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Andy Card, former Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush on 9-11 Attack

Sep 9, 2011|

George W. Bush's Chief of Staff Andy Card joined Howie to discuss his role in telling President Bush that the nation was under attack after two planes hit the World Trade Center. He described what he said and how he said it to the President on that day in September of 2001.

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Kumble what do you mean I don't like you win -- I was -- I was gonna support you if you ran for the senate -- Hey thanks for coming thanks for a thanks for stopping by we appreciate. We're just talking to a ms. Compton from by ABC news earlier she's a friendly years old and Compton played it through a huge role in my life that day as I walked into that classroom -- tell the president. In it was unusual for me to come into the classroom -- in to any venue that after the president right. And she looked up at me as does the teacher was beaten to the president and chief kind of miles what's up. And I miles back to her. Two planes and children crashing into my idea let's forehand. And then she kinda did this with her she moved her hands around instead kind of watch. And that was when I then walked up to the president whispered into Waziristan a second plane hit the second -- America is under attack. But it was in Compton that. It was the kind of the first person I told if you would account hand gestures. Yeah I guess. That she told me -- you guys for Jake -- off. -- in Louisiana that was a heart warming part of the afternoon you know I know what we did we actually one of the tough decisions are made when we when we get to Barksdale Louisiana we want to trim the number of people traveling and it was one. So we took only. We only did the quote essential White House staff went and that in itself is a big debate. But that we actually had a big debate -- -- how much press to tape and there was some suggestion no press. Ari Fleischer appropriately was saying that we need to press so we've made a decision on his recommendation to take. One from each of the media so that a radio. TV. Cameraman. Photographer and print. Journalist and a company does back. On the rest of the trip which was to Omaha Nebraska and strategic it commandment back to the way out of it -- was that it she said the at a meeting with the National Security Council what was that like telephonic. It was that He was secure video conference from the strategic air command bunker which is deep underground. You know when we arrived at the bunker in -- If the strategically commit it was just like right out of the movies all these big screen -- -- -- strangelove Ali's admirals and generals in this room in the we could hear all of the communication going on between the FAA in the military about your planes in the sky. And so it was. It was interesting it was also disruptive. That the president was it because the admirals and generals to north of the stand to sit down stop talking and so He said this is too disruptive let's go to another wrong way of competence and there was a big argument about whether He should flight back from Washington. I would yes He was adamant when we gonna playing follow -- are sort of that He wanted to go back to Washington and He was yelling at me. In order yelling at you well in a nice way. But it was firm and the Secret Service. Was telling me. Not in front of the president there's no way we go back to Washington DC we don't know if you say we don't know that's another -- And even the folks with it was one reluctant to -- and in it and it was space without knowing. Whether or not it was one of these. Your view that Mohammed were talking about this with again within that wouldn't have needed melded that what you knew that -- warplanes but that could have been -- we thought there were other -- company. Believe me. We thought they could have been that we had intelligence that suggested that there were bad guys on. Train's passenger Amtrak trains that there was that tax scheduled in Los Angeles so there was a lot of concern that day. And the fog of war is real. And I tried to make sure that the flawed but it is his best it could if that one the president they had. Pretty good information when you make tough decisions. How do you how do you feel when you see the late night comics that still use that that video maker to make George Bush not so much you -- George Bush look like a -- like I did exactly the right thing I can't tell you how proud I was of him that moment. First of all He did nothing to introduce you to those kids. He did nothing to demonstrate -- that in Compton in the press pool and to think about the audience sitting in front of the president. It was young innocent children second graders. And old season to skeptical. Almost cynical reporters so you can't do very conflicting audiences sitting in front the president. But I -- struck. Obviously the message that I delivered to the president was -- or message for anyone to that -- to a chief executive right okay. But think how rare it was for the message to be delivered in public for. Right where you really couldn't talk. And that's what happened. How long when you forward to. -- told you by way. Well when we walked into the school we arrived at the school there was a buzz in the year and I remember column -- asking a question that anybody here about a plane crash in New York. The president got on the phone with Condi Rice. I didn't hear that conversation. I was and standing with the president to do what the classroom with the principal went. The director of the White House situation. Came up to the president said sir it appears a small twin engine prop plane crashed into one of the I was the World Trade Center in New York City. We thought well what a horrible accident the pilot must -- had a heart attack this right. And