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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
9/11: 10 Years Later; Interview With Mary Matalin, John Miller, Ari Fleischer
Aired September 11, 2011 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Just remarkable moments and you will see that each time -- obviously when the other two planes hit in Shanksville, and the Pentagon, and then the moment the towers came down.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
CROWLEY: Coming up, as we go into the next hour, Anderson, on those moments which, if you -- which we saw on live TV if we were not down here, it literally took our breath away.
COOPER: And we'll, of course, bring those moments to you live and in silence, as names continue to be read out, as they will be for several more hours, obviously for family members who are there. And you see holding pictures of their loved ones, so many want to be here and so many want to watch obviously around the world on television.
And we have our correspondent, Wolf Blitzer is at the Pentagon, and John King in Pennsylvania, where there were also commemorations and have been ceremonies over the last 24 hours. We'll check in with them and show you the events as they occur there.
But we are going to stay up here, obviously, as we approach 9:03.
Let's just listen in to some of what those families are listening to now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my brother, my best friend, Paul Frederick Beatini -- Paul, miss you, love you. Your girls are doing great. Your niece and nephew, Mark and Danielle are doing great. Give mom a kiss for me up here.
And just live me give a shout-out to the men and women who built this memorial, I've been down here a little bit to watch it, and to our first responders and to our military, thank you all very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And to my brother, Anthony Edward Gallagher, we love you and we miss you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donna M. Bernaerts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: David W. Bernard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: William H. Bernstein.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: David M. Berray.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: David Shelby Berry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joseph John Berry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: William Reed Bethke.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeneneh Betru.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Timothy D. Betterly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carolyn Mayer Beug.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Edward F. Beyea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul Michael Beyer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anil Tahilram Bharvaney.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bella J. Bhukhan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shimmy D. Biegeleisen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Peter Alexander Bielfield.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: William G. Biggart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brian Eugene Bilcher.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my brother in law, Steven Howard Berger. We all missed you. There is not a day that goes by that we don't think of you. You will always be in our hearts. We love you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my brother, William Reed Bethke, we will always remember you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mark Bingham.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carl Vincent Bini.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gary Eugene Bird.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joshua David Birnbaum.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George John Bishop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kris Romeo Bishundat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeffrey Donald.
(MOMENT OF SILENCE) GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Lincoln not only understood the heartbreak of his country, he also understood the cost of sacrifice and reached out to console those in sorrow. In the fall of 1864, he learned that a widow had lost five sons in the Civil War.
And he wrote her this letter, "Dear Madam, I have been shown in files of the War Department a statement of the adjutant general of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons, who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine, which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the memory of the loved and lost and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
Yours very sincerely and respectfully, Abraham Lincoln."
PETER NEGRON, FATHER DIED IN WORLD TRADE CENTER: My name is peter Negron. My father worked on the 88th floor of the World Trade Center. I was 13 when I stood here in 2003 and read a poem about how much I wanted to break down and cry. Since then, I stopped crying but I haven't stopped missing my dad. He was awesome.
My brother also just turned two when he passed. I've tried to teach him all the things my father taught me, how to catch a baseball, how to ride a bike, and to work hard in school. My dad always said how important it was. Since 9/11, my mother, brother and I moved to Florida. I got a job and enrolled in to college.
I wish my dad had been there to teach me how to drive, ask a girl out on a date, and see me graduate from high school. And 100 other things I can't even begin to name.
He worked in an Environmental Department and cared about the earth and our future. I know he wanted to make a difference. I admire him for that. And I would have liked to have talked to him about such things.
I decided to become a forensic scientist. I hope that I can make my father proud of the young men that my brother and I have become.
I miss you so much, Dad.
COOPER: And they have just begun to allow family members who have gathered, several thousands, up here just now for the first time, beginning to allow family members into the memorial garden, and by the reflecting pools in order to spend sometime. Tomorrow, it would be open to the public. Today, it's for the families.
CROWLEY: The music you are hearing is Yo-yo Ma's piece with a cello.
These family members are now being let in. And for many of them it's -- for most of them, it is the first time they will see their family member's name on the wall.
It is in some ways reminiscent of Vietnam Memorial in this way and that people come with a piece of paper and the pen and rubbed, and the indentation makes -- is something they can take home.
COOPER: And the names are grouped, if families requested, I think more than 1,000 families did request it, names are grouped together in kind of groupings of those who knew each other or worked together as often. People from Cantor Fitzgerald might be in the same area if family members would ask that.
CROWLEY: And all the while you are hearing family members read off the names. Here are the first family members.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my father, James Patrick Berger. We love you, Dad. Me, Nick, Al and mom will never forget you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my father, John T. Gnazzo, dad, mom, Jill (ph) and I miss you. You are forever in my hearts. Rest in peace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael L. Bocchino.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Susan M. Bochino.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Deora Frances Bodley.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bruce Douglas Boehm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nicholas Andrew Bogdan.
UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: Darren Christopher Bohan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lawrence Francis Boisseau.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vincent M. Boland, Jr.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Touri Bolourchi.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Alan Bondarenko.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andre Bonheur, Jr.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Colin Arthur Bonnett.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frank J. Bonomo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yvonne Lucia Bonomo.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean Booker, Sr. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kelly Ann Booms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Canfield D. Boone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mary Jane Booth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my father, George John Bishop. We love you, dad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my dad, firefighter, Christopher Joseph Blackwell, Rescue 3, FDNY.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sherry Ann Bordeaux.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Krystine Bordenabe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sherry Jane Borre (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Martin Boryczewski.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Richard Edward Bosco.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Klaus Bothe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carol Marie Bouchard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: J. Howard Boulton.
CROWLEY: More heartbreaking than these children, some of who, by the way, were not even born when their father died.
COOPER: More than 100 children were born after 9/11 to mothers who had been pregnant obviously when 9/11 happened.
CROWLEY: Lots of emotions here today.
COOPER: You see family members wanting to touch the names, and there's something tactile about this memorial. You sort of want to touch it. There's the water and there's haunting sound, and I am not sure the television is picking it up, of the water that's kind of washing over this entire area while we're hearing the names echoing in the sort of canyons made by these skyscrapers which surround us now.
CROWLEY: This obviously is not the only ceremony going on here today. We have both, John King in Shanksville, and our Wolf Blitzer who is at the Pentagon -- where, Wolf, I understand from there, you are about to start with your ceremonies?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Candy.
The Pentagon Memorial ceremony here in Washington is about to begin. It's going to begin at around 9:30, and at 9:37 a.m. Eastern, there will be a moment of silence. That's when the Flight 77 smashed into the Pentagon -- 129 victims inside the Pentagon, 59 onboard, 184 people were killed by those five hijackers. The youngest was 3 years old, Dana Falkenberg. The oldest, 71 years old, John Yamnicky. There's nearly a two-acre memorial with benches honoring all 184 who were killed. The Vice President Joe Biden will be speaking here, as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, and the secretary of defense, Leon Panetta.
We'll, of course, have extensive coverage. A moving ceremony here at the Pentagon. We're getting ready for that to coincide with what's going on in Shanksville, as well as in New York.
Back to you.
CROWLEY: Here again, we're going to hear all day long in the background, you will hear voices on the microphone, of family members reading out many names, including the names of their loved one and also seeing on the left your screen obviously, the Pentagon, and on the right, the World Trade Center.
We are joined by a number of people here with various relationships to 9/11.
Our Mary Matalin is in New Orleans. She, of course, was counsel to Vice President Cheney when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary at the that time who was in Florida with the president. John Miller who has served as former assistant deputy director of national intelligence, served with the FBI.
You were a reporter at the time.
JOHN MILLER, ASSOC. DEP. DIR., NATL. INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS: Yes.
COOPER: You were with ABC News at the time.
CROWLEY: So, I guess we, you know, at this moment, it occurs to me that when the plane hit the Pentagon, it seems as though the whole world was on fire. Somehow, it took it out of New York, and you realized this was a huge thing.
COOPER: Ari, when did you and President Bush, when did you realize this wasn't just a one incident.
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I got the word about the plane hitting the first tower, living the motorcade. Physically, I was just stepping out of the motorcade, at Emma Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, a page said World Trade Center was hit by aircraft. But it was the second plane.
When the second plane hit the second tower, I instant get a page, I was about 15 feet over the president's left ear in that school room, moments later, Andy Card walked in whispered in the president's right ear, the second tower is hit, America is under attack. Candy, it was the second plane that did it for me because at that moment I knew that we were a nation that was going to war, I knew that we are a nation that was under attack. And so, even if it took place in one city, it was our nation that was struck.
And we at the White House, your sense is our country is being attacked.
CROWLEY: It seemed so big to me at the time. And then planes were missing. There was so much confusion.
Where did you, John, first hear?
MILLER: You know, I was covering that moment what was the big story of the day, which is that a hair had been found in a car that was linked to the Jimmy Hoffa case that they thought might be moving that case forward. To this day, I don't know what happened with that case, because the world changed.
But I got as far as the car, the phone on the car was ringing, the phone on my belt was ringing, the pager was going off, and they said, there was a plane in the World Trade Center. Early report was that a small plane, which was wrong.
But as Ari said, coming into the studio, as I passed the control room, I heard a gasp and I saw the plane go in and I thought it was a replay. That was the second plane. I sat down with Peter Jennings in the news desk and said, OK, we know what this is and everything is different.
CROWLEY: Mary Matalin, I understand you were with us from New Orleans. You were -- eventually went to the bunker with Vice President Cheney. And one of the things I thought was interesting about your story was when you first visually spoke with the president. In other words, he was not in Washington, D.C. He was in Florida, and then Louisiana and then to Nebraska, because they were worried about his safety.
But when you first visually saw the president, I thought that was a compelling story of the first time you saw him and how you felt.
MARY MATALIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It was one of the few emotional moments of the day. The rest of the day was devoted to work. I was in the West Wing when the first plane hit in my office, and then in the vice president's office when the second plane hit.
And there wasn't -- I know this sounds odd -- there was not an emotional reaction. There is a functional reaction, and one of the reasons, in addition to the president's safety we were concerned about, was that what we knew would be an effort to decapitate the government. So, they needed to be kept separately, the president and the vice president.
And the president who all day long wanted to be back in Washington when he did arrive, he was -- from that moment, full of resolve and determination and courage. And he knew what he wanted to say and what he wanted to convey to America. And it was a moving -- it was a moving moment.
COOPER: And, Ari, you actually have hand written notes with you right now that you took on that day of everything the president was saying. FLEISCHER: Anderson, I brought with me, it's about eight or nine pages of single-spaced 8 1/2x14 verbatim notes. And here's what's fascinating looking back. Almost right at this point as we speak 10 years, the president heard about the third plane in the motorcade on the way to Air Force One. He boarded the plane, he got on the phone with Mary Matalin and Dick Cheney --
COOPER: These are the notes that you --
FLEISCHER: Yes. My notes have, the president talking to the vice president. It sounds like we have a minor war going on here. I heard about the Pentagon. He was then told there's still three aircraft missing. So, three hit.
And the information we had on Air Force that there were six aircraft that had not responded the order to land.
And the president said, "We're at war. That's what we are paid for, boys. We're going to take care of this. When we find out who did this, they're not going to like me as president, someone is going to pay."
And I just spent almost the entire day in the president's cabin, taking a verbatim notes and everything he did and said on that day just as a record to history. I'll loan these notes to the Bush Library and it will become part of the exhibit for 9/11 so everybody can know the historical record, everything that was said. The 9/11 Commission had these notes as well. They should be part of history.
COOPER: Were you also with him when he came here to Ground Zero?
FLEISCHER: Yes. That was the most difficult day I ever had at the White House, September 14th, because as Mary said, on September 11th, and it sounds wrong today to say it, but there was no emotion. We had jobs to do in the White House and our job -- my job was to speak for the president and tell the country what the president was doing and why he was doing it. That was my job and I wanted to be calm to do it.
September 14th, this is my home, Anderson. This is where I was born. I was raised in New York City, in Westchester County.
To come home and walk in the rubble -- the one memory I always have is the dogs searching for bodies, the dogs were bloody and cut up, but come right back and search more and the grit and determination in my hometown. And to look ahead and see a fighter aircraft on combat air patrol over Manhattan, you know, to this day, it will forever be part of the gut.
COOPER: Every time I see a plane around Manhattan, I can't help but think about that day -- still the image of it.
Did the president know what he was going to say on the 14th when he was at Ground Zero?
FLEISCHER: No. COOPER: No?
FLEISCHER: That bullhorn moment was a total spontaneous moment. I talked to the president on Friday, and interestingly he said, he keeps in touch with Bob Beckwith, the fireman with whom he stood on the truck, and also Arlene Howard, the mother of a police officer who died and gave the president her son's shield. He keeps that. He brought it with him to New York today.
But, no, that was totally spontaneous. Advance person found the bullhorn. He hopped up there, that fireman Bob Beckwith started to get down. The president put around him and said, no, you stay here, and the president just picked up what the firefighters and rescue workers were feeling and reflected it back to them.
CROWLEY: John, you were one of the few journalists who had interviewed Osama bin Laden. It was in the late 1990s --
CROWLEY: I think for most people, 9/11 is the first time they really honed in on that name. When you first realized what was going on here, is that the name you went to immediately?
MILLER: Immediately. That is actually what I thought in the car on the way to the story. I didn't have to see it. But, you know as a journalists, you try to hold back from jumping to conclusions. You try to keep an open mind. There were other possibilities.
But in the planning part of my mind, I was already thinking, we got to pull the old footage. We got to figure out the al Qaeda story. We've got to get this organize because this is going to hone to that.
CROWLEY: And did you sense when you interviewed him that he was capable of something this big? I think there were a lot of people said -- I think our Peter Bergen who also interviewed him said, you know, he was sitting in a tent in the middle of nowhere. He didn't seem, you know, all that powerful.
How did he strike you?
MILLER: Very much the same. I had a very good sense that as we hardened targets overseas, that this was going to come back here. I had been at the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. I understood the target, the attraction to this target. It was the scaleability.
I mean, the idea of using airlines as missiles, the idea of multiple strikes, simultaneously on a single day on U.S. soil, and act war, taking 3,000 lives at one time -- that was actually beyond our concept. I think the 9/11 Commission called it a failure of imagination. They just -- they out-conceived this.
COOPER: And you are seeing thousands of family members who are still waiting to be allowed in. They are slowly allowing family members in at an appropriate pace to let families have some time around those reflecting pools in order to find the name of their loved one, to touch it, to spend some time, perhaps to say a prayer, to talk about their loved ones.
And there is a sense of community here, this terrible community that no one wanted to be part of, of course, but of those who have lost loved ones. And you see people etching -- putting pieces of papers down on the stone to etch the name of their loved one.
Wolf Blitzer who's at the Pentagon, I know wanted to ask a question as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, thank you, Anderson. As we get ready for this memorial service here at the Pentagon for the 184 victims who died here exactly 10 years ago.
I wanted to get Ari Fleischer to weigh in. When the president heard -- he was down in Florida -- that the pentagon has been attacked, that this American Airlines flight had crash into the Pentagon, what was your reaction? Because by then you knew that the World Trade Center towers had been attacked.
But when these terrorists went after the Pentagon, talk a little bit about how the president reacted?
FLEISCHER: Well, what happened was, he got that word in his vehicle, in his motorcade, his limo, en route to Air Force One. So, I was in several cars behind him. So, I first heard about the Pentagon aboard Air Force One in the president's cabin. So, I couldn't be an eyewitness to what the president heard. He got the word from the Secret Service in his vehicle.
BLITZER: The president obviously knew that this took on an additional layer, an additional threat once the Pentagon had been attacked, Ari, because there was deep suspicion -- I remember watching it closely as White House officials started running away from the White House. There was enormous fear that the White House was about to be attacked as well.
You remember that, Ari?
FLEISCHER: Well, what quickly transpired -- yes, I remember the video of people running out of the White House. This moment, I'm aboard Air Force One. We took off like a rocket ship into the sky and the conversation on Air Force One immediately shifted to military. What can we do to stop this?
The president gave Donald Rumsfeld the authorization to the DEFCON 3, which was the highest level of military readiness since 1973, Yom Kippur War.
And then he also gave the authorization to shot down civilian aircraft that weren't responded to the order to land.
So, what took place -- and this is what I said -- there was no emotion shown. It was just a question of what is coming next. We don't know. There are still three aircraft in the sky, we thought. How you do you stop those three aircraft from landing at their designated target. Of course, it turned out to be only one aircraft in the sky and that was the flight that went down in Pennsylvania.
So, all through the military and what can we do to stop anything else from happening, Wolf.
BLITZER: And, John Miller, when you heard not only the World Trade Center had been attacked by these terrorists, but you also heard that the Pentagon had been attacked. You suspected this was an al Qaeda/Bin Laden type of operation. It does takes on a whole new level when this military -- the headquarters for the United States military is attacked as it was 10 years ago.
MILLER: Well, it really did. And, you know, that day, it didn't unfold that logically either because as we were trying to figure out the Pentagon incident, there were reports, as you recall, of a car bomb at the State Department and a lot of other traffic coming in.
And for a while there, it really did seem like we were under attack from more directions than we actually were, which is hard enough to believe in and of itself.
BLITZER: I want John King -- he is in Shanksville to weigh in on this as well.
John, there's going to be some memorial services where you are later this morning as we are awaiting the start of the Pentagon memorial service momentarily.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, it's fascinating, as I listen to this conversation about where we were that morning and what is happening, what makes Shanksville so interesting, is the terrorists chose the World Trade Center as their target. The terrorists chose the Pentagon as their target.
It is the actions of the 40 heroes of Flight 93 that puts Shanksville in the history books. This plane, according to all the record, the 9/11 Commission report, the hijackers had changed its course. It was flying to San Francisco from Newark, New Jersey. They had changed its course, and it was heading for Washington, D.C., and people thought maybe the White House, maybe the Capitol, and those heroes wrestled with the terrorists, the hijackers, we don't know exactly what happened, but we do it came down in a fireball in this reclaimed coal mine in the tiny town of central Pennsylvania.
And I remember I was going through security at the White House, walking down the driveway on the north lawn of the White House when the Secret Service evacuated the building, because they thought this plane, the one that crashed here, Flight 93, might be coming for the White House. They knew it was coming toward Washington.
I've never seen it before. I covered the White House for 8 1/2 years. By the time I left, uniformed Secret Service agents screaming "Run!" Young staffers coming out of the White house, the old Executive Office building, tears coming down many of their faces. Some of the running out of their shoes, they were running so fast, there were shoes strewn into the driveway as they were racing out.
And we were evacuated and I remember, Good bless our courageous photojournalists and our producers. They locked their cameras, so we would have a live photo of the White House. The uniform Secret Service surrounded the building, and I thought, my God, what courageous people. They thought a plane was coming, but they had to guard the building.
We went out to Lafayette Park and I was trying to stand in the middle of the street so I could see the building if the plane was coming. And Tim Macon, one of our producers, grabbed me, and I remembers as if it was yesterday, he said, you know, you can't file if you are dead. He pulled me back across the street into Lafayette Park where we were watching it unfold. And in the hours that came, I was trying to reach Mary Matalin. I just heard her story. We were trying to figure out -- we knew who was with the president in Florida. Major Garrett was our correspondent at the time who was there.
So we left that reporting there. In Washington, the challenge was, where is the vice president? Who is running the government? Who is making decisions?
And I remember finding out Karen Hughes was with the vice president. Mary was with the vice president, and that day as a reporting challenge, I think Ari makes an excellent point, I remember the urgency, and I remember the panic initially, and then there was not much emotion in the sense that we were trying to find out what was happening, where were people? Where were our own people? Was everybody safe at the White House?
And then this scene here, that we could not see it at the time, but within a short period of time, I was told the vice president was in the PEOC, the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, they were in coordination with Air Force One there. And it was just a remarkable day.
And for me, the first emotion came late that night when I talked to my young daughter and my son and was asking them how they were doing, and my daughter asked me how I was doing. That was the first time I remember crying on 9/11, if you will.
And but throughout the day, the reporting challenge, amid all the chaos, Anderson, was just unnerving and it was riveting.
COOPER: And certainly we are seeing a lot of emotion on display right now at this memorial site where more family members are now being allowed in, slowly streaming toward -- it's interesting watching, though, as the families are allowed into the memorial park.
There are areas to walk around, these trees, but everybody immediately is gravitating towards these two enormous reflecting pools, each some 200 feet around each side, enormous waterfalls cascading down. And then another waterfall.
Explain the design a little bit. You talked to one of the architects, or heard from. CROWLEY: The idea of the smaller square inside each large square, because there is one on the footprint of the North Tower and another large one on the footprint of the South Tower. And the idea is first that this water continues to flow. So that's sort of life renewed. And then the smaller square is just water that goes into this -- just disappears into this large dark square.
So it both reflects back on what happened as well as gives you that sort of revitalizing nature of life and the cycle of life. I love -- I don't know a soul that doesn't like the sound of water, that doesn't find it soothing.
I am sure there are some, but I have not met them. I feel the same way with the FDR Memorial, as a matter of fact, where water plays a huge part of it. That it's quite soothing. I think that this is, in fact, as they go there, they are hearing the water as well as touching the names of their family members.
COOPER: Soledad O'Brien is at another site where firefighters have gathered to remember those who died, more than 300 New York City firefighters lost their lives on September 11th.
Soledad, a smaller ceremony where you are, but incredibly powerful as well.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's growing by the minute. We are expecting thousands of people to come here at 100th Street and Riverside Drive. They closed off 15 blocks because they are holding their own memorial service. Firefighters were not invited to the ceremony where you are. But they come here every year.
And I want to introduce you to Deputy Chief Joe Jonas, who has a pretty remarkable 9/11 story.
JAY JONAS, DEPUTY CHIEF, FDNY: Jay.
O'BRIEN: Jay, forgive me, Jay. You were one of 16 people who were trapped in a stairwell when...
O'BRIEN: ... the building collapsed, the North Tower collapsed. That was your moment, you realized that you needed to start evacuating. What did you do?
JONAS: We started our evacuation once the South Tower collapsed. We started heading down the stairs. And it was not really clear that we were going to get out even just taking our normal strides down the stairs. And once we got to the 20th floor, we saw a woman in distress, and we stopped to save her.
O'BRIEN: You thought you were going to die if you stopped?
O'BRIEN: But you stopped anyway? JONAS: Stopped anyway, yes.
O'BRIEN: You lost 343 people on that day. Did you think you would be one of them? You made it down to the fourth floor, I know, when then the building collapsed around you.
JONAS: I thought we would be lucky if we got out. But we couldn't pass by this woman. Her name was Josephine Harris. She was one week shy of her 60th birthday. And we just could not do it. That's why we went there. We went there to save peoples' lives. And firefighters all over those two buildings were doing the same thing.
O'BRIEN: Today the memorial service here will recognize those firefighters. I know you are happy to be here and not necessarily down at Ground Zero. It's a remarkable turnout.
JONAS: Yes, I'm looking around. They estimated that there would be about 5,000 people, and I think we may have quite a few more than that.
O'BRIEN: Well, thanks for talking with us, Jay Jonas, now deputy chief, he was a captain back on 9/11.
We're about to come up on another moment of silence. We have those moments of silence here as well. But I want to get to Wolf Blitzer, because that is coming up right now.
BLITZER: Soledad, thank you. The Pentagon Memorial Service, it has just started and within a minute or two there is going to be that moment of silence when that American Airlines Flight 77 went into the Pentagon. Barbara Starr is with me here, our Pentagon correspondent.
Barbara, as we get ready to participate and watch, observe this moment of silence, you were here at the Pentagon on that day.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, I had come to work early like the rest of the Pentagon press corps that morning. And suddenly we had been watching events in New York and then there was a Pentagon police officer suddenly running down our hallway yelling, get out, get out, get out, we have been hit, get out.
And instantly hundreds -- thousands of people who work in the Pentagon were fleeing for the exits, coming out of every door that they could. What I am so struck by this morning is, if you were in the Pentagon that day, this is not just a memory, this is what happened to you.
BLITZER: And you see the vice president, the secretary of defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, they are getting ready for this moment of silence. The U.S. Army major general, Donald Rutherford, U.S. Army chief of chaplains, is delivering a few words, an invocation.
Let's listen in as we get ready for the moment of silence.
(MUSIC PLAYING "AMAZING GRACE") BLITZER: This memorial service here at the Pentagon is just beginning here at the Pentagon. There are dignitaries who gathered here to remember the 184 people who died. The 184 including the 125 victims aboard American Airlines Flight 77. It took off from Washington Dulles Airport at 8:20 a.m. en route to Los Angeles, to LAX.
And then it made a sudden U-turn and came into the Pentagon, 125 victims dead at the Pentagon, 59 on board, 184 people. The sad, sad moment indeed, exactly 10 years ago.
Let's go back to New York to the World Trade Center Memorial. Let's listen in to this memorial.
JAMES SMITH, RETIRED N.Y. POLICE OFFICER: I told you about my wife and Patricia's mother, Police Office Moira Smith who ran into the towers time and time again to save as many people as she possibly could.
Moira sacrificed all that she had and all the richness of life that still lay in front of her in order to just save one more person. Moira was killed when the South Tower collapsed.
Since that time Patricia has grown and blossomed into a lovely 12-year-old. The very picture of her mother with her mom smiling and a sense of adventure. Our family has grown. Patricia now has two little brothers to share her zest for life.
Five years ago we looked back and gave words to our sorrow. Today we choose to remember and share the joy Moira brought to all of us, and we vow that she will always live in our hearts.
PATRICIA SMITH: Mom, I am proud to be your daughter. You will always be my hero and the pride of New York City.
(MUSIC PLAYING, "CLOSE YOUR EYES")
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Manuel Jawell (ph) Da Mota.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Patrick W. Danahy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And in honor of my brother Frederick John Cox, on behalf of his mother, his sister, and his father, he was larger than life. Love what you do, and do what you love.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In memory of Frederick Cox and my brother, Davin Peterson, we love you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vincent G.Danz.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dwight Donald Darcy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elizabeth Ann Darling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Annette Andrea Dataram.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lawrence Davidson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael Allen Davidson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Scott Matthew Davidson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Titus Davidson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Niurka Davila
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ada M. Davis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clinton Davis, Sr.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wayne Terrial Davis.
CROWLEY: The reading of the names, probably so simple and so emotional when you put them up against some of these pictures that we are seeing of children who are even now too young to understand what went on here 10 years ago.
We are joined here obviously by Anderson Cooper, Ari Fleischer, John Miller, and Mary Matalin, all looking back over the course of 10 long years or 10 short years, we can't figure out which.
Mary Matalin, I wanted to bring you back into the conversation we were having a little earlier talking about how if you are a fireman or a policeman or you work at the White House or you are a journalist, your job kind of kicks in.
When was there a time -- or did you ever see a time when the vice president or the president had emotions kick in?
MATALIN: Well, I don't know if this is an emotion, but it was a reaction to the unfathomable collapse of the towers. There's an iconic picture of that now, but we just did not know what to make of it.
I think -- and John King said this, too. I don't think anybody had any real emotion until they returned with their families. The vice president and his wife left, and he recounts his story of seeing Washington smoldering, another unfathomable vision.
And when we finally -- everybody arrived home in the middle of the night with their families, and I can't -- now it's so emotional to see these kids and to think of 10 years without their parents, and their sisters and their brothers.
It's just really -- it's amazing how much emotion was not present there compared to what is present today. The country has come a long way. Watching all of this, I hope people watching around the world, can -- are catching our conveyance that we don't give up. We don't give in. This is one strong country. COOPER: And that was something that Osama bin Laden did not believe. John Miller, you had interviewed him. They felt that -- al Qaeda felt they had seen what the U.S. was capable of and not capable of in Somalia, and they felt the United States would essentially cut and run.
MILLER: And bin Laden said in the interview, we saw this in Lebanon, we saw this in Somalia, referring to the bombing of the Marine barracks and the "Black Hawk Down" story...
COOPER: In '92.
MILLER: And he said -- and I am quoting here, he said "the American soldier is a paper tiger who will cut and run at the first sign of a fight, and we are going to bring this battle to you." And that was back in 1998, which obviously, on his part, was a giant mis- assessment of what was to come.
COOPER: There's such an extraordinary story in the book "The Looming Tower," by Lawrence Wright, which is, I think, one of the most remarkable book about al Qaeda. An FBI agent who early on identified Osama bin Laden as a threat, and was kind of one of the -- kind of a voice in the wilderness talking about Osama bin Laden, who actually ended up retiring from the FBI, got a job working for security at the World Trade Center site, and actually perished on 9/11.
MILLER: That was John O'Neill, who was one of my best friends.
COOPER: Is that right? I didn't know that.
MILLER: We spent enormous amounts of time together. We were very close. I remember the mixed emotions he had. He hated leaving the bureau, and he hated leaving the hunt for bin Laden.
COOPER: Because it was early on he identified bin Laden before many in the U.S. government kind of identified him as a threat.
MILLER: Oh, way back before anybody had ever heard of bin Laden except for a small group of people. And one of his arguments was that this was not resonating up in the government. He said, they're still treating this as a crime, where we are going to charge somebody or make an arrest.
And this is one of those things where this has got to be raised to the level of a military operation, we have to go after these guys and get them. And in that way he was a bit of a voice in the wilderness.
But, you know, he took this job as director of security at the World Trade Center, because, A., he knew it was time to leave the bureau, and he was becoming unpopular for being this clanging bell on the bin Laden story, and B, it was time to retire and get on to a bigger income.
But he knew this was a target. And on his second day on the job as director of security trying to direct operations for the evacuation of the building, he was killed in the collapse of one of the towers.
I can remember that day knowing this is the most knowledgeable guy about Osama bin Laden maybe on Earth, and I was calling his cell phone, and I just kept getting the voicemail. And my heart sank. My heart sank because I knew.
COOPER: You knew that.
So many stories. We're going to be talking, remembering so many different people throughout our coverage today. We've heard from John King earlier in Shanksville, Wolf Blitzer now joins us at the Pentagon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Anderson, what we're seeing is U.S. troops, they're placing wreaths at the memorial, 184 victims, 184 people died when those terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon 10 years ago, 125 victims at the Pentagon, 59 on board.
Barbara Starr is watching all this unfold. Barbara was here at the Pentagon on that morning exactly 10 years ago.
As these troops place the wreaths at each bench in this memorial, Barbara, you were there when they dedicated that memorial to the victims here at the Pentagon. Talk a little bit about the concept of this memorial.
STARR: Well, this is about the Pentagon family, whether the victims were on the plane or in the building. There has very much been the sense here at the Pentagon for the last 10 years, everyone was the same Pentagon family victim. They don't really delineate.
You see the benches facing in different directions. That is the marker of whether you were on the plane or in the building. I want to mention that one of the victims, an extraordinary piece of history. His name was Max Beilke, he was an Army civilian, an older man working in the building.
But as a young man, Max Beilke served in the Army, fought in Vietnam, and Max Beilke was the last U.S. combat soldier out of Vietnam. He came home, he lived a peaceful life, by all accounts, for so many years. And then here on 9/11 he was killed in the building when the plane hit.
Other victims, there were toddlers on the plane. There was a young Navy sailor who worked in the command center. His father was a construction worker who came here for the following year and worked every day rebuilding the Pentagon. He wanted to be where his son was killed.
