This is a special one-hour live report on the WTC and Pentagon attacks.
[includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to interrupt this taped conversation that we’re having with two women, one from Kenya, one from the Sudan, Atsango Chisonie just answering this question, because of the latest news.
Just a little while ago, actually during this broadcast, we heard a loud explosion, and we heard ambulances, or rather we heard sirens. Well, it appears that planes crashed into the upper floors of both World Trade Center towers minutes apart this morning in a horrific scene of explosions and fires that left gaping holes in the 110-story buildings.
No immediate word on injuries or fatalities in the twin disasters, which happened at just around 9:00 New York time. And President Bush has called the World Trade Center crashes an apparent terrorist attack. The FBI is investigating reports that two plane crashes at the World Trade Center are the result of foul play.
A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the agency is pursuing reports that one or both of the planes were hijacked and that the crashes may have been the result of a suicide mission. The source stressed the reports are preliminary and officials do not know the cause of the crashes.
Now, the latest news that’s coming from CNN right now in Washington, D.C., that there is a huge plume of smoke also at the Pentagon. Possibly a plane hit the Pentagon, as well, and that there is a fire there, as well as a fire on the Mall. And CNN is showing scenes right now of a fire behind the old executive office building.
As we speak, the White House is being evacuated. The Pentagon is being evacuated. Again, the latest news that we have—and this is all unfolding as this broadcast takes place—planes have crashed into the upper floors of both World Trade Center towers minutes apart this morning, just about 9:00.
Brad Simpson, our producer, is right next to me. Brad, why don’t—instead of you writing a note, tell us what you have also heard.
BRAD SIMPSON: We just heard on CNN that the Federal Aviation Administration has just suspended all air traffic at all airports around the United States. Planes are not taking off. I assume they’re still landing. But all air traffic around the United States has been temporarily halted by the FAA.
AMY GOODMAN: And you may hear in the background the sirens. We’re in Chinatown. We’re not far from the World Trade Center buildings. Again, we did hear the explosions just a little while ago. We’re talking about two explosions in both towers of the World Trade Center, where we see plumes of smoke. People are stopping everywhere. The emergency vehicles are racing down to the World Trade Center. It appears that planes crashed into these buildings. And in Washington, the news of fire at the Pentagon on the Mall, the White House being evacuated, as well as the Pentagon.
George Bush, the President, in Florida right now. Large holes visible in the World Trade Center. As one witness told CNN, I was watching TV, heard a sonic boom, the side of the World Trade Center exploded, debris is falling like leaflets. I hear ambulances. The northern tower seems to be on fire. The tops of the Twin Towers were obscured by the smoke. Thousands of pieces of what appear to be office paper came drifting over Brooklyn, about three miles from the tower.
The center bombing on February 26, 1993 killed six people, injured more than a thousand others. In 1945, an Army Air Corps B-25, a twin-engine bomber, crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building in dense fog for a little history.
The President, in Sarasota, Florida, spoke briefly on his way back to Washington, D.C. Again, as you just heard Brad Simpson reporting from television that the FAA has suspended all flights around the United States. Plumes of smoke in Washington, D.C., as the White House is being evacuated, as the Pentagon is being evacuated. All flights around the United States are suspended for at least seven hours at this point. Not clear exactly what is happening. First, one plane hit the World Trade Center building, it appears, and then another plane. And the question was, were these planes hijacked. Again, this news is just coming out as this broadcast goes on, smoke pouring out of the upper floors of the World Trade Center. Broadcast reports planes have struck it.
Miranda Kennedy is here, as well, who is helping out with today’s broadcast. Miranda, can you tell us what you’ve just learned?
MIRANDA KENNEDY: Well, we’ve just learned from CNN that the President is actually on a plane, on an Air Force One plane heading back to D.C., where the White House has been evacuated, and there’s fires all over the Washington Mall.
AMY GOODMAN: Washington Mall, there are fires. At the Pentagon there’s a fire. CNN made some mention of possibly a plane also hitting the Pentagon. In the background, you may hear the emergency vehicles where we’re broadcasting from right now on Lafayette Street in downtown Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center building.
The news is coming out as we speak, unusual information about being three miles away in Brooklyn, hearing witnesses say thousands of pieces of what appear to be office paper came drifting over Brooklyn about three miles from the tower.
Again, what have you heard, Miranda?
MIRANDA KENNEDY: We just learned that it was actually a plane who hit the Pentagon, as well as the World Trade Center towers. So they don’t know what the origin of the plane is yet, obviously.
AMY GOODMAN: So a plane hitting the Pentagon, a plane hitting the World Trade Center towers, perhaps two planes hitting the upper floors of the World Trade Center, minutes apart, in a horrific scene of explosions and fires on television now. They’re showing the pictures of the World Trade Centers that are—the upper floors are engulfed in smoke. And again, at the same time, fires at the Pentagon, the Pentagon being evacuated, the White House being evacuated, and fires on the malls.
We’re going to go to music for one minute, as we gather more information. This information obviously is coming out as we learn of it. Miranda, what else have you learned?
MIRANDA KENNEDY: The Capitol, the Treasury, the White House and the Pentagon have all been evacuated. They’re saying that they’ve pushed everyone in the downtown area of D.C. back to as far as 8th Street. So there seems to be crowds of people being evacuated and pushing far back.
AMY GOODMAN: You can hear the latest information, again, fires in New York as a result of plane crashes into the World Trade Center, a plane crashing into the Pentagon, White House being evacuated, Treasury being evacuated, Pentagon being evacuated. President Bush is coming up from Sarasota. He spoke briefly. They were checking out Air Force One, and then he was coming on that flight.
But again, all over the country now, flights have been suspended for at least seven hours.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: Now, what they’re saying is that there—it’s obviously a terrorist attack and that they’re investigating into connections with Osama bin Laden.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, of course, in these preliminary reports, all sorts of information is put out, as you may well remember from the Oklahoma City bombing. I painfully remember talking about the suggestions of who it was, when in fact it wasn’t, so we are not going to draw any conclusions at this point, just reporting the information of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center buildings, the plane crashing into the Pentagon, a fire at the Pentagon right now, the White House being evacuated, other government buildings being evacuated, fires on the Mall in Washington, D.C., and right now as we listen, we can hear emergency vehicles racing to the World Trade Center.
Go ahead, Miranda.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: Just on this terrorist attack, the Secret Service reports that because the White House was evacuated, it offers a credible threat of a terrorist attack, but that’s as much as they know.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, this information coming to you, New York time just before 10:00. It appears it’s all taken place in this past hour. I don’t know if the mics are picking up all of the sound outside, but major mass moving of emergency vehicles down to the World Trade Center, which is very close, in fact, to where we are right now. The pictures on TV, the smoke, the plumes of smoke above the World Trade Center—both all of the upper floors of the World Trade Center buildings, the towers of the World Trade Center, are engulfed in smoke. No immediate word right now on injuries. The FBI obviously is investigating.
These are the same towers that were struck by bombers in February of 1993. A plane was coming in low. It looked like it hit at a slight angle. It is not clear whether this plane was hijacked. Large holes are visible in the sides of the 110-story buildings, the landmark Twin Towers. Again, we heard it here as we were doing the broadcast, not clear whether it was a car accident or something taking place. We clearly know now that the World Trade Center towers have been hit.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: What they’re saying from Washington, D.C., is now that either a plane or a helicopter exploded into the Pentagon. It exploded on the outside of the fifth corridor of the building, which is the Army corridor. And witnesses were saying that the whole building just exploded. Obviously it’s been evacuated now, and we don’t know if there have been any injuries.
AMY GOODMAN: And it is, as we speak, 9:59 in the morning, New York time, as we go off the air. We assume we’ll continue simply to keep the line open if any of the programs want to continue with us. Again, we’re just getting this information as it comes off the wires and listening to the emergency vehicles where we are, very close to the World Trade Center building, and broadcasting to you what we’re hearing on television, as well.
This all happened within the last hour. The World Trade Center towers both engulfed in a—in plumes of smoke, because it seems that planes have crashed into the upper floors of the World Trade Center towers. In addition to that, a plane has hit the Pentagon, causing a major fire there. Evacuation of the Pentagon, evacuation of the White House. There are fires on the Mall in Washington, D.C. All planes have been suspended around the country.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: It looks like from the reports on CNN that the second tower of the World Trade Center has actually been hit again. There’s new clouds of billowing smoke. It’s completely concealed by smoke. It may just be some fallout, but it’s hard to believe that so much explosive smoke has come from one explosion. So it’s—it is actually possible that there has been a second hit on the World Trade Center. As has been said, it has already been hit by two planes earlier this morning. At about 8:15, two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers, one after the other. And at this stage, everyone on CNN is really just trying to talk around what’s happening.
AMY GOODMAN: It looks as if part of the South Tower of the World Trade Center has apparently collapsed at this point. Smoke is everywhere. Plumes of smoke below as well, so it’s not clear what’s happening. Is it the smoke from the World Trade Center buildings? But it does look like the South Tower of the World Trade Center has now collapsed. Again, as we are here in Chinatown, we’re hearing emergency vehicles racing down to the scene. Planes crashing into—it looks like at least two planes at this point have hit the World Trade Center. Again, another plane has hit the Pentagon. And the government buildings are now being evacuated. Clouds of smoke over the World Trade Center towers. People reporting in Brooklyn miles away that thousands of pieces of what appear to be office paper have come drifting over Brooklyn.
A senior government official said the agency is pursuing reports that one or more of the planes that hit the World Trade Center were hijacked and that the crashes may have been the result of a suicide mission.
Fires on the Mall in Washington, the Pentagon hit by a plane—the Pentagon, the area of the Pentagon, it looks like the area was the Army corridor in the Pentagon on the fifth floor, the President coming in right now from Sarasota, Florida, on his way back to D.C. FAA has suspended all planes in the United States for at least seven hours.
This is the latest news that we are bringing to you. It’s just after 9:00 Eastern Standard Time. We’re bringing you the news as we learn of it from the wires, from hearing what’s happening on the streets of New York, though not able at this point to go out and report on it, and watching the television pictures of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the White House.
Right now, in the last several minutes, a third explosion at the World Trade Center. It does look like part of the South Tower has collapsed. Clouds of smoke are engulfing the World Trade Center.
You are listening to Democracy Now!, as outside the emergency vehicles race towards the World Trade Center, the upper floors of the World Trade Center towers engulfed in plumes of smoke, horrific scene of explosions and fires.
Brad, what is the latest that you see?
BRAD SIMPSON: Right now, they’re simply replaying the video that shows what is apparently a jet aircraft as it circles the South Tower of the World Trade Center and then simply crashes into the South Tower, coming right through the back side of the World Trade Center and an enormous explosion, clouds of smoke billowing from the World Trade Center, parts of the Trade Center falling to the street. Right now, the entire downtown area, including the area around the World Trade Center, is enveloped in smoke, apparently from the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. It’s really unclear right now exactly what’s happening, but we’re going to continue monitoring CNN and the wires and see what we can get.
AMY GOODMAN: American Airlines, CNN is reporting, it was a hijacked American Airlines plane, one of perhaps three, two or three that have hit the World Trade Center. It looks like the South Tower has collapsed. We are looking at scenes of massive smoke, plumes of smoke that are engulfing the World Trade Center towers right now. Planes crashing into the upper floors, an American Airlines plane crashing into the upper floor. Again, the Pentagon, there are reports of a plane crashing into the Pentagon. They’ve evacuated the Pentagon, the White House, the Treasury. It was the fifth corridor of the Pentagon, the Army corridor, that was hit. We are just watching nonstop pictures right now of the World Trade Center.
Miranda, what have you learned?
MIRANDA KENNEDY: Well, that there has been a third explosion, which has shattered the towers, the South Tower of the World Trade Center, and apparently a Palestinian group has claimed responsibility not for the World Trade Center bombing, but for the attack on the Pentagon. So we’re going to try now to get a Palestinian reporter on the air with us.
AMY GOODMAN: And as Miranda goes to do that, if you’re just tuning in, we’re not even sure who is listening at this point, just continuing with this broadcast. We are quite close to the World Trade Center. We are broadcasting from Chinatown. It looks like the South Tower of the World Trade Center has collapsed, hit by at least two—we’re not clear if there were two or three planes that have crashed into the World Trade Center buildings, the upper floors of both World Trade Center towers. This is a 110-story building We can see scenes of explosion, fires, gaping holes in the 110-story building.
There are emergency vehicles racing there, as well as, of course, all over Washington, D.C. Eyewitness reports of people jumping from the top floors of the South Tower of the World Trade Center as it buckles and collapses. Again, eyewitness reports of people jumping from the top floors of the South Tower of the World Trade Center as it buckles and collapses.
You’re listening to Democracy Now!, broadcasting from Downtown Community Television. We’re about to go to the West Bank to speak with a reporter there to give us the latest news. Miranda Kennedy with us, Brad Simpson with us, Anthony Sloan with us, as well.
This news coming out in the last hour, as we watch the World Trade Center, that is engulfed in plumes of smoke, bridges and tunnels in and out of New York City have all been closed, and we’re continuing to just bring you information as we learn it from television, as well as from the wires, from the internet, and we’ll be speaking with different people through the day. Fire and emergency equipment being raced to the World Trade Center building. Bridges and tunnels have been closed in the greater New York City area for this emergency equipment to make its way to the World Trade Center.
Again, the latest news we have, at least two, possibly three, planes have hit the World Trade Center buildings. CNN is reporting one of them was a hijacked American Airlines plane. We also understand that another plane has hit the Pentagon. They are evacuating the Pentagon now, as well as the White House, as well as the Treasury.
President Clinton is—rather, President Bush is flying up from Florida from Sarasota. We’re hoping to make contact with a reporter in just one minute. The lines are now down. We just had spoken with him, and we’re hoping we will be able to get him on the line.
As we were doing the Democracy Now! broadcast, we heard the several explosions. They definitely—we felt the impact in Chinatown, two major sonic boom-type explosions. Very soon after that, we hear that the World Trade Center has been hit by at least two planes. It looks like that perhaps suicide missions, one plane hitting the South Tower, which looks like it has now buckled and collapsed, people jumping from the upper floors of the World Trade Center towers.
You remember, the last attack on the World Trade Center was February 26, 1993. We’re not jumping to any conclusions, simply reporting what is happening. Not clear who has claimed responsibility, if there has been any responsibility claimed at this point. Planes crashing into the upper floors of the World Trade Center towers. The South Tower looks like it is collapsing right now.
Today is primary day in New York City. I assume that will be perhaps called off, although I don’t know about that. Bridges and tunnels in and out of New York City have been closed. Emergency vehicles are racing to the scene, trying to get the latest information from Washington, as well as New York City. World Trade Center tower, one of them, the top floors of the South Tower buckling and collapsing, eyewitness reports of people jumping from those top floors.
As we try to make contact with reporters in different areas to see how much more we can bring you, the side of the World Trade Center exploding, debris falling like leaflets. It was also described in this way in Washington, D.C. Northern tower seems to be on fire. The southern tower seems to have buckled and collapsed with thousands of pieces of what appear to be office paper drifting over Brooklyn.
We’re going to go to a music break for just a few seconds as we gather more information. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to our continuing coverage of what is a massive disaster unfolding in New York, in Washington, D.C., eyewitness reports right now where we are in New York. I’m Amy Goodman here with Miranda Kennedy, Brad Simpson and Anthony Sloan. We’re on Lafayette Street, just south of Canal and not far from the World Trade Center towers. It looks as if the South Tower has collapsed, the North Tower on fire. Eyewitness reports that police saw parts of the South Tower peeling away, as thousands watched, the police frantically telling people to move away.
It looks like what we have is two attacks, three possible attacks on the World Trade Center building, with planes crashing into the towers. One of those planes, CNN reporting, possibly a hijacked American Airlines flight. All airlines have at this point been—all planes have been canceled in the country. Mayor Giuliani has established an emergency management center to coordinate the health, fire and emergency response. There are sketchy reports of an explosion on Capitol Hill at this point. That is the latest information that we have, sketchy reports of an explosion on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
You are listening to Democracy Now!. As we get this report, these reports, we are simply broadcasting them to you, to stations around the country, eyewitness reports of people jumping from the top floors of the South Tower of the World Trade Center as it buckled and collapses in the last half-hour. This all seems to have taken place just about 9:00. We heard the booms, like sonic booms. President Bush called the World Trade Center crashes an apparent terrorist attack. The FBI investigating reports that at least two planes crashes, it may have been a third, hitting the World Trade Center towers, towers struck by bombers in February of 1993. A CNN vice president, Sean Murtaugh, reported the plane was coming in low. It looked like it hit the World Trade Center at a slight angle. Large holes visible in the sides of the 110-story buildings, the landmark Twin Towers. Side of the World Trade Center exploding, debris falling like leaflets, ambulances, emergency vehicles racing to the scene. They have been passing us, as we can hear the sirens going off. Thousands of pieces of what appear to be office paper drifting over Brooklyn, which is miles away. People are seeing this paper.
It does look like there has been an explosion on Capitol Hill. And that is the latest news. We’ll see if Brad or Miranda can bring us in some of this information. Eyewitness reports that police saw parts of the South Tower peeling away. Thousands are watching, police frantically telling people to move away. The latest news, a plane hitting the Pentagon, the Army area of the Pentagon. They’re evacuating the Pentagon, the White House, the Treasury. All planes stopped in the country, and it may be that we have more reports now from Anthony Sloan, our technical director.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Yeah, well, Amy, I’ve been monitoring another radio station. And right now, there have reporters down there on the scene. They’ve closed up all businesses in the area. Hundreds—actually thousands of people, when the building collapsed, when the second building collapsed, people were running up towards, on the street, from the World Trade Center uptown on towards what’s called Franklin Street, towards our way, in other words. And it seems like if a building falls, it falls and there will be other damages to other buildings. So all of the businesses are closed right now. And people are actually—people are going down, because they have relatives in the building, but it’s causing a lot of congestion.
AMY GOODMAN: And Brad Simpson, what’s the latest report you have?
BRAD SIMPSON: We’ve just heard reports from an eyewitness who is a pilot, who reported that the first explosion, which took place in the North Tower of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, was a Boeing 767 jet, which was seen heading towards Midtown. It veered right towards the World Trade Center and flew directly into the north side of the North Tower of the Trade Center at what looks like about the ninetieth floor.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you repeat that?
BRAD SIMPSON: Eyewitness reports indicate that the first explosion on the North Tower of the World Trade Center was a Boeing 767 jet, which was seen heading towards Midtown. The jet veered towards the World Trade Center and flew directly into the north side of the North Tower, somewhere between the eightieth and the ninetieth floors.
AMY GOODMAN: And that’s the plane that hit the north side of the North Tower. The South Tower, it looks like the top of it has buckled and collapsed, witnesses seeing people jump from the top stories. Mayor Giuliani establishing emergency management center to coordinate the health, fire and emergency response. Sketchy reports of—now it seems to—we’re getting more reports of an explosion on Capitol Hill about a half an hour ago. The Capitol evacuated, pushed back by security, two blocks of the Capitol.
Trying to make contact with reporters. It’s, as you could imagine, difficult right now. We are having difficulty getting through on our phones.
South Tower peeling away as thousands of people watch. We are not far from the World Trade Center. President Bush coming up from Sarasota. They’re checking out Air Force One, but then he’s heading up, I suppose—not clear at this point, haven’t heard the latest reports—to Washington, D.C., although they have evacuated the White House, evacuated the Pentagon, evacuated the Treasury. And as you heard Brad just say, that CNN is reporting that the first explosion was caused—this is according to a pilot witness—by a Boeing 767 heading towards Midtown, veering to the left, flew directly into the north side of the North Tower.
The horrendous scenes, we’re seeing on television right now, the World Trade Center towers engulfed in smoke. The South Tower has collapsed.
ANTHONY SLOAN: They’re also reporting that it seems like with all of the fire damage that perhaps the other tower will be damaged beyond repair and might even come down.
AMY GOODMAN: And we are hearing emergency vehicles, again, heading to the scene. All bridges, all tunnels have been blocked. The FAA is reporting that one of the planes was an American Airlines 767 jet that was hijacked out of Boston. Again, the FAA reporting that one of the planes was an American Airlines 767 jet that was hijacked out of Boston.
You’re listening to Democracy Now! We are broadcasting, not clear at this point to who, but we will continue this broadcast going.
We hear emergency vehicles outside of DCTV, where we’re broadcasting from, Firehouse 31. We are in downtown Manhattan, which puts us quite close to the World Trade Center building, though we’re in a garret of this firehouse, and so are not able to see, right where we are, the World Trade Center buildings, though we can see the pictures on television. The South Tower is—has buckled and collapsed, the top of it. The North Tower is on fire. Eyewitnesses are saying they’re seeing people jump from the top of the World Trade Center towers.
In Washington, D.C., the White House being evacuated, Treasury being evacuated, Pentagon being evacuated, and, we understand, a fire on Capitol Hill, the Capitol being evacuated, as well.
These are the—this is the latest news that we have for you from New York City, and we will continue to broadcast as we get more information.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: From the Pentagon, we’ve heard that witnesses saw what they think was a commercial plane flying fast and low, disappearing from view and striking the Pentagon, just missing the Washington Beltway, Route 395. This is a report from an eyewitness who was just speaking from the Pentagon, who saw what looked like—it would make sense, with the reports, that it was an American Airlines jet or a Boeing 747, that this plane flew straight towards the Pentagon, and this is apparently the one that has attacked the Pentagon and brought it into flames.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s really something, Miranda, to be watching the TV screen and not to see two towers, but only one. The South Tower, it looks like it has collapsed to at least the thirtieth floor. We’re talking about two 110-story towers of the World Trade Center building. And again, Miranda just reporting witnesses seeing what they think is a commercial plane flying fast and low—was a commercial plane flying fast and low, disappearing from view and striking the Pentagon, just missing the Washington Beltway, Route 395. And the FAA is reporting that one of the planes was American Airlines 767 jet hijacked out of Boston. That’s the latest news that we have for you right now. Mayor Giuliani establishing emergency management center to coordinate health, fire and emergency response. An explosion on Capitol Hill. Those are the latest reports, as well as a fire at the Pentagon, a plane hitting the Pentagon, as well.
We can hear the emergency vehicles outside of the firehouse, where we are right now, thousands watching, police frantically telling people to get away, the South Tower down at least 70 or 80 stories, has buckled and collapsed, of the World Trade Center North Tower of the World Trade Center. You may be able to hear in the background the sounds of the emergency vehicles. The North Tower is—has smoke that is coming out of the tower.
Breaking reports that a fire has also forced the evacuation of the State Department in Washington, D.C. State Department, Treasury Department, Pentagon and White House being evacuated in Washington, D.C. The latest report, a fire has forced the evacuation of the State Department in Washington, D.C.
You are listening to Democracy Now! We are blocks away from the World Trade Center, as we go to a brief break, and then we’ll continue to bring you the news as we are able to gather it.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Democracy Now! in exile at a firehouse in Chinatown. We are downtown Manhattan, not far from the World Trade Center. Two towers—the South Tower has collapsed, the 110-story two double towers, the South Tower collapsed, at least to the thirtieth floor. We are recapping now the latest news of explosions and attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., as well. It looks like the World Trade Center has been hit by at least three planes. It looks like the second tower, the North Tower, has just collapsed, as well. Both towers of the World Trade Center have collapsed in New York City. Columns of smoke.
ANTHONY SLOAN: It should be noted that right under the World Trade Center, there’s a major link, a mass transit link from the PATH that goes to Newark, New Jersey. So that’s cut off. With both towers down in that area, depending on how the towers went down, it depends on what kind of damage was done around that area. So it’s a significant thing to see two towers a couple of hours ago, and now you see nothing at all. All of the businesses are closed. You can’t get cell phone service in this—in the downtown area, in the whole radius. Everything’s cut off. If people are looking to try to get to the area, from about 18th Street on down, it’s cordoned off. In fact, the —-— Mayor Giuliani has called this whole emergency here, so everything is blocked off. There’s no use even trying to come down to this area. You won’t be able to get here.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, right now, we’re looking at the landscape of the World Trade Center. Both towers have collapsed. We, here at this building—Miranda just went downstairs in the firehouse, and one of the men who is in this building, his wife, was on the 101st story of the World Trade Center. Both towers have now collapsed. That’s what’s happening in New York.
In Washington, D.C., we said before there were sketchy reports of an explosion on Capitol Hill. It’s not clear if there was an explosion. Of course, so much coming in from all over at this point. It may be that there was no explosion at the Capitol. It’s necessary to tell you, of course, all of this is just coming in. The latest news, also witnesses saw several people hanging out the window where the plane hit the North Tower, letting go as the tower collapsed. Scene of chaos. There was a school near the World Trade Center.
All flights have been canceled around the United States. International flights to D.C. and New York City have been diverted to Canada. Boeing 767 was hijacked from Boston, the FAA is reporting, an American Airlines plane that was, it seems, possibly the first plane to hit the World Trade Center building.
There is so much smoke across the island of Manhattan that it’s very difficult to see any buildings right now. We are reporting it to you as we see it.
At this point, CNN is simply reporting from downtown Manhattan the frantic efforts to get people out of the World Trade Center buildings. And again, we hear that the State Department, the White House, the Pentagon, the Treasury, have been evacuated in Washington, fires on the Mall.
Anthony, what have you just learned?
ANTHONY SLOAN: You know, this is a rather personal thing. A friend of mine works in the World Trade Center, and she actually went to a dentist appointment this morning. But she’s all broken up now, because, you know, as you know, most people work with other people, so this is going to have far-reaching effects, and it’s—I can’t even explain this. It’s just far-reaching effects personally, as well as economically, just everything. The world has definitely changed.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s right. There are —
ANTHONY SLOAN: President Bush has said that there will be retaliation. That’s for sure. He used some strong words, so prepare yourself for a changing world right now.
AMY GOODMAN: Thousands of people work in the World Trade Center buildings. Miranda?
MIRANDA KENNEDY: Yeah, it’s really unbelievable to watch the footage, which many people may be watching, as well, on CNN, of the second World Trade tower—World Trade Center tower collapsing in on itself, just literally crumbling into pieces, and the impact, the power of that impact is unbelievable. And it’s just sort of phenomenal to imagine the number of people who have been—who were inside the World Trade Center because they did not manage to evacuate it.
AMY GOODMAN: Miranda, it looks like 50,000 people work in the World Trade Center complex. 50,000 people.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: Well, I just went downstairs for a moment, and I actually ran into, in the hallway, a man whose wife was on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center, where she works, and he’s been trying to reach her for two hours. And it’ll be fairly impossible to reach her, I’d imagine.
ANTHONY SLOAN: And the cell phone area, it’s tough. Cell phone service in this area is cut off, so again, I’d say that if you’re trying to reach people in this area, or whatever it is, it’s going to be rather difficult, almost impossible. The area is totally cordoned off.
As you know, Manhattan, as it goes down to this area, becomes rather slim. The widest points of Manhattan is 125th Street and also 14th Street. When you get down towards this area, it gets very—rather slim. So it will probably be cut off from the Staten Island Ferry. Everything is affected. The Staten Island Ferry, there’s ferry service that goes to New Jersey. There’s, of course, the PATH that comes over from Newark to Jersey City to the World Trade Center. That should—that’s probably down. It goes right under the World Trade Center. We have basically every—all emergency vehicles are in the area. This is undoubtedly because of the—because there are government offices, federal offices in the World Trade Center, this will have—you’ll have certainly all the major investigative branches of government, as well as the city government, involved with this.
So it’s—I—there’s a couple of things I’m just trying to say. People should not try to come down here. It’s going to be impossible to get in anyway, even if you have press credentials or whatever you have. It’s going to be impossible to try to get through. And if you’re looking for someone and you’re trying to get them on your cell phone, it’s not going to be—it’s not going to work. The cell phones are blocked in this area. It’s–just treat it as an emergency. And all you can do is wait and pray.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s right. All cell phones—I’m calling Washington, D.C.—even non-cell phones, and it’s just a vast busy signal.
Unconfirmed reports, and again, as the world and the media move faster and faster, a lot of stuff gets out there that ends up not to be the case, but CNN is reporting unconfirmed reports of a car bomb at the State Department.
50,000 people work at the World Trade Center. We have no figures yet about the numbers killed and wounded. Certainly the number will be very high. All planes, international flights coming into New York and Washington, D.C. have been diverted to Canada. Again, the first reports of a first plane coming down Midtown way, pilot witnesses say it was a 767. They believe it was a hijacked American Airlines flight from Boston that crashed into the World Trade Center, followed by a second plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. It’s not clear if there was a third plane. It does look like there was a third plane crash at the Pentagon, crashing into the fifth story Army corridor. Evacuations of the Pentagon, State Department, Treasury, White House are now underway.
We’re trying to call into Washington, D.C. It’s just a fast busy signal. I just tried calling Baltimore. It’s a fast busy signal. Cell phones right now—our cell phone is not having much luck.
We’re talking about massive disaster now underway in the United States, does clearly look like attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
President Bush was in Florida, heading up on his plane. And Anthony, you just said that he promised retaliation. It is not clear yet who is responsible for this. We heard these booms during the program, not clear what they are, since we’ve been broadcasting in exile. We’re not in a soundproof booth, and so we do hear sounds occasionally, though this we felt. We felt the reverberation of it, too, and just continued. And then, Keiko Tsuno, who runs DCTV, came running upstairs. I heard some distress as we were going to our tape. And she started to explain that planes had hit the World Trade Center.
You’re listening to Democracy Now! in exile here in Chinatown, not far, blocks from the World Trade Center. Both towers of the 110-story building, both 110-story towers have collapsed. The area all around the World Trade Center is now covered with smoke. As we look out from the garret of this firehouse, I see people on the roofs who are looking with binoculars to see what is taking place. It is a blue sky day here in New York. The clouds, though, obscuring the whole area in Lower Manhattan.
Part of the Pentagon has collapsed. It has just been reported, part of the Pentagon has collapsed.
ANTHONY SLOAN: There has been a lot of damage to other buildings around the area of World Trade Center, and there’s a lot of ash and concrete and dust. People are covered with it. People are wearing masks in the street. So we should be—again, if you don’t have to go down to—well, you shouldn’t have to go to the area now. You shouldn’t go anyplace near the World Trade Center. It’s not going to be passable. There’s no way for you to get in or out.
AMY GOODMAN: According to Free Speech Radio News reporter Rafael Krafft, who’s in Ramallah, a Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for the Pentagon bombing. We understand there was a plane attack on the Pentagon. Again, this is according to Rafael Krafft, who is the Free Speech Radio News reporter in Ramallah on the West Bank, saying that a Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for the Pentagon bombing.
We are listening to emergency vehicles, their sirens blaring, heading down to the World Trade Center, as we bring you this latest news on this day, Tuesday, September 11th, 2001. It is eight years, seven-and-a-half years since the bombing of the World Trade Center on February 26th, I think it was, 1993. September 11th, 2001—looks like the State Department—go ahead, Miranda.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: It looks like there’s actually reports now of a fourth bombing at the World Trade Center. We’ve already reported three in a row, two planes crash into the World Trade Center starting at about 8:15 this morning, one after the other, then the South Tower collapsed. Then there was a third plane or explosion, we’re not sure which, which caused the South Tower to collapse. And now CNN is actually reporting there has been a fourth explosion at the World Trade Center. What the fallout of that is is unimaginable, because, well, we watched the entire South Tower collapse in on itself, so there’s really very little of the building remaining. But there—it does look like there has been a fourth attack on the building.
AMY GOODMAN: Miranda Kennedy, here with Anthony Sloan. I’m Amy Goodman, Brad Simpson, as we try to gather information, hearing the emergency vehicles with the sirens outside passing the firehouse, where we are right now. Again, downstairs, one of the people who works here, his wife worked on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center building. 50,000 people work in the Twin Towers of this building that was the target of an attack in 1993. What’s the latest you have?
MIRANDA KENNEDY: Well, an eyewitness reporter is now saying that they cannot confirm that there has been fourth attack, but they’ve seen the rest of the building collapse at the World Trade Center, and apparently now the Pentagon is monitoring a second suspected hijacked plane that’s in D.C. These events seem to be timed out to happen simultaneously, and obviously there’s very little expectation of how to follow up on it.
ANTHONY SLOAN: One of the wire services are—is reporting that there is a—it may be unrelated, but a plane crashed in Pennsylvania, so we should check that out.
Again, if you’re trying to come down into this area, you should not. If you’re trying to reach people by cell phone, it’s going to be fruitless. The World Trade Center area is completely cordoned off, I guess you could say, from 18th Street in Manhattan all the way down thereabouts, at least from the highway point of view, from—or rather, traffic point of view. I don’t know how far the subways are going now. I’m sure that most of the subways come through the World Trade Center. I know I’m talking to people that may not even be in New York, but most of the subway systems come through this area, through this bottleneck area of Manhattan. And so, with all the damage to other buildings, all the businesses are closed in the area. And with all that happening, it’s just not wise to even try to come to this area to look for anybody. It’s just not going to work out.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: And as they monitor this second suspected hijacked plane, all federal buildings in Washington have now been evacuated. All of the workers in those buildings have been sent out into the streets and are being pushed back as far away from the center of D.C. as possible. Obviously, there’s a great deal of chaos in the streets. You can only imagine.
Furthermore, as the reports come in, they do seem to be conflicting each other as to whether there has been a fourth attack on the World Trade Center. But it could have been part of the same bomb. It could have been part of the same attack, the third attack on the World Trade Center, which brought another explosion. But just moments ago, there was another explosion in the World Trade Center. And we’re continuing to attempt to monitor this, which is very difficult because all of the phone lines are down. We can’t reach any of the reporters in Washington and have been attempting to reach the Gaza Strip, our reporter there, but to no avail. Apparently not only all cell phones are down, but all lines are down.
AMY GOODMAN: I was just listening to Maria Hinojosa, who is an old friend, a BAI reporter, as well, on CNN. She’s over at St. Vincent’s Hospital. And she said that within 45 minutes of the first explosion, over a hundred people have come to that hospital. That’s at around 12th and 6th Avenue.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: She said they’re sick from—some are critically wounded, and they are being operated on. Others are throwing up from smoke inhalation. And that was just within 45 minutes. As you could imagine, the hospitals in the entire metropolitan area are bracing for and now beginning to be inundated. We’re talking about a work complex, the World Trade Center, of 50,000 people. 50,000 people.
Anthony, you just said a friend of yours happened to be at a dentist appointment? She works at the World Trade Center?
ANTHONY SLOAN: Yeah, but she didn’t go to work this morning. She went to the dentist appointment instead. And so, she wasn’t a part of that.
But again, I’m trying to just—for people who don’t know, if you’re trying to call down there, it’s not going to—it’s going to be fruitless. The best to you—for you to do is to keep your line clear. If your loved one can get to a pay phone, because it seems like only the pay phones are working, then they’ll probably try to call you and, you know, use a chain or something like that.
Now remember, we are close. The World Trade Center’s very, very—it’s very close to the Stock Exchange. There are—I hate to bring in a Hollywood thing, but as you know from watching the Die Hard movies, there are no schools in that area, luckily, but Wall Street, the Stock Exchange is close that area. And, of course, the PATH train all—the West Side Highway ends there. There—the South Ferry, the Battery Park is in that area. That’s where you get to—you go to Staten Island or you go to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island from that area.
AMY GOODMAN: The latest news that we have, again, people running from—masses of people running from the area of the World Trade Center building. All—a lot of traffic is blocked off from 14th Street downtown. Now CNN is reporting—and again, these kinds of things change all the time, but a sketchy report of federal officials suspecting that a second hijacked plane is heading for Washington, is heading for Washington from—not clear. Not clear, Miranda is saying.
We’re just reporting to you what we’re hearing at this point on television, as all federal buildings are now being evacuated in Washington, D.C. Both towers of the World Trade Center have collapsed. One plane, pilot witnesses say, that crashed into the—one of the towers was a hijacked American Airlines—the FAA is saying a hijacked American Airlines Boeing 767 plane from Boston. And that seemed to have started this. It was right around 9:00 in the morning when we went on the air. And soon we saw both the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center building engulfed in smoke and fire. Then it appeared that the South Tower was buckling and collapsing to the thirtieth floor. And then, most recently, the North Tower collapsed.
In Washington, D.C., it’s reported that a plane slammed into the Pentagon, that the Pentagon is being evacuated, the White House evacuated, Treasury evacuated. State Department, there was a report that there was a car bomb. Again, all these things we’re just getting from television, cannot confirm any.
And what have you learned, Miranda?
MIRANDA KENNEDY: The area to the west of the Pentagon has been evacuated, as federal officials monitor the second jet moving towards the Pentagon, which they say is coming from the west, and obviously it’s been deemed enough of a threat that they have actually sent out a fighter jet to—which one reporter on CNN has seen flying out to meet it out west of the Pentagon. And the whole area around the Pentagon, again, has been evacuated. They’re moving in military officials and as many police as they can get in there to block off the area all around the Pentagon.
AMY GOODMAN: This is, as Anthony was just saying, a new day. This is going to be the beginning of a new era, and the response of the United States, well, we’ll see what happens. At this point, again, we don’t know about this plane, but federal officials are saying that they believe a second hijacked plane is moving towards the Pentagon with a fighter jet also going in its direction. We had earlier reports of the Pentagon being attacked by a plane and the evacuation of the Pentagon, the Treasury, the State Department, the White House. President Clinton was in Sarasota, Florida at the time.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Just a couple of things. One is that most flights around the country have—some of the flights—a lot of flights have been canceled just because of the possibility of hijacking.
AMY GOODMAN: Right, canceled. And over the next seven hours, probably more, and that all international flights coming in to New York and Washington have been diverted to Canada.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: There was a reporter in—speaking to us from Kennedy airport who was saying that the entire airport has been effectively shut down. There’s no way to get out. Flights who have come in, they’re being told to pick up their bags and stay with them. It will be next to impossible to leave the airport. And obviously this goes for all of the airports in the New York and D.C. area.
We’ve also heard that this plane, which is moving towards the Pentagon, has been tentatively detected and identified as a Boeing 767, the same 767 that hit the Pentagon, that’s what CNN just said. In any case, there—they are preparing for a second jet that is moving towards the Pentagon. And military jets have flown out to meet it. The scene above Washington, D.C., I’m not sure how far away it is from the center city or how they know how close it is to the Pentagon, but that’s what the reports are saying.
The level of panic on CNN is pretty unreal, and there’s constant background of shrieks and reporters, as well as sirens. And it’s sort of the same scene here in New York, although we’re in—sequestered in a small studio here. We can hear sirens all around us. And on the floors downstairs in Downtown Community Television, there are people who are sobbing, who are terrified, who are watching out the windows nervously. There’s—really, this is an unbelievable scene.
ANTHONY SLOAN: The FAA has grounded all planes going out of major airports nationwide. That’s one thing. The other thing is that most government offices around the country have been affected. I know that Newark, as well as the surrounding areas, Connecticut, those state office buildings have been shut down. The U.N. has been shut down. It will be no business as usual in New York. There will be a lot of sporting events, etc., that won’t be happening today.
Again, if you’re trying to get down into this area, don’t. You won’t be able to get in anyway. And it’s just sheer panic. If you’re waiting for a loved one to call you, that’s what you should do. Don’t tie up your phone trying to call them, because there is no phone service down in Lower Manhattan. Cell phones are out. Maybe cell phones are back. I just hear something going on. In this area, cell phones are out, so it’s fruitless to try to contact somebody here. Maybe they should try to contact you. Pay phones seem to be working, so maybe if somebody is trying to contact you, as there are long pay phone lines.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: And again, from 14th Street and below in Lower Manhattan, the traffic has been blocked off, and crowds of people are moving from the buildings in downtown Manhattan in the Wall Street district, and slightly north of that, where the World Trade Center is, crowds of people are making their way by foot up above the danger area, since there’s obviously still fallout and will continue to be all day long from the bombing of the World Trade Center.
AMY GOODMAN: The United Nations is being evacuated. The elections in New York have been postponed. I was just watching a replay—someone had videotape of the World Trade Center, after the first explosion around 8:45, at 9:15, and that’s the one that we felt and heard. A plane flying low, moved in on the South Tower, and just you see it move towards the South Tower. It disappears, and then you see a massive plume of fire and smoke as it crashes into it. The South Tower was the first to collapse and buckle. Then the North Tower collapsed.
There also a large plane crashed near Somerset County Airport in western Pennsylvania, 80 miles south of Pittsburgh. And that was near a school, apparently believed to be a 747, untold numbers of casualties. The World Trade Center is a massive workplace, 50,000 people there, either visiting or working, two major 110-story towers.
Then, of course, the news of this other plane, not clear what it is the Pentagon is monitoring, what they say is a second suspected hijacked plane moving towards the Pentagon, a Boeing 767. But we don’t know—you know, obviously we can not confirm what that is and the information that we have.
Israel has evacuated all diplomatic installations in—I assume in the United States right now.
The towers of the World Trade Center are now down. I was just watching footage of people running. They had been standing watching the World Trade Center, and then, as the World Trade Center towers were collapsing, people were running as fast as they could away, as you saw the plumes of debris, smoke, fire, the landscape different now in New York City without the towers of the World Trade Center. It’s very tough for us to get calls out. We’re attempting to do that now. Miranda is attempting to do it.
It is September 11th, 2001, a day that will certainly be marked for a very long time to come. U.S. federal buildings all over Washington have been evacuated. In New York, World Trade Center down. In Pennsylvania, not clear if this is connected, but a 747 crashing near Somerset County Airport in western Pennsylvania, 80 miles south of Pittsburgh.
The United Nations has been evacuated. The New York City elections today, primary day, have obviously been postponed. All traffic is being blocked from 14th Street down.
Yasser Arafat and governments around the world have condemned the attack, not at all clear who is responsible for this. No confirmed reports of anyone taking responsibility for these attacks.
We had heard of a reporter on the West Bank saying otherwise. We do not know at this point, since we can’t reach anyone. The Pentagon attacked by a plane, and Pentagon officials now saying another plane is headed in its direction. The explosions at the World Trade Center, watching as this low-flying plane, we believe it was American Airlines 767 hijacked from Boston, flying into the World Trade Center. You see it disappear, and then you see an explosion in the South Tower, fire and smoke, plumes of smoke, columns of smoke, and now smoke is the landscape of all of Lower Manhattan.
We are broadcasting in exile from a firehouse on Lafayette Street in Chinatown.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Right now, the move is to try to evacuate Lower Manhattan, basically everything below Canal Street. They’re trying to evacuate people from Canal—everything from the Battery all the way from South Ferry right up through Canal Street, which is a major street going across Manhattan. It goes to the Holland Tunnel. So they’re trying to evacuate everybody from the Battery all the way up through Canal Street.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to try to be here as long as possible. We’ll remain broadcasting.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: Hospitals throughout New York City are overwhelmed by casualties. We were just listening to an eyewitness report of when the first attack on the World Trade Center happened, and that was before the towers collapsed in on each other, obviously. And the scene of chaos that erupted at that stage, she’s describing one of complete tumult and people flocking into the streets. Obviously, there’s no way for ambulances to get down to that section of Lower Manhattan right now, so there are going to be a lot of casualties who are going to be untreated. I know that the ambulances and police cars are completely overwhelmed, as well. And the number of casualties is really only growing. As we get more reports, it really—it just sounds as thought there’s only—because there’s still fallout from these attacks and because the attacks are continuing, it’s really impossible to imagine the number of injuries and the number of deaths that are going to result from this.
ANTHONY SLOAN: It should be said that folks are—the City Hall is down in that area a little ways over, as well as—well, hospitals are in that area, but they’ve evacuated City Hall. The Mayor has moved his operations up into Greenwich Village. They’re trying to—again, they’re trying to—no one below Canal Street, trying to evacuate the area from basically the tip of Manhattan right up through Canal Street. There’s a lot of governmental offices. One Police Plaza is down in that area. Over—those folks have been evacuated, except for essential personnel. Most of these—most of the institutions, except for essential personnel, have been evacuated from the area. Again, if you’re trying to get down here, don’t. If you’re trying to locate somebody through cell phone, it’s probably not possible. Just stand by and wait for them to call you, or set up some other form of communication, because the land lines, as well as it seems the cell phone lines, except for maybe payphone lines, are all out.
MIRANDA KENNEDY: And I think that probably most people around the world are aware that Lower Manhattan is where the cluster of businesses is, certainly the Financial District, and city offices are centered in downtown Manhattan. So city government office officials as well as all Wall Street businesses, all of those are the businesses that would have had effects, I guess.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to give out our number: 431-9715. If anyone is witnessing anything now, if they would like to give a call, 212-431-9715. And maybe we can give out another number and also simply take calls. This is, to say the least, a massive catastrophe. CNN is calling it “America under attack.” Our other number is 431-9274. All buildings, federal buildings, are being evacuated. Just thinking about the 50,000 people right now who are in—were in the World Trade Center. Both towers have collapsed. 431-9274. We don’t usually give out these numbers, but in order to make contact—we are not able to make contact outside. 431-9274, if anyone was in the area of the World Trade Center building. I should say, it’s 212, because people can call from all over or can call from Washington, if you’re listening to this broadcast. Perhaps WBIX.org is broadcasting us now. We don’t even know. We’re not sure who is broadcasting us. 212-431-9274. If you’re listening to this broadcast, give us a call and let us know that you’re listening, and we’ll see where people are listening. You’re listening to Democracy Now! in Exile, from the firehouse Engine Company 31 in Chinatown, as we bring you the reports as we hear them. We’ll see if anyone is calling in, if anyone hears us at this point.
Miranda, do you see any phone calls coming in? No. 212-431-9274, 212-431-9274. We ask just for someone to call us, just to give us a sense if anyone is able to listen, and then we’re going to find out where we’re broadcasting. We’ll see. 212-431-9274. Again, we are letting you know that hospitals around the area are filling up in downtown Manhattan. World Trade Center towers both down. The numbers are 212-431-9274, 212-431-9274.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Again, there’s been a huge catastrophe, a world, earth-shaking catastrophe that’s going to change the world forever as we know it. Both towers of the World Trade Center have been totally destroyed. There’s been a lot of damage to buildings around. People have been evacuated. They’re trying to evacuate Lower Manhattan all the way from the Battery, from South Ferry, up through Canal Street. And the U.N. is closed. All government offices in New York are supposed to close, and surrounding areas, surrounding states. New Jersey, Connecticut, they’re closing down and being evacuated. Police operations—One Police Plaza is down in that area. They’ve moved their operations. The Mayor, the City Hall, moved their operations. I don’t know what’s happening with Wall Street at this particular point, but it’s the middle of the week, so this is definitely—and it’s after Labor Day, so people have definitely come back for work and come back from their vacation time. So all that is happening. As I said, all the businesses in the area have closed. You still hear emergency vehicles running around this area, and they’ll probably continue all day. I can’t imagine where people—well, they have to be replenished somehow.
Remember, elections—I guess the—I vote early and often, as they say, so I don’t know what’s going to happen with the rest of the—with the populace in terms of elections, but the election has been, from what I understand, suspended in New York City. We had a primary today for mayor, as well as public advocate, as well as council—new council seats for the city, for city government. And all that’s been—and controller was up for election today also. All that’s been suspended.
AMY GOODMAN: If someone could call us at 212-431-9546, we just want to see if anyone is listening to this broadcast. We have now been told that the Mayor wants—urging people to evacuate Manhattan below 14th Street—we are well below 14th Street—walking north to clear the area for emergency vehicles. We are just below Canal Street. If someone could call us at 212-431-9546, just to give us a sense if anyone is listening to this broadcast anywhere, whether on a radio station or on the internet, please give us a call. It will give us an indication of where we should go from here, if we’re helping anyone out with information or not. 212-431-9546. Again, World Trade Center towers down, explosion at the Pentagon. Pentagon officials say another plane is headed to the Pentagon, though that can’t be confirmed. A fire at the State Department. There’s a call coming in. We’re going to take that call. Anthony, our engineer, is now taking that call, and we’re going to hear what this person has to say. You have to hit it again, yeah.
Hi, you’re on the air.
SAN FRANCISCO CALLER: Hi.
AMY GOODMAN: Where are you calling from?
SAN FRANCISCO CALLER: I’m calling from San Francisco, California.
AMY GOODMAN: And are you listening to this broadcast?
SAN FRANCISCO CALLER: Yes, I am.
AMY GOODMAN: How?
SAN FRANCISCO CALLER: On the radio.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to KPFA?
SAN FRANCISCO CALLER: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Ah, OK. Well, thanks very much for calling in and letting us know that. You’re reaction to these events, as you hear about them on the West Coast? Can you hear in the background the emergency vehicles that are speeding down to the World Trade Center?
SAN FRANCISCO CALLER: Yes, I can. It’s devastating.
AMY GOODMAN: Fifty thousand people work in the World Trade Center, and who knows how many more visit, etc.? You know, you can go to the top of the World Trade Center, and you can see all of Manhattan. Emergency vehicles are racing down there. They’re talking about evacuating this whole area below 14th Street. We will remain here at the firehouse, Engine Company 31. We’re right in Chinatown, which, to say the least, is a very densely populated area, one of the probably densest populations in all of Manhattan. We are just a block away from many of the federal buildings in Manhattan. That’s the courtroom area. All the courts are just down the block. I was just walking there yesterday. And again, as Anthony said, today primary day in New York. All of that has been canceled. All planes that are—were going to New York or Washington, D.C., right now have been diverted to Canada. All planes in the United States, according to the FAA, have now been canceled in these hours. And in Washington, D.C., we hear all federal buildings have been evacuated, as well, as well as the United Nations in New York.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Caller, may I ask you a question? How are they covering it in the San Francisco area, the local news?
SAN FRANCISCO CALLER: They’re covering it pretty well. We—our state is under high alert now. So we’re all very nervous and just very sick about this.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Do you personally know anybody that worked in the World Trade Center or down in this area?
SAN FRANCISCO CALLER: No, I don’t.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Any of your friends know anybody?
SAN FRANCISCO CALLER: The company that I work for does have an office in New York City, but they’re up north from where the Trade Center is located.
ANTHONY SLOAN: OK, thank you so much for your call.
SAN FRANCISCO CALLER: OK, thank you. Bye bye.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Bye. You are listening to Democracy Now! in Exile from the historic firehouse down here on Lafayette Street, right below—a couple of blocks below Canal Street.
AMY GOODMAN: And we may be linking up with KPFA in just a moment. Thanks very much for your call. And we are broadcasting on KPFA right now. We are not far from the World Trade Center, though in the position we are, we can’t see it. It is—the weather here, it is—unlike the last few days of serious rain, it is extremely sunny, blue skies, except, of course, in Lower Manhattan, where the skies are just filled with smoke and soot. We have someone else on the line.
Hi, you’re on Democracy Now! in Exile.
ALBANY CALLER: Yes. Hi, Amy. I just wanted to let you know I am listening to you. I’m in Albany, New York. So, I don’t know if it’s through RPI. I think it’s—
AMY GOODMAN: Aha, WRPI.
ALBANY CALLER: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: [inaudible] to folks at RPI.
ALBANY CALLER: That’s right. So I’m just listening and—
AMY GOODMAN: Well, thanks very much for calling in.
ALBANY CALLER: Sure.
AMY GOODMAN: It does give us a sense. This is the most direct way to find out. We’re linked to Albany. We’re linked to San Francisco. We’re linked to the Berkeley area.
ALBANY CALLER: Mm-hmm. That’s right.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Let me ask the caller in Albany. In Albany, do you know if any of the buildings are closed, if the governmental buildings are closed or evacuated?
ALBANY CALLER: No, I haven’t heard anything so far. I hope that it’s going to be OK. But—
ANTHONY SLOAN: Do you know anyone or have any friends that worked in the—work in the area?
ALBANY CALLER: In the World Trade Center?
ANTHONY SLOAN: Yes.
ALBANY CALLER: Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Well, on the part of our Blue Cross Blue Shield is in the World Trade Center, so we really don’t know what’s going on over there.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Are you at work now? Or—
ALBANY CALLER: Yes.
ANTHONY SLOAN: And no one said anything from—you work for Blue Cross Blue Shield in Albany?
ALBANY CALLER: Yes.
ANTHONY SLOAN: And so, no one’s said anything? No one’s tried to get contact the—well, they can’t contact them down there, I guess. Anyone try to contact anyone from Blue Cross Blue Shield down in the World Trade Center?
AMY GOODMAN: I think we just lost her.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Oh, OK.
AMY GOODMAN: Hi, are you there? OK, we’re going to go to a music break, then bring you the latest reports. You are listening to Democracy Now! in Exile in downtown Manhattan, where the latest news is the World Trade Centers are down, both hundred-story towers, hit by—it is not clear at this point how many explosions. The low-lying—the low-flying plane that we saw on television, someone was filming it as it hit the South Tower. The tower exploded with fire and smoke, and soon the South Tower of the World Trade Center buckled and collapsed. North Tower also collapsed. United Nations has been evacuated. All federal buildings in Washington, D.C., evacuated—the White House, the State Department, the Treasury, the Pentagon. The Pentagon was hit also, according to reports, by a plane. And Pentagon officials say a second plane, perhaps a hijacked plane, is headed in its direction. We haven’t heard what has happened with that. We also had a report of a car bomb at the State Department. But again, these are sketchy reports. We don’t know if they are true. The plane that hit the World Trade Center tower, it is believed, was an American Airlines hijacked plane from Boston, a 767. We’re going to go to a music break, assess the information, and come right back to you. We’re broadcasting from Chinatown in Manhattan.
AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Democracy Now! in Exile in Chinatown, New York. The Mayor of New York has called for an evacuation of Manhattan below 14th Street—the latest news we have, of course. And if you’re just tuning in, all of this began about three-and-a-half hours ago, just before the Democracy Now! broadcast, about 8:45, the first attack on the World Trade Center building. At least that’s what’s been assessed at this time, a plane hitting the building. We heard, at 9:15 New York time, a second explosion. It felt like a sonic boom as we were broadcasting the program. At this point, first the—one of the towers of the World Trade Center was hit. Then, soon after that, the second tower was hit by a plane. It is believed it was an American Airlines 767 Boeing jet that was hijacked from Boston. We saw now pictures on television of this low-flying plane hitting the South Tower, disappearing behind it, then hitting it. You see a plume of fire and smoke. Soon after that, the South Tower buckled and collapsed. And it wasn’t long after that before the North Tower collapsed, as well. Fifty thousand people work in the World Trade Center building. We’re now seeing images on the ground of people running away. Truly looks like a war zone, with the soot and the dirt coming from the sky. People in Brooklyn, three miles away, reported confetti-like paper that was floating down.
We then were getting reports at the Pentagon that a plane had hit the Pentagon, that there was an explosion there. And we have reports of a second plane, although we haven’t heard much about that recently. Also reports of fires on the Mall, as well as a fire at the State Department. All federal buildings being evacuated. The United Nations in New York being evacuated, as well. Today, primary day in New York. The elections have been postponed.
And we’re getting calls from around the country of people listening on WBIX.org. Hello to Errol and Ryme, who are continuing their remarkable broadcast on the internet, to WRPI in the Albany area, which is the state capital of New York. We have been hearing from listeners at KPFA, as well as WGDR in Vermont, who are listening to this broadcast.
Our team is Anthony Sloan, our engineer, as well as Brad Simpson and Miranda Kennedy are producing today’s program. I’m Amy Goodman. In the background, you hear the emergency vehicles racing past the firehouse. We are broadcasting in the garret of that firehouse. And so, while we don’t have windows out on the world and we cannot see the World Trade Center—we couldn’t see it even if we could look out, because both towers are down, and it is—the sky is filled with smoke in Lower Manhattan, though in our area, it is still clear.
ANTHONY SLOAN: You know, as people may or may not realize, Manhattan is actually—is an island, and we are now completely shut off. In other words, all the bridges and tunnels into Manhattan are shut down. I’m not really sure about the bridges going to Brooklyn and Queens, like the Triborough or even the Whitestone. I’m not really sure about upstate, right, upstate New York. But I do know most of the—all the tunnels, the PATH, the ferry, everything is just completely shut down. We are isolated, and they’re trying to get everybody above Canal Street.
AMY GOODMAN: And Anthony, the Taliban have announced they’ll soon be holding a news conference, not clear what they intend to announce. But on the phone with us right now is our colleague Robert Knight.
Robert, where are you? Robert, can you hear us?
ROBERT KNIGHT: —you. Can you hear me?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, we can. Where are you?
ROBERT KNIGHT: I am at a location near the East River and the United Nations, where I’m beginning to see on the surface of the river what is possibly the first debris to have traveled up from the collapse of the World Trade Centers on Wall Street.
Throughout the crisis, I’ve been monitoring the police scanner band of the New York City Police Department, and there have been many indications of different levels of the crisis. Among those that come to mind immediately is, some time ago, there was a request for police accompaniment for a Con Edison crew to make it to the World Trade Center area in order to cut off the gas mains to try and prevent any additional secondary explosions. There have been reports of triage centers being set up around Park Row. There was a report of an officer down at Park Row. In addition, there were reports of—well, this may be just possibly hysteria. I’ve heard no follow-up on it, but there was a report of two suspicious Arab-looking men carrying knapsacks, reported at the location of 11 East 36th Street. There has been no further information on that. There have—there were early—
AMY GOODMAN: Just to clarify, you’re saying this is what you’re hearing on the police scanner?
ROBERT KNIGHT: That’s correct.
AMY GOODMAN: Because I just want to remind people that, since I was on the air in the Oklahoma City bombing, when that took place, the shame I felt afterwards in reading the pieces of especially the Arab-looking people who were in Oklahoma City and naming them. I remember there were two cab drivers who had come in to renew some kind of federal documents in Oklahoma, and they had targeted them as the bombers, and how much, you know, of that kind of preliminary information comes out, starts to color the way people see things, until we actually get the information.
ROBERT KNIGHT: Indeed, indeed.
AMY GOODMAN: So that was from the police scanner.
ROBERT KNIGHT: That is a knee-jerk tendency and certainly not appropriate to the kind of reporting we are trying to do, such as we’ve heard on—such as we have heard on WBAI with so-called reporters saying things like, “America is at war,” and so on. These are very serious and deadly incidents that are taking place, and it’s our job as correspondents to try and be as accurate as we possibly can.
At approximately 9:45 this morning, I do believe I actually saw the plane that would minutes later hit the World Trade Center go by. As I—as I lay looking out my window, I saw a plane heading southbound on a curving path. It looked like a small commercial airliner. And it caught my notice because it was too close, as I looked to the west. It is FAA pattern that planes generally, if they’re going north and south, are required to fly above or along the Hudson River. You know how the mind subconsciously sees things that are out of the normal pattern. That’s what happened when I saw this plane. It was too close to the center of Manhattan. And it was indeed only a couple of minutes later that the first reports emerged of the plane hitting the World Trade Center—of course, both towers no longer a part of New York’s skyline.
AMY GOODMAN: And right now authorities are saying that two of the planes that crashed—and we’re talking about different sites. We’re talking about, in New York, the World Trade Center towers, and in Washington, the Pentagon. An American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, 81 people were on board that flight. I believe that is the one that went into the World Trade Center. And then the second American Airlines flight from Dulles to Los Angeles, 54 people on board, I’m not sure if that’s the one that hit the Pentagon or also hit the World Trade Center. We’ve been saying 50,000 people work at the World Trade Center Twin Towers. A hundred fifty thousand people visit the World Trade Center every day, so three times that 50,000 amount, 150,000 people, visit the World Trade Center on average every single day.
Robert, go on.
ROBERT KNIGHT: Well, I’m continuing to glean as much information as possible. Of course, another one of those subconsciously irregular things is to no longer be seeing the stacked-up arc of planes moving towards LaGuardia. You can usually see them staged at diminishing altitudes as they approach the airport. Of course, that is because all the—all operational traffic has been shut down at the New York region airports and possibly in other parts of the country, as well. That much, I cannot confirm.
One of the earliest communications that I heard on the police scanner frequencies was an almost immediate order, following the first explosion, for the evacuation of the United Nations. And I presume that has taken place by now. I can see the Secretariat and General Assembly buildings from where I’m reporting at this very moment, and they appear to be intact. There are two or three police boats that are stationed—are on station just outside of the United Nations on the East River. There is—you can hear sirens. The highway, the east side, or the FDR highway has been obviously shut down southbound. The only traffic that I have monitored has been numerous ambulances. This is not far from the Bellevue center. I am seeing buses that appear to have been converted to emergency service that are moving on the southbound lanes heading toward, I presume, the World Trade Center area. The [no audio] more of the normal traffic there. I can see the Queensboro Bridge, the 59th Street Bridge, and there is a surprisingly light amount of traffic on it, as I look through a telescope. There is an unusually high crush of pedestrian traffic moving eastbound—that is, out of Manhattan—at this very moment on the 59th Street Bridge.
AMY GOODMAN: Robert, just for listeners who are tuning in, the chronology of what has taken place this morning? Robert Knight with us from along the East River near the United Nations. Are you near Wall Street or the United Nations?
ROBERT KNIGHT: Near the United Nations. But I also have a view of Wall Street and watched the serial, or at least the sequence of the two extraordinarily bright orange explosions, one that occurred when the second plane hit the South Tower, and the astonishing covering of the entire bottom of Manhattan with white dust and debris. I—until the building collapsed, until the buildings collapsed, I was able to see telescopically that amidst the dark smoke there were many pockets of fire on floors that did not seem to be proximate to the original impact point of the plane which hit the North Tower. In other words, there must have been a firestorm inside the World Trade Center upon impact. Of course, we don’t yet know how much fuel each of these planes was carrying, but judging by the size and brightness of at least the second explosion, which I did see, there was certainly a tremendous amount of jet fuel on board.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Robert, this is Anthony.
ROBERT KNIGHT: Good morning. Good afternoon. How are you?
ANTHONY SLOAN: I’m well, I think. Listen, have you ever—have you also monitored just the activity around the U.N.? In other words, have you seen—I know they shut it down, but have you seen people evacuated or what?
ROBERT KNIGHT: Well, as I look at the United Nations now, I’m seeing what looks like a ghost town. I can see into the garden where tourists usually will have gathered this time of day. That is completely empty and deserted. I can see the buildings themselves, but it’s impossible to tell what is going on inside. But once again, it is my understanding that the United Nations edifices have by now been, for the most part, if not completely, evacuated, it being presumed that the U.N. might well have been a target, if there is a coordinated conspiracy that would include them.
AMY GOODMAN: Robert, let me give a chronology of what has taken place this morning. First plane crashed into the World Trade Center 8:45 this morning, that into the North Tower. The second plane crashed 18 minutes later, that into the South Tower. At 10:05 a.m., a major portion of the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. At 10:28 a.m., a second World Trade Center tower, the North Tower, collapsed, as well. So by 10:30, this workplace of 50,000 people, where 150,000 visit each day, had collapsed. Now, 10,000 emergency personnel have been headed toward Lower Manhattan. The hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties. We have reported that the FAA is saying it was one American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, 81 people on board, seems to have been hijacked, that hit one of the World Trade Center towers. There was a second American Airlines flight from Dulles National to Los Angeles, 54 people on board, that hit—that’s either the Pentagon or the World Trade Center tower, as well.
ROBERT KNIGHT: Amy, if that is the case, if one of the presumably commandeered planes was headed from the East Coast to Los Angeles, that would be consistent with what seemed to be a tremendous amount of jet fuel that contributed to a huge explosion and fireball.
AMY GOODMAN: And the third plane, United Airlines jet, down eight miles outside of Pittsburgh, no word on the number of people there. That is the plane that crashed in western Pennsylvania.
ROBERT KNIGHT: Another consequence of this—
AMY GOODMAN: United Airlines Flight—that was United Airlines Flight 93, Newark to—Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, confirmed crashed in western Pennsylvania, actually, I believe, 80 miles outside Pittsburgh.
ROBERT KNIGHT: It is amazing and fortunate that we’re able to do this broadcast, because, as you may know, the central broadcast towers for so many commercial broadcasters was located on the antenna on the north building of the former World Trade Center. I have had difficulty communicating by cell phone, because certainly that is one of the centers of repeaters and coordination. There are anomalies in high-speed cable internet access in some areas. I have personally experienced some of that. And there will be consequences for months to come following this. It is, of course, tremendously tragic, the undetermined number of fatalities that will have been discovered. I also understand from the police band that search-and-rescue teams are en route or in place to go through the debris. There was also a report of a suspicious van. Now, once again, we’re talking about uncorroborated assertions that are made to the police department on, ironically enough, the 911 line, the digits of this date. There was a report a short time ago for police to investigate what was described as a suspicious yellow van located at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway. Once again, these are reports that are made, and the follow-up is not necessarily ascertainable, but I’m just trying to catalog what seem to be the significant reports that have been made at the police level.
AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Robert Knight, who is reporting to us from very near the United Nations on the East River, as he got these eyewitness looks at what was taking place this morning, starting at just about 8:45, right before we broadcast the program. I don’t remember hearing something at 8:45. We did definitely hear at 9:15 the sonic boom-like crash that we didn’t know what it was—we’re not in a soundproof area here—and just assumed it was a—well, wasn’t sure, but it definitely was out of the ordinary, and then soon learned, of course, that this was—18 minutes later, this was the second plane crashing into the South Tower of the World Trade Center building, which consists of two towers, North and South Tower, each 110 stories.
ROBERT KNIGHT: I’d like to—I’m just recalling, once again, visually, the passage of the plane, which I do believe, because of its anomalous flight pattern, to have been the North Tower impactor. It—for whatever utility this may be, it was curving. It was turning to the port side, as it appeared to have been coming from somewhere to the north and to the east of the United Nations area, banking left so that it approached a southbound trajectory. And again, this was approximately a quarter to—or 9:48 or thereabouts, when it would complete its path. It was flying rather low, I would say on the order of approximately, oh, maybe 50 to 70 stories high. And the rest we know.
AMY GOODMAN: Again, we are just continuing to report what is taking place in New York. Robert Knight, on the East River, about midway up on the East Side, near the United Nations. Our team, Democracy Now! in Exile, in Chinatown, which is just a couple blocks from the whole federal area of Manhattan, where all of the courts are, the federal and state courts. We are near City Hall, just blocks away from City Hall, and that is blocks away from the World Trade Center—well, what was the World Trade Center.
ROBERT KNIGHT: One of the—one of the claims that has been made is that—in years past, it was claimed that a war, urban war, nuclear war, would be survivable. One can only begin to question that concept, with the understanding that the National Guard has been called in, every possible vehicle and member of medical and police emergency staff throughout the tri-state region has been surveyed or summoned to assist in this. And even the transportation issues in regard for the unfortunate people who have been caught in the center of this indicates that there is no way to plan for war or to easily survive its consequences.
AMY GOODMAN: We are listening, as you speak, to the emergency vehicles, the sirens blasting by, as they head down to the World Trade Center area, that whole area that is the tip of Manhattan. I can hear them on your end, too, as they head down—
ROBERT KNIGHT: As you can hear, there goes another medical emergency vehicle. There has been a constant shuttle of police, fire and emergency vehicles between here and the downtown World Trade Center area. Of course, this is near Bellevue Hospital, which is noted for its burn facilities and trauma treatment facilities. Many times, police officers who have been injured are brought here as one of the places of preference for highly traumatic injuries. It has been a very busy place, sad to say, this morning.
Hello? Hello, hello?
AMY GOODMAN: The United Airlines is confirming one crash. American Airlines is confirming two crashes. As this news comes to us, we’re putting it out to you, as well. United Airlines Flight 93, Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, confirmed crashed in western Pennsylvania, 80 miles outside Pittsburgh. American Airlines flight, Dulles to Los Angeles, 54 people on board, confirmed crashed. Another American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, 81 people on board. So it looks like we’re talking, at this point, about three plane crashes. And here in New York, World Trade Center towers, 110 stories each, the North and South, both are down after major explosions, believed plane crashes into them at 8:45 and right after 9:00 this morning. A major portion of the South Tower collapsing at 10:05, and at 10:28, the second World Trade Center tower, the North Tower, collapsed.
ROBERT KNIGHT: You know, one of the actions taken by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was to establish a so-called terrorism and/or emergency crisis center, what was colloquially called the Bunker. I believe it was on the 22nd floor of the World Trade Center. That—the question of having a command center in such a visibly targetable place was questionable at the time, but I think, perhaps fortunately, we’ve learned that the Mayor was not in that command center at the time. It is our present understanding that he is operating out of a firehouse in Greenwich Village, to whatever degree he is able or involved in the coordination of emergency and relief efforts.
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Knight, reporting to us from the East River. Brad Simpson is coming in from some—with some latest information, again, reporting from, well, near the site of the World Trade Center towers. Brad, what have you just learned?
BRAD SIMPSON: United Airlines officials say they are unable to confirm the status of United Flight 175, which is a Boeing 757 jumbo liner from Boston to Los Angeles. It’s one of those flights, evidently, has not been contacted, and officials are unable to confirm where it’s going, what it’s doing. Obviously, considering that another United Airlines flight has just gone down about 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, a United Airlines 747 jumbo jet, officials are clearly concerned about this, as well. New York police officials have sealed off the downtown area. Near what used to be the World Trade Center, they’re calling it basically a war zone. It’s unclear just how high the casualties are, but the hospitals in New York City are overwhelmed by casualties. Thousands of emergency personnel have been scrambled and directed towards the downtown Manhattan area. And that’s all that I’ve seen just now.
AMY GOODMAN: So what Brad has just said is this is a second United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 757. They don’t know the status of this plane. This is not the United Airlines flight that they already know about that has gone down in western Pennsylvania. That was Flight 93, Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco. That’s confirmed crashed in western Pennsylvania. This is a fourth flight he’s talking about: United Flight 175, Boeing 757, Boston to Los Angeles. No knowledge at this point what the status of that plane is. Anthony?
ANTHONY SLOAN: Robert?
ROBERT KNIGHT: I’ve just gleaned from police reports that the Grand Central terminal station is open and operating. There is uncertainty as to whether Penn Station and the Long Island Railroad is operating at the present time, but I can confirm that those wishing to leave the city, that indeed Grand Central terminal is operating at this time.
ANTHONY SLOAN: That would be going north. Do you have anything on the PATH system?
ROBERT KNIGHT: No. I shall keep an ear open. I’m also cognizant of a statement made by Yasser Arafat, the head of the Palestinian Authority, who says, “I send my condolences, the condolences of the Palestinian people, to American President Bush and his government and to the American people for this terrible act. We completely condemn this serious operation. We were completely shocked. It’s unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable.” That’s a statement just made a short time ago by Yasser Arafat in regard to the events of this morning and this afternoon.
ANTHONY SLOAN: Robert, also, in your monitoring, I know you reported on Bellevue Hospital, but there are other hospitals, major hospitals, in the area—Beth Israel—there’s even a smaller hospital like Cabrini. Do you know anything about the hospital situation in Lower Manhattan?
ROBERT KNIGHT: Do I know—I’m sorry, I had a bit of static there. Do I know anything about the—
ANTHONY SLOAN: The hospitals, the overflow of hospitals or—I know that emergency personnel have been called back in, especially firemen, who have been perhaps sleeping or, you know, just off duty, they’ve been called back into the city. Have you heard anything about any other kind of emergency—
ROBERT KNIGHT: No, no. In fact, the fire band, the New York Fire Department radio band, is very closely tied with emergency and medical services. I’ve not been able, at this point in time, to monitor that, so I don’t have new information on that.
ANTHONY SLOAN: And you said that the traffic situation has—there’s practically nothing going up and down the FDR Drive, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive. How about the traffic in the streets?
ROBERT KNIGHT: You know, I’m not seeing the usual amount of cross-town traffic—pardon the expression. As I look westbound, I see—I see many pedestrians for some reason. It seems more than normal, but maybe I haven’t noticed the normal pedestrian traffic flow.
AMY GOODMAN: Robert, we’re getting these reports from the wires, quoting senior Islamic jihad movement officials saying that attacks are a consequence of U.S. policy in the Middle East, but it is not clear if they are claiming responsibility. Now, Kristen Schurr joins us on the line. She is a political science graduate student at New School University, and she deals a lot with, studies the stereotypes of Arabs, of people in the Middle East.
Welcome to Democracy Now! in Exile.
KRISTEN SCHURR: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: What are your thoughts right now? We are not seeing as much of the media as you probably are, watching in your living room. What is being said? And what are you thinking at this point?
KRISTEN SCHURR: This morning, right as the news came over, the first things that were reported was that it was a terrorist attack, and people in the street started being interviewed, accusing Iraq and Palestinians of being behind this. And that’s just common for what happens, looking at, you know, this—when Timothy McVeigh ended up being responsible for one of the major domestic terrorist attacks, it had at first been blamed on anyone and everyone from the Middle East. And it just points to the racism that is rampant right now in this country against anyone in the Middle East. And there is no claim so far from any group. No one has taken responsibility. And in fact, several have been shown denouncing the attacks. What usually happens is that people jump to that conclusion. It’s an easy target. And that’s the main problem that we have here that we need to deal with.
AMY GOODMAN: And certainly, at times like this, when you have obviously wall-to-wall coverage, you have a lot of pundits, a lot of reporters trying to fill space when they don’t have a lot of information. The latest information we have, Yasser Arafat and governments around the world condemning the attacks, not at all clear who’s responsible, no confirmed reports of anyone taking responsibility for these attacks. Free Speech Radio News reporter Rafael Krafft talked to Abu Layla, someone we had on Democracy Now! last week, who is a Palestinian leader in Ramallah, and he denied responsibility for these attacks. Again, we will keep people updated. There were no reports on television that the Taliban was going to hold a news conference. It is not clear if they are, and if they are, what they’re going to say. We’re just reporting to you the news as we hear it. Again, at this point, three planes known crashed—one United Airline, two American Airlines flights. And a fourth United Airline flight has been uncontactable, and that is a plane that was headed to Los Angeles. And we are waiting to get news on that. So that’s the latest we have. Kristen Schurr on the line with us from New School University, who looks at the stereotyping of Arabs and the situation in the Middle East. What more would you like to add, Kristen?
KRISTEN SCHURR: Just one of the first questions that was asked by a CNN reporter was, is this—is the responsibility at the hands of the Middle East? And also, it’s just—they’re blanketing the Middle East, in general, as if all Arabs are terrorists, as if everyone in the Middle East is the same person. And that kind of questioning and just the relentless trying to make that connection is—it’s just such an ugly stereotype, and it’s just been happening all day on the news. The BBC was doing the same thing, trying to force Clinton’s former security adviser into saying that this was a Middle East attack, trying to give us—bin Laden credit, if you will, for it. But no one will say who is responsible. And the best we can hope for is to just get out the idea that all Arabs are not terrorists, and all Arabs are not followers of Islam, and all people who are followers of Islam are not terrorists. And that’s the most important thing that we all need to remember. It’s hard to get people to understand that at points when they’re upset, because obviously people are afraid, and perhaps they’re worried about people who are working downtown, you know, here in New York. And I really worry about what the implications are of this. I’m afraid that there will be a further crackdown on dissent, and the racism and xenophobia that this country suffers from will just increase.
AMY GOODMAN: Kristen Schurr, I want to thank you for being with us. Again, we’re getting reports from all over. Robert Knight also on the line with us. Kristen Schurr is a student of political science at New School University. Actually, where are you right now, Kristen?
KRISTEN SCHURR: I’m in Harlem at home. I’m on 111th Street. And all I have is what everyone else has, as far as coverage. I’ve just got the television and the radio. I can’t seen anything from my house, although I have friends that live in Brooklyn who are watching from their rooftops and see smoke and nothing else.
AMY GOODMAN: We also have Ryme Katkhouda on the line with us. Ryme is one of the producers of WBIX.org, where we’re broadcasting on the web, and she saw one of the towers of the World Trade Center go down. Are you with us, Ryme?
RYME KATKHOUDA: [no audio] our eyes, but then it stopped, and then we all said, “Was it really oscillating, or was it just this visual illusion?” But then, when other people—then I went down and to report more and see what else is happening downstairs in town, because there were hordes of firetrucks driving down from the neighborhood. Other people saw the second building collapse, and they said that it collapsed from the bottom, and the top floors just went down, crumbling over it. The first building crumbled on itself after an explosion. The second building just went down with the top floors intact in the beginning.
AMY GOODMAN: What kind of traffic is going on on the web right now, Ryme?
RYME KATKHOUDA: People are emailing that they’re listening to the broadcast, and they’re glued to it. And I think people are too busy listening to really be doing too much on the email. As far as the messaging board is concerned, I was about to go monitor that, so at this point I cannot tell you.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, why don’t you tell people where they can email, because people are listening to this broadcast in Troy, New York, near New York’s capital, in Albany at WRPI. They’re listening on WGDR in Vermont. KPFA is listening. And I want to tell stations that might be tuning in right now that we will do our broadcast live in 10 minutes. And Ryme, I’d like you to stay with us. For listeners who will just be tuning in for the first time, perhaps, to Democracy Now! somewhere in the country, I’d like to get that description again. Robert Knight, I’d like you to join us from the East River and talk about what you’ve seen and the situation, as we will recap in just about eight minutes. It’s 12:00 for us here on the East Coast.
RYME KATKHOUDA: And they’re listening in L.A., in Atlanta. They are listening in all sorts of different countries, and they’re discussing the matter. In Ireland, they’re discussing—they’re listening.
AMY GOODMAN: So, we have a big responsibility to get out as much accurate information as we can. I’d like Kristen Schurr, you, to stay on with us from New School University, a political science graduate student, because, of course, as the air time starts to—as less information comes out, unfortunately, reporters and pundits fill it up, and a lot of that is with prejudice and stereotypes, and we have to be very clear about what we know and what we don’t know. And so, we want to thank you for being with us and ask you to stay on with us so we can continue this conversation for the live broadcast that will not only be on the internet but on community radio stations around the country in just five minutes. We’re communicating this all on the air; normally we would do it off the air to tell all of you to stay with us, but in these, to say the least, unusual circumstances, we don’t even have access to our own cell phones right now, so it’s very tough to speak to people off the air. So we’re doing it on—all on the air.
We have a remarkable team here. Anthony Sloan, at the controls, is the captain of our ship here. We are broadcasting in a garret in the Engine Company 31 in Chinatown. It’s a firehouse. It’s Downtown Community Television. It’s Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s offices. Yes, we are in exile from the studios of WBAI. We, outside here—which is, by the way, on Wall Street, so they must be inhaling some of what is going on at the World Trade Center right now, both World Trade Center towers down. We continue to hear the sirens of emergency vehicles outside of our studios.
It is clear that the World Trade Center buildings were attacked this morning in widespread attacks that include at least three commercial jet crashes into significant buildings. The two towers of the World Trade Center downed this morning, as well as a crash of a plane into the Pentagon, all of this happening within an hour of each other at just around 9:00 Eastern Standard Time. United Airlines Flight 93, airliner headed from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, crashed near Somerset, Pennsylvania. Police said initial reports indicated no survivors, not known if this was connected to the attacks. United also said it was deeply concerned about Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles. It has not made contact with this plane yet. The Pentagon, the White House, State Department, Justice Department, the Capitol, CIA and all other government buildings in Washington have been evacuated. President Bush has canceled an appearance in Florida to return to Washington, calling the crashes, quote, “apparent terrorist attacks and a national tragedy.” In the first-ever national ground stop of aircraft, all flights nationwide have been stopped at their departure airports. All international flights have been diverted to Canada. In New York, more than 10,000 rescue personnel have rushed to the scene. The entire downtown area of Manhattan is evacuated as far north as Rockefeller Center, according to an official of an emergency command post. Of course, all of us have not been evacuated. I’m just reading that from a CNN report. We are right near Canal Street. We’re at 87 Lafayette, broadcasting, as Ryme was just saying, around the world right now, on the internet and on community radio stations around the country. In Chicago, the Sears Tower has been evacuated. In New York, the United Nations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, evacuated. CDC was preparing bioterrorism teams in case they become necessary. New York Port Authority says it has closed all bridges and tunnels into the city.
We are going now to hear United Airlines officials. Just got this news in from Brad Simpson and Miranda Kennedy, our producers today, confirming United Airlines Flight 175, Boston to Los Angeles, has just gone down. It’s unsure where or if this is the one that hit the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. But it has been confirmed that it’s down. They just don’t know where it went down and if, in fact, it hit a building. So that is one, it looks like, of the three flights. United Airlines, Boston to Los Angeles, down. A United Airlines flight down in western Pennsylvania. And I believe two American flights: one, American Airline Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles, 81 people on board; the second, American Airlines flight Dulles National to Los Angeles, 54 people on board.
In just a minute, we’re going to go to our national broadcast, so that stations that air the program later than the early morning broadcast, where we dealt with all sorts of other issues—we had women on from the Sudan and Kenya. We talked to Peter Kornbluh about Henry Kissinger’s responsibility in Chile for the coup. And we talked to Mario Murillo about Colombia. That broadcast, I assume, will not be rebroadcast today, and we’ll bring you a fresh one in just 60 seconds. So, Anthony, I believe we’re going to go to music right now, as we prepare for the national broadcast. Mayor Giuliani is saying a tremendous number of lives lost so far in the World Trade Center towers collapse. You are listening to Democracy Now! Anthony Sloan, our engineer, is just coming around. We’re going to the music, and then we begin the broadcast.
That’s a preview of the sound that we’ll go to at exactly noon. We’re going to do that in just a minute, letting our stations know that the broadcast will resume, and we’ll be bringing you a complete show with the news as we know it at that point. Standing by, Robert Knight, Kristen Schurr, as well as Ryme Katkhouda, eyewitness reports of what happened this morning, just the image of the Trade Center towers going down, discussion of what we have to be careful about when it comes to stereotyping, and the latest news. So do stay with us. Music and then the theme music. You’re listening to Democracy Now! in Exile. We’ll be coming to you in just a few seconds.
AMY GOODMAN: From New York City, we are broadcasting not far from the World Trade Center towers. Both have gone down in the last hours in a massive attack that seems to extend from New York to Washington, D.C., where all federal buildings have been evacuated. Stay with us.
You are listening to Democracy Now! in Exile. The latest news we have is that there have been widespread attacks that include at least three commercial jet crashes—we now believe perhaps four—three commercial jet crashes into significant buildings. In the first attack, a plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Manhattan shortly before 9:00, followed by another plane into the second tower about 20 minutes later. Both towers later collapsed. About an hour later, a plane crashed into the Pentagon, part of which later collapsed. American Airlines told CNN that it lost two planes in tragic accidents: Flight 11 from Boston, with 81 passengers and 11 crew aboard, and Flight 77, from Washington Dulles Airport, with 58 passengers and six crew aboard. Both planes were en route to Los Angeles. United Airlines Flight 93, airliner headed from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, crashed near Somerset, Pennsylvania. Police said initial reports indicated no survivors. It was not known if this was connected to the attacks. United also said it was deeply concerned about Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles.
The Pentagon, the White House, the State Department, the Justice Department, the Capitol, the CIA and all other government buildings in Washington have been evacuated. President Bush canceled an appearance in Florida to return to Washington, calling the crashes, quote, “apparent terrorist attacks” and, quote, “a national tragedy.” In the first-ever national ground stop of aircraft, all flights nationwide have been stopped at their departure airports. All international flights were diverted to Canada.
In New York, more than 10,000 rescue personnel have rushed to the scene. The entire downtown area of Manhattan, the Mayor has recommended people evacuate, though we are in that area, and certainly so are hundreds of thousands of other people. Israel has evacuated all its missions around the world. In Chicago, the Sears Tower was evacuated. The United Nations in New York has been evacuated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta was evacuated. CDC was preparing bioterrorism teams in case they become necessary. The New York Port Authority says it has closed all bridges and tunnels into the city.
Today is primary day in New York. These elections have been canceled.
You’re listening to Democracy Now!, as we go first to Robert Knight, who is on the line with us. He is right by the United Nations. Robert, can you talk about what you saw this morning?
ROBERT KNIGHT: Yes, indeed. I am reporting from an elevated location on the East River, within line of sight to the United Nations, as well as the World Trade Center and the Empire State Building.
This morning, at approximately 15 or 10 minutes before 9:00, I was disturbed, looking out of my window, with the sound and the quick passage of what appeared to be a commercial plane. It was unusual because the general aviation rule in New York is that north and southbound traffic must travel over the Hudson—over the Hudson River. This plane was too close to the center of Manhattan, as it traveled south. It caught my attention. And minutes later, a plane would indeed crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I believe that is the plane that I saw.
What is remarkable about what we now know to have been two crashes into the World Trade Center is the anomalous behavior in Manhattan now. The Empire State Building has been evacuated. The United Nations Secretariat and General Assembly buildings have been evacuated. As I look down at this very moment on the East River, as the tide rises, there is an unusual pattern of fine-grained debris, which I believe has washed up from Lower Manhattan by this amount of time since the initial crashes. There have been closures of tunnels and bridges coming into New York. But as I look through the telescope, I can see torrents of pedestrian traffic moving eastbound across the 59th Street Bridge outside to move out of Manhattan. The bridge is closed to automobile traffic. Right now, as I look down on the FDR highway, that is an expressway that runs on the east side of Manhattan, north and southbound, it has been closed, has been closed to traffic for some hours, with the exception of police, fire, ambulance and other emergency vehicles. It has been almost like a ghost highway, except for the ferrying and shuttling of ambulances with what few people they can bring back from what has to be a tremendously high toll of the explosions at the World Trade Center. As I look north at the United Nations at this very moment, it is being circled and ringed by a number of police boats, presumably under the assumption that the United Nations might well have also been a target.
One other significant factor, Amy, I think that should be noted tactically or logistically, if, indeed, there is a central coordination of the crashing of these commercial airliners, I think it’s significant that those that are missing are those that were outbound from the East Coast, whether from Boston or New York for destinations on the West Coast. That means that these planes would have had the maximum amount of jet fuel in them, and if that was a factor, it would have been a logical one, so that when, for instance, the second plane crashed into the southern tower, there was a tremendous fireball. So it remains to be investigated, although it seems plausible that choosing a long-distance flight would provide more fuel for a more deadly explosive effect.
AMY GOODMAN: In just a minute, we’re going to go to Larry Bensky at KPFA in Berkeley. But I wanted to bring Ryme Katkhouda into this discussion, who is a producer at WBIX.org, where you can also hear this broadcast. Ryme, you saw one of the towers of the World Trade Center collapse. We’re talking about two 110-story towers of the World Trade Center. Fifty thousand people work there. One hundred fifty thousand people are there every day. The number of casualties at this point are untold, but they must be extremely high and devastating. Ryme, what did you see and hear?
RYME KATKHOUDA: So, I was up on the roof with a clear view of both towers, and there were flames coming out of the towers, 20-feet-high flames, and lots of smoke, mostly dark. And then the smoke started to get lighter. And then, suddenly, the second tower, the more south of the first one, kind of like exploded and then collapsed in itself, with debris falling everywhere. It was definitely a full building collapse from where we were looking at. That’s how it looked. And it was crumbling. And the second tower was oscillating at that point, probably from the wind of the first one. And we could see it clearly. It was a very big angle, visible angle. It was swinging. And that’s the tower with the antenna. I also saw the huge amount of smoke and steam floating and almost covering the downtown area. And here with us on the phone, I have Kasha, my neighbor, who actually saw the second tower collapse.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re also joined by Larry Bensky at KPFA. Larry, can you hear us?
LARRY BENSKY: Yes, I can, Amy, and thank you very much for all your good work this morning. We’ve been cutting in and out of your expanded Democracy Now! coverage. And joining me is—
AMY GOODMAN: We just—we just lost you, it sounds like.
RYME KATKHOUDA: We can email.
LARRY BENSKY: Well, let me—
AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead, Larry.
LARRY BENSKY: Can you hear me now, Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, we can, perfectly.
LARRY BENSKY: We’re putting together an impromptu network here.
AMY GOODMAN: No, you must be fading in and out.
LARRY BENSKY: OK.
AMY GOODMAN: I’d like to ask if perhaps you could come up on another ISDN, and that might be easier for us, and we’ll—
LARRY BENSKY: Well, we’ll try to get that together. This is—
AMY GOODMAN: We’ll have the producers make a link with you there. You’re intermittent on this—on this broadcast.
Ryme, why don’t you continue, as we wait to reconnect with Larry?
RYME KATKHOUDA: OK, so people are listening to us on the net all over. I have emails and people writing on the message board from Ireland, Atlanta, L.A. and New York, and other places. People were discussing what they’re hearing and reacting to some of the comment, that are start to speculate to fill time. There is a very interesting comment that shocked some of the writers. But before I go into that, people can email firstname.lastname@example.org—this is with two I’s—to tell us where you’re listening from and how this affects you. And with me on the phone is Kasha, my neighbor, who saw the other building collapse. Here is her report.
KASHA: We kind of hoped that the second tower would not collapse, because the fire was in the upper part of it. But it happened, the same thing as with the first tower. It just suddenly—suddenly collapsed straight down. And the only good thing was that it went straight down and not, you know, on the other buildings that are there. So, we were all shocked.
RYME KATKHOUDA: People were crying on the roof. People were hugging each other. People were trembling head to toe. It was a horrifying sight. And even for me, who’s seen a lot of buildings collapse in Lebanon, by vacuum bombs and others, it was just horrific to see it. We looked around town. We looked at midtown, that was very visible from where we’re at. And people were saying, like, “Will there be another thing? Will there be another thing?” Slowly, the smoke that stood in place of the two towers moved a little bit lower, within the lower area. And there were a lot of ambulances, a lot of firetrucks going. And when I went down to the street, I saw a lot of people who went to school to get their children. People talked about people burned head to toes. And the emergency rooms and the different hospitals need blood. That’s what the word was on the streets. People were telling each other, “Have you given blood? Are you going to go give blood?” Because people need blood in the hospitals.
The comment that was on the messaging board, among others, among a lot of messages from all over the country to say that people are listening, reads, “People are dying. People always die when governments act without” something. And then, “because we were all likely to be affected by this and the political pragmatic, because we cannot live in a country that exports and supports war, exhorts and lies, was founded on the suffering of others, and not expect to be touched. It will not eliminate the pain of those who lose loved ones, but it will make it easier for us to understand that other citizens of the world live with regularly.” And this is what some of our listeners are saying.
On the roof, a lot of, I would—I have to say, white, middle-class people were reacting immediately from the onset, when the first airplane hit the tower, that this is war, and we should act, we should go and see who did it and teach them lessons. So this is what I saw and heard in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
ROBERT KNIGHT: Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Knight.
ROBERT KNIGHT: If I may just add a [inaudible]—
LARRY BENSKY: We’re going to cut away from the New York coverage and come back to Amy Goodman and Robert Knight and all the good folks in exile from WBAI there and go to Sacramento right now and our KPFA correspondent Kata Mester. Earlier we were talking to you, Kata, and you were saying the Governor was going to have some statement about California. I understand most, if not all, state buildings are now closed?
KATA MESTER: They are, indeed. And in fact, the Governor’s press secretary, Steve Maviglio, is about to make a statement. I’m going to hold my cell phone up by the podium where he’s going to speak.
LARRY BENSKY: We’re hoping to get that sound from the Governor’s press secretary, if Kata Mester can get close enough with her cell phone, in Sacramento. Doesn’t sound like he’s started yet. While we’re waiting—oh, here we go, I think we go.
PRESS SECRETARY STEVE MAVIGLIO: OK, Governor Davis issued the following memo to agency secretaries and department directors about five minutes ago. I’ll read the text for you. It’s three sentences long. “Due to security concerns raised in today’s attacks in the nation’s capital and in New York City, I ordered that all state office buildings and facilities be closed until further notice. This does not [inaudible] buildings and facilities that provide essential or critical functions. Department directors will make the determination as to which facilities meet this definition.” And it’s signed by the Governor.
The Governor is heading shortly to the CHP command center, 3500 Reed Avenue West, Sacramento. Right now, on the telephone, there’s a briefing occurring by the state strategic terrorism task force, that consists of a wide variety of law enforcement officials, including the Department of Defense, FEMA, OES, CHP and local law enforcement. The Governor will be briefed after this committee finishes its convening, and that will be shortly. The Governor also will issue a more formal statement, probably within the next 35 minutes or so. And we’ll have that for you. The State Capitol, as far as I understand, has been closed. All the Governor’s staffers will be reporting to the CHP command center and will operate from there. You’re encouraged to be there. I think there will be facilities for you. And we’ll be issuing all our alerts and media information through that center.
Do we have a phone number?
LARRY BENSKY: That was Steve Maviglio, the spokesperson for Governor Gray Davis, live in Sacramento, confirming that all state office buildings have been closed. We’ve also heard that a number of downtown San Francisco buildings have been closed. Chris Bruney, whats’ going on?
CHRIS BRUNEY: Yes, well, Larry, as I mentioned earlier, San Francisco remains on a heightened state of alert today. San Francisco City Hall is closed. Also, the San Francisco Unified School District has closed schools in the city. School officials have asked parents to pick up their children from school if they can. But if not, supervision will be available for children who remain at school today. At San Francisco City College, all day and evening classes have been canceled. Also, the Federal Building on Golden Gate Avenue has been closed this morning. And, of course, we just heard from the Governor’s office that state buildings will be closed, so if you are heading to a state building in San Francisco, that will certainly be closed today. We got word a few minutes ago that the Exploratorium in the city is closed. And there are a lot of decisions being made as to whether to close other buildings and/or businesses in the city. If you have any doubt, you may want to give a call before you head on your way out there. A statement from Mayor Willie Brown is expected sometime today.
Bridges are open around the Bay, by the way. The sidewalks, though, to the Golden Gate Bridge are expected to be closed. They were due to be closed about 18 minutes ago. Golden Gate authorities say they have stepped up patrols across the span, but there are no plans to close it. The Bay Bridge is open, as are other bridges around the Bay, and no freeways are closed, as well.
In the East Bay, things seem to be going fairly normally. Officials in Oakland have activated the emergency system there as a precautionary move. However, a spokesperson emphasized that there are no significant crises, though they are asking residents not to call 911 unless it is an emergency. City Hall in Oakland is open, and city workers will be going to work today. That’s it so far.
LARRY BENSKY: Thank you, Chris Bruney. To resume what we know about which planes crashed and, as far as we know, where, one of them was headed for San Francisco. That would have been United Airlines Flight 93, which is a Boeing 757 from Newark to San Francisco. That crashed about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh with 45 people aboard. It’s not clear if that crash had anything to do with the other crashes, because it crashed near Pittsburgh. But we will perhaps find more details about that later on. We do not yet know whether are there any survivors, by the way, from that flight, the United Airlines flight from Newark to San Francisco.
