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BEHIND THE SCENES: THE EXECUTIVE RESPONSE TO 9/11

At 8:46 on the morning of September 11, 2001, our country became a nation transformed. In the words of the 9/11 Commission Report, the terrorist attacks on American soil created “a day of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the United States.” President George W. Bush was faced with a crisis that created new demands on the Executive Branch not seen in our time. Critical decisions were made during the first 24 hours that would test the constitutional limits of the President’s power. In an unprecedented panel, veterans of the Bush administration described how the executive branch functioned on that day and the days immediately succeeding it.

Participants included:

Ann Compton, ABC News White House Correspondent and the only reporter allowed to remain on Air Force One during the 9/11 attacks. Compton was the first woman assigned to cover the White House by a television network and has covered seven presidential campaigns.

Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff, 2000 – 2006, the second-longest serving White House chief of staff. On September 11, 2001, it was Card who whispered in the President’s ear while the President was conducting an education event at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida that terrorists had attacked the United States.

Michael Chertoff, United States Secretary of Homeland Security, February 2005– January 2009, the man charged with protecting the American homeland and the safety of American citizens in the post-9/11 world.

Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy for United States, 2001 – 2005, helped devise the U.S. government's strategy for the war on terrorism and contributed to policy making for the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns.

Timothy E. Flanigan, Deputy White House Counsel, 2000 – 2002, an attorney at the heart of the question of authority, including the authority to shoot down a commercial airliner. Flanigan was connected by secure video to the rest of the President’s legal team inside the White House Situation Room.

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary, 2001 – 2003, who was by the President’s side at the moment of the attacks and was the first to brief the country on his whereabouts.