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America's New War: Recovering From Tragedy

Aired September 14, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, American resolve as an around-the- clock recovery effort goes on and a grieving nation pauses for prayer and remembrance. Good evening, and welcome to another special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. You're looking at a vigil in New York City on this day of national prayer in the United States and in many places around the world.

Some top of the item news, and then we'll meet Governor George Pataki. Among our guests tonight , the Solicitor General of the United States, Ted Olson, whose wife died on American Airlines Flight 77. We'll also meet Dr. Gordon B. Hinckley, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

First, Pentagon sources are telling CNN that at least four U.S. Air Force fighter jets scrambled to intercept the hijacked jet liners that hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon. They arrived too late to take any action. Nearly 5,000 are people reported missing or confirmed dead at the World Trade Center. The Pentagon death toll at least 190.

The United States Senate approves use of force resolution. We start with the governor of New York, Governor George Pataki. Are you surprised at that report that interceptors were up and came close?

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: No, Larry, because we did know that shortly after the planes hit, there were fighter planes over Lower Manhattan. Obviously, we're disappointed they didn't get there sooner.

KING: What did you make of the events of today? We saw you standing with the president, with the two United States senators and members of the Congressional delegation. What was that like for you and Rudy?

PATAKI: Larry, the president's visit was exactly the right thing. He came to New York, made the right stops at exactly the right time. It was truly inspirational on a number of different levels. First of all, for all the heroic men and women down there risking their lives right now, as we speak, to try to save their comrades or simply get New York back to its normal existence as much as possible; they were inspired.

You saw tears replaced with smiles and fatigue replaced with cheers and the waving of American flags. It was a tremendous morale booster for those brave men and women still risking their live. So that on level alone, it was absolutely critical.

I think it also showed New Yorkers that the whole United States united behind New York. And when the president is standing four or five feet from the still-smoldering rubble, three days after that event, it tells everyone that this country will stand with New York. This country is united. We will restore New York to greatness and America will make sure that those who perpetrated this horrible act will be brought to justice.

KING: Governor, there are many, many people, as you know, in the United States who have less than a high opinion of New York City. Do you think that's been changed the last few days?

PATAKI: Larry, the unity is just incredible. You just mentioned Congress unanimously, in a bipartisan way, supporting massive amounts of aid to help New York get back on track. And today, with the president, we were visiting emergency teams from California, from Ohio, from Pennsylvania, from Puerto Rico, who had come to New York to help out.

The whole country stands with New York and we're grateful for that and we're extremely grateful for the president's leadership and the fact that he came here today.

KING: Do you get the feeling, Governor -- or you may have more information -- but the feeling, at least, that retaliation, if that's the word, is right around the corner?

PATAKI: I think the president is firm in his resolve to make sure that these terrorists -- and not just these terrorists, but those who harbor the terrorists, those who aid or finance the terrorists -- and not just this terrorist act, but terrorism against America in general are all going to be struck at. And I'm confident the strike will be strong. It will be long-lasting. And hopefully it will cure the world from the scourge of terrorism.

KING: So we have a two-fold thing here, Governor. We have a war and a desire for normalcy.

PATAKI: Well, we have a three-fold thing, Larry. First of all, we have the human suffering still in New York. We have to try to sift through the rubble. Every day it gets less likely but you pray for miracles. It's wonderful how millions of Americans and millions of people around the world are praying for those victims and for their families. And we have to deal with the human side. That's probably the most important. Then we have to deal with the rebuilding and the economic reality.

At the same time, we have to prepare and be committed to wage war against those who did it. And obviously, it takes unity, it takes bipartisanship, it takes all of us pulling together, it takes a strong leader and President Bush is that strong leader. We're going to get through this, Larry. We're going to get all of these missions done for the American people and the people of New York.

KING: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" is very apt.

PATAKI: It's very apt, and it's exactly what the people are feeling. Today, when the president was there, you saw hundreds, thousands of people lining up, waving American flags. They didn't care what party you were or what part of the country or what part of the world you were from. They were united in supporting our efforts to help those families and to stand with the heroes who are still working in the Lower Manhattan and to make sure that justice is done for those victims and for our country and for our future.

KING: Thank you, Governor Pataki. Always good seeing you.

PATAKI: Thank you, Larry.

KING: The Governor of New York, George Pataki. Speaking of heroes, we are now joined by officer Victor Laguer. Officer Laguer a member of the New York City police department for 11 years. He and his long-time partner, James Leahy, were on the scene one minute after the first tower was hit. His partner is missing. Is that your regular beat, so to speak, Officer Laguer?

VICTOR LAGUER, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER: Yes, Officer Leahy is my regular partner.

KING: And is that area of New York City where you regularly serve?

LAGUER: No. We serve Greenwich Village. We serve the 6th Precinct.

KING: What were you doing so close to the building?

LAGUER: We were on a routine patrol on 7th Avenue and Grove Street when we saw the plane go overhead. And my partner mentioned to me that this plane looked awful low. So we proceeded down 7th Avenue and we saw the plane strike the building.

KING: What went through your mind?

LAGUER: We were in awe. We were terrified. We couldn't believe what we saw. It almost looked like a show. And all my partner kept on telling me is "Let's go, let's go, let's go. Let's get down there as fast as we can."

KING: Did you think accident or was it obviously deliberate?

LAGUER: We thought accident. It was a big plane. We couldn't conceive of it just purposely going in to the Twin Towers. Our only hope was to get there as soon as possible to save people.

KING: What were you doing initially before the second plane hit?

LAGUER: We had approached Vesey Street. I parked the car right on the sidewalk. We ran right in with two Port Authority police and one transit cop. Right in to the main lobby, through 7 World Trade Center. It was already pandemonium. It was chaos. There was people coming up from the PATH train screaming. There was people coming out of one World Trade Center with smoke coming out behind them, screaming. And at that point, it was people trampling on each other and we were basically showing the people which way out because they were so confused on what happened.

KING: Obviously, officer, there is no training for this. You're acting a lot on gut instinct and intelligence in a mass, chaotic scene.

LAGUER: Without a doubt. This scene was definitely chaotic. People were screaming and shoving, pushing, trampling each other. At a certain point the sprinklers went off, which made it even more difficult to get people out in an orderly fashion. They were sliding all over the place.

The fire department came shortly after. And there was about four of them that I can recall. And my partner saw one of the last firefighters carrying a lot of canisters of oxygen. And he said to me, "I'm going to help this guy with these canisters. There's no way he's going to make it up in one World Trade Center with all these canisters. I'm going to grab a few off his back and I'm going to meet you right down in the lobby, Vic. That's what I'm going to do."

KING: Did you tell him not to go?

LAGUER: I told him basically: "Are you crazy? Look through the doors -- of these glass doors. You cannot even see in." He kept on insisting that he was going to be all right, it was just an accident, that the fire department -- the guys that he was with -- were saying it's no problem, these buildings are safe, let's just go up and save some lives.

KING: Then the second plane hit, right?

LAGUER: Yeah, a little while after, I was with the two transit -- two Port Authority cops and one transit cop. We flushed out about three to -- three to four people out of Two World Trade Center. We were in the lobby on Two World Trade Center, and all of a sudden it was the most tremendous sound you've ever heard in your life.

KING: You hear your partner on the radio, right?

LAGUER: He started screaming: "What was that? What is that? Vic, you on the air? Victor! What was that noise?"

And people were screaming. People in the building that I was in the lobby were diving on the floor, started praying to God. They thought that the building was collapsing. They thought that one World Trade Center had fallen on to us. To be frank, I thought the same thing. I also fell on the ground, started to cry, thinking the ceiling was going to cave in on me any time now.

KING: Do you consider yourself lucky?

LAGUER: I consider it to be a miracle for myself to be talking to you right now.

KING: What about James? You haven't heard from him at all. Is he obviously presumed gone, or do you have some hope?

LAGUER: I have hope for him. He is a very strong man. He's very determined man, he's very courageous. He is truly a hero. He could have stood with me to help, but he chose a harder route and he went with the FD and he didn't have no fire protection. He had no mask. And yet he wanted to go and help these individuals up there.

KING: They're right when they say New York's finest. Thanks, Officer.

LAGUER: You're welcome.

KING: Good luck with the hunt for James. Officer Victor Laguer. Now joining us. Incredible story. Michael Hingson has been blind since birth. Michael was on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center, the one building, the north tower. He was guided out by his guide dog Roselle and another colleague. Michael, first, what -- do you have a job in that building?

MICHAEL HINGSON, EYEWITNESS: Yes, I work for a company, Quantum ATL. We manufacture enterprise scale libraries, tape libraries that back up data for disaster recovery situations such as this.

KING: Really? That's what you manufacture?

HINGSON: The company manufactures that out in California. And my job is to manage the channel sales in New York and New Jersey.

KING: Is it a job that can be easily handled though blind?

HINGSON: Oh, yes. Obviously I use some different tools. I use a dog to get around and sometimes I will use a cane. I use a computer that talks, a calculator that talks. I will write some material in braille. It certainly is a job that I can do. Where you might drive a car to go to a place, I use a car service or rely on buses and trains.

KING: How long you work there?

HINGSON: I worked at the World Trade Center for about a year and a half.

KING: What happened? What do you remember happened?

HINGSON: There was an incredible bang. Sort of a dull thud, but certainly very tremendous. Then the building shook very violently. I remember going, "God, don't let that building tip over." I had a lot of faith.

KING: What did you think it was?

HINGSON: I thought it was some sort of an explosion at first. My colleague David Frank looked out the window as soon as the building stopped shaking and said there's fire above us. I could hear debris falling. And he said, "There's just debris falling everywhere."

KING: So your first thought now is to get out. You're also blind. So you're working on senses as well?

HINGSON: Absolutely. But I knew where the stair wells were. David could see. He and I were the last out of the office. There were guests in the office as well. They went out first. We got them out. And then we went out.

KING: And down 78 floors?

HINGSON: Down 78 floors.

KING: What role did the dog play?

HINGSON: She guided. She did a tremendous job. She is from Guide Dogs for the Blind, which is one of the larger schools in the country that trains these dogs. They do an incredible job of selecting the animals, doing the best that they can to acclimatize them to adverse conditions. This clearly can't be one of them. But she knows how to cope with noises, she knows how to cope with a lot of different stressful things. She played guide down the stairs.

KING: That's the school in Rochester, Minnesota, right?

HINGSON: No, this is in San Rafael, California.

KING: I remember Guide Dogs for the Blind in Minnesota is the main base. The dog is with you, we understand, Michael?

HINGSON: Roselle, sit. I don't know whether you can see her.