So there are so many stories. But I think the real difference about the Pentagon is, it was rebuilt. Everyone came back to work. We still today see many of the survivors at work every day in the Pentagon. We were back here the next morning. This is a place that never shut down.
As they say in the U.S. military, no retreat, no surrender. And that's what really the last 10 years has been about, honoring the policemen, the firemen, and all the troops over the last 10 years who have served since that day here -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It's a beautiful memorial. This memorial that was opened exactly three years ago, September 11, 2008, Barbara, and dedicated on that day. That day you remember well, a day all of us remember well.
But is this -- it's open to the public and people come here. Do they come here throughout the year in relatively big numbers?
STARR: Yes, you know, it's extraordinary, this is not that far from where we park and walk into the building, and not in extraordinary numbers, but every day 24-7 there always seems to be someone walking around paying their respects.
You see them here on a bright, beautiful summer morning like today. You see them in the snow in the winter, late at night. This is a very secure area, of course, since the attack 10 years ago. But this one part where the memorial is, is in fact open to the public and there is access to it. And people can come and visit and pay their respects.
You see that side of the building right there where the flag is hanging, 10 years ago utter devastation. The dead and the wounded were tended to. People were Medivaced out of here. It was just an extraordinary site, and on this beautiful summer morning, very quiet, very peaceful.
You still hear the planes flying from National Airport very close by. But everyone is here one more time to pay their respects -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And everyone who goes into the Pentagon remembers what happened 10 years ago. It's one of those seminal moments that no one will ever forget. But I assume that every world leader, defense minister who comes to visit, secretary of defense, everyone, do they just as a matter of procedure go and pay their respects to those who died?
STARR: Many do come out to the memorial and pay their respects. I should mention that there is a chapel, a memorial chapel inside the Pentagon where there also is a wall with the names of all of those who perished here.
And many people go and pay their respects there and do those now sadly very traditional engravings, put a piece of paper over the name and make a rendition of that name. People pay their respects all the time.
I think for those of us who work in the building, what is still so extraordinary is, it's those moments that catch you where it's not history. It is what happened to you on that day. Even a few weeks ago when we had that earthquake here in Washington, so many people were just stricken with sudden fear that something awful had happened once again until they realized it was an earthquake.
It's those moments that come back to you where it's all still suddenly right there in front of you -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And it's the men and women not only of the United States military who remember vividly what happened, but so many civilians who worked. A lot of people forget that it's not just military personnel that work in the Pentagon. Most of the people in the Pentagon are, in fact, civilians.
STARR: Many are civilians. I will tell you that one of the stories that stays with me the most is there was a young Army officer who crawled his way out of the flame and debris and then suddenly realized one of the janitorial workers had been in his office and he didn't see this man come out of the wreckage.
This Army officer climbed his way back in under great peril to himself, back in through the wreckage, the flames, the smoke, and found the man. This was a disabled man, as so many of the custodial staff are, who had no ability to cope with what had happened.
This Army officer -- the guy's name was Teddy, the custodial worker. He got Teddy, he put Teddy on his back and then climbed back out through the debris one more time with this young janitorial worker on his back.
This was a war zone. This was a war zone. No one was left behind. Everybody was looked after -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Leon Panetta, the former CIA director, is the defense secretary right now, he's speaking. I want to listen in and hear what he has to say.
LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: ... generation of Americans stepped forward to serve in uniform, determined to confront our enemies and respond to them swiftly and justly. For 10 years, they have carried that burden of protecting America, relentlessly pursuing those who would do us harm, who would threaten our homeland.
Because of their sacrifices, we are a safer and stronger nation today. And the principal terrorist behind these attacks has been brought to justice. We will never forget the human cost paid by this generation, the more than 6,200 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marine lost in the line of duty.
Like those taken on 9/11, we will always remember that they paid the ultimate sacrifice for America. Today we think of their families who have suffered tragedy and heartbreak, that have shown extraordinary resilience and strength.
We think of the thousands of veterans who carry the seen and unseen wounds of war and carry those wounds every day with them, and we grieve for those losses. But out of the darkness of this grief...
COOPER: And from the Pentagon we take you back here to the World Trade Center site where at 9:59 the South Tower fell, and we will have a moment of silence here as a bell will begin to be rung by an official from the Port Authority, who also lost so many of their employees on this day. (BELL TOLLS FOUR TIMES)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, NEW JERSEY: Today as you look over the walls of remembrance, we want to share with you the words of the poet Mary Lee Hall who wrote "Turn Again to Life."
"If I should die and leave you here a while, be not like others, sore undone, who keep long vigils by the silent dust. For my sake, turn again to life and smile, nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do something to comfort other hearts than thine. Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine, and I perchance may therein comfort you."