Condoleezza Rice hung up on George Bush as the attacks of 9-11 unfolded. The then Secretary of State demanded the President not come back to Washington, D.C. because of the uncertainty of the situation and then hung up the phone. She recounts her experiences as a leader of the country as the events of that horrific day unfolded for the upcoming documentary ’9/11: State of Emergency’. Read more about it below and see photos and a video.
Condoleezza Rice is among those interviewed for an upcoming special on the events of 9/11/2001. The show, 9/11: State of Emergency is set to premiere on History on September 9, 2010 at 9 pm (ET). Others who will be interviewed include Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Acting Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, General Richard Myers, pilots and air traffic controllers.
The show gives a frank inside look at how high-level officials attempted to cope with the uncertainty of the unprecedented attack on the United States.
Rice reveals that she had a heated telephone conversation with the President of the United States, George Bush, as he was insisting of returning to Washington, D.C. As we know, we was in Florida speaking at an elementary school at the time of the attacks.
Condoleezza Rice said that she and others had been herded into the bunker for their protection. She describes what she saw and how she felt as they watched the events in New York unfold, and then the attack on the Pentagon. Not knowing what was happening next, what would be attacked next. They didn’t think the bunker of the White House was safe, even though they were there trying to get a handle on the 9/11 attacks as they were happening.
She said her first thought was to get a message out to the world that ‘the United States of America has not been decapitated’. She said she had to ‘keep [her] head about her and make sure that people around the world didn’t panic’. That is a true leader’s response.
As national security adviser, she was on the phone with the President. They both knew that the White House was a probable target, and therefore the President had to stay away from the White House and go to a secure location. Vice-President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and others were already in the White House bunker. In addition, the bunker began running out of air while they were being sheltered there. The Secret Service started telling ‘non-essential’ personnel they had to leave the bunker because there were too many people there.
The President needed to be somewhere else so that the government could continue to function if the White House was attacked.
‘The President got on the phone and he said: “I’m coming back.” ‘I said: “You cannot come back here. The United States of America is under attack, you have to go to safety. We don’t know what is going on here.”
He said: “I’m coming back.” I said: “You can’t.” I said to him in a raised voice, and I had never raised my voice to the President before, I said, “You cannot come back here”. I hung up.
‘The president was quite annoyed with me to say the least.
‘I’ve known the president a long time and I knew that he wanted nothing more than to be there at the helm of the ship.’
Some of their conversations were on non-secure telephone lines because the government lines had started to fail.
You can see the Condolezza Rice interview, as well as others, in the 9/11: State of Emergency documentary that will air on September 11, 2010 at 9 pm (ET) after its premiere on the 9th.
You can enjoy some photos of Condoleezza Rice below, which is a nice reminder when there were attractive women with class in the White House. Also, the video below of Bruce Springsteen performing ‘My City in Ruins’. Here is a video of a portion of the Condi Rice interview.