KING: We see her. Beautiful dog.

HINGSON: She is a good girl.

KING: And a brave dog.

HINGSON: She is.

KING: You are walking down 78 floors. You have a friend with you and you've got your dog. Are you scared?

HINGSON: No question. I was very concerned. I didn't hear the second plane hit, but we knew that at that time something had happened. We figured that a plane had hit the building because I could smell -- we all could smell jet fuel fumes. So we knew there was something going on.

KING: How about other people on the stairway?

HINGSON: Yes, and I'm referring to them as well. There were a lot of people going down the stairs, especially when we got down into the levels around floor 40 and so on.

KING: When you're blind, do you fear they will push right by you? Knock you over?

HINGSON: No, I wasn't so concerned about that. I stayed on the right-hand side. There was plenty of room for people to pass if they wanted to do that. And some did.

KING: Was it true some people were cheering you?

HINGSON: There were people that were doing that. I was cheering other people. We all cheered the firemen and the police and those who went upstairs. We were very concerned for them. We slapped them on the backs, they were being very supportive. "Do you need help? Are you OK?" they would ask us. And we asked them, "Are you all OK? Go get them, do everything you can. Our faith is in you."

KING: Did the firemen talk to you?


KING: Saying?

HINGSON: Are you OK? Is somebody with you? Don't worry. You'll be out OK. Just don't be scared. Just keep going, you're going to do fine.

KING: Did you smell any jet fuel?

HINGSON: Lots, yes. There were fumes all the way down.

KING: Then when you get to the lobby, what happens?

HINGSON: Well, we had the go through a lot of water. The sprinklers were running. There was a lot of debris on the floor. We got out of the lobby to the main World Trade Center Shopping Mall, which is also inside. From there we escorted out of the building and then we moved away.

KING: And did you learn of the second tower being hit?

HINGSON: I didn't know the second tower had been hit. I knew there was fire on both towers. We got about two blocks away, and then building two started to collapse. So we all -- there were a number of us, we ran for cover. We ran into a subway station. But by that time we were already covered with soot. We had to go through a lot of falling glass and a lot of other kind of debris. Then we got out of the subway and a couple blocks further, one collapsed.

KING: You've been in earthquakes, too, Michael?

HINGSON: Yes, I used to live in California.

KING: This much worse?

HINGSON: Much worse. It's not fun being at the epicenter.

KING: No. By the way, how long did it take to get down? HINGSON: I would say altogether from starting in the stairs to getting outside the building, for me, probably about 50 minutes or so. I was out about 20 minutes before Two collapsed.

KING: How is life for you now with no place to work?

HINGSON: Well, I'm doing fine. I've got a computer at home that talks. I can work at home. Even coming in this evening on the cell phone I was speaking with one of our customers, Nam, who is talking about buying one of our libraries. I can conduct business on the phone. We go forward, from that standpoint. At the same time, I'm really ticked at the people that did this. They took our lives.

KING: Michael, we salute you and we salute Roselle.

HINGSON: Thank you very much. She is a good dog.

KING: God bless.

HINGSON: God bless you.

KING: So many lost their lives in Tuesday's terrorist attack. Among them was Barbara Olson, attorney, best-selling author, and a very frequent guest on this program. There is that fantastic face and great smile. She office American airline Flight 77. That's the one that hit the Pentagon.

Her husband is the solicitor general of the United States, Ted Olson. He talked with me earlier today, right after attending the national cathedral service. I asked him what it was like to -- for him especially, to go to that service.

TED OLSON, SOLICITOR GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: It was enormously moving. And before I say anything more about, that I just wanted to thank you, Larry. It is a difficult thing to talk at a time like this, but you were such a dear friend to Barbara and everybody connected with your program has always been so kind to her. And I just -- it is a dear friendship and I'm very grateful for the friendship, and Barbara was.

KING: It's almost impossible to think of her as gone.

OLSON: No, it is impossible to think of her as gone. I think it will take a long time for me to absorb that. And I know all of her friends feel that way. Barbara was so full of life and so full of energy and so enthusiastic about everything that she did. I could go on and on.

KING: Now we are going to help our audience with some information. Let's go back to Tuesday morning. First, it should be pointed on a personal note, Barbara Olson was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles to attend a major media business conference that I was the keynote speaker of. These ways of interconnecting. She flew on American Airlines Flight 77.

Ted Olson and I flew on that flight together two days after the election. When we landed, Ted was paged. Turned right around and went to Tallahassee to represent George Bush there in the fight for the presidency. So that given, she was supposed to go Monday and stayed over?

OLSON: She was supposed to go Monday and she -- my birthday was Tuesday. And she decided that she was not going to go Monday. I told Barbara, I said: "That's OK. We will deal with my birthday later on. At my age we're not paying too much attention to those."

But she insisted. She did not want to be gone on the morning of my birthday and she wanted to be there when I woke up, which she was. I left for work earlier, very early in the morning, before 6:00, and she left shortly after that to go to the airport.

KING: The next time you hear from her is on the plane?

OLSON: Actually, I heard from her before that. Before she boarded the plane -- this plane was scheduled to leave, and I guess did leave, at 8:10 in the morning.

She called me -- we always did this with one another. We always called one another a lot during the day, sometimes very briefly. But she called me around -- it must have been around 7:30 or 7:40, before she got on the plane. We just talked to one another and how anxious I was for her to come back and how anxious she was to return. But then I did not hear from her again until after she was in the air.

KING: And the plane is now -- she is flying. She calls you, you're at the Justice Department, right? Solicitor General's office is at the Justice?


KING: She calls you and what?

OLSON: I had heard a few moments before -- a few minutes before -- of the disaster occurring at the World Trade Center. There is a television set in the back of my office. I turned it on and watched with horror the film being replayed of the airplanes crashing in to the World Trade Center.

KING: Both crashes?

OLSON: Both. The second one had just occurred, I think, when I had turned it on, but they occurred in such a fashion they had film of it, which as this station -- I think I was watching CNN. And I was relieved because at the moment that I heard there was hijacked planes, I was both terrified and fearful for everything that was going on. But I made a mental calculation, because the first thing that comes in to your mind is that Barbara's plane, could that be one of those planes? And I thought oh, thank goodness, it can't be her plane. I'm sounding rather selfish here. That just went through my mind because there wasn't enough time for that airplane to have gotten to New York.

Then one of the secretaries rushed in and said, "Barbara is on the phone." And I jumped for the phone, so glad to hear Barbara's voice. And then she told me, "Our plane has been hijacked." This was some time -- must have been 9:15 or 9:30. Someone would have to reconstruct the time for me.

KING: So the television is on. You've see the buildings, both in disaster mode, and you are talking to your wife who has just been hijacked.


KING: And she says?

OLSON: She says we have just been hijacked. I had two conversations, Larry, and my memory is -- tends to mix the two of them up because of the emotion of the events. We spoke for a minute or two, then the phone was cut off. Then we she got through again, and we spoke for another two or three or four minutes. She told me that the plane had been hijacked, that she had been -- she told me that they did not know she was making this phone call.

She told me that she had been herded to the back of the plane. She mentioned that they had used knives and box cutters to hijack the plane. She mentioned that the pilot had announced that the plane had been hijacked. I believe she said that. And she -- I had to tell her about the two airplanes that had hit the World Trade Center.

KING: Why?

OLSON: I just felt that I had to. I had to tell her. I will look back at that and wonder about that same question myself, but I had to tell her.

KING: You're the kind of couple, knowing you guys, you tell each other everything.

OLSON: We are extraordinary close.

KING: This was a mad love affair?

OLSON: Yes, it was. I could not have kept that from her.

KING: What did she say when you told her?

OLSON: I think she must have been partially in shock from the fact that she was on a hijacked plane. She absorbed the information. We then both reassured one another this plane was still up in the air. This plane was still flying, and this was going to come out OK. I told her, "It's going to come out OK." She told me it was going to come out OK. She said, I love you.

KING: Didn't she ask about the pilot? Was the pilot in the back with her then?

OLSON: I don't know. But she told me at one point in this conversation: "What shall I tell the pilot? What can I tell the pilot to do?"

KING: Implying he must have been back there with her.

OLSON: Either the pilot or possibly the copilot or part of the crew. That was the implication, but I didn't really think to ask that specific question.

KING: Did she sound terrified, anxious, nervous, scared?

OLSON: No, she didn't. She sounded very, very calm.

KING: Typical Barbara.

OLSON: In retrospect, enormously, remarkably, incredibly calm. But she was calculating -- I mean, she was wondering "What can I do to help solve this problem?" Barbara was like that. Barbara could not have not done something.

KING: What's going through you?

OLSON: My -- I am in -- I guess I'm in shock. And I'm horrified because I really -- while I had reassured her that I thought everything was going to be OK, I was pretty sure everything was not going to be OK. I by this time, had made the calculation that these were suicide persons, bent on destroying as much of America as they could.

KING: Did you hear other noises on the plane?

OLSON: No, I did not. At one point, when she asked me what to say to the pilot, I asked her if she had any sense for where she was. I had, after the first conversation, called our command center at the Department of Justice to alert them to the fact that there was another hijacked plane and that my wife was on it and that she was capable of communicating, even though this first phone call had been cut off.

So I wanted to find out where the plane was. She said the plane had been high hijacked shortly after takeoff and they had been circling around, I think were the words she used. She reported to me that she could see houses. I asked her which direction the plane was going. She paused -- there was a pause there. I think she must have asked someone else. She said I think it's going northeast.

KING: Which would have been toward the Pentagon?

OLSON: Depending upon where the plane was, .

KING: Dulles...

OLSON: Dulles is west of the Pentagon. So east of Dulles is the Pentagon. And this plane had been in the air for, I think, over an hour. So I don't know where she was when she called.

KING: They didn't do any direct flight right to the Pentagon.

OLSON: No, no. Her plane took off at 8:10. Its impact with the Pentagon must have been around 9:30 or so. You will probably be able to reconstruct that or have that information as to the time of the impact.

KING: How does the second conversation end?

OLSON: We are -- we segued back and forth between expressions of feeling for one another and this effort to exchange information. And then the phone went dead. I don't know whether it just got cut off again, because the signals from cell phones coming from airplanes don't work that well, or whether that was the impact with the Pentagon.

It was not -- I stayed glued to my television. I did call the command center again. Someone came down so I can impart this information and also to be there in case she called again. But it was very shortly thereafter that news reports on the television indicated that there had been an explosion of some sort at the Pentagon.

KING: Did you immediately know then that's what it was?

OLSON: I did. I mean I didn't want to. I did and I didn't want to, but I knew. But it was a long time before what had happened at the Pentagon -- or it seemed like a long time -- before it was identified as an airplane. Then the first report that I heard was that it was a commuter plane, and then I heard it was an American Airlines plane.

I called some people, I guess maybe just because I had to share the dread that was living with me. I called my mother and I called my son. I said I didn't think -- I thought that -- I was hoping that it wasn't true, but I was very worried. I did not want them to see something on television and hear her name.

KING: Your son was Barbara's stepson, right?

OLSON: Yes. I also tried to call my daughter, who was her stepdaughter.

KING: Did you hear from the president or the attorney general?

OLSON: Oh, yes, I did. I heard from the president. Well, he was in the air. I can't tell you exactly what time of day that was on the 11th. I also heard from the attorney general. I also heard from the vice president and many other of our officials of government. And of course, scores of other people, including you and your wife and...

KING: How are you -- as you look at yourself, and looking at you now, how were you able -- and everybody, I'm sure, is saying this -- to handle this so well?

OLSON: I think that nature protects us by putting us in some sort of shock.

KING: That you might still be in?

OLSON: I think -- I haven't talked to people that they call grief counselors or anything like that. But I think that people are in shock for a considerable period of time. That's why you're advised, I mean, not to make important decisions, not to do things that don't make sense. That's why people gather around. That's why friends show up at your home. That's why people go with you wherever you go just to be able to talk to you and insulate you from the emotions that are so -- packed so strongly in your body.

KING: By the way, was the president comforting?

OLSON: I thought the president was wonderfully comforting.

KING: To you on the phone?

OLSON: Yes, he was, enormously. We couldn't speak long. This was during the day of the crisis. And I didn't -- I hadn't expected him to call, because he is the president of the United States. We know now -- he knew then there were thousands of victims and terrible devastation and crisis and the potential of further dangers to the structure of our government, meaning the institutions of our government and the leadership of our government. I am deeply indebted to him that he had the time to call. He was very comforting. He is a very compassionate man.

KING: The audience of the show knows her so well. But a lot of the time they saw Barbara as harsh, Barbara very strongly opinionated, very conservative, maybe even more conservative than you, Ted.

OLSON: I don't know about that. But I think that's, it's interesting that you use that word opinionated, because Barbara mentioned once that she thought she was opinionated. And I said, "Barbara, you're not opinionated, you just have opinions."

But she said she thought it was a compliment to be opinionated. She thought that, and I mean that in a gentle way, that she thought that she wanted to be involved. She wanted to have opinions. She wanted to know what was going on. She turned down a number of offers to be with prestigious law firms to come to Washington because she wanted to be involved in politics and political life.

And she wanted -- she felt that people should express their opinions. Barbara was a very, very gentle person, but she was not bashful about expressing her point of view.

KING: One would imagine if she were on and here tonight, she would be calling for immediate retaliation, a slam dunk.

OLSON: I don't know.

KING: You don't?

OLSON: What those of us, and I think that other people who are, had loved ones that were devastated by this event, I don't think we're thinking about revenge or thinking about that sort of thing. I think that we expect the government will do what it can to bring those things about. But my feeling is of love for my wife, Barbara, and the feelings -- and for my family and for all of the other people.

KING: A couple other things. You told us on the phone, and I think it was printed in the press, she never identified what the nationality was or what the hijackers were like?

OLSON: No, she not. And I -- we just didn't, that didn't come up.

KING: That wonderful smile. Boy, she changed the room, didn't she?

OLSON: Yes, she could light up a room. We did everything together. And I could never get over the fact if we were sitting at a dinner table together with six or seven people at these banquets that we'd go to in Washington, that the entire table would be transfixed by Barbara, the conversation that Barbara would somehow initiate and light up the room. And everything would become animated and spirited and in good will.

I mean that in the best possible way. And people would be having fun. Being around Barbara was to have fun.

KING: You told me about one thing last night, which just tore Shawn and my heart out. When you finally went to bed on Tuesday night, the end of this harrowing day, you find a note.


KING: What was it?

OLSON: Barb -- I left the home a little before 6:00, as I said. And Barbara left not long thereafter to catch the plane. And it was my birthday. And when I finally went to bed, it was after 1:00 on -- now it was September 12. There was a note that Barbara had written to me on the pillow, saying, "I love you. When you read this, I will be thinking of you and I will be back on -- I will be back Friday."

There were a few more words than that, but I just, that was a -- extraordinarily special and very much like Barbara. And I'm grateful that she did that.

KING: Thank you, Ted, our hearts are with you.

OLSON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Ted Olson, solicitor general of the United States.

He did that earlier for broadcast tonight.

There will be a memorial service for Barbara Olson tomorrow morning. For those of you in the area, it'll be held at the Cathedral of St. Thomas Moore. That's in Arlington, Virginia. And reminding you, still to come tonight is Dr. Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He might be able to help Ted, maybe millions of others get through this.

Right now, let's go to Washington, where we're joined by Colonel Roy Wallace of the United States Army. He's the office of deputy chief of staff for personnel, served in the military 24 years, stationed at the Pentagon and lieutenant colonel Ted Anderson of the United States Army, working in Army Congressional Liaison. He's been in service for 19 years and commanded troops in the Persian Gulf.

You realize that the previous guest's wife died at the building that housed these men. Colonel Wallace, what were you doing at the time American Airline flight 77 hit your building?

COL. ROY WALLACE, ARMY: Well, sir, I was having a conference call in my office, which was in the wedge that now you see collapsed on all the TVs. When we heard an earth- shattering boom, followed by a shock wave, which tore the ceiling apart above us, bringing down the tiles and the aluminum that held it together and the light fixtures swinging from the wires that were holding them up. And directly behind me, the glass being blown out into a courtyard between the C and the B rings of the Pentagon.

KING: Did you have any idea what it was?

WALLACE: No, at that time, we thought it was a bomb or some other type of explosion.

KING: Lieutenant Anderson, where were you?

LT. COL. TED ANDERSON, ARMY: Larry, I was in my office, actually talking to my wife on the telephone and her students, her 6th grade students in North Carolina.

KING: Did you already know about the crash at the twin towers?

ANDERSON: She actually called me, Larry, and she wanted information. She was having a civics type of class with her students, and they wanted information about the bombing in New York and wanted to know what I thought about it.

KING: Boy, now what happens? When it hit, what happened? What did you do?

ANDERSON: Well, when the bomb went off, I knew -- when the explosion occurred, I thought it was a bomb inside the building and I hung up. I said there's been a bombing, I've got to go, I hung up the phone and I screamed for everybody in the office to get out.

And I went out the back end of the office, Larry, and into the hallway. And people were starting to come out of their offices, kind of in shock, not knowing what had occurred. And I just started screaming at the top of my lungs, "Everybody out of the building, out of the building."

And at that time, I went out an emergency exit. And Larry, as soon as I came out the exit, I looked to my left and I saw nothing but aircraft debris. And I knew exactly what had happened at that point.

KING: Is it true that you saw someone running by you on fire?

ANDERSON: Larry, we -- myself and two other folks and one was now a commissioned officer and another was a civilian, and I couldn't tell you their names, but we ran around the corner and directly to the fire itself. And as we got to the fire, were able to negotiate entry into the structure itself. And through the process of getting a couple people out, Larry, I fell onto the floor. And in so doing, picked myself up. And I saw this brilliant glow go by me to try and hit a window. And it was an individual ablaze.

KING: Running by you?

ANDERSON: Ran by me. The individual that was with me, we both jumped on this individual and smothered the flames and then we had to carry him out. The lady that we carried out prior to that, previous to that, was conscious, but was very difficult to get out of the building.

KING: Did he live?

ANDERSON: Say again?

KING: Did he live?

ANDERSON: They both lived, Larry. As a matter of fact, the individual that had, was burned so terribly, and this is hard for me to even live with tonight, was completely conscious and screaming to me at the top of his lungs, "Get back into the corridor. There are more people behind me. You need to get into the corridor." And that's when we tried to get back in the structure, Larry, but the firemen pulled us out.

KING: He was saying that while burned over his body?

ANDERSON: He was completely burned over the front part of his body, but he had enough adrenaline flowing in him that he knew his colleagues were behind him.

KING: And colonel Wallace, what happened with you? What did you do?

WALLACE: Well, as soon as the blast wave went by us, I looked towards the outer part of the Pentagon and saw a wave of black smoke, curling our way. So I quickly yelled to my people to get the heck out of the building.

And then after I had cleared them out of the cubicle farm that we lived in, in the personnel office, I went back in to see if there was anybody else. And we got down on the floor and we called to people, "Telling them to come to the sound of our voice if we could -- if they could hear us."

And then when the smoke got too bad, we went out into the fourth corridor. And when I looked to the right, there was an individual that had stumbled down the corridor. And he was coming in and out of consciousness. And he had been burned, third-degree burns on his arms and his head.

Part of his uniform was matted to him because we have polyester type pants. We picked him up and started towards the middle of the Pentagon, working our way through the smoke. Some of the doors had jammed, so we had to divert through other offices to get to the middle of the Pentagon to where there was triage for him.

KING: Gentlemen, obviously there's no way any of your training could have prepared you for this and to see the heroics. Do you expect as military men, finally, do you expect Lieutenant Anderson, retaliation soon in some form?

ANDERSON: Larry, quite honestly, I don't know. I can only tell that you the Secretary of Defense has promised that some sort of retaliation, most likely is in the offing. But that's not up to us to decide. We're on the execution end of the phase. And we will do exactly what the National Command Authority directs.

KING: Colonel Wallace, do you expect something?

WALLACE: In the military, we have complete faith in the President and the Secretary of Defense and Secretary White of the Army that they're going to do the right thing. And when called upon, we'll respond under their direction.

KING: We have no doubt of that. Colonel Roy Wallace, Lieutenant Colonel Ted Anderson, thank you both.

Before we meet two survivors in New York from the tower and then Dr. Hinckley and some words of wisdom, Dr. Hinckley is president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. First, here's a moment with President Bush this morning at the National Cathedral.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing.


KING: George Bush this morning. I've been saying, Dr. Hinckley, it is President Gordon B. Hinckley of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And he'll be with us in a couple of moments. And we'll spend those moments in our New York bureau with Valerie Nisi O'Neill, who worked on the 44th floor of the World Trade Center, the south tower. That was the second tower hit, the first to crumble. Independent contractor working as a TV producer for Morgan Stanley.

And Evelyn Kong, Evelyn is Valerie's colleague and friend. She was on the stairwell in the upper 20s of the building. What, Valerie, do you do as a TV producer for a stock brokerage firm?

