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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

9/11 Memorial; Truck Bombing at NATO Base in Afghanistan; Vice President Biden Visits Hallowed Ground

Aired September 11, 2011 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PARNESS: Come to Joplin, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, go to other places impacted by disaster and do something very simple and be kind to your neighbor.

You know, we had all these children here in Joplin, Missouri, holding the national 9/11 flag just a few moments ago. I told the kids, I said you're the 9/12 generation. You're the next 10 years. I think it's so incumbent that we never forget the tragedy. We'll never forget the images.

It's so important to teach and inspire and educate and activate our children for the 9/12 generation, the next 10 years, the best way to pay honor to all those who are lost is to take positive action, do something, volunteer.

COOPER: We're seeing actually people stitching, repairing that 9/11 flag. What kind of impact does that experience have on the folks who are doing it? You've been traveling around the country with this, literally physically touching the flag and being able to take needle and thread and help bring it back to life.

PARNESS: Anderson, it's been the most humbling privilege as a New Yorker to be able to travel around the United States and let soldiers and school kids who survived the shooting in Fort Hood stitch the flag and World War II veterans on the deck of the "USS Missouri."

Family of Martin Luther King Jr., wounded warriors, military veterans, first responders, teachers, kids, 9/11 family members, we've had over 30,000 people return this flag to its original 13-stripe format.

In just a few minutes from now, the people from Joplin are going to take American flags that survived the Joplin, Missouri tornado and finish and complete the restoration of the national 9/11 flag.

You know, it's really become our modern day "Star Spangled Banner." I think it's the beauty and the fabric. It's not even about the fabric. It's about all the people. It's about all their love of their country and their neighbors.

COOPER: Jeff, for those who want to help your organization or maybe part take in this, what's the web site?

PARNESS: The website is newyorksaysthankyou.org. I just want to share with you it's 10 years and we've just gotten started.

COOPER: Jeff, remarkable what you've done in those 10 years. Appreciate you being with us on this day.

PARNESS: Thank you.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: It fulfils the moving ahead part so much. You know, he's done an amazing work.

We would like to now welcome our international viewers as well as those of you here in the U.S. It is a very special, very somber day here. The 10th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

I'm Candy Crowley here with Anderson Cooper at the site of the World Trade Center where they're dedicating the memorial to the victims. President Obama was here earlier. He is now on his way to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, later he will be at the Pentagon.

This is not only a significant day in U.S. history. Many countries are different because of 9/11. None more so than Afghanistan.

We have our CNN Suzanne Malveaux and Nic Robertson with us today. Sadly we begin with breaking news about yet another terror attack. At least 77 people injured by a truck bombing at a NATO base in Afghanistan. Taliban militants are claiming credit.

We want to start with Suzanne at Camp Eggers in Kabul. Suzanne, what do you know about this attack?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, you know, this is certainly the kind of thing that people worry about, a lot of anxiety about this. This happened about 60 miles west from where we are in a province, the Wardak Province outside of a combat outpost.

Essentially there was a car bomb, a truck bomb that pulled up at that outpost, a bomb went off. You had two Afghan civilians who were killed. As you mentioned, there are significant number so injuries.

At least 77 American soldiers, 25 Afghan citizens who were injured in that bombing. We are told that much of those injuries, however, are minor injuries, which is a good thing. Candy, I had a chance this morning to talk to General John Allen.

He essentially is the head of the U.S. and NATO mission here in Afghanistan, to get a sense of how significant this is and whether or not he believes this is a sign that the Taliban has been strengthened or weakened. Here is how he put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL JOHN R. ALLEN, COMMANDER, ISAF AND U.S. FORCES IN AFGHANISTAN: This attack was a high-profile attack. It was a pretty significant suicide vehicle bomb. But they have been ejected from the population in so many places around the country that their only ability to influence the battlefield in many cases on many occasions is simply high-profile attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Candy, what he says essentially was that is this is a Taliban that is actually desperate, if you will, that these are the kind of high-profile attacks they have to carry out, that are expected almost, because they have been so weakened.

One of the things that he told me as well as many of the soldiers here is the importance really the mission has changed here. It's a different phase. It's about training the afghans an training them quickly to get them up to speed to go ahead.

And conduct their own security to protect themselves, their own country, by the end of 2014, that's when it's slated that U.S. and NATO combat troops will be coming home. Candy --

CROWLEY: Thanks, Suzanne. I know you'll stick with us as we look into the international implications and ramifications of 9/11.

COOPER: Yes, 10 years ago, al Qaeda's leadership, of course, was in Afghanistan. Today many of those leaders including Osama Bin Laden, are dead or in custody. But Al Qaeda keeps adopting, involving, obviously still remains dangerous.

CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has spent much of the past decade in Afghanistan. He joins us now live in Kabul. Nic, obviously word of yet another bombing is of great concern to U.S. authorities, to NATO authorities. In terms of the strength of the Taliban, how would you assess it today?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They're still active in the south of the country and in the east of the country, the Pashtun part of the country, which is their ethnic background and ethnic heartland if you will.

They still have significance over large parts of the community, a number -- I believe it's now nine NATO soldiers have been killed this month in smaller attacks, one, two or three in different shootings or different roadside bombings.

The Taliban is still able to make themselves felt with deadly affect almost every day around the country and intimidate the population. The population and the NATO forces very aware of what the Taliban can do, even though they are small in number, even though their military leaders are being targeted every day.

I was here on September 11th ten years ago. Al Qaeda was here at the time. The Taliban were running the country, but obviously what we see now with al Qaeda is very, very much a changed situation, pushed out of the country. That threat still hasn't gone away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Kabul has changed dramatically in the last decade. It has grown fast and international aid has poured in to support Afghanistan's fragile democracy.

(on camera): Ten years ago when the Taliban were still in power, al Qaeda had a presence here in Kabul. Now the remnants of al Qaeda are hundreds of miles away to the south and east of here in training camps across the border in Pakistan.

(voice-over): It was in Pakistan that Osama Bin Laden was killed and where this man, Moritani, a senior al Qaeda operative was captured last week. Moritani was the handler of this man, a German jihadist.

He had come from this nondescript mosque in Hamburg to an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan. He wanted to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But Moritani told him to go home and launch attacks in Germany.

He never made it. He was killed in a drone strike and that's become a familiar pattern. Al Qaeda recruits from Europe, even America, reaching Pakistan's bad lands.

U.S. drone attacks trying to eliminate them and their mentors. One such recruit, Brian Neal Venis from Long Island, New York, a Christian convert to Islam radicalized by fire brand friends and what he read online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's led to an increase in the types of material we're seeing and almost, if you will, an arms race of competing sophistication for making material more accessible.

ROBERTSON: That's the new al Qaeda. Its different branches pumping out their Jihadist message online. Perhaps the most influential al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and its charismatic mouthpiece, Anwar Awlaki.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know that they continue to plot against the United States and other western countries as well. So the situation in Yemen remains a serious one for us.

ROBERTSON: Then there's El Shabaab in Somalia. Drawing recruits from as far away as Minneapolis and Canada. The growing strength of al Qaeda in North Africa, a stone's throw from Europe, it may yet benefit from the arrest in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt making the job of counterterrorism even more complex, the lone wolf.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have all the related AQ groups, all the terrorists, all the Islamist groups. So we have to watch out for them and watch out for lone actors.

ROBERTSON: Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was one of them. He had training in Pakistan, but when he came home and acted alone in building his aborted car bomb. He was an amateur at building bombs according al Qaeda recipes. It's an inexact science.

SIDNEY ALFORD, BOMB EXPERT: The mixture which I'm making is one which I don't have great confidence. Some of them will probably into the person making them. ROBERTSON: But the danger is that eventually someone will have enough training and ability to build a deadly device. Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan living in Denver came close.

ALFORD: If enough people get hooked on this sort of publication, this particular publication, and practice what it preaches then some will succeed in causing the havoc and harm that they set out to do.

ROBERTSON: It's not just another attack that worries this former top DHS official, but the sheer volume of soft targets, malls, hotels, power plants, rail networks.

ROBERT LISCOUSKI, FORMER DHS OFFICIAL: If I was still on the job, I would be very worried about today. Al Qaeda exploiting those vulnerabilities because, you know we have a lot more work we have to do.

ROBERTSON: Ten years on, the battle against al Qaeda is very different, but far from over.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: Not only different, but it's spread out across the globe now, Somalia and North Africa, Yemen. The problem of the al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan have metastasized, if you will. It's become a much harder issue to tackle. Anderson, Candy.

COOPER: Nic, thanks very much live from Kabul.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Nic. Nic is also going to stick around I think.

The 372 of the people who died in the World Trade Center attack were citizens of countries outside the U.S. and many other countries, Britain, Spain, Indonesia and India, to name just a few, have been through terror attacks in the past decade.

The war on terrorism truly is a global war and like it or not, the U.S. remains the leader of that war. With us now CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen and my colleague from CNN International, Becky Anderson. Thank you both.

Let me talk first about -- I think there was this feeling sort after 9/11, from some countries the U.S. now understands what we've been through.

You know, the terrorism was sort of last to come ashore here and maybe there would be, you know, more help and more understanding from the U.S. in certain places.

Do you think that panned out because we keep seeing poll after poll that shows that the U.S. -- particularly the Muslim world is not viewed favorably at all?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, yes. I mean, the place where al Qaeda continues to be headquartered is one of the most anti-American countries in the world, which is Pakistan. Right now we have a 12 percent favorable rating in Pakistan.

So certainly the attacks on 9/11 and all subsequent actions haven't turned any great love in the Muslim world by the opposite. But that said, al Qaeda is losing the war of ideas in the Muslim world as well.

The fact that United States isn't loved isn't the end of the day. The real important thing is that al Qaeda isn't liked and poll after poll, Bin Laden and al Qaeda has been losing the war of ideas in Indonesia, Pakistan, and other major Muslim countries.

That's a good thing. That was even before the Arab spring happened in which they played no meaningful role.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT, CNNI: I think also that people in security now, for example, in Britain are wondering just who or what might be the threat going forward. It may not be Jihadist, but maybe the Irish Republic in the U.K.

So even alone right wing extremists like we've seen in Norway in the past. So I think that is a reconsideration of what the threats are. In London, for example, where I'm from, as we move toward the London 2012 games, it's less about where the states sit now and whether they're loved for us certainly in the U.K., it's what is the security planning for the London 2012 games.

Its alert level is severe, which means an attack is highly likely, whether it's success or not. I think there's a sense that terrorism is still out there, but who might it be now? That's changed.

CROWLEY: Well, so in that sense, is there a global war on terrorism or is there a British war on terrorism or a U.S. war on terrorism or a Pakistani war on terrorism? I mean, I know that there are certain places where we exchange intelligence. But really how far can you go in calling this the global war on terrorism?

ANDERSON: A very good point. I'm not sure it's a global war anymore.

BERGEN: It depends on the example. Becky was in London I think when the planes in the summer of 2006, the biggest 9/11 style attack that al Qaeda was trying to do, bring down seven American planes, seven American British Navy planes.

That was interfered with because British Pakistani and American investigators, law enforcement all cooperated to stop it. So in that sense there is a sort of assenting global cooperation. Is there a global war on terrorism?

That's the Bush administration term that is sort of become defunct. There's a war against al Qaeda and its allies, which is President Obama's more narrow definition which I think is appropriate, names the enemy, it's not a war against a tactic.

It suggesting you can deal yourself with al Qaeda. What we're trying to do in Afghanistan is get them no longer allied with al Qaeda. So suddenly, you know, the way that we frame is suddenly changed.

I think it's a good thing. I mean, a global war against terror is open-ended. There's no end. Terrorism has been around for 2,000 years. I think the 10th anniversary is a moment to say, look, it's time to move on.

This is making this the principal frame of our national security. In my view it is. Al Qaeda hasn't carried out a single attack in the United States since 9/11.

The last attack, successful attack in the west was in London, the 7-7 attacks. That was six years ago. They have shown themselves to not be very capable. We've also put a huge amount of pressure on them, not least killing their leader.

CROWLEY: And so would say that I asked this question of General Hayden at one point. Is al Qaeda more of an organizational threat or an inspirational threat?

In other words, the name out there attraction people going, yes, I believe in that. I know you don't like the term lone wolf. I mean, do you get the feeling as an organization al Qaeda is less of a threat than it is as just the idea of it?

ANDERSON: I think certainly for some elements of the -- for example, the British Muslim community, there will still be the inspiration. Whether there was the organization that was there in the past that might have taken some of these characters out of Britain into Pakistan as they were in the past.

I'm not sure that's as clear as potent a force as it was in the past. But I think the inspiration certainly for those who want it certainly is still there. Not seeing fiery rhetoric in the mosques of Britain that you were seeing in the past.

That's been sort of stamped out. There's an understanding of how to challenge people and the ideas. But I think the inspiration is certainly still there.

CROWLEY: Just quickly, Peter, if I could ask you just because in 2002, you called 9/11 the largest intelligence failure in American history, no dispute. Have the huge gaps been fixed?

BERGEN: Yes. I mean, there are 800,000 Americans with top secreted clearances now, maybe 100,000 too many.

CROWLEY: Does that sound safer to you?

BERGEN: Well, yes, I mean, look at the planes go to the summer of 2006 that we were just discussing. That was a huge intelligence coup. I would actually amend what I said in 2002. There was a lot of intelligence in the system that an attack was plausible. It wasn't really processed entirely by the CIA and FBI weren't talking to each other. That's changed. We have a lot of -- the intelligence picture is infinitely better now.

CROWLEY: Peter Bergen, Becky Anderson, stick with us.

President Obama is now on his way to Shanksville, Pennsylvania. That's where our John King is. John also talked to Vice President Biden who candidly recounted what he experienced on that day. You're watching CNN's special coverage of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flight 93 descended.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like he descended there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On United 93 there's report of black smoke in the last position I gave you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Everyone who visits this site whether it be a VIP or member of the general public note how different it is from the other 9/11 landmarks, the World Trade Center in urban New York City, the Pentagon just across from the nation's capital, urban Washington, D.C. Shanksville, a tiny town in coal country in western Pennsylvania.

Different also because the terrorists chose to target the World Trade Center, they chose to target the Pentagon. Shanksville is in the history books part of our 9/11 legacy because of the heroes on that flight, the 40 passengers and crew decided to fight back.

When they did, it resulted in the plane crashing violently into the field you see behind me.

This site is very solemn for another reason, site is different for another reason. That was the beginning of a conversation I had, an exclusive interview with vice president, Joe Biden, when he was here in Shanksville to pay tribute.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: I'll ask you first, this is an amazing place. Do you think as Americans remember, that they understand the difference here? It's not just a memorial, it's the resting place of those heroes.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I don't think they do. I don't think they realize that some of these poor people were literally vaporized. I mean, they were -- and the field that we didn't go on to -- I know you know this, that we didn't go on to -- where that rock memorializes where the plane actually hit. There's parts of their families all over that field. I don't think most Americans know that.

KING: So what goes through your mind as you're here on this site and you're remembering but it's (inaudible)?

BIDEN: These weren't soldiers, these weren't military people. These were Americans who knew they were doing something bigger than just trying to get rid of a bunch of hijackers. They knew they were saving people's lives and they gave their own.

KING: I was at the White House that morning. And when we were evacuated, they thought maybe it was coming our way. Turns out people -- these people, they saved your life, saved the senators' (ph) lives.

BIDEN: Literally, look, I literally got off the train just as the Pentagon got hit. And I'm walking up, and I found out everybody was out of the Capitol. I said, we should go back in. I get up on the Capitol steps and the Capitol -- say incoming plane, incoming -- you got to get out of here, Senator, you got to get out of here.

Now obviously, I don't know for sure -- no one knows for absolutely sure. But it appeared as though what, 30 minutes out, 20 minutes out, this aircraft. It could have-- and I thought that the president said it well -- President Clinton, he said they would have not only taken hundreds of lives, but they would have taken down the symbol of what constitutes the heart and soul of the government.

KING: How different, how different would it have been -- I assume you have no doubt, I have no doubt, the country would have rebuilt, the country would have rebounded. But how different would it have been if the terrorists had that image? The dome of the Capitol coming (ph) down (ph)?

BIDEN: I just think it would have been profoundly more difficult. I think it would have been a rallying cry to every extremist, every jihadi in the world. And taking down the symbol of -- in the minds of the rest of the world, our financial empire, the trade towers -- it wasn't Wall Street, but that was the image. But to actually take down -- you could have heard it now, not just the British, you know, sacked, you know, the Capitol. I think it would have been a lot tougher. It would have been tougher for Americans psychologically, it would have been tougher for Americans.

KING: Right. I want your personal thoughts on a couple of things. You're in the room when the raid is playing out on bin Laden. You know when you come into the room what the goal is. I assume you had to have -- maybe wrong choice of words, but a pretty serious case of the jitters about, oh boy, we better get this right.

BIDEN: Well, look, when I had a -- my first thought was, you know, we were sending in a whole hell of a bunch of special operators, helicopter pilots, SEALs and others that -- who were really doing something that was absolutely, if you put it on paper, which we did, and we rehearsed it and rehearsed it and knew every detail of it, was remarkable. Everything had to work.

And so the first thought was for their safety. I know that -- anyway, that was the first thought.

The second thought was that if this were to fail, the psychological impact it would be for bin Laden and for al Qaeda, and the negative impact it would have in terms of our sense of our -- the United States's sense of our capabilities. And -- but it was remarkable what they did. Absolutely--

KING: Any moment when you're watching the feeds coming in, getting the briefings, where you start to think --

BIDEN: Well, at the very beginning, as you all know, I mean, when it was relayed to us that -- I mean, look, there were five of us who had been involved in the planning of that for three months. I think it was three months before that. And the last month or -- the group was larger.

So we literally -- the president and I knew every single operational move. It wasn't like we were generically informed. We knew that helicopter A was supposed to land here, helicopter B here, so and so gets out here.

Now, when the first two things didn't occur, the first thought was, oh, God. But the adaptability of these guys was astounding. And -- but, yes, that was the one moment when it, you know, it was relayed to us that it didn't go exactly as planned on the front end.

KING: So let's rewind the tape. Take me back to that moment you talked about -- when you found out. You were on the train coming to Washington. That's when you find out something is happening. Maybe you're not sure exactly what it is. Take me back and run me through that morning.

BIDEN: Well, literally, I used to commute every day. I got on the train. I was leaving, I took the early train. My wife was leaving to school, to teach school. She called me on my cell just around Aberdeen, Maryland, which is before Baltimore, and said, Joe, my God, Joe, a plane just flew right into the World Trade tower. What do you think that means? And I said, honey, I don't know. Then she said, OK, OK. And she said -- and then she said I got to get ready. She called back in a few minutes and she was livid. She said, oh, my God, Joe, oh, my God, there's a plane, it's running -- oh, my God, it ran right into the second tower.

And I said, honey, this is a big problem. This sounds coordinated. And with that -- by that time, other people started getting calls on the train. But we went into the Baltimore tunnel, so you lose the coverage as you go into the tunnel there.

By the time I came out, there was -- I had everybody in the train, I know all-- coming up, Senator, what's going on? What happened? And I said I'm not sure, you know. We all were listening on our -- we were making calls.

I got off the train. I walked out of Union Station, I could see off, in my case at 1:00, and this big plume of smoke. It was the Pentagon. And everybody saying it's a car bomb, it's a truck bomb. No one knew what it was.

Then we got up and everybody had been evacuated from my office. I wanted to make sure everybody was out. And we were standing out there in that park alongside the Russell office building. And I said, we've got to go back into the Senate. I mean, I don't think it looks good, us leaving the Senate. And I started walking back up. And that's when a law enforcement officer said, Senator, there's a report of an incoming, an incoming aircraft, we've got to get out of here.

And it was just -- you know, it was almost unbelievable. And you know, you can appreciate -- that's why I said of President Bush today, I mean, imagine being president, having that news given to you and having to react and trying to compute all this and figure exactly where to go. I mean, and I thought the way he handled events from that moment until we took down the Taliban was -- was textbook.

KING: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Coming up, a very moving piece, I really urge you to watch. We're going to talk to kids who lost a parent on 9/11. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage, coming to you live from the World Trade Center Memorial site overlooking the site, what an extraordinary sight it is this morning. Thousands of family members who have been allowed in. And today is really their day to be allowed in on the grounds. Tomorrow, the memorial is open to the public, but today it is for families. And we have seen so many scenes of women and men and small children standing around these giant enormous pools. And you really get a sense of the size of them when you're looking at how small the people are as we pull out on that scene. There are two pools obviously on the north towers. The one I believe you're looking at right now. And there's the south tower as well.

We're waiting to hear from President Obama in Shanksville, the memorial observance there. We'll obviously bring that to you live. As many as 2,000 children lost parents in the terrorist attacks in 9/11. We have seen so many children out here today, some too young to even remember their parents. Many children lost uncles or aunts. At least 100 September 11th widows were pregnant when their young husbands died here. Their babies are now third and fourth graders. And boys and girls who were toddlers on 9/11 have grown into teenagers. We talked to some of them recently.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On 9/11 I lost my father, John Robinson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Benjamin Keith cook, he's an executive chef.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad was Alvin Romero.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My uncle's name was Edward Luke Sean (ph), Sergeant John Coughlin (ph). COURTNEY LENOIR, AGE 9 ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: Nobody else has lost a parent on national television, on the news, nobody else has seen it happen over and over again. And that's something that we all have to live with.

ERIN COUGHLIN, AGE 16 ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: My mother sat us down and had every cop's kid's worst nightmare talk that daddy wasn't coming home. My little sister at the time just screamed out loud.

LENOIR: I do not remember a good two years of my life because just emotionally have blocked it out.

ALEX ROMERO, AGE 2 ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: Yes. I don't really remember anything about it. Sometimes I think it was a better thing that I didn't know him and he was taken away from me or if it was a worse thing that I didn't get to spend the like a little time I would have known with him.

GABRIELLA ROMERO, AGE 5 ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: And when your friends complain, like oh, my dad is so annoying or he won't let me go out or he won't let me do this, you get mad because you would do anything to have that, and they complain and they don't really appreciate what they have.

DONALD SPAMPINATO, AGE 6 ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: If we're talking about 9/11 in class...

ALEX ROMERO: Everybody would turn around and stare at me.

SPAMPINATO: Because they all know that I was affected by it directly.

ALEX ROMERO: Sometimes it makes me feel a tiny bit agitated because it's not like I would want to be known as, oh, his dad died, he's dad was killed. I don't want to be known as that. I just want them to know me as me, like for who I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, we're moving. Some of the young people that we heard from just now are affiliate with a group called Tuesday's Children, it's a non-profit family service organization committed to helping kids worldwide who felt the impact of terrorist incidents. And sadly there are many of them.

Monica Iken joins us now. On 9/11, she lost her husband Michael on the World Trade Center. She's the founder of September's mission, an organization devoted to building a positive and meaningful legacy out of the events surrounding September 11th. And has been instrumental in building the memorial here. On a personal level, obviously, what is today like for you?

MONICA IKEN, FOUNDER, SEPTEMBER'S MISSION: It's so -- I can't even put it into words. I'm so proud. We're so proud of this memorial. And, you know, I'm so amazed that it's here, it's finally here. And, you know, I can finally go see Michael. He's home. They're all home. We can go there any time now...

COOPER: And this feels like a place you would want to come and you feel like Michael is here.

IKEN: Absolutely. He is here 100 percent. And I know he's here. Every time I come here, I feel the energy. It's powerful. And I connect with him here. This is where he took his last breath, his last step, this is where he was last -- I never had remains back. And even if I did, it wouldn't matter. This is where I want to go to honor my husband. He turned 47 on September 8th, and I look forward to coming here next year and celebrating his birthday.

COOPER: Where was he working?

IKEN: Euro Brokers on the 84th floor of the south tower.

COOPER: Is his name grouped with others who he worked with?

IKEN: Yes.

COOPER: That's something I found fascinating. That many people make family members could request that their loved one be grouped with people they worked with or knew.

IKEN: It was a great thing that Michael came up with the design to have the names done that way because those individuals who need to be together could be together. Michael is with all his friends. And they were together trying to help another fellow co-worker. You know, he went under the desk, and they're altogether. And it's so nice to see that, that they were together and they continue to be together today. And, you know, it's a nice way to honor them all.

COOPER: And one of the things that I've really been moved by today is watching everybody touch the names of their loved one. And there's something very powerful in that, wanting to have that tactile experience of being able to touch something.

IKEN: It's like them. You want to touch them. And you feel very connected to that name. It is a powerful experience. And I highly recommend that everyone come here and see this world class memorial and can't wait for the museum to open now. And I look forward to that as well, making sure that, you know, the stories are never forgotten. You know, our loved ones will continue to be here, come and honor them, you know, reflect, just a place of hope and reverence now. It's so breathtakingly beautiful. And I hope the families really feel what I've been feeling when I come here. And I'm so happy and honored that I can share it now with the world. I'm really looking forward to it. I'll be here tomorrow to greet some of the first visitors. And it's a pleasure to be able to do that. Being a board member of the National September 11th Memorial Museum, you know, it's just so nice I can come here now and greet some of the visitors and say, here it is.

COOPER: I think this is going to become probably the most visited spot obviously in all of New York.

IKEN: One hundred percent.

COOPER: I mean, I would recommend everybody to come to New York to come here if you want to see, not just the history of what happened here, but the strength of New York, the strength of this country.

IKEN: Absolutely. We're so proud of it. We are proud, to be an American, proud to share it with the world. This is the world's memorial. And I can't wait for people to come here and make the pilgrimage to see it. Because I think everyone is going to leave with some powerful experience from being just here.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Let me just ask you, because you have obviously a hugely personal affiliation here with Michael having been killed here. But for the other Americans that come, what is that experience for them do you think? What do you hope it will be?

IKEN: I think people want to just come and honor them and see what took place and feel it. Because I really feel they can't experience it without coming here. And any time I've been at this site, and I come here, people want to come in. They're like how do we get in? We want to come and honor them and see what happened here. They can't get in here fast enough. It's mind-blowing how people really want to experience this site and pay their respects. They really do. And you don't have to have lost someone to do that. And they can come here and honor anyone. Just they want to feel it and experience it as well.

COOPER: I also think, you know, folks who are watching this on television now, you know, I don't think pictures do it justice. I don't think pictures, I think the camera, they're too kind of small to take in the enormity of not just a physical space, but just the emotional enormity of it. When it was in the design phase and you're looking and seeing designs, did you have any sense of what it was really going to be like? Or was it the first time you heard that water and felt the power of it and saw the name that it really full impact of it?

IKEN: Really it was the first day that I actually came to the site and I saw how large the pools were, I just was blown away. Pictures, TV, it just does not do it justice. It doesn't. Because you can't get the full scale of the power of this space. Eight acres dedicated to this amazing world class memorial. I mean, and the museum is going to be unbelievable as well. So, you know, it's definitely something that, when you come here, you're going to be in awe of it like I am. It's breathtakingly beautiful. And I'm so proud, so proud.

COOPER: We're so sorry for your loss. But thank you for being with us on this day and talking about Michael and about the memorial. I appreciate it.

IKEN: I want to share it with the world.

CROWLEY: Monica, thanks so much.

IKEN: You're welcome. CROWLEY: President Bush was visiting a Florida school, the morning of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Next, Air Force One pilot who flew him back to Washington but certainly not by the direct route.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, this is a difficult moment for America. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Get down! Get down!

