Bush: I Feared Air Force Had Shot Down Flight 93

Thursday, 08 Sep 2011 04:21 PM

By Martin Gould

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President George W. Bush initially believed he may have been responsible for the 9/11 downing of United Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, he acknowledges in a new interview.

Bush, 9/11, World Trade CenterHe had instructed the Air Force to shoot down commercial planes if they
did not respond to an order to land after learning of the attacks on New York¹s World Trade Center.

And when Bush heard that a plane had gone down in a field near Shanksville, he believed it could have been as a result of his order. Bush gave the interview, his only one to mark the tenth anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, to the National Geographic Channel. It will air on Sunday.

"Those were decisions that he had to make,” Peter Schnall, who interviewed
the 43rd president, told CNN. “They troubled him then, and I think they
still trouble him now.

"What struck me the most was that during those hours, the days of 9/11, the
president was overwhelmed" by events, Schnall said. “They didn't really know who the enemy was. They didn't know if there were more attacks about to happen."

Editor’s Note: Never Forget 9/11. Ten years later, Newsmax remembers with a Special, Limited-Edition 9/11 Anniversary Commemorative Set. A portion of the proceeds go to The Bravest Fund benefitting 9/11 heroes and their families. Get yours now and never forget.

The plane, on a flight from Newark to San Francisco, was the last of the four planes to crash on 9/11. It killed 33 passengers, seven crew and four terrorists. The heroic actions of some of those onboard were recorded on cellphone calls to loved ones made when it was clear the plane was under attack, and were the basis of the movie “United 93.”

Bush was about to read to children at an elementary school in Sarasota, Fla., when he learned about the first plane crashing into the twin towers.

"First, I thought it was a light aircraft and my reaction was, man, either the weather was bad, or something extraordinary happened to the pilot," he said in the National Geographic interview.

But then he said, “I felt a presence behind me.” It was White House Chief of Staff Andy Card whispering in his ear that a second plane had hit the second tower. “America is under attack,” Card told him.

The president boarded a plane and was whisked around the country as the events of 9/11 unfolded. "They are literally running from an unknown enemy and they're having to make decisions at 40,000 feet on Air Force One," Schnall said.

During the interview, Bush describes 9/11 as “a monumental day in our nation's history, a significant day that obviously changed my presidency. I went from being a president that was primarily focused on domestic issues to a wartime president, something I never anticipated nor something I ever wanted.”

The president "spoke about that fact that he was journeying through the fog
of war," Schnall said.

The 9/11 attacks led directly to the war in Afghanistan and indirectly to the invasion of Iraq, events that have been second-guessed countless times over the ensuing decade.

When asked whether he regrets his actions, Bush told Schnall: “I hate that damn question."

"He did not ever use the word regret. He did not ever say he would do anything differently," the documentarian told CNN.

Bush told Schnall he was out for dinner when he learned about the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. "He was sitting in a restaurant in Dallas when the Secret Service told him that President Obama wanted to speak to him. He then learned about the assassination," Schnall said.

"He said to us certainly there was no sense of jubilation, certainly no sense of happiness. If anything, he felt that finally there was a sense of closure."

Editor’s Note: Never Forget 9/11. Ten years later, Newsmax remembers with a Special, Limited-Edition 9/11 Anniversary Commemorative Set. A portion of the proceeds go to The Bravest Fund benefitting 9/11 heroes and their families. Get yours now and never forget.

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