VALERIE O'NEILL: We produce the internal programming for our business television network, Morgan Stanley.

KING: Got you. Where were you when this happened?

O'NEILL: We were in our smaller studio, preparing for a shoot that was going to begin at 9:00. And we heard a really loud bang. There was a window right by us. So we looked outside and we saw parts of one start falling off the building. And we saw a lot of debris falling. So everyone immediately said to run, and we looked for the nearest exit to get out.

KING: What did you think?

O'NEILL: We were pretty scared. We didn't know what it was. Of course, the immediate thing that came to mind was maybe it was a bomb. Someone thought it was a plane. So everyone grabbed their belongings really quickly and just started running out.

KING: And down the stairs?

O'NEILL: Down the stairs. Actually, the first thought, which probably wasn't very smart was to go to the elevator. We were on the sky lobby, so it goes right down to the first floor. Just about as the doors were going to close, the security guards told to us get out and head for the stairs. I was with some of my co-workers at this point. But I guess the scrambling, we got separated. And within moments, we were heading down the stairs.

KING: Was there panic, Valerie?

O'NEILL: Initially, no, only because no one, I'm sure imagined that it would be something as tragic as what was going to happen. We thought it was maybe, at the time we weren't sure but looked like it was contained in one. So everyone helping each other, moving in an orderly fashion down. Some people were a little bit afraid, but others were calming them down, and we were getting down pretty quickly.

KING: Evelyn, where were you?

EVELYN KONG: I was, Valerie and I got separated. And we were in the 20s when the second plane hit. So it was.

KING: You were in the stairwell when it hit?

KONG: Yes, we were already in around the 20s, down on the 20s.

KING: And did you have any idea what that was?

KONG: Initially I thought it was a helicopter or some sort of small plane that might have crashed into the building or perhaps even an explosion upstairs, but we had no idea that it was a plane that size or a commercial airline.

KING: And what did you do? Just start heading down?

KONG: I was with Valerie. We both did not so smart thing, which was go for the elevator. And then we both right back out. And then we lost each other. And we headed down the stairs as quickly and as orderly as we could.

KING: Now there were reports that some people said you could go back up those stairs. Did you ever hear those things? O'NEILL: I did hear those reports. There were two announcements. The first one was explaining to everyone that it was in fact a plane that hit one. The way it sounded was if a plane had gone out of control, but everything was contained in one and to keep moving down. And then we did hear a second announcement that everything was pretty much contained. And we can resume to what we were doing. The majority of the people kept heading down, though.

KING: Evelyn, Norbert Solomon, you last saw him directing people out?

KONG: Yes.

KING: He's a security guard. He's still missing, right?

KONG: Yes, he is. He was an unofficial, I guess, department of ours, the video department. He sat right in front of our department. And the last time I saw him, he was ushering everyone to the stairs and directing traffic, and helping everybody out. So we're still looking for him.

KING: And oddly enough, that TV studio where you were shooting that special thing for the agency, opened on September 11, 2000. It was exactly one year old. Do you feel lucky, Valerie?

O'NEILL: I feel very lucky. I think it's a miracle I got out. And I actually talked to a lot of my friends who were on 60 and 64. And I wasn't sure they made it. And some of them were actually on the floors when the second plane hit and they were able to get out, too. So I don't know how it happened but they did.

KING: Evelyn, lucky?

KONG: I'm so lucky. And by the grace of God am I alive right now. I just want people out there to know that a lot, there are a lot of survivors and to not give up hope because there a lot of people made it out, a lot of people.

KING: Thank you, Evelyn. Valerie Nisi O'Neill and Evelyn Kong.

Show you a scene now of the vigils taking place all over the country. Here's one going on in New York City. This is officially a day of mourning. The President has declared, by the way, that all flags stay at half staff through September 22. And this is the vigil in New York City.

Joining us now from Salt Lake City is Gordon B. Hinckley, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It's always good to see him, but not under these kind of circumstances. But we thank you very much, Gordon, for joining us.

What would you say to those millions of people who are going to go synagogues tomorrow and wards of your church and Catholics and Protestants and Methodists. They're going to go to all their houses of worship Sunday. They're going to be in Saturday. What are you going to say to them? What would you say to them? GORDON B. HINCKLEY, PRESIDENT, CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS: Our hearts are all subdued. The guest that you've shown us tonight have brought us very close to this sad chapter in the history of our great nation. The losses are so terrible. They're incomprehensible, that we have suffered, that our people have suffered so much, so very many of them and so very seriously.

When we get in circumstances like this, there's only one true source of comfort and that comes from God, our eternal Father. We look to him, we bow our heads in prayer. We plead with him in behalf of those who have gone and their loved ones who are left and those who are wounded, all of whom have suffered so immensely. Certainly this is a time of national mourning and national resolve.

KING: I'm sorry, but what about. Gordon Hinckley, those who might say, why have you deserted us? Why are these people gone? Why are those buildings burning? Why is the Pentagon, why are planes lost? Why? They must ask that.

HINCKLEY: We don't know why. We don't understand everything, but we do know that our Father loves us and watches over us. We do know that life is not only that phase that we call mortality, that there is beyond this life another, which is as real and as certain as is the life that we now live. And that those who have go beyond will continue and will in fact make preparation for their loved ones who will follow. I have no doubt of this.

KING: None?

HINCKLEY: Go ahead, please.

KING: You have no doubt?

HINCKLEY: I have no doubt personally whatever.

KING: Gordon when you see -- all right, Billy Graham said today, we have a choice whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people and a nation or to become stronger through all of this struggle, to rebuild on a solid foundation. What, though, Gordon, do you say to parishioners who say what do I do with my anger?

HINCKLEY: Well, you live it with it. You try to subdue it. You calm your emotions if you can do so. You plead with the Lord to bless you with a sense of self-control and an overriding faith that, in spite of all of this terrible tragedy, there is hope. There is assurance. There is peace. There is comfort in the word of the Lord, who said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And he that liveth and believeth in me shall never die."

KING: Our guest, if you're just joining us, is Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We're going to include some phone calls for President Hinckley.

Houston, Texas, hello. CALLER: Well, hello, Larry. I'd like to ask the reverend, does it bother him that a lot of the people that have committed these acts hide behind their religion as their reason?

KING: Yes, the people doing it say they believe in God and they love their God.

HINCKLEY: Well, of course it bothers me, it troubles me very greatly. I think that religion offers no shield for wickedness, for evil, for those kinds of things. The God in whom I believe does not foster this kind of action. He is a God of mercy. He is a God of love. He is a God of peace and reassurance. And I look to Him in times such as this as a comfort and a source of strength and reassurance.

KING: President Hinckley, though, couldn't He have prevented this?

HINCKLEY: Oh, I suppose so. I believe he's all powerful, yes. I don't know His will. I don't know how He operates. His wisdom is greater than mine. He sees beyond what I see. But I have confidence, overwhelming confidence in the fact that He, who sees life, in its true and eternal sense will provide for those who suffer as these people have suffered as a result of this atrocity, which has been committed against the nation, which we love.

KING: I know you know the President, I know you know his father. What did you think of what he had to say today and what did you think of that whole service at the National Cathedral?

HINCKLEY: I thought it was beautiful. I thought it was very expressive. I think the President has done the right thing. I think that his words will bring reassurance to the people of America and particularly to those who have suffered such terrible losses. And certainly he's done the right thing in bringing that assurance.

God loves us. He loves his children and he will provide for us. I have no doubt of that. We face terrible sorrows. None of us can understand the enormity, the tension of those on those planes, for instance, who were headed for crashes. None of us can understand those, the feelings of those innocent people in those buildings, which were taken down.

But with all of that, for those who are left, for those who are wounded, I bring you a message of peace and hope and comfort. That comfort which comes not from man, but from God Himself, who is the father of us all and who loves us.

KING: And that message comes while you weep?

HINCKLEY: Yes, it comes while I weep. My heart reaches out in sorrow, as I listen to the people you have interviewed tonight and particularly Mr. Olson. I was touched to the bottom of my heart by the terrible price which has been taken in terms of the loss of his beloved companion. But I have no doubt, none whatever, of the fact that life is eternal, that we are immortal beings and that when we step over the threshold from this life to the next, it will be for those who do that, a pleasant and uplifting and wonderful experience.

KING: Brooklyn, New York, for President Hinckley, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello, Larry. I'd like to ask President Hinckley as a man of God, how he feels about these men that committed these atrocities against us?

HINCKLEY: Well, I feel terrible about them. I just think that they have done the worst kind of thing that anyone can conceive of. It is a terrible thing which they've done and they will stand before the bar of God and be judged by Him, who knows all things. And I think his judgment will be sure and certain and most condemnatory concerning the things which they have done to this nation as they did last Tuesday.

KING: Do you forgive them?

HINCKLEY: Well, I don't carry in my heart malice toward anyone. I believe that justice must prevail. If there has been wickedness or if there has been evil, we will pay for it. Justice will exact its toll. And God will hold us accountable for that which we will do. We shall answerable for that, for our behavior. And I think those who have committed this atrocity will have to pay for it.

But in my own heart, I tried to cultivate a spirit of Christian love without bitter malice or unkindness, but only love concerning those who have suffered so much even though I feel a measure of sensor, very strong and very certain to those who have done this terrible thing.

KING: President Hinckley, you've lived 90 years. You've seen lots of tragedies.


KING: 91. Lots of tragedies, lots of uplifting, nothing like today of course. And yet you never waver?

HINCKLEY: Never. I have an absolutely solid faith concerning the eternity of life, concerning the fact that we're all sons an daughters of God, regardless of our religious persuasion, regardless of our nationality. We're sons and daughters of God.

He expects good things of us. He expects us to live lives of accountability and the right kind of pursuits, not to be destructive, not to be evil, but to rise above these terrible things and depart ourselves in a manner that will bless mankind and bring to pass that peace which all the world longs for.

KING: President Hinckley, we thank you very much for being with us. Your words have been inspiring and we know that millions will be going maybe in record-breaking numbers this weekend to their houses of worship. And we know you're there in spirit to all of them.

HINCKLEY: Thank you very, very much, Larry.

KING: President Gordon B. Hinckley, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from Salt Lake City. We will be with you with live editions of "LARRY KING LIVE," both Saturday and Sunday nights. Upcoming will be a special report with Aaron Brown, who's been on top of this scene, including on top of buildings as well, ever since the start of that horrible Tuesday morning.

As we leave you, we offer the highlights from the National Cathedral, the singing of "America the Beautiful." I'm Larry King for all our guests, God bless.




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