- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

President Bush yesterday asserted the nation's determination to retaliate for Tuesday's "act of war" against America, while death-toll estimates climbed well above 5,000 as workers sought to recover the living and the dead from smoldering mountains of rubble.
Where the World Trade Center once stood, bulldozers and cranes began the gritty business of gingerly lifting debris, loading hundreds of dump trucks with material that helped to remove obstacles for rescue workers. Meanwhile, relief crews took care not to overlook body parts beginning to smell of decay or survivors in air pockets.
An uncontrolled fire delayed Pentagon relief efforts and disrupted workers at undamaged portions of the military command center.
Officials yesterday said the Pentagon crash killed at least 171 persons — 64 of them passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 77 from Washington Dulles International Airport. Among the Pentagon dead was Army personnel chief Lt. Gen. Tim Maude, the highest-ranking Army officer killed in a hostile action since World War II.
Fox News reported last night that New York police authorities said that nearly 20,000 people were believed to be dead following the collapse of the World Trade Center. At a news conference yesterday, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani confirmed that the city had requested 6,000 body bags.
Occasional pops from the New York rubble were assumed to be explosions of bullets from the guns of police officers buried alive on Tuesday. Tons of paper that fluttered from financial offices littered the crash scene, and the odor of natural gas drifted past relief workers trying to deal with the unimaginable carnage of body parts floating in puddles of muck.
"I saw pieces of luggage, what looked to be human flesh, bloody clothing all over the place," said volunteer Joseph Caruso, an advertising executive trained as a paramedic.
At both crash scenes, and a third site in Pennsylvania, federal officials tracked radio-signaling beacons to uncover electronic "black box" flight data recorders and "cockpit voice recorders" that may indicate how hijackers took command of each airliner.
FBI investigators have identified more than a dozen of the hijackers, mostly Egyptians and Saudis. Rep. Dan Miller, Florida Republican, told reporters that White House officials say they are "95 percent confident" that dissident Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden is responsible for the attacks.
In addition to the collapse of the landmark World Trade Center towers, the collision and fires brought down the 47-story Building 7.
Also, last night officials stopped all rescue and cleanup work and cleared a 10-block area around another neighboring skyscraper that threatened to collapse at One Liberty Plaza.
Damage estimates have run to $15 billion, while financial markets will remain closed today — the longest emergency closure of the New York Stock Exchange since the 1929 market crash that triggered the Depression.
The Bush administration yesterday sought to ask Congress for $20 billion in immediate emergency funds to help rescue efforts and bolster security following the terrorist attacks
Republican leaders planned to push the measure through the House today, said Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young, Florida Republican, who described the proposal.
"We want a swift, positive reaction from Congress, and appropriating the money is just that," Mr. Young told reporters.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, called into question the measure's immediate fate, saying that one day may not be enough time to get legislation passed and that there was no final agreement on a dollar amount.
"It's premature to be announcing a figure," he told reporters.
Mr. Giuliani vowed to rebuild the devastated areas. He would not speculate on whether the twin towers that had dominated the city skyline would be restored but said, "There's no question that we're going to rebuild. The skyline will be whole again."
Amid grim pledges to search for bodies trapped in the rubble, six firefighters and six police officers were pulled out alive. The mayor said 45 dead bodies were retrieved from under the wreckage, where a few survivors using cell phones begged for help.
Two other civilians were located but not immediately rescued, said Mr. Giuliani, who indicated that the rest of those thousands of victims still missing were buried in mountains of rubble from the 110-story skyscrapers that collapsed before they could escape.
CNN reported that Jeremy Glick, a passenger aboard the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 when it was forced to make a U-turn toward Washington, confirmed with his father by cell phone that another hijacked plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
Upon hearing that information, the men on the plane voted to overpower the hijackers, Mr. Glick told his father before the phone connection was lost.
The Boeing 757 then inexplicably crashed into a smoking hole in rural Pennsylvania with the loss of all 45 persons aboard.
Yesterday, FBI agents identified many of the hijacking suspects — including two "commercial pilots" using the same Post Office box in Hollywood, Fla., and two others who had rented houses in Vero Beach, Fla. Early indications are that several of the hijackers may have trained at flight schools in Florida.
Agents and local police swooped down on the men's cars, relatives and associates in Boston and in two Florida flight schools. In Providence, R.I., an Amtrak train was halted and three passengers detained.
The nation began to take measures to restore normalcy as National Guard troops were put on patrol in the streets of New York and Washington, and U.S. airspace reopened for "limited use" under rules certain to make air travel tougher than ever.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) abandoned plans to allow civilian flights to resume at noon yesterday, but did allow planes that were detoured to unscheduled stops on Tuesday to complete their original flights — but only those planes in which the passengers remained aboard when they were grounded.
The number of people stranded at U.S. airports was not given, but 30,000 passengers aboard 250 planes diverted to Canada were put up in hotels, schools and gyms, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said.
U.S. airport security rules were tightened. All knives were prohibited, canceling the rule that allowed those with 4-inch blades. Curbside luggage checking was banned. Ticket counter check-in will now be required for everyone, including those with electronic tickets and no luggage.
Only ticketed travelers will be permitted in boarding areas.
The FAA also will increase the use of armed sky marshals, first deployed after a wave of hijackings to Cuba in the 1960s.
FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said the agency was not sure when all commercial aircraft would be allowed to fly again.
The already terrifying estimates of death tolls in the World Trade Center's twin towers multiplied when Mr. Giuliani said estimates from his advisers are "that a few thousand people were left in each of the buildings."
That would mean 5,000 or more dead in addition to 266 passengers killed in the crashes of the four hijacked airliners, 291 firefighters — including the fire chief and deputy fire commissioner — and 72 police officers still missing and presumed dead under collapsed wreckage.
Death came to seem ordinary in New York as relatives of the missing went from one hospital to the next, eventually accepting that loved ones were dead when hospitals didn't list them among the injured.
Search dogs and search robots with rubber treads waited in vain for bodies or survivors to be located.
As cleanup began and then was halted to protect rescuers from a repeat of Tuesday's collapse, some likened the lower Manhattan scene to "nuclear winter" — the desolation and haze anticipated after a nuclear attack.
Vague estimates for the time needed to complete the work evoked memories that removing debris from the nine-story Murrah federal office building in Oklahoma City took 14 days after the April 19, 1995, bombing.
"The enormity of the situation in New York City is beyond all understanding. The longer we go into this rescue effort the less chance we have of rescuing survivors," a fire department official said.
Columns of smoke rose from the stumps of buildings that once dominated the city. Late yesterday, the remaining seven floors of the North Tower collapsed and the framework of the South Tower stood just two stories high.
Nearby areas of New York were like a ghost town and the elevated West Side Highway was pressed into service as a staging area for heavy equipment used in the cleanup. Barges stood by to take away the rubble hauled in convoys of dump trucks.
Marriott's 22-story World Trade Center hotel, attached to the main buildings, was "severely damaged" and its Financial Center hotel two blocks away were damaged, said spokeswoman Dasha Ross in Bethesda, Md., who said all but two guests were safely accounted for.
Flags in many allied nations around the world flew at half-staff in a show of solidarity with the United States.
Mr. Bush echoed the nation's sense of outrage over the terrorist attacks at a White House meeting with his national security advisers.
The president declared the murderous attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center "acts of war" by a shadowy enemy that cares so little for human life its combatants used four hijacked airliners as killing machines.
Between three and six men were on each plane armed with small knives that passed security checks, U.S. officials said yesterday.
The president intended his warning to reach beyond the hijackers who died with their victims to include their supporters, whom Secretary of State Colin L. Powell referred to as "a host country or other organizations" that facilitate terrorism.
"This is an enemy that tries to hide, but it won't be able to hide forever. This is an enemy that thinks its harbors are safe, but they won't be safe forever," said Mr. Bush, who asked Congress for money to help fund the rescue efforts and bolster security.
"This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil, but good will prevail," Mr. Bush predicted.
"We will find out who's responsible for this and they will pay for it," Mr. Powell said.
On Capitol Hill, there was discussion about formally declaring war.
"Whether you declare it, or however you describe it, we are at war," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, who predicted action on that resolution within the next 24 to 36 hours.
One of the most emotional speeches at the Congress' joint session yesterday came from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, who sounded a fervent call for the nation to show its "wrath" and to unite behind Mr. Bush.
Mrs. Clinton said the best rebuke for those who attack America is to show "we are not cowed in any way whatever" and she said one mes- sage should be heard worldwide.
"You are either with America in our time of need or you are not," she said.
A "sense of Congress" resolution approved in that joint session was intended to make a united stand behind Mr. Bush.
"[Congress is] certain that the people of the United States will stand united as our nation begins the process of recovering and rebuilding in the aftermath of these tragic acts," says the resolution.
That spirit permeated other speeches and after a White House meeting with bipartisan leaders, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, said, "This Congress stands united shoulder to shoulder to do the right thing and stand up for America."
Attorney General John Ashcroft and White House spokesman Ari Fleischer confirmed reports that the White House itself was an intended target of Tuesday's coordinated raid.
"We have real and credible information that the airplane that landed at the Pentagon originally was intended to hit the White House," Mr. Fleischer said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide