tv CNN Presents CNN September 8, 2013 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
else? what's more to the point than beware. >> is that american 11 tracking the call? >> they are the people who awoke september 11th leading ordinary lives. >> i was in my office sitting in that chair. suddenly thrust into one of the most horrific days many this nation's history. >> he said we have some planes. >> try to make any more. we have planes. >> we clearly had a hijack in progress. >> they said be prepared to shoot down the next hijack track. >> i said roger. there were ten miles away. nine miles, eight miles. >> this is their story. >> who is going to hit us? >> the footnotes of 9/11. >> tuesday, september 11th, 2001 dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern united
states. so begins the 9/11 commission report on what was about to become a day filled with dark skies. >> the fest event happened not in washington, boston, or new york, but here in portland, maine, at mike dewy's ticket counter. it was just before 6:00 a.m., and tuey had just hecked in the first commuter flight to boston. >> i stepped on to the side walk and had a smoke. just as soon as i stepped over-the-counter, i look up and see the two fellows standing there, and they're looking around. >> in the admission report of the 9/11 attack, there are 1,742 footnoots. mike tue wr is the very first. >> i look at the tickets. first class tickets. you don't see $2,400 tickets anymore. these are real tickets. not -- they were paper tickets.
i got to check them in. first class. >> the names on the tickets abdul azizalomari and mohammed otto, the ringleader of the operation. >> they were less than 30 minutes prior to their flight. >> 500 miles away and one hour and 46 minutes later vaughn alex was at an american airlines ticket counter at dulles airport where he had worked for 20 years. >> they came in through the doors, behind us, went back and forth a little bit, and i had them come right up to my position. >> vaughn alex is footnote number 12. >> we skrus iniffed the morning check-in. actually the counter was clear at that point. had no passengers, and i saw these two gentlemen come in. you hate to use words, but it was comical. they came in, and they kind of went one way and looked at our kousht and went the other way.
i turned around to my trainees and i said flight 77 watch, you know? it's going to be the last two. >> the passengers? two of that flight's five hijackers. brothers. they, too, were running late, missing flight 77's official check-in deadline by mere minutes. >> is at that point i said to the agent i'll tell you what. let me show you how to do this because here's the passengers that are running late, but i'm sure we can get them on. >> the younger fellow is standing sort of off to the right and behind him, and he is standing there, and he has this red on his face, and he is holding the license up to his head. i said has anyone given you anything to carry on the plane, any stranger. just shaking his head like that. atta, is he the opposite. he is holding his license, you know, like this, and he is not looking at me.
he has his head to the side, and he is just no, no. >> the impression i've always was so odd because he was grinning. he was smiling, and he was dancing back and forth. they had one bag, totally inappropriate for a trip to los angeles. it was almost like a satchel that had straps across the top of it, but didn't even -- didn't even see them. >> for both vaughn alex at dulles and mike touhey in portland, something just didn't seem right. >> this doesn't look like an arab terrorist. nobody does. >> but this was pre-9/11. >> i thought that's not a nice thing to think. in this day and age, you know, you've dealt with thousands of these arabics and seiks and muslims. it's just a couple of business guys heading out of town.
but he did give me a creepy feeling. >> if i had somebody i wasn't comfortable with, i would follow them over to security and sometimes give a high sign to one of the security guys. >> did you consider doing it? >> i did. as they left the ticket counter, i stepped off the ticket counter and followed them for about three steps, caught myself. i said why am i doing this? am i really sure that there might be something wrong, or am i doing this for other reasons that, you know, because of their, you know, foreign or they're non-english speaking. >> you caught yourself thinking am i racial profiling basically, right? >> i caught myself thinking, you know, am i doing this for a racial reason? i said no, i'm not doing it -- i didn't want to be accused of that, and i went back to what i was doing. >> right after they left the ticket counter, they came around here. i had no reason to doubt that they were who they said they
were. i didn't than they were terrorists. didn't know anything until the next day. >> the next day would change vaughn alex forever. >> i just looked up at the two fbi, and i said i did it, didn't i? i checked them in. >> but touhey would realize his role within hours of the crashes. >> i was an idiot. he was the terrorist. >> it was immediate -- >> it was immediate. i mean, come on, two planes. one in a lifetime. two in a day. never. >> it would be only the beginning of touhe wr's struggle to forget one face. >> why do i see mohammed atta driving by me looking at me in a car? >> and the day was not over. many more ordinary americans were about to become footnotes of 9/11.
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they're now seated in 8d and 8g. they would be joined by three more. the plane made its ascent. american airlines 11 emerged as a blip on the faa's air traffic control systems. >> 1-1 thousand to 1-4 thousand. >> terry biggio was overseeing flight operations for the faa's boston center. >> normal routine day. we were working the morning push, and we were set up for a routine day. >> had he spent the last weekend celebrating his 4 th birthday with his family in the city. >> spent a weekend in manhattan, and that was my son's first
visit to the world trade center sfwloosh you went as a terrorist. >> we went so the south tower, and i had him stick his toes up to the building and look straight up the building into the sky and get that sense of vertigo that you can only get in a city like new york. >> mccormick and biggio would face the biggest challenges of their careers. >> american airlines flight 11, a blip on terry bigfw io's radar screens was climbing through 26,000 feet and would make its last transmission to air traffic controller. >> but then 16 seconds later it goes silent. >> american 11 boston. >> boston's air traffic center terry biggio and his controllers
know something is wrong. >> can you hear boston center? acknowledge. >> i don't think you immediately thought hijacking. >> absolutely not. i have been in the agency at the time about 20 years. had never seen a hijack. we thought, okay, we have a catastrophic failure of some sort with the aircraft. they can't talk to us. we'll clear the airspace away from them and let them fly to wherever they're going to fly. >> as the plane turned south, the 9/11 commission report believes the hijackers tried to talk with passengers on board but did not know how to use the intercom. instead the messages in middle eastern accents began transmitting to air traffic control. >> american 11, are you trying to call? >> we had a series of three transmissions. first one about 8:25, and the transmission was the first portion was not intel jibl to the controller. >> biggio asks a specialist named robert jones to pull the
tape, review it, and report back. >> this is such an important event that i didn't want to misinterpret what was said. >> nobody move. everything will be okay. if you try to make any move, you'll injure yourself and the airplane. just stay quiet. >> we had a hijack in progress. >> american 11 was now a confirmed hijacking and heading straight for new york where mike mccormick was in charge of the faa's new york center. >> had you dealt with any even potential hijacking before? >> no. that was actually the first time. it was a brand new event for me. this is the air traffic operation at new york center. it's the largest control room in the united states. >> mike mccormick sprinted to the floor of new york's air traffic control and went directly to an already crowded screen displaying the airspace where the plane was headed. area b. >> their altitude and the fact they were turning southbound i knew that it was going to be
area b so it could be with the controllers, be with the supervisors and look at the radar display. >> you wanted to see that plane? >> absolutely. walked up to the radar screens right in here, and went back and forth between the radar screens looking at the activity and take appropriate abbings and make the right decisions. >> with flight 11 not responding, controllers turned to other eyes in the sky asking other commercial airline pilots if they could spot the american airlines jet. one of the crews responding, united flight 175. >> you can see american 767 out there, please? >> okay, we're looking. negative contact. united 175, you have him at your 12:00 now? five to ten miles. >> affirmative. we have him. he looks about 29, 28,000. >> one of those planes you contacted was united. >> yes. >> and united was one of the
aircraft that we actually asked to help identify american. >> united 175 also had left boston bound for l.a. the crew had no idea it, too, was about to be hijacked. terry biggio and mike mccormick were focussing on the american airlines flight 11 full of fuel and headed south. >> you can't assume that the aircraft was going to do anything in new york. possibly it was going to continue south and go south to washington. >> otis air force base, cape cod, national guard fighter pilot tim duffy is about to become 9/11's footnote 117. >> he said american 767 from boston to california. it looks like the real thing. >> were you prepared to take a plane down? >> an active air defense scramble.
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wingman, takeoff from this now deserted airfield. >> have an active air defense scramble f-15 to level 290. >> under orders to find and intercept american flight 11. >> these are cells three and four. they have jets in all of them. just depending what jets you're going to need that day, and these are the ones that were armed up, so we had hot missiles and hot gun so they're all armed up. >> by the end of this morning duffy will be asked if he is prepared to use those missiles to bring down u.s. passenger jets. that meant he might be shooting down the plane carrying this yawn itd airlines colleagues. >> they just said be prepared to shoot down the next hijacked track, and then it came back after that and said do you have a problem with that? that kind of tipped me off. i was the wrong person in that
seat if i wasn't able to do what was called for. >> at boston center terry biggio has asked quality assurance specialist robert jones to review a tape of the terrorists' radio transmissions. on that tape a startling find. 9/11 may be bigger than just one plane. >> we have some planes. >> we could hear the hijacker reference planes, meaning more than one is involved. i was on the phone and relaying to terry up in the operations area that there was potentially more aircraft involved. >> even today the hair on the back of my neck stands up when we talk about the hijacking. >> and you are following it to new york in. >> well, thinking that -- i believe it was about 600 knots southbound, which was extremely unusual for an air carrier. that was another indication that something was obviously really bad because someone is in a real hurry here, and i was watching the track of american 11 continue southbound.
slowed down. that's why we thought it was landing at either kennedy or newark setting themselves up for an arrival. >> but it isn't landing. what biggio doesn't see on his radar screen is this. >> i was on the phone with the new york center, operations manager, and he said, no, he hit the building. we knew. we knew it was american 11. we watched it fly. watched it disappear. there was no doubt. >> breaking the sound barrier, tim duffy is barrelling towards manhattan, still under orders to intercept a plane, but had plane? his conversation with air traffic control shows how fast events were moving that chaotic morning. >> i understand you are going out to look for american 11, is that correct? >> i just got information that the aircraft has been crashed into the world trade center, so i'm not quite sure what your intentions are, if are you still
going to head that way or you may want to talk to your operation wrshz. >> then 17 minutes after american airlines flight 11 slams into the world trade center's north tower at 9:03 a.m. united 175 hits the south tower. >> we were about 60 miles from kennedy. probably about, you know, 80 miles or so from manhattan. that's when they told me the second aircraft just hit the world trade center. obviously some confusion in my cockpit. i thought i was still chasing american flight 11, and then there was a second aircraft, which i didn't even know about. i looked up right away, and i could see the smoke coming out of both towers. as i saw the towers burning, two airliners. we're obviously under attack. >> in the new york air traffic control center, mike mccormick, too realizes the united states is under assault from the air. >> we have to do something to remove the weapons. the weapons, of course, are the
aircraft. i couldn't allow any more aircraft to be in and around new york because i didn't know what else could happen. i made the decision to clear the skies. we brought all the supervisors from all the areas up here, and provided a briefing to them. this is what's happened. this is what we're doing. this is how one can do it. >> eventually the unprecedented no fly order would spread from new york to nationwide. >> all aircraft on the ground for a national emergency. >> every airplane in the sky literally thousands would be told to land. any airplane that refused the order would be considered hostile. >> a united airlines employee was on the ground. desperately trying to save his flights from disaster. >> i said lock the door.
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>> for years ed has been sailing away from his memory. his refuge? this boat named the great old broad where he has been afloat with his wife trying to escape the memory of a few brief words. beware cockpit intrusion. >> lock the so and so door. i said hijacking alert. hijacking. should i said a possible hijacking? >> ballinger is footnote 69. on september 11 he was a dispatcher for united airlines in chicago handling 16 flights leaving the east coast and heading west. including united flight 175 out of boston and 93 from newark. >> first indication i had 175 was a stewardess on board had called into her contact that
they were hijacked. >> supervisor rich was working one last day before leaving the earl for a new job. >> drinking my coffee, and just realizing this is the last day, and it was kind of bittersweet, and i hear a commotion or someone talking about something hit a building in new york. i go, oh, that's odd. >> at that moment one of his workers catches his attention. belme is now footnote 81. >> he is white as a ghost and i could tell something is wrong. he says i just got a call from 175. the crew has been killed. the flight has been hijacked. >> inside united's maintenance office belme was overseeing the routine calls, flight crews make in the air, air phones dialed to
star 349, spelling fix on the key pad. flaepts asking about coffee makers that didn't work or entertainment systems that needed fixing. at 9:36 a.m. the call belme answered was chilling. it was from flight 93. >> then a female voice comes on the line and goes, a flight attendant has been killed. there's two guys. one guy in the cockpit. one guy is at first class behind the curtain, and extremely calm. i was trying to act calm. as a controller we always want to be calm in & in control. she had me beat. she was, like, talking to a friend. >> united flight attendant sandy bradshaw was calmly telling her airline the plane was no longer being controlled by the crew. back in hi thad ballinger was trying to send out warnings, messages, anything he could to try and save his planes.
>> all i know is that there was trouble, and i wanted to warn everybody. >> one of those flights ballinger tried to warn are the airline's version of -- united flight 39. >> i was accepteding out messages one after another. i think i sent 122 messages in a short time, an hour, two -- i don't know what it was. like screaming on the keyboard. i don't want to get the captain excite or put something in like are you in trouble? i just sent them a discreet message can i be of assistance? can i help you? at that time we had huge tvs that came on with cnn. >> this just in. you are looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. that is the world trade center, and we -- >> i saw the second airplane, which i didn't know at the time, was my airplane, 175, hit the second tower. >> that looks to me certainly a passenger jet. >> and i thought the most success sixty method of doing it with the least amount of words,
beware cockpit intrusion, and i sent it to all my 16 flights, and before i got that one out, 93 called up and said they had military minutes going off, and they're flying. >> at that point 93 was routine. >> it was routine. >> you send out your note, and you know they got that. >> they came back, yeah, confirmed. i confirmed back with him by selling him two airplane tiz world trade center, which i sent to all the other flights. >> but the confirmation came too late. investigators say two minutes after flight 93's pilot jason requested clarification, hijackers stormed his cockpit. >> does beware cockpit intrusion say it all? can you say it faster, quicker? i wanted quickly get the message out. >> it's ten years later. you're still thinking that. >> yeah. yeah.
i should have wrote a dissertation on the thing and send it to everybody. i sent it the quickest and fastest that i could. i should ask you how would you do it faster? i keep asking myself that question. >> isn't in a the real reason you're out on this boat? >> it could be. >> rich belme, recounting his call from a flight 93 flight attendant for the first time also wonder what more he could have done. >> boy, i think about that all the time. you know, and i think what should i have said to her, and i go should i have said something encouraging? i knew what was going on. should i have said a prayer? you know, i don't know. she's an employee. she's doing her job. there's something wrong with it is airplane. call work. now let's do our thing and what
they decided to do, which is amazing and shows a huge amount of courage, is when they know that the end is near, but they said, hey, you know, we're not going give up. i think we should never forget that. >> when did you find out they didn't make it? >> well, we could see the faa had it on, and we could tell it was 93. the thought of it crashing and -- that was the drawing line. >> when his shift ended, so did ballinger's 44-year long career. he tried to go back to work, but became so overly cautious he began making up reasons to keep planes on the ground. he retreated for six months to this warehouse where he restored his old sailboat. he was put on 100% disability and retired. he has been sailing with his wife sally ever since.
>> do you still have a problem? >> oh, i don't know. i play a lot of music myself. ♪ >> i do that, and i try not to get into confrontations at all. i guess i got a problem in that respect. don't want to relive it. >> up next, another hijack jet. americans airlines flight 77 from washington makes an unauthorized turn south heading right towards footnote 208. secret service agent nelson garabio at the white house. >> six minutes out. five minutes out. it kept coming. and then at one point you got under a minute, and i said it's been 30 seconds out.
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>> with now two towers burning mike mccormick and terry biggio and an army of air traffic controllers frantically trying to ground all airplanes. those that refused, they would become lieutenant colonel tim duffy's problem. >> were you prepared to take a plane down? >> if i had to, yes, i would have. >> at 9:05 a.m. american airlines learned flight 77 from dulles to los angeles was hijacked. it was already turning around. this time heading for washington d.c. nelson garabida, footnote 208 was in charge of protecting the white house airspace. in washington vice president dick cheney was hustled to a nearby bunker while the president was on air force one.
>> first thing i did is i picked up the phone to call my contact at the faa. he said we have four planes outstanding. two hit the towers and two are headed to washington wash. one approximately two minutes out and one approximately 45 minutes out. we knew we had some time, but little time. >> the order came to evacuate the white house. garibido said he heard workers scrambling to leave. his supervisors gave him and the rest of his staff, including two civilians, the option to leave. no one did. >> so you're basically counting down the plane coming overhead. >> we knew there were two coming. at that point we know they're coming to the washington d.c. area, but dwoents know where they're coming to. >> as the minutes, then seconds ticked by garibido braced for impact. >> it's the one nearest us getting closer and closer. six minutes out, five minutes
out. we knew -- we thought is that where it's going? it kept coming. then at one point we got under a minute, and i said it's about 30 seconds out. faa control manager mike mccormick is on a teleconference call listening helplessly to a similar countdown. >> think started counting down ten miles to the white house, nine miles to the white house, eight miles to the white house. seems like more than 30 seconds. what do you got? >> we don't know. it dropped off our radar. >> american flight 77 did not hit the white house. instead it crashed into the pentagon. as for the fourth plane, the passengers on board united flight 93 made sure the terrorists wouldn't hit anything but a field in shanksville,
pennsylvania. >> those are the visual on that aircraft that fall back. he saved my life or the lives of those in the capital. when i think of that, those are the first heroes i think of, the first people that fought back and we'll never know. if we, the white house, was the target or whether it was the capitol. >> as that terrible morning went on, the footnotes of 9/11 would remain on duty. lieutenant colonel tim duffy flew over manhattan for five more hours, and he would witness one of the worst images from his cockpit. looking directly down on the last standing tower of the world trade center as it imploded. >> i flew up over the top of it and rolled up on the edge so i could look down at it, and i was looking at the square at the tower, and as i was looking at the square, it started getting smaller, and then as i was looking at it, i auto see the plume coming off the bottom, and i realized it was falling away from me, and that's the one time
during the day where, you know, i was absolutely horrified. >> the image would not stop him. days after 9/11 days after his company lost two planes, tim duffy volunteered to fly a united airlines jet to tokyo. in between commercial assignments, he would patrol the east coast in his fighter jet. faa managers terry biggio and mike mccormick would take this day and ask what more they can do? >> after invading iraq, the u.s. government would try to rebuild iraq's infrastructure, including its air traffic control system. mike mccormick volunteered and recruited others, including biggio, whose brother-in-law was fighting there for the u.s. >> i felt like i was on the sidelines. i felt i could do more. i've got all this experience. i was an faa academy instructor. they needed a training program for the iraqi controllers, and
that was something that i have done for my entire career. i have done all of those things, and i felt i could help. i signed nup a minute. >> biggio would help train air traffic controllers in iraq, spending nearly a year. mike mccormick stayed through four tours. >> i don't think anyone ever gets over it. september 11th is irrevokably intertwined into everything i am and everything i'm doing today. so it's part of me. >> the footnotes of 9/11 continues. up next, the footnotes who can't forget that face. >> eight months after i retired it started happening. the psychological problem. heart healthy, huh?! ugh! actually progresso's soup has pretty bold flavor. i love bold flavors! i'd love it if you'd open the chute!
