Entries in September 11th (3)


Bush on 9/11: 'I Didn't Have a Strategy'

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At the very moment that George W. Bush was advised about attacks on the United States in Sept. 11, he was reading to a group of elementary school students in Florida. He famously continued reading the book, The Pet Goat, for several minutes afterward, because, he later said, he "didn't want to rattle the kids."

Members of the media who were present in the classroom were also getting the news of the attacks.

"And it was like watching a silent movie," the former president told the National Geographic Channel in an interview for the channel's special program on the 9/11 attacks. "In the back of the room, reporters were on their cell phones. They were getting the same message I got. Which meant that a lot of people would be watching my reactions to these crises."

George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview premieres Sunday, August 28 on the National Geographic Channel.

Even though his first reaction was "anger, who the hell...would do that to America?" the 43rd president said he "made the decision not to jump up immediately...I didn't want to rattle the kids. I wanted to project a sense of calm."

The interview focuses on Bush's experiences on that day. In it, he talks about the hard decisions he had to make, including giving the order to shoot down any commercial aircraft that failed to obey orders to land – and the difficulties of being a wartime president forced to make life and death decisions.

"I never campaigned on you know, 'Please elect me, I'll be a...the kind of wartime chief you'll be proud of.' The war came upon us unexpectedly...And I made the decisions as best I could in the fog of war," he said.

Bush also opens up about his fears for his own family's safety on that day, and the relief he felt when he learned his wife, Laura, and their two daughters were safe.

An estimated 3,000 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked commercial airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Another jet -- reportedly bound for the White House -- crashed onto a field in Shanksville, Pa., when passengers fought the terrorists for control of the craft.

"September the 11th affected my presidency, and it caused me to make many decisions. Some of which were extremely controversial. All of which were designed to protect the homeland. I didn't have a strategy. I was living day by day," he said.

After the attacks, he pledged to hunt down Osama bin Laden, the mastermind, but critics have said he failed to make that a top priority of his presidency.

Bush discussed his reaction to news that the 9/11 mastermind had been killed by U.S. special forces on May 1. He had been having dinner with his wife in a restaurant when he received word that President Barack Obama would be calling him.

"I decided to take the call at the house. And President Obama called me, told me that Osama bin Laden had been killed. And my response was, I congratulated him, and the special operators that conducted a very dangerous mission.

"And so I was grateful," he added. "I didn't...feel any great sense of happiness. Or jubilation. I felt a sense of closure. And I felt a sense of gratitude that justice had been done."

"Eventually September the 11th will be a date on the calendar, it'll be like Pearl Harbor day. For those of us who lived through it, it'll be a day that we'll never forget."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Game Faces for White House Officials at Correspondents Dinner

CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday night, White House officials had to put on their game faces. The risky and dangerous military operation originally had been scheduled for Saturday, but had been pushed to Sunday because of weather.

Poking fun at C-SPAN’s low ratings, comedian Seth Meyers joked that Osama bin Laden had a daily afternoon show on the cable channel.

But at the dinner, officials ranging from President Obama to CIA director Leon Panetta to White House chief of staff Bill Daley to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen acted as if nothing was on their minds.

Sitting with the ABC News table, Daley showed no reaction when actor Eric Stonestreet of ABC’s Modern Family received a disappointing email that his White House tour scheduled for Sunday had been canceled.

Others at the table turned to Daley to ask him why, to see if something big was going on.

Daley said, "I don't know. Maybe a pipe broke.”

The real reason was that all White House tours had been canceled since the administration didn’t want to arouse any suspicions when tourists saw Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Panetta buzzing around.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Huckabee: 'Welcome to Hell, Bin Laden'

Photo by CNN via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Several of the potential Republican presidential candidates praised President Barack Obama for his administration’s efforts to kill terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden while others steered clear of mentioning Obama by name.

Each of them thanked American military forces, but some warned that the fight against terrorism is “not over” yet.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's reaction was perhaps the most forceful of any of the possible GOP candidates: "Welcome to hell, bin Laden."

"It has taken a long time for this monster to be brought to justice," Huckabee said in a statement. "Let us all hope that his demise will serve notice to Islamic radicals the world over that the United States will be relentless is tracking down and terminating those who would inflict terror, mayhem and death on any of our citizens."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney responded to Sunday night’s announcement by the president that U.S. forces had killed Bin Laden near Islamabad, Pakistan last week.

“This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere,” Romney said. “Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden's many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist.”

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who like Romney has formed a presidential exploratory committee, called the development “terrific news for freedom and justice.”

“In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice — and we did,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “I want to congratulate America's armed forces and President Obama for a job well done. Let history show that the perseverance of the US military and the American people never wavered. America will never shrink from the fight and ultimately those who seek to harm us face only defeat. Today, justice is done, but the fight against radical Islamic terrorism is not yet over."

While Huckabee, Romney and Pawlenty each singled out Presidnet Obama for praise, several other possible Republican candidates did not mention the president by name in their statements on Sunday night's news.

"Thank you, American men and women in uniform," former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tweeted. "You are America's finest and we are all so proud. Thank you for fighting against terrorism."

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who last week delivered an expansive speech on foreign policy in Washington, said, "This is extraordinary news for all freedom loving people of the world, and I commend all those involved for this historic triumph."

"Americans have waited nearly ten years for the news of Osama bin Laden's death," Santorum said. "And while this is a very significant objective that cannot be minimized, the threat from Jihadism does not die with bin Laden. As we were vigilant in taking him out we need to demonstrate we will continue to be vigilant until the enemy has been subdued."

Rep. Michele Bachmann, a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, called the death of Bin Laden, "the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism."

"I want to express my deepest gratitude to the men and women of the U.S. military and intelligence community. Their persistence and dedicated service has yielded success in a mission that has gripped our nation since the terrible events of 9/11," Bachmann said in a statement. "Tonight’s news does not bring back the lives of the thousands of innocent people who were killed that day by Osama bin Laden’s horrific plan, and it does not end the threat posed by terrorists, but it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio