George W Gives First Interview Post bin Laden Death

Wednesday, 27 Jul 2011 11:51 AM

By Caroline Rawls

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President George W. Bush has moved away from the spotlight after eight years as commander in chief. But with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks fast approaching, Bush will open up for the first time publicly about the killing of Osama bin Laden in a National Geographic Special, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

“George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview” will premiere Aug. 28 on the National Geographic Channel as the culmination of seven days of Sept. 11 themed programming.

Peter Schnall, New York filmmaker and creator of the top-rated documentary “Onboard Air Force One,” spearheaded the project.

It took four months of negotiation between Schnall and Bush to agree to a contract for the interview. “I reminded him of our journeys together,” Schnall says. “I wasn’t a journalist who was out to dig. So we had a friendly relationship in a sense.”

But because the interview contract was established in early 2011, the news of bin Laden’s killing on the night of May 1 concerned Schnall. He worried that his exclusive access to Bush might be compromised.

“That’s the first thing we thought: ‘Oh no he’s either going to cancel the interview because he’s going to run off to Washington or he’s going to start talking to everybody,’” Schnall says. “And to our surprise, that didn’t happen.”

Bush’s press representatives later informed Schnall that the president had received more than 500 media requests shortly after the killing of bin Laden, all of which he declined.

In the documentary, Bush says he is “grateful” that bin Laden is gone. “I didn’t . . . feel any great sense of happiness. Or jubilation,” he says. “I felt a sense of closure. And I felt a sense of gratitude that justice had been done.”

The special includes neither voice-over narration nor other interviewees besides Bush. The focus lies solely on the president’s powerful account of the attacks.

“One of my concerns, like the concerns of other husbands and wives, was, ‘Was my spouse okay? Was Laura okay?” Bush says of his immediate reaction to the attacks. “And my second concern was ‘Were our girls okay?’ . . . And I finally found her [Laura]. She was in a secure location. And it was awesome to hear her voice. And she had talked to the girls. And they were secure.”

Bush’s recollection of the 9/11 aftermath is chilling. “From the air it looked like . . . a giant scar. But when I actually got to the site, it was like walking into hell,” he says of his first visit to ground zero.

Adding to the special are exclusive photos and video supplied to National Geographic directly from the White House.

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