9/15/01: Assistant Defense Secretary Victoria Clarke, WBZ Boston interview with Jim Mitchell:
Mitchell: Can you describe that terrible moment for us?
Clarke: Well, the terrible moment was actually earlier at about 8:40, 8:45 when we realized a plane and then a second plane had hit the World Trade Center. And immediately the crisis management process started up. A couple of us had gone into the secretary’s office, Secretary Rumsfeld’s office, to alert him to that, tell him that the crisis management process was starting up. He wanted to make a few phone calls. So a few of us headed across the hallway to an area called the National Military Command Center. He stayed in his office. We were in these rooms maybe 200 feet away where we felt the concussion. We immediately knew it was something bad. We weren’t sure what. When it first happened, we didn’t know what it was. But again, all the wheels were in motion. Everybody was doing what they were supposed to be doing.
The secretary was in his office, really not that far away from the side of the building that got hit by the plane. He and another person immediately ran down the hallway and went outside and helped some of the people, some of the casualties getting off the stretchers, etc. When he came back in the building about half an hour later, he was the first one that told us he was quite sure it was a plane. Based on the wreckage and based on the thousands and thousands of pieces of metal. He was the one that told us, the staff that was in the room. So he was really the first one who told us that it was most likely a plane.
We also have the report of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which says that the first thing the FAA does when there’s a hijacking is notify the Secretary of Defense (in keeping with the new air defense interception protocol of June 1, 2002). But according to Assistant Secretary of Defense Victoria Clarke, it was she who first told Rumsfeld about the World Trade Center attack. And after that, what did he do? According to Clarke, he stayed in his office until after the Pentagon was hit. He did not join her in the National Military Command Center.
Now, this is an unbelievable behavioral response. It can’t be explained by saying there were no hijackings for many years. This woman comes in and tells Rumsfeld the two biggest buildings in New York have just been hit by hijacked planes and Rumsfeld says, “I have to make some phone calls.”
What would be the reason for him staying out of the National Military Command Center for 45 minutes or more?
[Original URL: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2001/t09162001_t0915wbz.html ]
RUMSFELD ON LARRY KING LIVE ( http://www.september11news.com/Mysteries3.htm ):
KING: You were right here when the Pentagon…
Rumsfeld: I was.
KING: And someone told me that you had spoken to a congressional delegation…
Rumsfeld: Right here in this room.
KING: … in this room about terrorism that morning.
Rumsfeld: I had said at — I had an 8 o’clock breakfast — that sometime in the next two, four, six, eight, 10, 12 months, there would be an event that would occur in the world that would be sufficiently shocking that it would remind people, again, how important it is to have a strong, healthy Defense Department that contributes — that underpins peace and stability in our world. And that is what underpins peace and stability. It’s the fact — we can’t have healthy economies and active lives unless we live in a peaceful, stabile world. And I said that to these people.
And someone walked in and handed a note that said that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. And we adjourned the meeting. And I went in to get my CIA briefing right next door here, and the whole building shook within 15 minutes. And it was a jarring thing.
Rumsfeld Interview with Washington Post ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/transcripts/Rumsfeldtext01 … ):
Sitting here. I was in the room with a bunch of Congressmen, Senators — Congressmen I think. I was talking about, they were talking about the problem of the Social Security lockboxes. They were all pro-defense and they were trying to figure out ways to get their colleagues to be more supportive.
I described what had happened since I had chaired the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission with India and Pakistan exploding nuclear weapons, and other countries firing off medium and long range missiles. And said without question in the next six to eight months those same people who were concerned about the Social Security lockbox were going to be wishing they were on the right side of these issues involving national security because our history is just peppered with examples of surprises. And asymmetrical events, that who knows what they’ll be or where they’ll be or when they’ll be. And someone came in and said a plane had gone into the Trade Center.
So that meeting adjourned and they left the building. I sat here, and my CIA briefer was there, and I was — then the whole building shook…
- More from 9/11 Commission