The other planes that crashed, the two that crashed into the World Trade Center, were American Airlines Flight 11, which was bound from Boston to Los Angeles, had 92 people aboard, and American Airlines Flight 77, which was carrying 64 people from Washington Dulles to Los Angeles. Another flight is now missing, and it apparently could possibly be the flight that crashed near Camp David in Maryland. There’s been a high state of security talking about that, because that is, of course, the presidential retreat. It is also the place where, in 1978, on this very date, the Camp David Accords were signed. Flight 175, United flight, a 767 bound from Boston to Los Angeles, with 65 people on board, that may have been that plane. Or that may have been the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. We’re still waiting confirmation. So we know of at least five planes that were apparently hijacked and did in fact crash.
The emergency services in New York City, Lower Manhattan, as you’ve been hearing off and on all morning from Amy Goodman and the staff of Democracy Now!, who are in a studio in Chinatown, about a mile and a half from there, have been overwhelmed by the deaths and injuries from the World Trade Center bombs in the airplanes—not the bombs, but the World Trade Center crashes, which, as Robert Knight pointed out, took place in airplanes that would have been full of jet fuel, having just taken off from the East Coast for flights to the West Coast. As the buildings collapsed, of course, many emergency services people were in grave danger, themselves. And all New York City hospitals and area hospitals are reported to be filled with casualties.
We now hear that the United States-Mexican border at San Diego has been closed by U.S. Customs, as some stage of alert would seem to be in effect or being put in effect all around the United States, although details are sketchy. As I said earlier, there long have been contingency plans for catastrophes of various kinds, be they natural or human-caused. And the militarization of various services has been something that has been planned for some time now, ever since World War II, as far as we know, in fact. And as those stages continue, we’ll monitor what exactly they are. So far here in California, aside from the emergency alert called in Orange County—and we have no idea if that’s locally called or what—we have no idea whether or not this will have any major effects.
We’ll go back now to Amy Goodman and the staff of Democracy Now! in New York.
AMY GOODMAN: The hospitals are filling up in the whole area of Manhattan. People as far away as three miles into Brooklyn report paper kind of confetti that is falling in their neighborhoods.
Also, again, the flights that we’ve been talking about, all flights have been canceled in the United State. International flights coming into New York and Washington, D.C., have been diverted to Canada. Los Angeles International Airport, LAX, and JFK reports closed and evacuated, as families and friends of passengers on the three flights that were bound for Los Angeles, that are confirmed down, are arriving at those airports.
We’re talking about a monumental tragedy right now, with the World Trade Center down—World Trade Center towers down. It does appear that planes attacked the towers, crashed into them. At the same time, what we see in Washington, D.C., is a plane crashing into the Pentagon. State Department evacuated. There were reports earlier of fires on the Mall, but the State Department, the White House, the Treasury, Pentagon, all being evacuated, all federal buildings. We are just blocks away from the federal court buildings of Manhattan, the federal and state court buildings, as well as from City Hall, where Mayor Giuliani is right now.
There have been New York National Guard called in to aid the police, as the emergency services, to say the least, are overwhelmed, 10,000 emergency personnel scrambling towards Lower Manhattan, hospitals overwhelmed by casualties. I don’t know if you can hear in this broadcast, but certainly we can hear, the sirens of the emergency vehicles that are passing by where we are in Chinatown, extremely densely populated area, which is just outside of the periphery of the World Trade Center buildings, though here the sky is clear. We do not see smoke. But certainly, the images on television that are being fed to us, all of that tip of Manhattan, the Lower Manhattan, is covered with smoke. Mayor Giuliani saying there is a tremendous number of lives lost so far in the World Trade Center attacks.
Robert Knight is joining us from the United Nations area. That building has been evacuated. He was able to see this morning a plane he believed is the one that first went into the World Trade Center.
Robert, what are your comments right now? Let’s bring up the telephones right now, and we will speak to our guests.
ROBERT KNIGHT: Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, Robert.
ROBERT KNIGHT: In reference to Mayor Giuliani, for our national audience, not everyone might recall that sometime after the ground level bombing of one of the World Trade Center buildings, that Mayor Giuliani subsequently established a so-called crisis and terrorism center, an emergency so-called bunker, which was, oddly enough, located on the 22nd floor of the World Trade Center. Of course, we now know that he was not in that center, fortunately, this morning and was operating out of a firehouse in Greenwich Village. The Mayor did indicate that he has been in touch with the governor, George Pataki, of New York State and that National Guard has been alerted and is en route to help relieve and assist the some 10,000 or more emergency service personnel, whose work will be endless over the coming days. So, we expect the arrival of state-level authorities to assist at the emergency search-and-rescue operations for the untold number of casualties that will have eventually been discovered.
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Knight, reporting to us from the United Nations area. And just for people who are outside of New York, to get a picture of the island, he is about halfway up on the east side. He is on the East River, the United Nations up around 44th Street and First Avenue. World Trade Center at the tip of Manhattan. We are in the middle, just above the tip of Manhattan, broadcasting from Chinatown, from Engine Company 31, where Downtown Community Television and Manhattan Neighborhood Network have graciously given us their studios, in this monumental tragedy that is taking place, unfolding as we speak.
This is a national emergency. For the first time ever, all flights have been canceled in the United States, with the, what appears to be, attack on the World Trade Center towers. Both have collapsed. The images this morning—and we’re going to bring Robert back up, as he was watching, as well as Ryme Katkhouda, the images on television of people hanging on the the World Trade Center towers, those top floors, jumping, before those towers collapsed. But after the first plane went into one of the towers, it was about 8:45. Then, 20 minutes later, the second, what appears to be, attack on the towers. And then, by 10:30, both towers had collapsed. Robert?
ROBERT KNIGHT: Yes, as I watched the ongoing activity on the eastern side of Manhattan, of course, the smoky tableau of the empty space in the horizon, where the World Trade towers used to be, continues apace. There is debris, that I believe came from that area, even now, visible on the surface of the East River. What I’ve been monitoring, traffic and emergency-wise, has been a shutting down to transportation of this artery, as well as, of course, bridges and tunnels coming into New York City. There is pedestrian traffic walking across bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge, walking across the 59th Street Bridge, many people on foot evacuating Manhattan at this point in time. I noticed that many city buses have been drafted into service and are—I don’t know—carrying police or health workers or others downtown every now and then. There is a constant stream of ambulances coming into the Bellevue medical facility area. There are a number of hospital in what could be called, at least in part, a medical district on the middle-eastern side of the island of Manhattan. But one cannot help but think that this trickle of ambulance traffic is far too little to have adequately served the thousands of people who might have been at risk with the unprecedented level of destruction in the southern tip of Manhattan.RYME KATKHOUDA: Another thing to report on—can you hear me, Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: We can hear you fine. Ryme Katkhouda, producer at WBIX.org.
RYME KATKHOUDA: OK, another thing to—
AMY GOODMAN: You’re speaking to us from Brooklyn?
RYME KATKHOUDA: No, I’m—
AMY GOODMAN: From the Lower East Side.
RYME KATKHOUDA: —speaking from the Lower East Side—
AMY GOODMAN: Yes.
RYME KATKHOUDA: —of Manhattan, where—that’s where I could see the towers before, and now that’s when I can see just the sky, with a little smoke, as if the towers never existed.
But one other thing to report on, that is not visible, but rather auditive, is a lot of phone calls that I have been getting from other fellow Arabs across the country, warning me about what can happen. People are calling each other, because they’re already feeling the hatred, the angry words, the crazed words, in the workplace, in the street, in the grocery stores. And they all feel that people might react to some of these chitchat airhead people on the news that are already trying to make decisions as to who is to blame. And the Arab community is horrified walking in this United States.
AMY GOODMAN: We are getting reports, as we listen to sirens and ambulances heading down to the World Trade Center, of rail, bus, subway service out of Lower Manhattan, that they are certainly trying to get people not to go into that area, only emergency vehicles. Again, the New York National Guard activated to work with the New York City Police. We’ve been told the U.S.-Mexico border has been sealed, as well as the U.S.-Canadian border. And NATO headquarters in Brussels is evacuating non-essential personnel.
RYME KATKHOUDA: People went to the schools and got their children a little while ago. You could see hordes of children with their parents or some guardian of some sort walking in the Lower East Side.
ROBERT KNIGHT: I’m looking out now. I’m beginning to see heavy equipment and machinery southbound towards the impact area. I’m seeing flatbed trucks. I’m seeing trucks with cranes, as if to intimate that a debris-digging and removal operation may be underway or about to be started. In the background, of course, you can hear the sirens accompanying what now appears to be not only the medical traffic, the police traffic, but heavy equipment for whatever rescue is possible at this time.
AMY GOODMAN: We have information. Three thousand police are outside the World Trade Center, being urged—people are being urged to simply walk out of the area, not use vehicles, for safety. There are thousands of ambulances that are in the area. We can certainly hear the sirens from here. We’re going to see now if we can go to KPFA in Berkeley, being joined by Larry Bensky. Larry, are you there?
LARRY BENSKY: I’m here, Amy. Can you hear me this time?
AMY GOODMAN: Perfectly.
LARRY BENSKY: All right. Dennis Bernstein is here with me, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: Hi, Dennis.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: Hey, Amy. How you doing?
AMY GOODMAN: Good.
LARRY BENSKY: Amy, thank you very much for your reporting, which we’ve been into and out of all morning for the last three hours plus here on KPFA. We will be updating our California audience, Northern and Central California audience, about developments here in California, which so far have been limited to a closing down of many buildings. Indeed, all of downtown San Francisco is pretty much closed down, as far as the businesses are concerned, and San Francisco schools, etc. The Governor has declared a state of alert and emergency, and all state buildings are closed down, and people are being asked to stay off the freeways. And as I think you just mentioned, the Mexican border has been closed, the Mexican-United States border, as well as the Canadian border. One of the airliners, as you and I have been saying all morning, that apparently has crashed was headed for San Francisco, and we don’t yet have any reports of possible survivors there. That is the one that went down near Pittsburgh in what may or may not have had anything to do with this. The fourth airliner, the one that United Airlines has said has crashed, was going from Boston to Los Angeles, and United is not saying where that one crashed, but it’s quite possible that that was the one that either went down at Camp David or at the Pentagon.
One thing that’s been confusing, Amy—and we’ve warned our listeners here, and I know you have, as well—that in these breaking developments, we frequently try to find out what’s going on, and we say things that we think are authoritative that later on turn out not to be true, such as the car bomb outside the State Department this morning, which apparently did not happen, and a bomb on Capitol Hill, which may or may not have happened, and fires on the Mall in Washington. What’s the latest information you have on those?
AMY GOODMAN: Well, in all those cases, Larry, as you said, they’re just sketchy reports that we get on CNN, and we often will see them later retracted. But it seems that the ones that are for sure are the plane that went into the Pentagon, as well as, of course, the World Trade Center towers both collapsing, the fire, yes, at the Pentagon, the fires and the total collapse of the World Trade Center. As for that other information, we don’t have more information.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: Another thing, Amy—this is Dennis Bernstein with Larry Bensky here in San Francisco Bay Area—another thing we want to watch, in terms of false reporting, is those reports that are coming out of the Middle East, in terms of particularly out of Israel, suggesting that this was the work of Palestinians or of Arab terrorists. Now, we’re going to be watching this very closely, particularly in the context of the backlash against Arab Americans in this country. It has already been horrific over the last year, as you know, with new sort of anti-terrorist laws. So we are trying to reach people like Ali Abunimah of the American Arab Action Network and Hussein Ibish of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, because we know, even as we speak, the anti-terrorist teams are going out trying to assign blame. Investigations have already begun. There has already been some false reports. We want to make sure that we stay on top of that, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: And this news, Mayor Giuliani saying, in New York City, the hospitals need help. The Governor has mobilized the state to make all city hospitals available. Many people are out of the city upstate. National Guard are relieving city teams this afternoon. Desperate calls for fire and hospital workers. A lot of people who are out, they’re calling for all emergency workers to come back into the city to deal with this monumental disaster. And there are—is a tremendous need for blood right now.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: Amy, this is—
LARRY BENSKY: Let me just update—we’re going to go in a moment to talk about a little more about what Dennis was talking about, but let me just update this. President Bush has flown not to Washington, D.C., but to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, where he is shortly going to give a statement. And when that is coming, we will bring it to you live here on KPFA and on this network, put together with Democracy Now! Go ahead, Dennis.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: And this is Dennis here again. We have Hussein Ibish on the line, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s national media coordinator spokesperson. Hussein Ibish, welcome to this special Pacifica broadcast.
HUSSEIN IBISH: Hi, Dennis.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: All right, Hussein. We want to, first of all, get your response to the situation. You’re there in Washington, D.C.
HUSSEIN IBISH: Yes.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: What does it feel like on the ground? And then we want to talk to you about the potential backlash in terms of Arab Americans.
HUSSEIN IBISH: Well, the city is very tense, and I think that there is a—the whole country, all of us, I believe, as individuals, and I think the entire society, is in a state of utter shock. We have never seen anything like this, at least not for, you know, half a century. And it’s—I mean, it’s really very, very confusing, because it’s almost impossible to imagine who would not only want to do this, but who would be capable of doing it. And I don’t think there are any obvious candidates. And so, people are really stunned. They’re absolutely, you know, appalled. And, you know, I think that Washington, D.C., New York and all the major cities in this country are in a combined state of extreme anguish and tremendous tension.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: Hussein, let me just jump in here. Before we talk about the potential backlash, you are on the ground in Washington, D.C.
HUSSEIN IBISH: Yes.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: We have been reporting about attacks on the State Department, on the Pentagon.
HUSSEIN IBISH: Well, apparently—I haven’t heard of any confirmed attack on the State Department. Certainly on the Pentagon.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: All right. And what’s it like on the ground? Is ground transportation working?
HUSSEIN IBISH: Yes, very difficult. Yeah, well, it’s working. The city is not shut down. But many of the institutions—federal government buildings have been evacuated. Many schools have closed. Obviously, the airports were trying to get the planes on the ground as soon as possible in order to shut down air traffic. The roads are functioning, but they’re very, very difficult. A lot of roads are closed, you know, especially in and around Virginia near the Pentagon. It’s very, very difficult to move around there, obviously. And I think that the—frankly, you know, these cities are coping as well as one could imagine, as well as one could expect, given the magnitude of the calamity.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: All right, Hussein, let me—
HUSSEIN IBISH: However, however, however, things are very, very difficult in the city, and it’s not easy even to make phone calls here.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: All right—
AMY GOODMAN: Hussein, let me jump in here. We heard earlier on CNN an announcement that the Taliban was going to be holding a news conference, although they said they didn’t know what it was going to be about. Have you heard anything further about that?
HUSSEIN IBISH: Yeah, I gather—I gather that some representative of the Taliban—I think the foreign minister or somebody—had issued a statement saying that the emotions of the Afghan people go out to the American public or the—I think he referred to the American “children,” and said that they share the pain and they hope the courts bring these people to justice, or something along those lines. And there have been a lot of statements from all over the world, condemnations from all the European countries, from Mexico and Canada, from the leader of the Palestinians, from many different Arab and Islamic states, even from the Taliban. And, you know, across the world, people are reacting, you know, with shock and horror.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: All right, Hussein, back to the United—
HUSSEIN IBISH: [inaudible] that’s to be expected.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: Back to the United States, Hussein Ibish, we have seen in the last year, year and a half, extraordinary backlash, based on things going on in the Middle East, against Arab Americans in this country. Could you talk about, remind people, what’s been going on and what might be expected in a situation like this, even though there’s no information—
HUSSEIN IBISH: Well, I don’t—yeah, I don’t think we should—yeah—
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: —tying the Arab-American community.
HUSSEIN IBISH: I think we should give the American public the benefit of the doubt. I think that Americans—many of them, I think, have learned from the experience of Oklahoma City and the TWA Flight 800 crash. In both cases, the finger was pointed toward Arabs and Muslims and what have you. And, you know, there were hate crimes and discrimination and recriminations and all kinds of hateful statements. And, you know, it obviously wasn’t justified under any circumstances, but I think, you know, people learned not to rush to conclusion. And I think that, so far as we can tell, the mainstream press, so far, has been—has been reserved about speculating.
