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T3 B11 EOP Produced Documents Vol III Fdr- 8-2-02 Scott Pelley-CBS Interview of Rice 002

T3 B11 EOP Produced Documents Vol III Fdr- 8-2-02 Scott Pelley-CBS Interview of Rice 002

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05/11/2014

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ncwci
v
c.u
JUN
.
7
2003
THE
WHITE
HOUSE
National
Commission
on
Terrorist
Attacks
Office
of the PressSecretary
AJSd
OStjO^fc:
Internal
Transcript August
2,
2002INTERVIEW OF
NATIONAL SECURITY
ADVISOR
CONDOLEEZZA
RICE
BY
SCOTT
PELLEY,
CBSThe
Roosevelt Room
2:32
P.M. EDT
Q Well,
let's
start with the day. The first airplanestrikes. Whatthefirstyousaw,thefirstyouheard?DR. RICE:
The
first that
I
heard
was
when
my
executiveassistant came into
the
office
to say that a
plane
had hit
the_
_
World Trade Center. I thought, what a terrible accident that
is.
And I called the President, who was in Florida for an education
event.
And I said,
Mr.
President, a plane has hit the WorldTrade Center. And he said, what a terrible accident. And Ithink we thought that maybe a twin engine plane of
some-kind,
a
small
plane.
I
then went
to my
staffmeeting,
my
senior staff meeting-downstairs in the Situation Room. And my executive assistant
handed
me a
note
ancT
said,
a^second
plane
had hit the
World TradeCenter.
And I
thought,
my
God, this
is a
terrorist attack.QYouknew.DR. RICE:
I
knew. I
knew
rightaway.Because one plane,perhaps
an
accident
-- and a
horrible accident
and
foreseeable
accident,
but an accident. The
second plane
I had no
doubt.
And
Ithinkwe had all
known
that there mightbe atsome pointin
time an
attempt against
the
United States, perhaps
that's
in the
back of
your
mind at a time like
that.
Q When you heard about the second plane, and you wereconvinced
in
your
own
mind
it was
terrorists, whose
name
did you
put on
that?
DR.
RICE:
Itwasn't
very
long before
I
thought al Qaeda,because we had gone through a fairly extensivereviewof policy
toward
al Qaeda. I think George Tenet had, in February -- the
CIA
Director
had in
February talked about
the
threat
of al
Qaeda
to
the
United States.
And thefact
that
it was big and401
 
spectacular
said
to me
this
is
probably
al
Qaeda.
But
that
wasthe
least
of my
concerns
at
that
moment.
Because
shortly after
the
second plane
hit the
World Trade
Center,
I
went into
the
Situation Room,
the
Situation Center
to
try
and
find
the
National Security Council principals,
to
bring
them
to a
meeting
or to
talk
about what
had
happened.
And
it'samazing
the
things that race through
your mind
at a
time like
that.
Colin
Powell
I
knew
was in
Latin America.
And my
first
thought
was,
is he in
Colombia? Well,
no, I
think
he's
in
Peru.
So
trying
to
find
Secretary
Powell.
And
then
I
tried
to
findSecretary Rumsfeld.
And I
couldn't
raise him.
And all of a
sudden
I
looked
behind
me and a
plane
had hit the Pentagon. And
it
was not
long after that that
the
Secret Service came
and
said,
you
have
to go to the
bunker;
the
Vice President
rs
already
there,
there
may be
something
headed
for the
White House.
Q
How did you get
there?
DR.
RICE:
I
hardly remember getting
there. It was one
moment to stop and talk to the President
again
and to say that
Washingtonwas
under attack
and so he
should
probably
not
come
Tback.
We
were beginning
to
talk about
the
fact that
if he
landed
at
Andrews
Air
Force Base, would that just make
Air
Force
One a
big target.
We,
or
course,
in
that
particular point
didn't
know
how
many
planes
were headed
for
various destinations
and
various symbols
of
American power.
I
remember wandering along,
or
being pushed
along,
in
fact,
in the
corridors,
stopping briefing just when
I
got
into
the
PEOC
to
call
my family/ my
aunt
and
uncle
in
Alabama,and
say,
I'm
fine,
you
have
to
tell everybody
that
I'm
fine.
They started
a
kind
of
phone tree
to let my
relatives know
that
everything
was
okay.
But
then settling into trying
to
deal
with
the
enormity
of
that
moment.
And in the
first
few
hours
I
think
the
thing
that
was
on everybody's
mind
was how
many more planes
are
coming.
Q
When
you
made
the
call
to the
President
on
your
way toPEOC, do you
recall that conversations?
DR.
RICE:
I do
recall
the
conversation.
It was
brief,
because I was
being pushed
to get off the
phone
and get out of
the
West
Wing.
Q
They were hurrying
you off thephone
with
the
President?
DR.
RICE:
They were hurrying
me off the
phone with
the
President.
And I
just said
-- he
said,
I'm
coming
back.
Andwe
said,
Mr.
President, that
may not be
wise.
My
defense
director,
the
person
who
does defense affairs
for me, was
402
 
