BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
BBC NEWS September 11, one year on
Judy Keen
USA Today reporter
Rob Bach
US pilot
Lord Robertson
Nato Secretary General
Michael Farri
Fire captain, Pentagon
Tony Blair
UK Prime Minister
Zohra Tahiri
Teacher, Kabul
Dr Zaki Badawi
British Muslim cleric
Condoleezza Rice
US national security adviser
Lisa Lefler
Worked in World Trade Center
Howard Lutnick
Chief executive, Cantor Fitzgerald
Rick Thornton
Ferry captain, New York
Sarar Hareth Ibrahimi
Baghdad resident
Katie Hochbaum
15-year-old schoolgirl, New York
Faten Elwan
Palestinian, Ramallah
Mikhal El-Yeshiv
Teacher, Jerusalem
Orshum Parks
New mother, New York

Click here to read & listen to
more voices

Condoleezza Rice
US national security adviser

The White House, Washington DC

ListenListen to interview
I was standing in my office at my desk that morning, and at 0847 my executive assistant came in and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. And I remember thinking: "What a strange accident."

And so I called the president, who was in Florida at an education event, and I said: “Mr President, a plane has hit the World Trade Center.”

And he said: “That's a strange accident.”

And I said: “I'll call you when we know more.”

Initially, the reports were that it was maybe a twin engine plane of some sort, maybe a private plane.

And then when I got down to have my morning staff meeting, down in the Situation Room, my executive assistant handed me another note and it said, a second plane had hit the World Trade Center. And I thought, my God, this is a terrorist attack.

Ground civil aviation

And so I went into the Situation Support Center, and I was going to try to gather together the National Security Council principals. Colin Powell was in Peru. And I tried to call Don Rumsfeld, and I couldn't reach him right away, and I looked behind me, and a plane had hit the Pentagon.

And right about that time, the secret service came and they said: “You have to go to the bunker, because we think a plane may be headed for the White House.”

And so I stopped to call the president, who said: “I really should come back to Washington.”

We said: “No, Washington is under attack, you mustn't.”

And I then got down to the bunker and I spent the rest of the day, first of all, trying with the vice-president and the Secretary of Transportation, Norm Mineta, to ground civil aviation and to be able to track where all of the aircraft were, so that you knew what else was happening.

It was a remarkable time. And it was not until very much later in the day when we settled into a National Security Council meeting that we began thinking then of how we would respond. We knew almost immediately that it was al-Qaeda. But those first hours are something I will never forget.


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific