NY Times article on Pentagon crash
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Sep 11 14:04:18 MDT 2001
NY Times, September 11, 2001
Plane Crashes Into Pentagon, Symbol of American Power
By DAVID STOUT
WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 - An aircraft crashed into the Pentagon, the
massive office building that is the very symbol of the American
military establishment, today about an hour after the conflagration
began in New York.
The craft struck the five-sided structure with tremendous force,
driving itself through the huge outer rings of the building and into
the park-like central courtyard.
Glenn Flood, a Pentagon spokesman, told The Associated Press there
were ``extensive casualties and an unknown number of fatalities.''
``We don't know the extent of the injuries,'' he said.
President Bush was in Florida when he got word of the attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon. ``Terrorism against our nation
will not stand,'' he said before he was flown to the safety of a
military base in Louisiana.
Vice President Dick Cheney was in Washington and was taken, along
with First Lady Laura Bush, to an undisclosed secure location.
Security was tightened around other government leaders as well.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was not hurt, Mr. Flood said.
Nor apparently was Gen. Richard Myers, the incoming chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. The present chairman, Gen. Henry H. Shelton,
was out of town.
The crash was accompanied by a thunderous explosion that virtually
collapsed one side of the gray structure, symbol of America's
military might for more than a half-century. It is also the symbol to
American enemies of what they see as American imperialism.
Many Pentagon employees told of being knocked out of their chairs by
the explosion. Moments afterward, they began evacuating the building,
creating a stream of white, blue and green uniforms among other
people in civilian clothes. More than 20,000 military and civilian
employees work at the defense center, which is in Arlington, Va.,
just across the Potomac River from the capital.
There were conflicting reports about what type of craft had smashed
into the Pentagon. An early report said the craft that struck the
Pentagon was a helicopter, but it was later confirmed that the craft
was airliner, which witnesses said accelerated as it approached the
Almost simultaneously, there was a report, later determined to be
false, of a car bomb exploding outside the State Department Building
in northwest Washington, just a short distance from the National Mall
and the Lincoln Memorial.
The Pentagon blast brought a quick evacuation of the White House,
where mid-morning broadcast reports said a separate bomb threat was
received. The Capitol, the Supreme court and virtually all other
government buildings shut down, except for those that are
headquarters to law enforcement agencies, where command centers were
being set up.
The Pentagon attack, quickly following on the horror at the World
Trade Center, brought the government to a standstill, at least for
the moment. All the talk of tax cuts and budget deficits that had
filled Washington corridors before today suddenly seemed irrelevant.
By midday, investigations were already under way to try to establish
responsibility or blame for possible lapses in airport security and
for what might be a failure of intelligence, since today's attacks
were evidently coordinated and caught the country by surprise.
The terrorist attacks were certain to accelerate debate about how the
United States should deal with threats from within and abroad.
Today's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon stunned
official Washington as have few events in recent times. The effect
was likened by some to the attack on Pearl Harbor or the
assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The deadly bombing in
Oklahoma City in 1995 seemed eclipsed by what happened today.
Early suspicions about today's attacks focused on Osama bin-Laden,
the Middle East who has avowed his hatred for the United States.
By early afternoon, some three hours after the Pentagon attack,
flames were still streaming from the Pentagon's windows. Secondary
explosions were reported, and great billows of smoke continued to
drift into the clear blue sky.
The Pentagon, completed in the 1940's, is one of the biggest office
buildings in the world. Its interior is a maze of corridors and
hallways. Each of the sides is so huge that only a large and powerful
object traveling at great speed could push itself from the exterior
of the building into the courtyard.
American Airlines confirmed at midmorning that it had lost two
aircraft with a total of 156 people aboard, one a flight from Boston
to Los Angeles, the other a plane leaving Washington's Dulles Airport
for Los Angeles.
President Bush called the events an apparent ``terrorist attack'' and
pledged that the federal government would ``hunt down'' those
The explosions and subsequent government shutdowns plunged the
District of Columbia into a severe gridlock as government employees
tried to make their way home. There was no panic in the streets, but
the wail of police sirens was constant, and people gathered in knots
to ask questions and share snippets of information and rumor.
More than a dozen fire engines could be seen around the White House.
There was no access to Lafayette Square across Pennsylvania Avenue,
which was being guarded by officers with sub-machine guns.
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 09/11/2001
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