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The elevators on the 44th floor, don't use them. They're about to come down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Former President Bush made that short speech in Florida. He had been at a Florida school. That was when his Chief of Staff Andrew Card whispered to him that without a doubt America was under attack. The president wanted to fly directly back to Washington, but because of safety concern, it ended up being a long uncertain day of flights and stops. Military bases in Louisiana and Nebraska and then finally back to Washington.

Mark Tillman was Air Force One's pilot that day. He joins us now. Colonel Tillman, thank you for being here. When did you stop to say what a day that was?

MARK TILLMAN, AIR FORCE ONE PILOT ON 9/11: It was pretty much after we had landed in Washington, D.C. Once we had given the president back to the marines, marine one to take him to the White House, at that point it gave us a chance to reflect on exactly what it occurred during that day and analyze exactly what we had done and was it the right move.

CROWLEY: You were friends with President Bush. You have great admiration for him.

TILLMAN: Absolutely.

CROWLEY: But this was very early on in his presidency, hadn't even been president for a year yet. I wonder if you learned anything about him that day.

TILLMAN: Most definitely. There was reports that we were running scared around the country, and that wasn't happening. We had tremendous communication. He was able to contact the ground. I saw a leader in action. In my mind, a military man. He had been trained in the military as well. He was able to make a lot of decisions. And he had his senior staffer with him, Mr. Card as well as Mr. Fleischer. Everyone was right there with him giving him the information. He was executing as a military man would do and make decisions right on the fly.

CROWLEY: At some point, I know you quickly got a military escort. The first decision was to land in Louisiana, then you went from Louisiana to Nebraska. Was there a rationale for that that you were aware of it at the time?

TILLMAN: The first stop in Louisiana was to get him to a secure base where he could have capability to contact and address the American public.

CROWLEY: The closest one, I must say.

TILLMAN: Absolutely. We were in the northern part of Florida, Northern Panhandle, Barksdale Air Force Base had nuclear mission, extremely secure. My recommendation was to go there. They had great security. They also could refuel the aircraft rather quickly. We filled the plane up with gas, about 14 hours' of gas. We knew we had to be airborne for the rest of the day, waiting for the decision to go back to Washington. Once things had settled we were ready to go back.

CROWLEY: Then why, from, why did you got to Nebraska then? Why was that the next stop instead of flying around?

TILLMAN: We couldn't get word that the Washington area was safe to bring him back to, the landing zone being safe. So, the goal was to then get him to another base which could get him under ground, which could keep him safe. And at the same time, give him the ability to communicate with national command authority, everyone else he needed to while we saw Washington and got the word. As soon as Washington was safe, he was to come right back to us and we would take him right back. But as history shows he was there a minimum amount of time and he made the decision to come right back to us once head home.

CROWLEY: As you were flying, did you do anything out of the ordinary yourself? I mean, obviously you don't generally have those guys right off your wings and there were certain things -- you were landing places you didn't expect to be landing. But were there maneuvers or anything you had to take?

TILLMAN: No, there was no evasive action or stuff, because there was no actual threat coming on us. All the threats were what we have perceived. You know, we knew there were hijack airliners. We have passed, at one point Angel was next. Angel with a classified call sign. So, we had to figure out exactly what Angel who was next actually met, whether we were a target. And in that case, we assume we were. So, it could be a bombing. It could be a passenger on board that we, you know, had a plans. So, we started working up and down the manifest and made sure the bombs, there were no bombs on board. Bomb-swept the aircraft one more time, airborne. So, everything was set up for.

CROWLEY: So, you were sweeping a plane while you were in the air?

TILLMAN: Our cops were working back and forth in the plane. Everybody gets bomb swept before they come on the plane. So, we're extremely confident everything was set. But we weren't going to take any chances.

CROWLEY: And was there a time -- when did you reach out to your family? I mean, you know, buildings were blowing up frankly in three -- two cities and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, an airline crash. When did they cross your mind? When did you have a chance to talk to them?

TILLMAN: Yes. I didn't get a chance to talk to the family at all. And I mean, that was kind of a command that -- for the rest of the crew as well. I had them all take their cell phones, put them in a little area, shut them all off. I didn't want to take a chance that anyone would give away the location of the president. No one was allowed to contact their families until we landed in Washington.

CROWLEY: Was there someone that told them you were safe, clearly they knew that since you were with the president, I guess.

TILLMAN: I passed to my deputy to let all the families know that everyone was fine but no one was allowed to call home.

CROWLEY: Interesting. All right. Colonel Mark Tillman, now retired, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

TILLMAN: Thank you so much.