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years. >> it was tim duffy's bird's eye view of the north tower collapsing underneath him is now permanently on display at california's pacific coast air museum. >> duffy now serbs in the air force reserves and consults with the international air defense during disasters. after spending time in iraq rebuilding the air traffic control system there, mike mccormick was promoted to the faa's headquarters in washington. still carrying a desert camouflage backpack to remind him of those who have died and
those still serving. terry biggio is also back from iraq and he, too, was promoted at the faa to his dream job, overseeing the busiest air traffic control center in the nation. atlanta. his office? filled with reminders of 9/11, memories of his father, former air traffic controller, and a baseball bat from his brother, former houston astro greg biggio. >> i knew when i was in 10 years old what i wanted to be. i wanted to be an air traffic controller. i accomplished that, and i have absolutely no regrets. you know, as an athlete, former athlete, it would have been cool, but there's nothing like working with airplanes, and there's nothing like being involved in our air traffic control system. it's the greatest in the world. >> are you glad you were working that morning? >> i was. we wonder, you know, at points in time depending on your views of religion is why does god put me here? in part, for me i would like to
think that 9/11 is why i was here. >> the united airlines dispatcher ed ballinger left the airline after 44 years. he has thought about but has not talked to the relatives of those who died on united flight 93. the flight he tried to warn. to say he was sorry. 9/11 commission investigators say there was nothing more ballinger or any of the footnotes in the story could have done. still, ballinger remains haunted by the what ifs still trying to put 9/11 in his wake. when we left him, he and his wife were waiting to sail away again. rich belme took the phone call from flight 93.
>> nelson is still with -- he is in charge of the protective defense division. vaughn alex and mike touhey, the airline ticket agents who first suspected trouble on 9/11 still live in the shadow of the terrible day. the day after the attack they looked at the suspicious names and the faces of their passengers once more. this time with the fbi. >> the fbi come by my house. they had a full photo of those people, and they said, here, here's a sheet. can you pick out the two. atta is easy because he has that sallow look to death about him where. >> when i came to the name hamsy, it was an unbelievable moment, and in less than a second i saw them. i remembered the brothers. i remembered the whole transaction. i just stopped. my finger was on their names, and i said i did it, didn't i? these are the guys, and i did
it, didn't i? i checked them in. >> it would take touhey days to return to work full-time. for alex it would be months before he could return to dulles. >> it had to have been hard to go back to work. >> where he. i'm not going to kid about it. the paranoia, obviously. was the next person you checked in going to do something horrible again? or was the next passenger you checked in going to die on a flight that you worked? so it was stressful. >> you went into a real tailspin after this, didn't you? >> i put a lot on me. my wife was real good about things and, you know -- >> your wife actually made you go back to work, right? >> i thought about quitting, and she said no. if you don't go back and work, they won. just go back to work and go out on your own terms.
>> it's something that happened, and you adjust to it. after i retired, eight months after i retired, i started having psychological problems. >> psychological problems in that you begin to second guess yourself? >> oh, yeah. or thankz i don't even believe in like hallucinations and seeing people that you know are dead. why do i see mohammed atta driving by me looking at me in a car? i know none of this is true. i say i know he is dead. >> he was prescribed medication, and only now realizes he did
nothing wrong. vaughn alex took a job with the federal air marshall helping schedule the cops now in the air. he too will never forget. >> it never goes away. there's not a single day that i don't think about it. there's not a single day that i don't wonder what would have happened if i had done something differently. i did what i was supposed to do that day. i was supposed to take care of passenger service. and i took care of those passengers. one of the unfortunate things to this very day when i go out on a beautiful day, i go that sky is september 11th blue, and that's what was taken away from me. i have never yet been able to look at the sky and not say september 11th blue because