then the principal opened the door of the past and the present when it with the to a shot that same staffer came to me and said. Sir it was not a small twin engine prop plane it looks like it was a commercial jetliner. And and and and a -- later she came back to me and said oh my gosh. Another plane that the other tower of the World Trade Center I -- was an accident I -- could have been a couple of incidents. So I decided the president really did need to know which -- a tough test for chief of staff to the president need to know this was easy to pass yes He needs to know yeah. And I made a decision to pass on to facts and make one obvious editorial comment. And do nothing to -- a question. So Weis said. A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack that was always had to -- say if you wanna get out of here and I didn't offer any stage directions please steer straight ahead the you know don't get up out of your seat. While it said those words and I was pleased that He didn't react the way He did I was also pleased because it gave me an opportunity to go back in the holding room. And get work done. I said that the FBI director of the -- it'll line open to the vice president of the line open to the situation. To the crew back -- it was one is gonna have to get out of here and did the Secret Service to -- in the motorcade around so I was trying to do a lot of work. Sure enough when the president came into the that's from every. Everybody rushed to him that whole thing and the first thing He said was get the FBI director on the phone and we could say right here mr. Lewis. So He would not. Which He got what would get back to Washington -- what time you got your back we ended I'm gonna say 630 quarter of seven that night. Late in the afternoon. And then the president went right into the Oval Office which was being set up for a live addressed the nation right. In -- -- into the dining room right off the Oval Office and was started working on his speech Karen Hughes and Mike -- -- Crafted a speech the president sat down it would no written kept making changes He practiced at 12 times and there. And and then He walked into the Oval Office and delivered his address to the American people which had some very important messages it. First -- -- He basically told the world you're either with us or against us. And so there were a lot of world leaders squirming in his seat but He. He sent a clear message to the Taliban leadership that they but it turned. -- Qaeda network and Osama bin Laden over not be a safe haven for bad guys we were gonna do something about it. What did you think you know here you war veteran Massachusetts politics and the couple lately either tactic proudly and have it yeah in yes. But a couple of noble a couple days later you can pick up the Paper and see that. To congressman from Massachusetts Marty Meehan and reaching deals are made it jokes. -- him why am around not know what the -- -- but nobody nobody else was. Barbara Boxer wasn't making jokes that well I would -- I respect. Did the burdens that the president has to -- I would that -- presence in the White House. You can't do that without respecting how tough the Gordon's the president never has today off of it is would fly around doing nothing. He was anxious to get back to Washington DC I think it was appropriate He did not go there and we understood they try to attack. But He was working the entire time among other things He called president who. In Russia and said don't attack us we're not playing to a time -- -- you we've been attacked by it looks like terrorists please don't overreact. So He was practicing diplomacy. He was obviously dealing with the secretary of defense the vice president the folks who underneath the White House in the bunker. And he's worried about his wife and his children you don't want to do He was doing it very well. I didn't answer my question what to -- my vehement -- meal when -- -- I let my good you know I like which He -- and I really do I like Martin enriching. And they've they've been good public servants I would not vote for either one and they would not be surprised that they said that. I would be surprised either India we appreciate you stopping by it would you were going to be around but that was leveled by Ari are you happy now you didn't run for the senate. No I'm really thrilled with the job that Scott Brown is doing He did a terrific job as a candidate is in a wonderful job as a senator. No He did offered to cheer my campaign taking on CNN. And -- He was willing to step aside He was willing to step aside and that he's a wonderful person. And I told him that if I was not gonna run I would support him or oppose it which have would be the best for -- that. And I really want to disperse supporters. Proudly standing with him right now and I hope He gets reelected. Okay -- -- thanks a lot what do you what went up to these days I M I've taken another title on I am now. The dean of the bush school at Texas a and M university this is the first President Bush. -- the acting dean of the bush school of government and public sort about them that you -- I don't know if there's Gaynor added Rick Perry do last that they. You know I I was believe it or not I was flying back from Paris -- didn't get to see if it keeps the real. I was surprised to read this morning -- -- -- I almost think about the other night I mean how many Aggies have become governor of Texas and I you know -- -- you must Soviets that he's the first one -- one right will be the -- community is pretty excited. I tell -- it's. It is fabulous to be in a Q and you've got to come visit how you would really like I know I I have a effort to minorities to work with the North Carolina and He moved to Texas. He came back with about a million Aggie jokes most of which -- here repeat on here. Well I tell you it is a very class. University it's the bush school is rated in the top 13% of -- public policy schools from the country. They have the highest percentage of graduates going to government and public service. And I'm very proud to be affiliated with -- it's a young school it's only been in existence for about 1213 years so it's very young. But they've already got a great faculty and the turning out great graduates we've record large class entering the which -- -- A 140 new students have started there master's degree programs at the preschool this ball. For Perry keeps going always going. You but He be getting a lot more publicity for the school the -- 345 years while we're. There were a lot of reporters coming to. A -- to find out what people know about Rick Perry right now before you -- by the way I'm for the Republican nominee I happened to be close to most of the people who are running for the Republican nomination. And out of reach your regular and you you come from you come from Romney win and now you've moved tagged you now you move the accurately. Well my favorite candidate for president would be John Ellis but nobody knows who John -- and it always is he's a cousin he's a bush cousin. He's he's he's a bush side John Ellis bush Jeb Bush called Joseph oh Joseph -- -- John Ellis the former well I know I know John Ellis twelve so that does is John Ellis. Bush is Jeb Bush who was governor of flour and I think would be remarkable president but it's probably too difficult for him to overcome the bush name right now. -- pushed arrangements syndrome is still is still in the land. But I love Massachusetts and I'm passionate about Massachusetts politics and how we you've helped make the passion real serious. I do I do my best and do my best you know it now we're having another dispute over the pledge of allegiance. Indians like it in for what it's like you've never read it that I thought she did I know what you did that well is this a guiding Rosenthal. He's been working on this is his life's work he's worked on since 1984. Well what's John -- -- -- about it. John -- finally -- finally move on believe it or not but that the good rep from Brooke white's mythic. He has he's support he's supporting mr. Rosenthal in this campaign to. To rid the people's republic of muddy river -- -- I think we -- one of the most emotional sites in America right now at ground zero Washington. And in New York City I cannot imagine. Being here and not being filled with pride about America and filled with sorrow for the innocent victims on that day. -- think of the innocent victims and then the first responders that answered the call to duty then they themselves became victims and we promised never to forget I will not. That's. I'm just saying you know when you look up the sky like like right here and I just you know but the about the audience. Exactly right that was the searing image of that -- -- the picture of me. Which bring in the presence here is an iconic picture. But that's not the reason to remember nine elevenths the reason to remember 9/11. The pictures of the victims that would jumping out of these tall skyscrapers. And many of them came from Massachusetts. And we were probably the third or fourth worst hit state I would say after a New York Rangers fanatic that. It's the -- and you know -- -- -- like open house the pilot you know one of his kids. His kids coming back on the bus that day and that the camera crews had to be there. But I -- just recently went off their father was alive but they that we see him that night and has come home please. It's it is incomprehensible. To me. And we did promise. Ten years ago not to forget them it's amazing how many people kind of already moved on I will -- again. Okay IndyCar former chief of staff and former state representative holt former member of the planning -- Holbrooke. Former former member of the general court of Massachusetts so you do wanna say anything to sell the mason idealistic and -- -- speaker and He He got a you can surf with them I did Sal was actually was in my class -- it came into the legislature. My dear dear friend Paul salute you governess -- -- is someone if the greatest respect or. I pray for him every day as He -- -- house has Lou Gehrig's disease house. Okay Andy thanks a lot for thank you -- -- the voice in Poland spring we do Poland Maine my favorite place to go yeah. It's -- basically that they pump out so much Poland Spring Water that you you only got like 170 and to get a bottle from actually from the Poland's right. But I like sentence -- -- come to my place. I know I've. Yeah I was born my father was a shaft at the Poland springs house rarely so. I have been going to the same place in Maine every year what a lot of actual resort hotel brands like me and I know my father was seventeen years old when I was born. Wryly yes. It's been but it was mostly to was its body is that it is of a year round twice now or is it it would. It's kind of you around -- -- believe me it's not that we used to produce yeah if it into the ground about 25 years ago and then they built another place it's not the right this idea you could say that about most of my father was a at the very junior shaft at the polish brings knows. Right out of overpriced. But tell you got to work -- the that's why you went to work in the I would to McDonald's for a long time loved it was one of the best jobs if that's actually in folks He He He was one of those. Evil Republican Democrat to fight. They were stealing and you fire the whole staff is in the world would -- -- -- -- that's right that's more myth than reality I threatened to cry out I I liked it into a nasty Internet shows my great friend is the source of that myth. But it's close to the minute that story and it's close to put it in the Paper in Boston magazine both I believe that if I don't believe everything you read in the Paper even when it's written by how we card. Okay and I thought we would hold anymore.