COOPER: You can find the official story, the events of September 11th in the book length report put out in 2004 by the 9/11 commission. But the most vivid accounts come from the people who literally only made the reports footnotes. One of them is a fighter pilot who was ordered to find and possibly shoot down a hijacked passenger plane. CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin tracked him down. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 8:46 a.m., Otis Air Base, Cape Cod, Tim Duffy, a commercial airline pilot for United, was working his second job, on alert as a fighter pilot with the Massachusetts Air National Guard. Duffy, footnote 117, is given the order to scramble his F-15. There is a confirmed hijacking. The order for Duffy and his wingman, take off from this now deserted airfield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Otis Tower. I have an active air defense scramble, F-15s, climbing to flight level 290.

GRIFFIN: Under orders to find and intercept American Flight 11.

(on camera): So these were the two hangars.

TIM DUFFY, FIGHTER PILOT, AIR NATIONAL GUARD: Yes, these are cells three and four. They would have jets in all of them, just depending on what jets you're going to need that day. And these were the ones that were armed up, and so we had hot missiles and a hot gun, so they were all armed up. GRIFFIN (voice-over): By the end of this morning, Duffy will be asked if he's prepared to use those missiles to bring down U.S. passenger jets. And that meant he might be shooting down a plane carrying his United Airlines colleagues.

DUFFY: And they just said, "Be prepared to shoot down the next hijack track. And I screamed back -- I said, "Roger." And then they came back right after that and said, "Do you have a problem with that?" That kind of ticked me off. That what kind of sticks in my memory for that call, being in that situation, if I wasn't ready to do whatever I was called for, I was the wrong person in that seat.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Amazing. Drew Griffin with us now. This is going to be an amazing hour of TV. What touched you the most, I think, and obviously, these are all people sort of heretofore unknown?

GRIFFIN: Yes. Ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things that day. What struck me the most is the guilt that so many of them still carry for not doing more or doing the right thing or doing that little thing that they thought they had protected one, two, or three of the planes. And they have carried that guilt with them despite the fact that the 9/11 commission cleared them, that their companies or their institutions said they'd done a great job. They just feel a tremendous sense that they were not there on the front lines doing exactly what they needed to do that day.

CROWLEY: Drew Griffin, our special investigative correspondent, tell us again when we can see that.

GRIFFIN: 9:00 tonight, "Footnotes of 9/11."

CROWLEY: Eastern Time.

GRIFFIN: Eastern Time.

COOPER: (INAUDIBLE) that he basically went through the 9/11 commission report. In the footnotes, kind of found these stories that were untold. Really great idea. Tonight at 9:00.

Next, what it's like to be Muslim in the United States a decade after 9/11. And later on 9/11, Dick Cheney as Vice President, and Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary, Andrew Card was White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, the man who actually whispered in the ear of then President Bush at that elementary school. We'll going to hear from each of them in our next hour. And later, actor Tom Hanks narrating the story of a heroic boat captain, multiple heroic boat captains, who rescued nearly half a million New Yorkers on 9/11. An untold story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The great boatlift of 9/11 became the largest sea evacuation in history. Larger than the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II. (END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Pennsylvania, the president and the first lady there now getting ready to lay a wreath at this memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We're watching what's happening in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, obviously what's happening at the World Trade Center remains in New York, and the memorial there, also here at the Pentagon. Let's watch and listen for a moment as the President and the First Lady prepare to lay this wreath.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Cameras down.

(APPLAUSE)

(people chanting) USA! USA! USA! USA!

COOPER: All right. So, the president and first lady there in Shanksville. Earlier in the day, they were in New York. They'll be heading here to the Pentagon later to lay a wreath, as well, and then there will be a formal memorial service at the Kennedy Center here in Washington later tonight. We're continuing our coverage on this, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Joining us now, two special guests, democratic Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota is joining us. He's the first Muslim elected to the United States House of Representatives.

REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Good to be here.

BLITZER: Also joining us is Geneive Abdo, she's the author and writer author of the book "Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11." Geneive, thanks, as well, for joining us.

Congressman, first to you. What goes through your mind knowing that, what, we're talking ten years ago, 19 terrorists, 15 of them from Saudi Arabia, all Muslims attacked the United States and killed some 3,000 people?

ELLISON: Well, what's going through my mind today as it was ten years ago is overwhelming feeling of solidarity with my fellow Americans, overwhelming sorrow for the people who we lost, but then very -- a great deal of pride for the people who ran into that burning building and tried to save fellow Americans and the people who tried to rescue fellow Americans were Muslim, they were Christian, they were Jewish, they were Baha'i, they were people of no faith, they're people of all faiths. And they didn't care who was in that building. If they could save them, they did. And so, that's what I'm feeling today. I mean, yes, of course, we could talk about, you know, civil rights, profiling, and these things are important to discuss. But today I'm just feeling a lot of -- just remembering a lot of affection for Americans lost and Americans who stood up and met the moment with heroism. BLITZER: Geneive, you spent the last ten years reporting on, researching Muslims in America. How has the Muslim community in America changed as a result of 9/11?