standing next to me and he whispered,
tell
him that it may not be
wise
to
come back
here
because
Washington
is
under
attack.And
so I did
that
and I
said,
sir, we'll
be in
touch.
And
then
I got off to the
PEOC.
Q
Just
a
point
of
information.
Do you
know
where
he
was?
Was he in the
motorcade,
or was he on the
airplane
at
that
point?Because these events happened pretty quickly.
DR.
RICE: They
happened
pretty
quickly.
I
believe that
he
wasalreadyat the air
strip,
airport, readyto getbackon AirForce
One in
Florida.
And I
think that
he had
every
intention
at
thatmoment
of
trying
to get
back
here.
-Q Try to
take yourself back
to the
moment that that
big
vault door
is
opened
and you're
whisked into
the
PEOC.
What
doyou
see?
DR.
RICE:
I saw
several people
there. The
first person
that
I
went
to, of
course,
was the
Vice
Pres-ident,
who was
already
there.
And I
said,
I think there are
a_
f ew things weneed
to
do.
and I
remember spotting
Norm
Mineta, the
Secretary
of
Transportation,
and
realizing
all of a
sudden
that
we
were
going
to
have
to
start grounding aircraft
around
the
entirecountry.
And
there
are
thousands
of
aircraft flying
at
that
moment.So
Norm
was
sitting there checking tail
numbers.
And youhadthe
Vice President trying
to
write them
down
on a
yellowlegal
pad. but I
went immediately from
the
central room
in
whichwe
were
operating to a
little
side room, to make a couple of
phone
calls.
I
asked
my
deputy, Steve Hadley,
to
call
Deputy
Secretary of State
Armitage,
to get out a cable to posts aroundthe world, to diplomatic posts around the world that said: theUnitedStates governmentisstill functioning;theUnited States
has not
been
decapitated.
My old
nuclear
war
training
is
that
you
want
everybody
to
know that
you're
up and
functioning
when
something like that
happens.
I was
told
that
Secretary Rumsfeld
had
changed
the
defense condition
and
that American forces were going
on
alertaround the world. And so one of the first phone calls in which Iparticipated
was
with President Putin
of
Russia,
who
knew that
our
forces
were
going
on
alert and, therefore, stood down
the
Russian
forces
that
were
onmajor
exercises.
And it was a lot of
trying
to
check-off boxes
that
at
that point
are
extremelyimportant
to
preventing
any
further crisis from taking place.
Q
You're
an
expert,
a
long expert
in
Russian
affairs,
you
speak Russian.
Did you
speak Russian
to
President Putin?DR.
RICE: No.
Usually when
you are
doing such things
you
work through
a
translator.
But I
heard
him in
Russian,
and I
403

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