, this morning, Bruce Springsteen performed, I'll see you in my dreams in lower Manhattan.
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BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (singing): -- and though you're gone, and my heart's been emptied it seems. I'll see you in my dreams.
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WHITFIELD: 20 years ago, President George W. Bush was visiting an elementary school classroom when terrorists attacked on U.S. soil. And this morning, President Bush reflected on that day, and the heroism exhibited.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from the violence that gathers within.
There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home, but then there's disdainful terrorism, and their disregard for human life, and their determination to defile national symbols. They are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.
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WHITFIELD: I want to bring in now CNN's Wolf Blitzer in Washington. So, Wolf, we just heard the former President make, you know, these parallels, you know, between today, and 20 years ago, foreign terrorism versus domestic terrorism. He was not subtle at all when he talked about they are children of the same foul spirit.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yes, he was really blunt, and he was really timely and very, very powerful in moving in his words.
You know, Fred, I covered him when he was President of the United States. And obviously, what happened exactly 20 years ago today has influenced him to rent tremendously. Like all of us, it dramatically changed his life, his attitude, he had a very different attitude about international affairs going in, as opposed to coming out after 9/11.
But he really made it clear how angry he is at what happened here on January 6, the insurrection is moving up on Capitol Hill. It was -- it was really -- I was personally -- a lot of people say they weren't that surprised, but I was surprised that he decided to make that comparison today and I think it was well done, and I think it will -- it will resonate with a lot of folks out there because, you know, there there are domestic terrorists, and there are international terrorists.
And if you speak to the Department of Homeland Security right now, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or others involved in the U.S. intelligence community who deal with counterterrorism, right now, they're more concerned about domestic terrorism than they are on international terrorism, and that's significant.
WHITFIELD: Right. I mean, President Bush was very poignant too when he said, you know, here you had foreign terrorists who were targeting the U.S. Capitol, and it was the heroism of Americans who stopped that from happening. And now fast forward some 20 years later, you have domestic terrorists, who successfully are able to penetrate this symbol of democracy, that building, and the people that occupied that U.S. Capitol.
And then you spoke with earlier, the Defense Secretary General Lloyd Austin. You asked him if the U.S. is safer today than 20 years ago, and he did ultimately answer the question, but he was very careful in the way in which he went about it.
BLITZER: Yes, because he made it clear that -- and if you, you know, it wasn't that long ago, just several days ago, he said, fighting terrorism, and Al Qaeda type terrorism, or ISIS -- ISIS type terrorism is going to be more difficult without a U.S. military presence on the ground in Afghanistan.
But he did make the point that the U.S. can still do it with what's called over the horizon actions. Drone flights coming in from other bases, and other activity fighter jets, and bombers and stuff like that, but it is going to be more difficult in dealing with that.
And he did also refer to some of the other threats out there, the domestic threats that are out there. He said we have a much better capability today in dealing with terror threats than we had 20 years ago because we learned so many lessons over these past 20 years.
Remember, on 9/11, there was no Department of Homeland Security, there was no Office of the Director of National Intelligence. You have the FBI collecting a lot of information before 9/11, they never shared that information with the CIA or the NSA, the National Security Agency, the intelligence community, they weren't really talking to each other. That was a big problem.
That has all changed over these 20 years, so he feels more confident that we have better capabilities in dealing with terrorism today than we did then. WHITFIELD: And then for this President, it was his goal to withdraw U.S. military presence in Afghanistan especially ahead of this anniversary, and of course it is opened up lots of consternation and debate about whether it was done appropriately so. But do you believe that this will be a sort of turning point for the Biden administration, the way in which today was handled and that there was less of a conversation about the ongoing terror fight in Afghanistan and justification for it?
BLITZER: Well, there's -- a lot's going to depend on, Fred, on what happens in Afghanistan and in the region, I should say, over the next weeks and months, and maybe years with the Taliban in control of Afghanistan today, as it was 20 years ago, on 9/11. That's a problem.
Could al Qaeda or ISIS-related groups like that reconstitute and potentially pose a threat down the road? Will these over the horizon capabilities, will that be enough to deter or to destroy that kind of threat? Who knows? And a lot going to have to depend also, from a political standpoint, what happens to the remaining Americans?
About 100 Americans who are still there. There are other permanent U.S. citi (HP) -- U.S. residents who are still there, and tens of thousands of Afghans who worked with the U.S. Worked with the U.S. military, worked with the U.S. diplomats, U.S. contractors who are still stuck in Afghanistan.
Yes, 125,000 people were evacuated over these past few weeks, but there are still plenty of friends of the United States who are stuck there, and a lot's going to depend, will the U.S. through other means be able to get them out? I think that's going to be a big question.
WHITFIELD: And of course, we have been spending all morning and much of today talking to people who have lost loved ones and asking about what they remember about 20 years ago.
What this journey has been like for you, as a journalist who's been covering this and covered 9/11, just as you underscore even, you know, covering President Bush, how are you reflecting on your professional and personal journeys over the last 20 years?
BLITZER: Well, it's one of those events that everybody who lived through the event will always remember. I remember that day so vividly. I was home and my wife said, look what's going on. Like everybody else, I thought, well, maybe a small plane assessment or something hit the World Trade Center, but then it became very clear, it was a small plane, then there were two.
And I immediately packed a bag. I assumed I would be going to New York right away to cover this, but little did I know they shut down aerospace right away. I immediately drove to the CNN Washington bureau, and you know Washington well, Fred, you grew up here. I was trying to drive into the city and tens of thousands of federal workers and others were all trying to escape. Everyone seemed to think there was going to be another terror attack on the Nations' Capitol, whether at the White House or the U.S. Capitol or elsewhere after the Pentagon was hit. And people were just told go home, and everybody was driving out, I was trying to maneuver through traffic to get in. And streets which were two-way, all of a sudden, became one way going out.
It wasn't that easy to get to the Bureau. I'll never forget that. I eventually did get to the bureau started anchoring our coverage and work through the night from 6:00 at night until midnight. I was on -- we were covering, you know, the President's return, he had been in Florida, then he went to Louisiana, then went to Nebraska, finally came back to the White House and spoke to the American people from the White House that night, we covered that.
There were all sorts of moments up on Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans, the leaders, liberals, and conservatives, they forgot about politics, very different than today, and went out there and joined hands and spoke about how important this day was.
It was just a powerful day in my history and all of our history, Fred, I'm sure you remember it as well, and it's something we'll never forget.
WHITFIELD: Oh, absolutely, so true. I actually was in North Carolina, getting ready to cover the aspirations of Elizabeth and Joel when all of that took place.
And from that point on, instead of heading to Washington or even New York, Fort Bragg would become my home for a very long time as the 82nd airborne and other extensions of the military were making its considerations about what next and then the next thing you know it would be preparations for, you know, coverage, I was working for another network, preparations for coverage of what would become this 20-year long war in Afghanistan.
So yes, indelible moments, indeed. Wolf, thanks so much for sharing yours with us. Appreciate it.
BLITZER: Thank you. Thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And of course, tonight on CNN, join Jake Tapper, Robert De Niro, and Leonardo DiCaprio, plus musical artists, Her Brad Paisley and Maroon Five and Common for a special tribute to the families of September 11. "SHINE A LIGHT" begins tonight at 8:00.
WHITFIELD: The tribute in light remembrance began last night in DC and New York. The beams shine over where the Twin Towers fell, and the Pentagon crash site.
The lights were built by the tunnel to towers' foundation to remind onlookers that light will always conquer the dark. They will remain on throughout the remainder of the day.
WHITFIELD: On the morning of September 11th, 20 years ago today, United Airlines flight 93 left Newark airport bound for San Francisco.
The plane was soon hijacked by four al Qaeda terrorists as part of the coordinated attacks that day. They diverted the plane toward Washington, D.C.
But a group of passengers, including Tom Burnett, fought the hijackers in an attempt to gain control of the plane. It eventually went down in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
With me now is Deena Burnett Bailey. She is the widow of Tom Burnett. And she is joined by her daughters, Halley, Anna Claire and Madison. And they're joining us from the memorial site in Shanksville.
So good to see you all, ladies.
Deena, what has this day been like for you and your young ladies?
DEENA BURNETT BAILEY, WIDOW OF TOM BURNETT WHO WAS KILLED ON 9/11: You know, I would have to say this has been a really beautiful day of commemoration and just reflection, remembering Tom's life and the heroism of flight 93, enjoying the Memorial Plaza and the park.
It is wonderful to be able to reconnect with some of the family members that we've lost touch with. I think, for the girls, it has probably been healing.
Madison, would you say healing?
MADISON BURNETT, DAUGHTER OF TOM BURNETT: Yes, I would say so, yes.
WHITFIELD: Wow. Because this is the first time, right? That's my understanding, this is the first time that the young ladies have been to Shanksville.
Describe for me why it has felt healing, if you could.
BURNETT BAILEY: Yes. This is the first time they've been. You know, the twins, Halley and Madison, were five years old when Tom died. Anna Claire was 3.
I think it has been healing just because they've had 20 years to think about what this place was like. It was kind of an anomaly, a mystery.
Then to be able to walk the ground, to see the trajectory of the plane through the monuments, and to be able to stand on the crash site, to be able to hold hands, to be able to pray, to be able to talk to some of the other children who lost a parent on that flight also, I think that's really brought them full circle today.
For me to be able to experience that with them and watch them go through that has been actually very beautiful. WHITFIELD: I wonder Deena, for you, if, leading up to this anniversary
date, this marking of 20 years, did it feel different for you? Did you have to prepare yourself different emotionally leading up to this?
Especially since your girls were coming with you the first time, but because this is such a big marker, 20 years. But for so many, it still feels like yesterday.
BURNETT BAILEY: You know, I will say yes. For me, this has been a very different anniversary.
But I don't think it is because it is the 20th anniversary. Even though that's a very big milestone. For me, this is the first year in which all of my girls are now educated. They're out of school and they are grown, working, living on their own, living out of state.
As a mom who was so incredibly concerned 20 years ago about how I was going to raise these three babies on my own, financially, emotionally, mentally, how I was going to do that, this is really the first anniversary in which I have been able to say, I did it, I did it.
And so to be able to come back to Shanksville, to bring them, to show them where it all happened and to be able to share that experience with my adult daughters has been -- I'll use the word again, it brought us full circle.
It is something that I didn't really think much about in preparing to come here. But once I arrived, I realized, you know, this is really our chance to say we can put closure, kind of an end cap on the past 20 years. Because I was able to raise the girls the way that Tom and I wanted them raised.
And, you know, I think this is kind of a commemoration for Tom, and maybe a bit of a celebration for me, because they're great. They turned out great.
WHITFIELD: Yes. I can just see these ladies right here. I know they're very proud of you and your courage. And you, too, are a hero of the family, not just your husband, Tom.
And I wonder if you could tell me a bit about your conversations with him when he was on that plane.
Because, you know, I have seen some of your other interviews and I've read a lot about you, too, and how you describe the way he handled it, his approach, reaching out to you, and the task at hand that really was indicative of who he was and how he lived his life.
And I wonder if you could share some of that with us.
BURNETT BAILEY: Absolutely. You know, that's really one of the reasons I never brought the girls to the crash site when they were growing up because I always focused on how Tom lived his life. September 11th was a culmination of who he was, the values he had, the
integrity he instilled in others. So the phone calls were just a small part of his character and personality.
But he did call me at least three times from the airplane.
The first one, he said, I'm on United Airlines flight 93, New York to San Francisco, and the plane was hijacked. They've already knifed a guy. I need you to call the authorities.
He said they were trying to get in the cockpit, the hijackers were. And he hung up the phone.
So I called 911. I was connected to the FBI. While I was explaining to them that this was a third airplane, not one that had crashed into the World Trade Center, Tom called a second time.
And I then told him about the World Trade Center and told him they were hijacking planes up and down the east coast.
He started asking questions. He said, who are these people, what do they want, what are they going to do with our plane. And he stated, it is a suicide mission. He started sharing the information I was giving him to the people around him.
He just sounded very matter of fact, like he was just gathering the information and trying to sort it out.
He called again a third time and he told me that he put a plan together to take back the airplane. They were waiting until they were over a rural area to take back the cockpit. He said not to worry, there was a group of them.
I told him that the kids wanted to talk to him, and he said, tell them I'll talk to them later. I told him I had called his parents and his sisters. He said, oh, you shouldn't have worried them.
It was a conversation in which I could tell that he was really ready to get home. He was a little concerned in the last phone call but he also was very confident. He was very capable.
He seemed that he was very, very much in charge of the situation and going to make a difference.
So I believed him when he said everything would be OK. Then his final words to me were, don't worry, we're going to do something.
BURNETT BAILEY: He hung up the phone. They went down the aisle and into the cockpit.
WHITFIELD: Something, indeed, is what they did. Instinct of looking out for others. I mean, that's what led him in his heart and the other heroes on board.
Thank you so much, Deena, Halley, Madison, Anna Claire, for sharing Tom Burnett with us and for sharing the story and his legacy.
BURNETT BAILEY: Thank you. Thank you for remembering.
WHITFIELD: All the best.
Still ahead, a look inside the Texas complex where Afghanistan refugees are being held. We're back in a moment.
And we would also like to take this moment to remember lives lost in Afghanistan. America's longest war was borne in response to Afghanistan harboring Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda militants. More than 2,200 U.S. soldiers lost their lives.
WHITFIELD: The remains of one of 13 lives lost in the Kabul airport suicide bombing are returning home today.
The body of U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Johanny Rosariopichardo landed at Boston Logan Airport earlier today, and is currently enroute to her hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts.