And I think that there are two reasons for that. One is, there’s no information. But I expect that there—you know, so many actions would have to have gone into such a dastardly and sophisticated, such an elaborate conspiracy, that, you know, decent police work should quickly establish some sort of leads. At the same time, I think that, you know, we can expect our fellow citizens to, I think, to remain calm and to wait for authorities to give them information. And I don’t think we should assume that people are going to rush to judgment. And that’s basically—that’s basically what I want to urge people to do. I mean, you know, I think if you look around this country, you will be very quickly able to see that Arab Americans, American Muslims, along with all other Americans, along with, you know, Americans of all ethnicities, all racial backgrounds, etc., are all in pain. We’re all in anguish. We’re all suffering terribly because of this. And, you know, I mean, I just don’t see that, at this point, there’s either—there’s a particular basis for alarm, in regard to that.
LARRY BENSKY: All right, let me just link in here with what Amy brought up before, the press conference by the Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan. Associated Press says that the Taliban rulers today condemned the attacks in New York and Washington and rejected suggestions that Osama bin Laden could be behind them. He said it’s premature to level—the person from the Taliban said it’s premature to level allegations against a person who is not in a position to carry out such attacks. It was a well-organized plan, and Osama bin Laden has no such facilities.
HUSSEIN IBISH: Well, let me say this, Dennis. I think that speculation is inevitable, and speculation is not, in and of itself, a terrible thing, as long as people—I mean, humanly, people are going to speculate as to what happened, why and who was responsible. And I just don’t think we can ask them not to do that. On the other hand—
LARRY BENSKY: Well, let me ask you about this. This isn’t Dennis.
HUSSEIN IBISH: But there’s a different—
LARRY BENSKY: This is Larry Bensky. Can I ask you this?
HUSSEIN IBISH: Yeah, sure.
LARRY BENSKY: Earlier, we read a report here from Nablus where—
HUSSEIN IBISH: Yeah.
LARRY BENSKY: —people were reportedly—Palestinian Arabs were reportedly handing out candy in the streets, celebrating and shooting guns into the air in celebration, and several—
HUSSEIN IBISH: I haven’t seen any of those reports.
LARRY BENSKY: Well, it’s on the Associated—it’s on the Reuters wire. And making statements, many people being interviewed saying that they are glad that the United States could be attacked in this manner. And I’m sure this is all over the cable stations, which I haven’t been monitoring.
HUSSEIN IBISH: Well, no, as a matter of fact, it isn’t. And I’d be—
LARRY BENSKY: It will be.
HUSSEIN IBISH: I’d really be surprised if that were not—if not—if that were not greatly exaggerated, I would be very surprised, indeed. You know, I mean, I think, as I was saying, that speculation is inevitable. But speculation should be—this was the point I was trying to make. Speculation should be based in known reality. And the known reality is, simply, that nobody out there fits the profile of someone who has both the malevolence against the United States institutions and the capability to pull something like this off that we’ve seen. And so, this is something really quite new. And people are going to have—I mean, they can speculate, and that’s, I guess, reasonable. But I think they should recognize, as they’re speculating, that this is not anything the like of which we have seen before [inaudible]—
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: All right, Hussein, we’re going to monitor this very closely. This is Dennis again. We’re going to stay close to you throughout the day.
AMY GOODMAN: I just want—
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: We’re going to watch the situation closely. Amy, you wanted to get a quick question in? Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: I just wanted to get one last comment from Hussein Ibish—
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: Go right ahead.
AMY GOODMAN: —on Utah Senator, Republican, Orrin Hatch, just speaking on CNN, saying, “Clearly, this is an act of war, one that requires that sort of response.” Your response, Hussein Ibish of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee?
HUSSEIN IBISH: Well, you know, I mean, I think it’s something along those lines. You know, this is a massive attack by criminals, who may or may not have—be based outside the United States. And I don’t know. I mean, war, it’s a tough thing to say. But let me put it this way. I mean, I think, obviously, you’re going to want to respond to the best of your capabilities to bring the people who did this to justice. And, you know, that’s, I think, entirely reasonable.
The only problem I have with Senator Hatch’s formulation is it assumes an external power. And we did that during the Oklahoma City bombing. We assumed that this had, you know, nothing to do with anybody within the United States, and we found out, to our shock and our horror, that that act was perpetrated by an all-American kid from upstate New York who was trained in explosives by the military [inaudible]—
LARRY BENSKY: That’s a very good point, and on that point, we’re going to have to leave it, because we’ve got a local news update that we have to bring you here. Thank you very much for joining us. And as Dennis said, we’ll be getting back to you and others later today about possible reactions.
Chris Bruney joins us now here on KPFA with the latest from the streets and suites of Northern California, as many schools and government buildings are being shut down, Chris?
CHRIS BRUNEY: Yes, indeed, Larry. Thank you. We heard earlier this morning that Governor Gray Davis ordered all state buildings to close and all non-essential state employees to go home today. Authorities in Sacramento say the state’s emergency council convened this morning, as Davis requested heightened security at all state buildings. Employees at the State Capitol were told to leave the building just before 9:00 a.m. today. And many state offices throughout California are closed today.
Here in the Bay Area, San Francisco, San Francisco City Hall is closed. The school district in San Francisco has closed its schools, as well. And school officials have asked parents to pick up their children from school if they can, but if not, supervision will be available at the school grounds. At San Francisco City College, all day and evening classes have been canceled today. The Federal Building on Golden Gate Avenue has closed down. And indeed, many buildings in San Francisco’s downtown financial district have closed today, since the financial markets have closed due to the attack in New York and Washington, D.C. The Bank of America Building on New Montgomery Street is closed, for example. The Embarcadero Center is all closed. Reports from the scenes say that the financial district is virtually a ghost town now. San Francisco Airport is closed, of course, as are all airports across the country. Airport exits and the Millbrae exit are closed, as well. The Exploratorium in San Francisco is closed today. And indeed, many—since—if you’re going anywhere in San Francisco, you might want to call ahead of time to find out if indeed the event that you may be going to is still happening. Also, I should tell you, the Transamerica Pyramid, the Bank of America Building, the Embarcadero Center, many local businesses, as well, are closed and are sending their workers home today.
There are no major evacuations right now in the Bay Area, but authorities are still on high alert. Bridges are open around the Bay, though the sidewalks to the Golden Gate Bridge are now closed. Traffic is said to be running normal, although there have been a few scattered accidents on Bay Area freeways.
In Oakland, officials have activated the emergency system there as a precautionary move, but there are no significant crises right now. Oakland City Hall is opland—open, rather, and city workers will be going to work today. The Oakland Airport, though, has shut down, as of course are all airports. And this note to sports fans: Major League Baseball has canceled all ballgames for today and tonight, and so tonight’s game between the Oakland A’s and the Texas Rangers will not be played at the Oakland Coliseum.
So, that is the situation around the Bay. Once again, San Francisco is facing the most major closures right now. Many buildings, the schools are closed. We’re waiting to hear from other Bay cities, Bay Area cities, as well, as to what their plans are for today.
LARRY BENSKY: Thank you, Chris Bruney, as we continue with our live continuing coverage here on KPFA, as we have since early this morning. And we will continue all day today with the staff of KPFA, as well as the staff of Democracy Now! in Exile in Washington—in New York City. Amy Goodman, can you hear me?
AMY GOODMAN: I can hear you fine. And just in terms of local reports, just to say hundreds of people are rushing to Manhattan hospitals today to give blood. And officials are calling in every surgeon and every nurse to deal with victims of the World Trade Center attacks. Ambulances are screaming down major thoroughfares across the city. Injured people are streaming into St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center in Lower Manhattan, as Army Humvees are whizzing by. The chief corporate officer of St. Vincent’s says, “We’re on full alert.” People are covered with concrete, soot and other flying objects, and he keeps repeating, “We are in desperate need of blood.” The hospital discharged all non-emergency patients. Again, Mayor Giuliani has said the number of casualties will probably just be horrific. Let’s not forget that at the World Trade Center, with the two towers that have collapsed, the North and South Tower, 50,000 people work there every day, 150,000 people go there every single day. Critical shortage of blood in New York City.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: Amy, this is Dennis Bernstein here with Larry Bensky. I want to ask you a question about Staten Island, which sits right across from the former World Trade Center. I’m wondering what impact this has had on the island. Will that island be used for emergency evacuation, for medical care? What do we know about Staten Island here?
AMY GOODMAN: At this point, it’s hard to get any information about Staten Island. Let’s not forget, in crises like these, with all transportation being shut down, it’s tough to get that kind of information, as we’re focusing on the national picture. So I can’t say. We are in Lower Manhattan just below Canal Street in a very densely populated area of Chinatown, and that’s just, well, very close to, but not next to, the World Trade Center, what were the towers.
LARRY BENSKY: Amy, I can tell you that the wire services earlier today were reporting that ferry boats were being used from that part—the World Trade Center, of course, is located right on the Hudson River—and that ferry boats were being used to evacuate people to New Jersey and medical facilities. But clearly, with Mayor Giuliani saying there may be thousands of people dead and thousands of people wounded and injured, this is a major catastrophe, with which all New York hospitals and medical services are going to be quickly overloaded.
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: Amy, do we have any information in terms of people at any of these emergency rooms, anybody in any of the hospitals? Is there any information about how bad the situation is, in terms of shortage of medical supplies, doctors? Are people coming in from Long Island? Has traffic been stopped coming into the city?
AMY GOODMAN: Well, as we said, the Mayor and others, hospitals are calling for every emergency personnel to come into the city. They’re calling for medical help, for surgeons and nurses, to deal with the victims of the World Trade Center collapses. It’s quite something to be so close and yet not to be able to have any figures or an assessment exactly of what’s happening. But I was just listening to Maria Hinojosa on CNN, who comes from WBAI originally, and she was there. She said, within 45 minutes, there were a hundred people who had come into St. Vincent’s, a number of them critical, many of them hit by flying debris. And of course, the reports earlier of, well, untold number of people, but people who were jumping from the top stories of these 110-story towers.
LARRY BENSKY: And, of course, the people who were trying to rescue them at the time, the firefighters and the police and everything, who came to the scene as fast as they could, many of them may have lost their lives, as well, when these buildings ultimately collapsed. Robert Knight, your reporter, has been reporting all morning that these planes that crashed into the World Trade Center were transcontinental planes that would have been full of jet fuel as they crashed right near the beginning of their runs across the country. And that may well have been responsible for the many explosions afterward. But anybody who was trying to rescue anybody in those buildings as they collapsed could very well have been wounded or killed, as well. It’s a horrific tragedy. We’ve never seen the likes of it here in the United States. Certainly not since Pearl Harbor has anything like this happened.
The Washington situation, Amy, you and I having worked there for so many years, I’m not surprised that they’re very slow to report details, for example, of that crash of an airliner—we don’t know what airliner—near Camp David. We heard that announced earlier, and now it’s been at least an hour and a half since any details have come about that.
ROBERT KNIGHT: Amy?
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, Robert.
ROBERT KNIGHT: There was a—Dennis was asking a question about transportation. Bridges and tunnels into New York City, and in particular Manhattan, have been shut down. We do know that the Brooklyn Bridge and at least the 59th Street Bridge leading to Queens are open for pedestrian egress. As I look across Manhattan at the moment, there is a tremendously small amount of traffic compared to what there is on a normal day. There is nothing in the sky. Not even traffic helicopters are visible, or even police helicopters, at least from the panorama that I am able to see.
Another eeriness is that on the East River, which is usually dotted with boats and commuter ferries, there is the occasional commuter ferry that goes by, but for the most part the East River is on complete shutdown. It’s as if New York City is under a lockdown, quite understandably with this emergency, as far as transportation goes.
There is a constant flow of ambulance traffic to the Bellevue Medical Center area, that includes a number of hospitals. And the scene outside, at the emergency admission room, is one of a lot of people. A lot of people, a crowd gathers whenever an ambulance comes by. And clearly, the system is overloaded.
LARRY BENSKY: In a catastrophe like this, of course, there’s no planning for it. There’s no way to anticipate it. There’s no way to deal with it. One thing we would caution people to remember is that if this has been caused entirely, as it now seems, by hijacked airplanes, there won’t be very many more, if any, of those, because all air traffic has been grounded, and all planes have been ordered to land. Now, there was a rather mysterious dispatch a little while ago from Cleveland, where the mayor said that he and—or others had monitored a plane that was heading towards Toledo, with people screaming on board. That may have been the one that crashed near Pittsburgh. We don’t know. We don’t know what plane that was, or they haven’t fully identified all the airplanes and where they were heading. But they have, for several hours now, grounded all aircraft, nothing taking off. And anything that was in the air is supposed to land as soon as possible.
AMY GOODMAN: I think there are roughly something like 50 to 70 planes that are in the sky right now that were just en route. And also, as we speak, a Taliban spokesperson is speaking in Kabul, Afghanistan, denouncing the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. First Lady Laura Bush, who was to make her policy debut before a Senate committee, instead today stepped grim-faced to news cameras and tried to soothe a horrified nation. She was whisked by motorcade from Capitol Hill to an unidentified secure location away from the White House, which was evacuated amidst the chaos of the—what do appear to be attacks in both New York and Pentagon. She said parents need to reassure their children everywhere in our country that they’re safe. That’s the latest news that we have from Kabul and Washington, D.C.
LARRY BENSKY: From Gaza, Amy, comes word that the head of Hamas has denied that Hamas had any connection with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He says, “We in Hamas, our battle is on Palestinian land. We are not ready to move our battle out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” He said U.S. policies against the weaker peoples of the world were to blame for the aircraft attacks on two major U.S. cities. And one thing that hasn’t been noted is that somebody, one of the people convicted of acts associated with Osama bin Laden, was supposed to be sentenced tomorrow, I believe, in New York in a courthouse not far from the World Trade Center. And there’s also the connection that we’ve been mentioning for several hours now that today is the anniversary of the 1978 signing of the Camp David Accords, among Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. Who knows if that has anything to do with anything, but it’s out there, so we might as well mention it.
AMY GOODMAN: This brings us to the end of this hour, though we’re going to be continuing, I think, together back and forth throughout the day. Larry Bensky and Dennis Bernstein in the studios at KPFA in Berkeley. We—and this “we” is Miranda Kennedy and Brad Simpson, our producers, Anthony Sloan, who is our engineer and also commentator throughout the morning, has been with us as we deal with this unfolding disaster that is taking place in New York.
Again, as I think about the World Trade Center, Anthony was just saying he has a friend who works there, and she went for a dental appointment this morning, so wasn’t in the building. Downstairs in the firehouse, where we are at Downtown Community Television, a man’s wife worked on the 101st floor. These are very real tragedies, and untold numbers of times, they will be multiplied today, as we learn who was there.
Again, there are four flights, three of them—two American Airlines, two United Airlines. Three, we know, have gone down, have crashed. One, United Airlines is saying, is crashed, but have not said where it has crashed. And that’s the latest news we have. One of the plane crashes did occur in the Pentagon, large explosion there. All federal buildings evacuated, as well as the United Nations in New York.
LARRY BENSKY: Thank you, Amy Goodman. We will, as you say—
AMY GOODMAN: That does it for today’s broadcast. U.S. officials are saying there was no credible warning of a massive terrorist attack, and there’s no credible intelligence on who is responsible for what has taken place today. That does it for our joint national broadcast that we have been doing for this hour, but I don’t think things will change much through the day. Stations can join us as they will. We’ll be here throughout the day. I understand Noel Hanrahan is joining in, and we’ll go back and forth from the coasts to bring you the latest information. First time in history all air traffic has been stopped in this country. Only the planes that were in mid-flight are still in the air. The international flights that were coming into Washington and New York City have been diverted to Canada. LAX, Los Angeles Airport, closed, as well. And we will continue this broadcast as long as need be today, so people can stay tuned with us, listening at WBIX.org online, as well as to KPFA and community stations around the country. Thank you very much for listening, as we continue on this tragic day.