“ September 11th will someday be a date on the calendar, like Pearl Harbor Day. For those of us who lived through it, it’ll be a day we never forget.” – George W. Bush
In the most in-depth televised interview he has ever given on the subject, President Bush provides intimate detail on what he grappled with as both the Commander in Chief charged with protecting his fellow citizens, and as a family man concerned for his loved ones. The candid observations by the former president illuminate his personal journey through one of the most unforgettable moments in modern American history.
The interview with Former President George W. Bush, in which he calls 9/11 his “defining moment” and a “turning point in American life,” airs on National Geographic on August 28 and is now available on DVD.
Mr. Bush said he never wanted to be a wartime president and that he made decisions as best he could “in the fog of war.” Even in the days immediately following 9/11, Mr. Bush said he “didn’t have a strategy” and acted “day by day.” He described his first thoughts upon hearing news that a plane had hit theWorldTradeCenteras angry: “Who the hell would do that toAmerica?” Criticized by some for his initial reaction in the Florida classroom, Mr. Bush made no apologies in the film and maintained that he wanted to “project a sense of calm” for the elementary school students.
As then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card approached the president with news of a second plane strike, Mr. Bush said he felt a “presence behind me” and described watching the press corps decipher his reaction like “watching a silent movie.”
He called his first statement of the day “hasty,” recounting that parents at the event expected to hear about their school’s reading program and instead heard “Americais under attack.”
In his third and final statement of the day, Mr. Bush said he got “as close” to declaring war on the enemy as he could, but didn’t. He was also adamant to return toWashingtonand make this address in the Oval Office. “I damn sure wasn’t going to give an address from a bunker inNebraska,” adding that he wasn’t going to give the enemy “that psychological victory.”
He described his visit to ground zero after the attack. It looked like a giant scar from the air, but when he got to the site, “it was like walking into hell,” he said.
The two-day interview by the National Geographic crew started the day after President Barack Obama announced the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Bush says the news made him “grateful.” He says: “I didn’t feel any great sense of happiness or jubilation. I felt a sense of closure. And I felt a sense of gratitude that justice had been done.”
For more information visit: www.nationalgeographic.com