She's being escorted by fellow Marines, law enforcement, firefighters, and members of the community.
As we remember those who gave their lives in that attack in Afghanistan, we turn to the latest news now.
We're getting the first public look inside the Fort Bliss complex in Texas where Afghan evacuees are being screened. Reporters were not permitted to speak to any of the 10,000 Afghans being housed at the base.
Flights out of Afghanistan are currently halted after four cases of the measles were found among the Afghans arriving in the U.S. And this is particularly concerning to U.S. officials because measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000.
CNN's Nic Robertson is in Kabul for us right now.
Nic, you were in Kabul on September 11th. How do you reflect on this moment?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I'm really struck by this moment. Because that night, what was happening in Kabul, there was an attack by the last remaining holdout against the Taliban. Forces in the Panjshir Valley were attacking Kabul airport as we were on air talking about the 9/11 attacks.
The reason they were doing it is because, two days previously, al Qaeda had given a gift to the Taliban, of killing by a suicide bomber, killing the commander from that Panjshir Valley.
Twenty years later, with U.S. troops now just gone, that commander's son is still holding out in the Panjshir Valley. The Taliban have picked up the fight again against that sort of northern national resistance to the Taliban.
And they are continuing this civil war, which, in essence, we stepped into the middle of to try to bring some stability, to try to bring some democracy, to try to bring some better life, a better economy, better prospects, better rights for women, and all of the things that were delivered here.
But as soon as the United States is gone, it has picked up again, back into the civil war. And it is the Taliban picking up again.
I can't underemphasize what al Qaeda and its relationship with the Taliban was back in 2001. The Taliban always said they weren't anything to do with us.
But al Qaeda had given the Taliban a gift of sending the suicide bomber to kill the last outstanding commander holding up against them. And today, the Taliban are launching offensives.
In this city, when you talk to people now, they're worried about what's around the corner, how the Taliban are going to treat them. They feel they're in a moment of where the Taliban is being slightly light on them. But they feel it can get a huge amount harsher.
It is a moment as well where people are reflecting on the economy here. And they know if the Taliban is cut off from the outside -- the Taliban cut them off from the outside world, the economy here will essentially crash and everyone in the country will suffer again.
So when I reflect, I reflect on that night on what it precipitated, which was, broadly speaking, beneficial for many people in this country and reshaped a generation who understand democracy and want that across their country.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Now that's in peril, obviously.
Nic Robertson, thank you so much, in Kabul. Appreciate that.
Our allies across the pond stood in solidarity with the United States today. Queen Elizabeth and her troops played the Star-Spangled Banner during the changing of the guard at Windsor Castle. Sixty-seven British citizens were killed on 9/11.
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[13:52:49] WHITFIELD: Seven defendants pleaded guilty Friday to charges related to the January 6th insurrection on the U.S. capitol, including one man who threatened to shoot House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Cleveland Meredith Jr drove from Colorado to Washington, D.C., with two guns and 2,500 rounds of ammunition.
Meredith missed former President Donald Trump's speech at the January 6th rally but then texted a relative the next day about his intentions while attending a Pelosi speech.
Joining me right now with more on all of this, CNN's Marshall Cohen.
Marshall, tell us more about this.
MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Fred. This was one of more high- profile cases stemming from January 6th.
As you mentioned, this man, Cleveland Meredith Jr, issued these threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
And the investigators did not think these were empty words because he drove across the country with guns and ammunition, high-capacity magazines.
And he was texting these threats, sexist, vulgar threats, against Nancy Pelosi to one of his relatives. That relative was concerned enough that they went to the FBI.
Fast forward to this week, he's been in jail the whole time. He pleaded guilty yesterday. He could face up to five years in prison. But as part of the plea deal, prosecutors said they're only going to seek as much as two years.
But, Fred, this man is just one of hundreds of cases. If we could zoom out for a moment here, this is really the most sweeping nationwide manhunt of right-wing extremists in our history.
The latest numbers look something like this. More than 600 people charged in connection with the insurrection.
Sixty-four people have pleaded guilty so far. If you run the numbers, that's about 10 percent of people charged have pleaded guilty and six people have been sentenced.
More sentencings are scheduled for the next few weeks and months.
But, Fred, on this solemn anniversary of 9/11, it's striking that national security officials say this is the number-one threat, domestic extremists, Americans who want to commit violence against other Americans.
So there you go, Fred. That's the latest.
WHITFIELD: Yes. Troubling reality.
Marshall Cohen, thank you so much.
More news in a moment. But first, the Young People's Chorus of New York performed the national anthem at this morning's 9/11 memorial in New York. Let's listen.
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